Assembly asked to change procedures for Exiting the EU legislation

Published 02/10/2018   |   Last Updated 27/05/2021   |   Reading Time minutes


On Wednesday 3 October 2018 a Motion to amend Standing Orders will be considered in Plenary. This is because the UK exiting the EU requires changes to procedure in order to implement The European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 (“the 2018 Act”).

These amendments arise from the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee’s report, The Powers in the EU (Withdrawal) Bill to make subordinate legislation – operational matters, published in July and summarised in an earlier blogpost. The Welsh Government responded to the report on 13 September 2018.

The Motion states:

To propose that the National Assembly, in accordance with Standing Order 33.2:
  1. Considers the Report of the Business Committee ‘Amending Standing Orders: Implementation of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018’ laid in the Table Office on 26 September 2018.
  2. Approves the proposal to revise Standing Orders 21 and 27, and to introduce new Standing Orders 30B and 30C, as set out in Annex B of the Report of the Business Committee.

The Business Committee report and the changes to Standing Orders were formally agreed by the Business Committee on 25 September 2018. The Assembly is invited to approve the proposals on 3 October.

New types of subordinate legislation

The European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 (“the 2018 Act) creates new categories of subordinate legislation:

  • regulations made by the Welsh Ministers which need to be subject to a new process of “sifting” (i.e. recommending whether the negative or the affirmative procedure should apply) by a committee;
  • regulations made by UK Ministers temporarily restricting the Assembly’s competence, which require the Assembly’s consent; and
  • other regulations made by UK Ministers which do not require Assembly consent but which should be notified to the Assembly.

The proposed changes to Standing Orders

A summary of the proposed changes to Standing Orders is below.

Changes to Standing Order 21:

The Assembly sifting committee is to report on sift regulations (i.e. all regulations that will come to the Assembly under the sift process), and to report within 14 calendar days.

Standing Orders which apply to regulations after sifting are disapplied for the sifting process.

Changes to Standing Order 27:

The Explanatory Memorandum that accompanies regulations is to be sifted to include: (a) the statement the Welsh Ministers have to make when laying the draft regulations as to why they think it should follow the negative procedure, and (b) the reasons for that opinion.

New Standing Order 30B:

This deals with the process for section 109A and 80(8) of the 2018 Act which enables UK Ministers to place restrictions on the Assembly’s legislative competence, and is subject to a consent decision in the Assembly .

Welsh Ministers’ must lay statements on why the Assembly has refused consent to be laid before the Assembly.

Welsh Ministers are to lay the UK Government’s three monthly reports on competence restrictions.

Welsh Ministers are to inform the Assembly when competence restrictions are lifted.

New Standing Order 30C

Welsh Ministers to inform Assembly of SIs made by UK Ministers in devolved areas where the SIs are laid before UK Parliament only.

The Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee have set up a webpage about the sifting process.

Article by Alys Thomas, National Assembly for Wales Research Service