Brexit: Those Committee Inquiries in Full

8 November 2016

Education Committee

The impact of exiting the European Union on higher education inquiry

With the prospect of Brexit creating uncertainty over future immigration policy and freedom of movement, MPs across the political spectrum have pressed the Government on the potential implications for students. Whether it is the debate over the inclusion of students in net migration figures, or the ability of universities to remain competitive institutions, the sector could face wholesale changes.

The Committee’s inquiry will focus on the three principal themes: the future of freedom of movement and EU nationals studying in the UK, the future engagement with programmes such as Erasmus, and the future competitiveness of the sector.

Launched on 29 September, the Committee is currently accepting Written Evidence until 11 November 2016.

 

Culture, Media and Sport Committee

The impact of Brexit on the creative industries, tourism and the Digital Single Market

With the Cameron administration opting to go easy on spending on culture amid a wider climate of austerity, the Government appears to have embraced the "soft power" agenda. So advocates of the power of British culture to draw in investment and tourism from around the world will be airing their concerns as the Committee considers what impact Brexit might have.

In addition to looking at how the tourism industry might be affected by restrictions on immigration for the EU migrants who make up a significant part of its labour force, MPs will also address the prospective impact of abandoning the EU's major initiative in the digital sector: the Digital Single Market.

In keeping with inquiries in other areas like higher education, the Committee will also look at the significance of EU funding through schemes such as the Creative Europe Fund and the Regional Development Fund.

 

Health Committee

Brexit and Health and Social Care

In September, the Health Committee launched an inquiry into Brexit's health and social care impacts, which aims to identify key issues for attention during the leaving negotiations.

Given its broad scope, the Committee has explained that it may opt to consider specific "case studies" from key areas so as to develop its understanding of which issues ought to be prioritised. It also invited specialist advisers to express interest in supporting the inquiry, asking them to apply during October.

 

Justice Committee

Implications of Brexit for the justice system

Launched on 12 October, the Justice Committee’s inquiry will focus on the likely effects of Brexit on the processes of criminal and civil justice, as well as views on the financial effects on the legal sector and business and the economy more widely, and on steps which should be taken in the process of Brexit negotiations or by other means to minimise any adverse effects and enhance any positive effects.

The Committee is currently accepting written admissions until 11 November 2016.

 

Justice Committee

Implications of Brexit for the Crown Dependencies

Established to the explore the implications of Brexit in the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, the Justice Committee has explained that the UK Government is responsible for their international relations, which falls to the Ministry of Justice.

It points to the uncertainty around the Crown Dependencies’ future relationship with the EU; issues surrounding Protocol 3 of the UK's Act of Accession, which grants freedom of movement of goods; and the potential to affect the bilateral relationships between the each of the islands and the UK.

The Committee is currently accepting written admissions until 18 November 2016.

 

Joint Human Rights Select Committee

What are the human rights implications of Brexit?

Headed by former Deputy Labour Leader Harriet Harman, the Joint Committee on Human Rights launched the inquiry to address three key issues: privacy and family life; international trade; and other human rights protected by EU law.

The first line of enquiry will look specifically at the potential impact of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects privacy and family life, on EU nationals living in the UK and UK nationals living in other EU member states in terms of their right to stay.

Turning to international trade, the Committee will look at how human rights clauses currently written into EU trade deals, and will question whether requirements should be written into future deals.

The final part of the inquiry looks more broadly at rights protected by EU law, such as labour rights, disability rights and rights to freedom from discrimination on grounds of characteristics such as sexual orientation.

The Committee has held one oral evidence session to date, with representatives from UCL, 1 Crown Office Row and Policy Exchange speaking before MPs and peers.

 

Northern Ireland Affairs Committee

Future of the land border with the Republic of Ireland

Charged with scrutinising the UK's only constituent part that has a land border with another nation, the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee has opted to address one of the most immediate and practical problems arising from the vote to leave - the future of that frontier, in light of its intense political significance.

With high volumes of cross-border trade and intertwined lives, closing off Northern Ireland from Eire would be both economically damaging and, it would seem, politically unconscionable. With ministers having already described the issue openly as one of the Government's few "red lines" in Brexit negotiations, the Committee will seek to assess the future options under different EU-UK scenarios.

 

European Scrutiny Committee

EU-UK relations in preparation for Brexit

When Brexit Minister David Jones appeared before the European Scrutiny Committee as part of this hearing, the Committee pressed him on the details of the extent to which Parliament would be able to scrutinise the upcoming negotiations.

Mr Jones reiterated the commitments previously offered by his fellow ministers, namely that Parliament would have the chance to debate future relations and vote on the final treaty with the EU.

Overall, however, the Minister was tight-lipped about the plans. Asked about the Government’s negotiating objectives, he said that the overarching principle was for the UK to leave the EU “on the best possible terms”.

He reinforced the assertion that the UK would continue to engage positively in EU matters in the normal way until Brexit took place, though he appeared unclear about the extent to which Britain would be bound by EU agreements like the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

One of the main themes of the meeting, however, was the Committee’s attempt to assert its own continuing relevance during the process. The Chair, Conservative MP Sir William Cash, was eager to assert the importance of his Committee as a chamber for scrutinising EU affairs.

Given the arrival of the new Brexit Committee, the Committee will need to redefine itself to some extent if it is to remain significant. As a result, the European Scrutiny Committee has also launched a Post Referendum Consultation to explore how its work should adapt to Brexit.

 

European Scrutiny Committee

Parliamentary Scrutiny of EU Trade Deals: Canada/EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA)

In one of his very first appearances before a Select Committee in his new role, International Trade Secretary Dr Liam Fox was pressed on his failure to suitably consult Parliament about the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

Dr Fox insisted that the Parliamentary timetable had not allowed room for CETA to be debated before it was agreed by the European Commission, but emphasised that a debate would be tabled.

However, he suggested that the Government could be looking towards making changes to the model by which MPs were consulted on trade deals, stating that Parliament and the public would want to look at how trade agreements were discussed by MPs.

 

Exiting the European Union Committee

UK's negotiating objectives for withdrawal from EU

Likely to be one of the most closely-watched Parliamentary inquiries, this is the first inquiry launched by the new Exiting the European Committee.

The Committee has laid out the four main questions it will examine, namely what the objectives should be; what would need to be included in the negotiations to leave the EU under Article 50; whether there is a case for the UK to seek a transitional arrangement; and whether the Government has the capacity and structure to meet its objectives.

Given the Government’s reluctance to give detailed answers to most of these questions, it is likely that many meetings will feature intense questioning from MPs and stonewalling from ministers.

However, the Committee’s report may help to bring together the widely disparate views on this issue and become essential reading in examining the road to Brexit.

Women and Equalities Committee 

Impact of Brexit on the equalities agenda

The Women and Equalities Committee held a one-off evidence session exploring the impact of Brexit on equality law and related measures in the UK and possible ways in which existing protections might be retained and enhanced under a new relationship with the EU.

Home Affairs Committee

Implications of the UK's exit from the European Union

In a one-off evidence session, the Committee discussed the implications of Brexit with the Romanian Ambassador and acknowledged the uncertainty around the future of Romanian nationals residing in the UK.

EU Home Affairs Subcommittee

Brexit: UK-EU movement of people

One of the many parallel inquiries taking place on Brexit held by the European Union Committee and its Subcommittees, this inquiry will examine possible arrangements for the migration of EU citizens to the UK and vice versa. However, it will not examine the status of EU citizens already in the UK or other aspects of migration policy.

The aim is to set out the broad options available to the Government, alongside their potential benefits and drawbacks.

Public evidence sessions of this inquiry are expected to take place from late November onwards.

European Union Select Committee

Brexit: parliamentary scrutiny

The Committee’s report into parliamentary scrutiny of Brexit came out before the recent ruling by the High Court on parliamentary approval for the triggering of Article 50. However, it argued that Parliament should vote on the Government’s Brexit negotiating guidelines before it was triggered.

It also argued that Ministers could not be allowed to take decisions behind closed doors, and emphasised that allowing Parliament to provide a timely commentary would increase the likelihood of the final deal being accepted by the public.

In his appearance before the Committee, Brexit Secretary David Davis promised to consult Parliament as widely as possible before negotiations, but added that Parliament could not be allowed to “micromanage” the process.

He also discussed how the Government was liaising with devolved administrations and industry.

European Union Committee

Brexit: UK-Irish relations

This inquiry has examined a range of topics, including trade relations and the right of UK and Irish nationals to live and work in one another’s countries, but was especially focused on issues such as the Common Travel Area and the relations between the North and South of the island.

During his appearance before the select committee, Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire emphasised the valuable coordination taking place between the UK and Irish Governments, stating that the two administrations were working to identify areas where they could present a common position.

In particular, he noted that the Common Travel Area (CTA) predated the UK’s EU membership and emphasised the “strong objective” of maintaining the CTA. Indeed, he went so far as to describe the Irish border issue one of very few “red lines” in Brexit negotiations.

The inquiry has now concluded, and a report is being prepared

Science and Technology Committee (Lords)

EU membership and UK science follow-up

Revisiting the inquiry it concluded before the EU referendum, the Committee sought evidence on “the science dimension of the negotiations” and an examination of the wider actions needed in the short and medium terms to support the sector.

Universities, Science, Research and Innovation Minister Jo Johnson emphasised that coordination between British and EU scientific institutions would continue after Brexit.

Responding to questions about alleged discrimination against British institutions seeking EU funding, he said that the Government had received many submissions about this but said no hard examples of discrimination had been found.

The inquiry remains open but is not expected to hold any further witness sessions.

EU Justice Sub-Committee

Brexit: acquired rights

Being an EU citizen confers significant rights in terms of the right to move, work and retire within any of the 28 member states. In addition, companies also enjoy rights to trade and operate within the Single Market.

However, the act of leaving the EU would throw these rights into question, especially with the UK Government stopping short of offering a full guarantee on workers’ rights. The Lords EU Justice Sub-Committee has launched an inquiry into what extent these rights would continue to operate outside of the EU, the avenues available to protect such rights and the likelihood of safeguarding them once Brexit is complete.

In taking oral evidence on this, the Committee consulted with various legal experts, such as Professor Vaughan Lowe QC, employers’ groups like the British Medical Association and key figures including French Ambassador Sylvie Bermann.

EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee

Brexit: environment and climate change

EU regulation has produced a lasting impact on many areas of the environment and one of the most significant areas has been climate change. While the EU has driven legislation and standards for environmental protection, the UK has played a key role in championing ambitious climate change policies through the EU.

The Lords EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee is holding a short inquiry to ascertain the impact of Brexit on this area. In taking oral evidence, it has heard from key charities including Water UK, RSPB and WWF, as well as leading academies such as Professor Michael Grubb. A final report is expected in early 2017.

EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee

Brexit: fisheries

The Commons Fisheries Policy has formed one of the many interesting battlegrounds between the UK and the EU over the last four decades. It was inevitable that it would form of the key questions post-Brexit.

In its inquiry, the EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee sought to identify the UK’s key interests in fisheries post-Brexit and explore any possible opportunities or constraints to securing those. The Committee has concluded taking evidence and is preparing to publish its report.

EU Financial Affairs Sub-Committee

Brexit: financial services

Financial services accounts for one of the UK’s leading exports and key service sectors. Intense debate has focused on the importance of the Single Market and Freedom of Movement to the sector. Many key products are dependent on passporting rights, and speculation has centred on the question of whether the City of London could maintain its prominent position post-Brexit.

Throughout its oral evidence on the issue, the EU Financial Affairs Sub-Committee spoke to leading firms Clifford Chance, as well as banks like HSBC to ascertain the scope of Brexit’s likely impact.

Last month, the Committee took evidence from Bank of England Deputy Governor Sir Jon Cunliffe to discuss how the Bank was responding to the EU Referendum result and seeking his opinion on the issue of passporting rights.

He noted the lack of clarity on the use of such rights, but suggested that the UK would remain a significant centre for finance and argued that no European centre could supplant it in the near future.

The Sub-Committee has concluded its inquiry and will produce its report shortly.

EU Home Affairs Sub-Committee 

Brexit: future EU-UK security and police co-operation inquiry

Though it is a short inquiry into the future of EU-UK security and police co-operation, the Committee has secured Sir Julian King, EU Commissioner for Security Union, as a witness.

Expected to appear before the Committee on 15 November, Sir Julian will discuss current forms of co-operation that the UK may wish to maintain post-Brexit and the implication of doing so, with a view to making recommendations to the Government.

The Committee has made no formal call for evidence, but is accepting written evidence.

EU External Affairs Sub-Committee 

Brexit: future trade between the UK and EU in goods

With a report expected by early 2017, this inquiry aims to inform the Government of the most important trading priorities within key sectors in the UK ahead of the commencement of Brexit negotiations.

Designed to complement the Committee’s inquiry into future trade between the UK and the EU, the sector based approach will look at the implications of different levels of market access.

Sectors being examined include: pharmaceuticals and chemicals; capital goods and machinery; food, beverage and tobacco; oil and petroleum; automotive and aerospace and defence.

To date, the Committee has heard evidence from representatives from the UK Petroleum Industry Association and Oil and Gas UK.

The Committee’s next evidence session will include Koji Tsuruoka, Ambassador of Japan to the United Kingdom

EU External Affairs Sub-Committee and the EU Internal Market Sub-Committee 

Future trade between the UK and the EU

Focusing on the framework for future trade with the EU, the committees are now preparing the final report.

It will focus on the UK’s position in the World Trade Organisation; issues relating to participation in the Customs Union, the European Free Trade Area and the European Economic Area; and the potential for the negotiation of a Free Trade Agreement.

During the inquiry, there were a number of evidence sessions, including a meeting where Brexit Minister Lord Bridges of Headley and Trade Policy Minister Lord Price gave evidence.

EU Internal Market Sub-Committee 

Brexit: future trade between the UK and EU in services

Focusing on key service sectors, such as Professional Business Services, aviation and telecommunication, the purpose of the Sub-Committee’s inquiry is to determine the implications of the different levels of market access the UK might negotiate with the EU.

The inquiry notes that the services sector employs over 25 million people, out of the 33 million people in employment in the UK, and the EU is the UK's largest export market for services–accounting for 40 per cent of trade.

There are no meetings currently scheduled, but the Committee has heard evidence from the Tax Policy Group, Deloitte, the Law Society, Arup, the International Air Transport Association, BKH Aviation, and Easyjet.

EU Home Affairs Sub-Committee

Unaccompanied minors in the EU inquiry

EU-wide cooperation to help unaccompanied child refugees has been one of the most important issues discussed by member states, whilst the Brexit debate happened in the UK.

An inquiry by the EU Home Affairs Sub-Committee into the matter intended to examine if the provisions for support this vulnerable group was sufficient and enforceable, in addition to address the problem. Criticising all EU members for failing to meet their obligation under international law, peers called on the Government to develop, apply and monitor new national guidance on the issue.

The Government responded to the report in early November, insisting that the UK would maintain its own distinct arrangements for supporting relocation and not participate in the EU scheme.

 

The DeHavilland Editorial Team

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