Parliamentary approval needed for treaties

A report calling for parliamentary approval for treaties has been welcomed by the Law Society of England and Wales in light of the Rwanda treaty.

The House of Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee published its report Parliamentary Scrutiny of International Agreements in the 21st century today (29 January).

“MPs recognise that Parliament has an important constitutional role to play in the UK signing international treaties,” said Law Society vice president Richard Atkinson.

“If the committee's recommendations had already been in place, the Commons would have been able to hold a proper debate on the Rwanda treaty.

“Instead, despite the House of Lords voting in favour of delayed ratification and MPs’ calls for a proper debate on the treaty, the government have denied parliamentarians time for that scrutiny to take place.

“Given the Supreme Court found serious risks in the government’s Rwanda plan, this treaty ought to be scrutinised carefully to ensure the risks identified are fully addressed.

“The Rwanda treaty is an example of Parliament being sidelined as policy is made via international treaties. We hope that the committee’s recommendations will be given careful consideration and will open a wider discussion on how this situation can be resolved.”

Today, the House of Lords will debate the Safety of Rwanda Bill, which depends on the Rwanda treaty.

“This unworkable bill aims to set a dangerous legal and constitution precedent by legislating to overturn an evidence-based finding of fact by UK courts,” added Richard Atkinson.

“We urge peers to carefully scrutinise this bill and recognise the Supreme Court’s finding cannot be overturned overnight by parliamentary legislation.”

Notes to editors

See the report

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