Senedd grants consent to two post-Brexit laws

(Title Image: BBC)

Yesterday (12th March), AMs approved two Legislative Consent Motions (LCMs) on UK laws which will set out how things will work after Brexit. Just to explain, LCMs are used when the Senedd needs to give its permission for the UK Government to make laws in devolved areas.

The two LCMs involve the UK Trade Bill – which I haven’t covered on Senedd Home to date – as well as the UK Healthcare (Reciprocal Arrangements) Bill, which I have covered.

Until very recently, the Welsh Government and Health Committee were minded to withhold consent to the Healthcare Bill, but enough changes have been made for the government to change their mind.

Speaking on the Trade Bill LCM, International Affairs & Welsh Language Minister, Eluned Morgan (Lab, Mid & West Wales), said it would enable World Trade Organisation agreements to be put in place for existing trade deals in order to ensure a smoother post-Brexit transition period, but the Bill won’t extend to cover future post-Brexit trade deals.

With regard the Healthcare Bill, the Health Minister, Vaughan Gething (Lab, Cardiff S. & Penarth), said the legislation had been improved to his satisfaction, but warned that if there was a “No Deal Brexit” the rights under agreements covered by the Bill – such as use of the European Health Insurance Card – wouldn’t be universally protected.

Plaid Cymru opposed both LCMs.

On the Trade Bill, Delyth Jewell AM (Plaid, South Wales East) said that while it was an “abstract” subject, the LCMs could leave a lasting impact. Her concerns focused on powers within the Bill for UK Ministers to amend the Government of Wales Act 2006 and extend time limits on the Bill’s provisions without seeking the permission of the Senedd – potentially impacting devolved powers.

On the Healthcare Bill, Helen Mary Jones AM (Plaid, Mid & West Wales), said the powers given to UK Ministers were “out of proportion with stated outcomes”. She also raised concerns that the Bill could potentially be used to open access to the NHS to private healthcare companies from around the world.

Both Ministers acknowledged that while the laws were far from perfect, they were necessary due to time constraints, while the concerns of the Welsh Government had been listened to and acted upon.

The Trade Bill LCM was passed by 43 votes to 5, while the Healthcare Bill LCM was passed by 42 votes to 5.