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The House of Commons Committee on the Future Relationship has published two reports, agreed before its term expired. The Fifth Report of Session 2019–21 ‘The shape of future parliamentary scrutiny of UK-EU relations’ sets out the Committee’s recommendations for coordinating future scrutiny of the UK’s relationship with the EU and development of EU policy impacting UK interests. The Committee has also published a Special Report ‘Preparing for the end of the Transition Period, and The UK-EU future relationship: the Trade and Cooperation Agreement’, setting out the government’s response to previous reports published in 2020. Meanwhile, the Committee has published correspondence with the Leader of the House of Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg, which confirms the government’s decision to bring the Committee’s term to an end on 16 January 2021 (in line with the original temporary Standing Orders establishing the Committee on 16 January 2020). The Committee had requested an extension of its term for six months, or until the 2021 Summer recess, to allow time for scrutiny of the last-minute deal reached between the UK and EU at the end of 2020 and the implications of the future UK-EU relationship (and associated outstanding matters). While refusing the request, the Commons Leader said that the government would work with Parliament to ensure ‘proper scrutiny’ of the deal and the continuing relationship between the UK and EU.
In remarks, former Committee Chair Hilary Benn MP said:
‘Now that the Trade and Cooperation Agreement has entered into force, it is in everyone’s interests to build a strong relationship with our friends and neighbours in the EU. Strong and effective Parliamentary scrutiny of this new relationship will be really important, so our final report contains practical ideas for how this could be organised. I look forward to seeing these new arrangements in place as soon as possible.’
Seeking to assure the Committee that the TCA will receive 'proper scrutiny', Rees-Mogg also said that the government would 'continue to work cooperatively with any select committee examining the implications of the deal with the EU and other aspects of the continuing relationship between the UK and the EU', which should include 'a significant number of departmental select committees'.
In separate correspondence, Benn wrote to the Prime Minister seeking clarification of comments made to the Commons Liaison Committee regarding elements of the TCA on 13 January 2021. In particular, the Prime Minister was asked about reports that the government had rejected EU proposals allowing visa-free touring for musicians due to a clash with UK plans to end free movement. Having made contradictory comments to the Committee on this point, the Prime Minister was asked to clarify the specific provisions of the TCA which permit UK musicians to undertake paid work in the EU and confirm the specific requirements on a country by country basis.
• Committee on the Future Relationship with the European Union—Fifth Report of Session 2019–21: The shape of future parliamentary scrutiny of UK-EU relations
• Committee on the Future Relationship with the European Union—Special Report: Preparing for the end of the Transition Period, and The UK-EU future relationship: the Trade and Cooperation Agreement: Government Response to the Committee’s Third and Fourth Reports
• Committee on the Future Relationship with the European Union: Correspondence
For further detail, see: LNB News 21/01/2021 114 and LNB News 15/01/2021 103.
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