With a little help from Henry VIII

There are few legislative assemblies in Europe which can call themselves with proud sovereign. The Principle of Parliamentary Sovereignty is the most important part of UK constitutional law. It implies that all legislation derives from the superior legal authority of Parliament and hence it is the job of the Members of Parliament to create, abolish and change the law. Well, since Henry VIII this principle is no longer entirely true, and it is currently challenged again by the future “Great Repeal Bill”.

This week Brexit is back on the agenda of the two Houses of Parliament in the UK. The Lords (30th and 31st January) and the MPs (31st January) discussed “The European Union (Withdrawal) Bill” (EU Bill) or also known as “The Great Repeal Bill”. The EU Bill which was published on July 2017 is the centre piece of British exit legislation and so to speak the Government’s legal roadmap to provide for a smooth and orderly Brexit. Among other things it aims to repeal the “The European Communities Act” from 1972 which is the domestic legal basis of the UK EU membership and to (re-)transpose the huge amount of EU regulation into British statute books on the exit day. It didn’t come as a surprise that this Bill caused already passionate debates in Parliament and the first defeat of Theresa May in the House of Commons. However, it seems that this time something rather technical and dull causes trouble for the Prime Minister and her Majesty’s Government in Westminster.

Despite the question whether to stay or to leave the EU the EU Bill delegates also a bunch of regulatory powers to the Government. According to the current draft ministers will get the power to pass hundreds of laws without any approval of the British Parliament. Such a transfer or delegation of power from Parliament to Government has a long-standing tradition in the UK and it’s also known as “Henry VIII Clauses” ...

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