Dodds slams unconscionable denial of democracy

Comments by Lord Dodds Reacting to Lords Select Committee Report on EU Legislation under the Northern Ireland Protocol.

By The Rt Hon Lord Dodds of Duncairn OBE Peer

"The Parliamentary Report on EU legislation applying to Northern Ireland released by the House of Lords this week demonstrates that the Protocol has created a stark democratic deficit in that a large amount of EU law as set out in the Annexes to the Protocol applies to Northern Ireland on a dynamic basis.

It is subject neither to UK government participation in the EU institutions, nor to consent from parliamentarians either at Westminster or Stormont. That EU law is far reaching in its scope and quantity.

It rightly concludes that while it is important to look at steps to ensure better Parliamentary scrutiny of such legislation and to enhance Northern Ireland's voice and influence in relation to their application, they are not themselves sufficient to resolve the issues to which the democratic deficit gives rise.

Northern Ireland is subject to over 300 pieces of EU legislation applying on a dynamic basis meaning they can be amended or replaced by the EU directly.

The Protocol also provides for the addition of new legislation to the raft of legislation which already applies. For example, last week a House of Commons report pointed to the range of legislation which may emerge for N Ireland as result of the EU Commission’s work plan for next year.

The House of Lords Protocol Select Committee is tasked with scrutinising EU legislation.

Since its creation last year it has dealt with 74 pieces of EU legislation, 38 of which have been subject to detailed scrutiny and others sent for information. There has also been a large amount of correspondence with the government with over 94 letters having been sent by the Committee to the Government. They cover a massive range of policy areas... Everything from movement of animals including pets, plant imports, packaging of substances, VAT, cosmetics, machinery products, batteries, motor vehicles and vehicle safety information, artificial intelligence, geographical indications, exchange and storage of information, food health-care claims and marketing standards, animal feed, toys, environmental policy, state aid, energy and electricity markets, product safety, medicines, veterinary medicines, and radio equipment.

In many cases the pieces of legislation applying EU law to Northern Ireland will make significant differences between Northern Ireland and Great Britain which will only increase over time.

It is clear that, apart from the Committee’s work, there is little detailed scrutiny going on with any of this legislation.

It is unconscionable and unthinkable in the modern 21st-century country that its citizens have laws imposed upon them without any say or vote by those citizens or their representatives.

Nothing will really compensate or fill plug the gap in the scandalous lack of democratic accountability. The Protocol is fundamentally flawed in this respect. In the meantime the government must take further steps to be more open and transparent with the public about the implications of this legislation and to respond speedily and with great detail about its legal and practical implications.

Often the government provides no or very poor quality information or explanation.

Often it sidesteps setting out the implications by claiming that there are ongoing negotiations even though the law applies directly and immediately.

Such is totally unacceptable when the impact on daily life is so important to people’s lives and causing greater friction with the rest of the UK.”

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