The Agriculture Bill promised by the UK Government could be rushed through parliament without proper scrutiny because Brexit timescales are so tight, according to an expert on the democratic process.
Brigid Fowler, senior researcher at the Hansard Society, expressed concern about whether there would be enough time for all the necessary Brexit legislation to be passed during a hearing of the Welsh Assembly’s External Affairs and Additional Legislation Committee.
In November last year, the Government was forced to agree to introduce a bill which would enshrine the UK-EU withdrawal agreement in domestic law after ten Tory MPs planned to rebel over the issue of a ‘meaningful vote’ on the Brexit negotiations.
Scrutiny of this new legislation, the Withdrawal Agreement and Implementation Bill, is expected to eat into time allocated for other Brexit bills on agriculture, the environment, trade, customs and immigration, among others.
Ms Fowler said: “The Government is not at all where it originally planned to be by summer 2018 and there will be knock-on effects for other bits of Brexit legislation, which has both practical consequences and also political consequences.
“People are going to have to approve Brexit or not, knowing perhaps less than might have originally been envisaged about what happens next.
“There is no sign yet of the Immigration Bill, which is a big one everyone has been waiting for. On agriculture there has been some progress, but we do not have a bill yet, so there is an awful lot still to get through.”
Asked whether enough scrutiny could take place if all the Brexit bills were published after summer, Ms Fowler added: “My sense, and it can only be that, is people are gearing up for a really quite intense and difficult autumn, winter and early spring.
“There could be a lot of business to get through.”
The news came as MPs expressed their anger at Government plans to allocate one day for the Commons to consider 15 amendments from the Lords to the EU Withdrawal Bill.