The latest report from the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Select Committee (PACAC) echoes PLP’s concerns about insufficient scrutiny for international agreements that affect human rights and the public interest.

Read our evidence here

In their assessment of the current international agreement scrutiny system, PACAC found that it did not provide sufficient accountability of the Government for treaties.

Our evidence about the scrutiny of international agreements focused on three issues:

  • Sovereignty: ensuring that UK parliament can change its domestic laws in the future without being constrained by treaties
  • Accountability: ensuring that government treaty decisions are well made and held to account effectively
  • Rights: ensuring that existing human rights are not diminished by treaties and any new treaty rights can be appropriately exercised, which requires representation throughout the treaty process.

The PACAC report pointed to our evidence indicating that out of 35 recent treaties, over half had no implementing legislation. As Arabella Lang, PLP’s Director of Research at the time, observed: “You get unscrutinised treaties being implemented by unscrutinised legislation.”

Our analysis of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 found that it does not enable enough scrutiny of international agreements, or provide any power for Parliament to influence the terms of a treaty, or even cover all treaties. This report echoed our concerns with that Act.

The committee also agreed with our concerns that the system fails to “deliver a constitutionally sufficient level of scrutiny” and that Parliament does not have the opportunity to explicitly approve important treaties that affect people in the UK.

We would support the following recommendations from PACAC:

  • A central repository for all non-legally binding instruments
  • Notifying Parliament of all new or updated documents added to that repository
  • Explicit approval of the House of Commons before any treaties enter into force