BREXIT – An opportunity for Local Government?
What might Brexit mean for Local Government? Answers to the national Government on a postcard, writes Dominic Hopkins – head of Disputes and Litigation at Hewitsons Solicitors.
As has been widely rehearsed, the progress of the draft European Union (Withdrawal) Bill through Parliament has slowed to the pace of a lethargic snail - its gastropod shell collecting amendments by the shed load following its first and second readings. The Committee stage has yet to be scheduled, let alone stagger off its starting block.
One of the principal controversies of course is the Government’s proposal to delegate primary law making powers away from the scrutinising gaze of Parliament, this, to be able to get the colossal job of uncoupling English law from the established European scheme done.Curiously, the challenge which the legislative task presents at a national level offers an opportunity for Local Government to stake some claims.
Put simply, Local and devolved Regional Government might have an eye to a bit of a power grab here. The Commons Select Committee on Communities and Local Government has kicked off its ‘Brexit and Local Government Inquiry’ last month (17 October 2017) with its Chairman Clive Betts MP acknowledging what the process of withdrawal might mean for local authorities:"…The previous Secretary of State said last year that local government must be represented in the negotiations on the terms of the UK's exit from the EU, but the role of local authorities post-Brexit is still unclear.
“We hope our inquiry will help to clarify what the best possible outcome of those talks for local government would look like.We will be investigating which powers local authorities could take as they are returned from Brussels and explore how our departure from the EU might affect investment, development, and economic funding affecting local authorities….”
So, hands up all you local authorities whose interests are piqued. The Select Committee is inviting written submissions. For regional economies and their businesses - our clients - a shift of investment and development decision making could be significant.
• Dominic Hopkins is head of Disputes and Litigation at Hewitsons and an Associate Member of the UK Constitutional Law Association. For more information please contact Dominic on 01604 233233 or dominichopkins [at] hewitsons.com (subject: Brexit) (click here) to email Dominic.