December 11, 2017 / 2:11 PM / a year ago

UK government accepts MPs' demands for scrutiny of Brexit law changes

File photo: Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May walks out of 10 Downing Street to greet Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, London, Britain December 5, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

LONDON (Reuters) - The British government will grant lawmakers more oversight of the process of severing ties with the European Union, a spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May said on Monday.

The concession, designed to head off a potential rebellion in parliament, will be incorporated into the EU withdrawal bill - the legislation that forms a central plank of May’s Brexit strategy.

Several lawmakers, including members of the governing Conservative Party, have challenged her administration over its plans to copy and paste EU rules into British legislation, saying they give ministers power to change laws without the agreement of parliament.

To address these concerns, a committee of lawmakers has proposed adding an extra layer of parliamentary scrutiny of such changes.

“We have studied the Procedure Committee’s report in detail and listened to the representations, and we are announcing today that we will be accepting this amendment,” the spokesman told reporters.

The plan is to create a ‘sifting committee’ to look at each of the proposed changes as they are published by the government and recommend how they are then approved by parliament. Although all changes will receive parliamentary approval, some can be recommended for more detailed scrutiny.

The transfer of EU law into British law is designed to give businesses legal certainty after Britain’s departure in March 2019. Parliament has described is as one of the largest legislative projects ever undertaken in the UK.

Reporting by William James, writing by Elizabeth Piper; editing by John Stonestreet

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