HomeInsightsHouse of Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Select Committee launches inquiry into The Role of Parliament in the UK Constitution: The Scrutiny of International Treaties and other Agreements


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The Committee says that the power to negotiate, sign, ratify and withdraw from international treaties and agreements has traditionally been exercised by Government under the royal prerogative. However, where entering into or withdrawing from a treaty requires changes to domestic law or rights after ratification, this must be done through Parliament. There is a long-standing convention, now enshrined in law, that treaties will be laid before parliament for 21 days before being ratified.

Committees of both Houses of Parliament have, however, recently questioned whether the current scrutiny mechanisms at UK level are still fit for purpose. The new inquiry will focus on what the constitutional relationship between the Government and Parliament in relation to such treaties and agreements should be, whether new legislation is required, and what parliamentary mechanisms need to be set up.

The Committee says that details of evidence sessions will be announced in due course. In the meantime, the Committee welcomes inquiry submissions by 16 September 2019. To read the full terms of reference for the inquiry and the questions to which the Committee is inviting submissions, click here.