Children’s rights discussed in UK Parliament session on Brexit
Eurochild is working closely with its National Partner Networks in the UK and Ireland to ensure that children’s rights are taken into account in the process of the UK exiting the EU (hereafter Brexit). Eurochild published a call to action to coincide with the start of the negotiations between the UK and the EU and, following the UK State Opening of Parliament, we provided briefings for members of the House of Lords for the Queen’s Speech debates. This included a debate on the announcement of the Repeal Bill for this parliamentary session (part of the UK’s exit from the European Union). Several peers spoke about issues raised in Eurochild’s briefing including, the former First Minister of Scotland, Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale and Baroness Massey of Darwin.
Lord McConnell said: “In all these areas there is a very real danger that if the great repeal Bill is not enacted properly, with due attention to the position of children, both UK and other EU nationals, the children who are most vulnerable will fall through the safety net… the Government… should enact at all times the principle of acting in the best interests of the child whenever any aspect of the law affecting children is being considered, whether that is to transfer an existing EU law into British law or whether to ensure that the appropriate procedures are in place to protect children when their family relationships…”
Thanking Eurochild for the briefing, Baroness Massey said the main purpose of her speech was “to call on the Government to set up a special investigation into the effect of Brexit on children…” She went on “We must now ensure that the calls for action are heard—calls to listen to children and young people, providing assurances that the existing rights of children are protected, not just in the UK but across Europe, and that the peace process in Northern Ireland is respected…”
The spokesperson for the Government in the House of Lords, Lord Keen of Elie responded positively: “…on the welfare of children, all the rights and obligations with regard to children will transfer into United Kingdom law. They are recognised as such. We will continue to engage with child and youth advocacy groups in the coming months as part of our strategy to ensure that a wide range of stakeholder perspectives are factored into our negotiations for exit.”
The Government has also agreed to meet with Baroness Massey to discuss issues concerning Brexit and children’s rights further. Eurochild will be continuing to work hard to ensure children’s rights are high on the political agenda as the Brexit negotiations proceed.