The following queries will show all treaties available in the Treaty Tracker. This data goes back to the beginning of the 2017-19 session. The main query will return all work packages with a ‘Laid before the House of Commons’ step.
Note that the Treaty Tracker only includes treaties subject to the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010. It does not include treaties:
Laid before Parliament but not subject to procedure
Not laid before Parliament
For a more complete set of treaties please go to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Treaties Online service.
This query will show you all treaties laid before Parliament since the Treaty Tracker began:
If you have a specified time period you’re interested in then you can amend the query above by adding either of the following strings to row 37 in the Sparql query:
FILTER ( str(?itemDate) > '2017-06-01' && str(?itemDate) < '2019-10-09')
Or if you want to only see treaties before/after a certain point use the following (just remember to change the less-than/greater-than sign depending on your need for before/after):
FILTER ( str(?itemDate) > '2019-12-13')
Treaties can also be broken down by their lead organisation. The lead organisation is the department with overall responsibility for the policy of the treaty, while the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is responsible for the laying of all treaties and for policy relating to the UK’s relations with other countries/parties.
Note that any treaty query can be amended to include lead organisation filter. To do this add the following strings to the query:
?Treaty :treatyHasLeadGovernmentOrganisation ?LeadOrg . ?LeadOrg :name ?LeadOrgName. FILTER (?LeadOrg in (id:BRTNQywN))
A list of lead organisations can be found here.
Section 22 of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 allows a Minister to certify that a treaty can be ratified although it has not met the requirements of section 20 of that Act. It applies in exceptional circumstances. These are not defined. The only restriction on a Minister using the power under section 22 is if either House has already resolved that the treaty should not be ratified.
In November 2022 we made the decision to add business steps about a treaty that occurred before a treaty is signed or laid before Parliament.
The government has precedent for engaging with Parliament via ministerial statements during the negotiation stage of a treaty or at the point a treaty has been signed but the treaty has not been laid before Parliament under the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010. Committees can also open inquiries and take evidence on a treaty before it’s laid as well.
Business about a treaty before signed or laid before Parliament
Treaties subject to the Crag procedure will always be considered by a Lords Select Committee. There is currently no requirement for a Commons Select Committee to consider treaties. In the Lords, up until April 2020 treaties could be considered by the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee (SLSC), the whole of the European Union Select Committee or allocated to one of its sub-Committees.
As of April 2020, the International Agreements Sub-Committee (IAC) or the whole of the European Union Select Committee became responsible for considering all treaties going forward. The SLSC and other sub-committees had no more involvement in the scrutiny of treaties.
As of January 2021 this changed again when the International Agreements Committee became a fully-fledged committee on its own and will have sole responsibility for all CRaG treaties laid before the House.
Later in 2021 it changed again with treaty consideration being shared between the International Agreements Committee and the Lords European Affairs Committee.
In the Commons any select committee can open an inquiry into a treaty and report on it if they feel it fits into their remit. As of November 2022, treaties have been scrutinised in some way by the International Trade Committee, the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee and the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee.
The Joint Committee on Human Rights can also consider treaties but as of 2021 there have been no inquiries/reports.
Lords inquiries and calls for evidence (None as of Sept 2021)
Consideration by the full International Agreements Committee (IAC)
International Agreements Committee (IAC) oral evidence sessions
Consideration by the European Union Select Committee and its sub-committees
Consideration by the International Agreements Sub-Committee (IAC)
In both Houses there is the potential for a Member to table a motion against a treaty. In the Commons there are two types of prayers that can be tabled. In the Lords there are, currently, four types of motions including the equivalent to the Commons motion. As of December 2020 there have been no motions tabled in the Commons.
Treaties can be debated in either House if a motion has been tabled or additionally in the Commons if a Select Committee recommends a general debate. In the Commons the treaty will either be debated on the floor of the House or referred to a Delegated Legislation Committee. In the Lords treaties will only be debated on the floor of the House.
If an urgent or important matter arises which an MP believes requires an immediate answer from a government minister, they may apply to ask an urgent question. If the Speaker is satisfied that the question is urgent and of public importance it is then granted. The relevant Minister has to come to the Chamber to explain what the government is doing on the issue raised. Treaties can be the subject of an urgent question. There has been one example since treaty data started being tracked in 2017-19.
The following query looks for all treaties withdrawn from the House of Commons and House of Lords:
A minister can make a statement to the House(s) in the form of an oral statement or written statement to inform the House that a treaty has entered into force, following the completion of the necessary domestic procedures.