Thank you to all those who contacted me about the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill.
This Bill is aimed at allowing Ministers to amend or repeal all legislation carried over from our membership of the EU with nearly no parliamentary scrutiny. I am concerned that this would put at risk hard-fought rights and protections for British workers, consumers, and the environment while diminishing democratic scrutiny and accountability in key areas of British law.
On 10 May 2023, the Government announced it was abandoning its plan to cause most retained EU law (REUL) to expire at the end of the year. I believe this reflects the damage that this approach would do to the economy, at a time when businesses and families are already struggling with the cost-of-living crisis. Indeed, that is why I supported efforts to force the Government to abandon this approach several months ago when the Bill was before the House of Commons. It is disappointing that it took so long for the Government to reverse its course. It was always completely unacceptable that it wanted the power to potentially allow thousands of pieces of legislation to be removed from our statute book at the end of this year, with no idea of the exact legislation it would apply to.
More broadly, despite the Government’s new amendments, I remain completely opposed to the enormous powers Ministers are seeking to give themselves through the Bill, and I share concerns that the Government is seeking to use it to embark on a process of mass deregulation. The laws at risk are not cumbersome red tape but rights and protections British people rightly expect. It is worrying, for example, that the Government has announced plans to water down working time rights, as well as protections for employees when their business changes owner.
We do need to establish the future status of laws carried over from our time in the EU, but I fundamentally disagree with the Government’s approach to doing this. I therefore welcome amendments made to the Bill in the House of Lords that seek to enable Parliament to have a say in deciding what happens to these laws that affect our lives. I can assure you I will continue to support efforts to ensure this legislation does not water down hard-won workers’ rights, undermine business confidence, or give Ministers unaccountable powers they cannot be trusted with.
Instead, the Government should bring forward a positive set of proposals about where the law needs to change or whether something can be done better, and allow MPs to scrutinise those proposals on behalf of our constituents.