Right now, the government is trying to pass legislation that would allow them to scrap over 3,800 laws carried over from when we were in the EU, practically overnight. The Retained EU Law Bill is the first step in dismantling regulations and standards protecting our environment, food quality and workers’ rights.
The Bill is currently in the House of Lords. We are sending an open letter to members of the House of Lords on Monday 6th March urging them to do what they can to defeat this Bill and make major changes. Please sign our open letter today.
Dear members of the House of Lords,
As you will know, the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill – a central piece of legislation to the Brexit project - passed by 59 votes at its third reading stage in the House of Commons on 18th January 2023 and is now in committee stage in the House of Lords.
The Bill legislates for an end to the implementation of up to 4000 EU laws in the UK by Dec 31st, 2023. As you may know, this is known as the ‘sunset clause’ which is at the heart of this Bill.
The government point to the Retained EU Law Dashboard as a source of legislation that will be impacted by this bill and could therefore be impacted by the sunset clause. We discovered, through the diligent work of the Commons committee stage, that this dashboard is not a full list of legislation. The amendment tabled by Stella Creasy and supported by David Davis, Lib Dems, SNP, and Labour aimed to clarify this and give parliament adequate oversight over the decision on ministers. Unfortunately, this failed.
There are also doubts, from across all parliamentary parties, over the capacity of government departments to meet the 2023 deadline. Some departments, like the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, have over 570 pieces of legislation that originated in EU law. Under current plans, this department will have to decide whether to keep or scrap each of these laws by 31st December 2023. This is a deadline in search of a headline.
Most important is the constitutional concerns shared by respected constitutional experts at the Hansard Society and the Bar Council. The lack of confidence in the scrutiny of Statutory Instruments, the power that this Bill transfers to ministers and the lack of adequate parliamentary scrutiny challenges the sovereignty of Parliament. In the words of David Davies, “this is not taking back control”.
I support the European Movement’s campaign to ‘Save our Standards’.
My four specific demands are for the government to:
• Provide a legally binding guarantee that they won’t slash our standards or drop EU laws which positively builds on our established regulations and standards;
• Commit to retaining or improving key legislation on wildlife protection, animal welfare, employment rights, environmental protections, food standards;
• The government must engage openly and transparently with third-sector organisations that are raising concerns about the implications of divergence in these areas, and;
• Remove clauses that allow Ministers to change the law without adequate democratic and parliamentary scrutiny.
Under the proposals of the Bill, the only way for our affected legislation and standards to be maintained is if individual Ministers intervene to either maintain or reform them. European Movement join with human rights organisations and constitutional experts in voicing our concerns that this is a weakening of our democratic oversight.
The European Movement believes that this sunset clause would mean huge uncertainties for businesses, workers and consumers and cause chaos in the courts. Right now, we need confidence in the UK economy, not even more uncertainty.
I urge you to use your role as a Member of the House of Lords to get involved in this debate and to support the European Movement’s efforts to secure wholesale changes to this Bill and uphold the sovereignty of Parliament.