Jo Stevens MP

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Attorney General Questions - July

Since the EU referendum result there has been a resounding silence from the Government on whether they will keep the workplace and employment protections that EU law has developed and underpinned in the UK for many years.  

Our right not to be discriminated against on grounds of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religious belief and age are there because of EU law. The same goes for vital health and safety at work protection. 

This month I led for Labour in Attorney General Questions and focussed on seeking commitments from the Government law officers that none of these rights will be watered down or removed altogether as a consequence of us leaving the EU.

You can watch the exchanges here.

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The full exchange can be read below and you can watch it here:

Jo Stevens Shadow Minister (Justice), Shadow Solicitor General

Leaving the European Union will involve repeal of the European Communities Act 1972, which means all secondary legislation made under the Act will automatically fail unless it is re-enacted. Can the Attorney General tell us what steps are being taken, or will be taken, to ensure we have the necessary legislation to guarantee protection on important employment rights, such as transfers of undertakings and paid holidays for employees?

Jeremy Wright, Attorney-General

May I first of all say that it is always nice to see anyone on the Labour Front Bench these days, but it is a particular pleasure to see that the hon. Lady retains her position?

I repeat what I said to Nick Thomas-Symonds: it is clearly the case that the British Government will wish to retain in some form some of the regulations and pieces of legislation she refers to. Of course, the exercise of determining which pieces of legislation is going to time-consuming and complex, but I have no doubt that what this Government will wish to do is persist with high-quality protection for those in employment in this country, whether that is European legislation or, in future, domestic legislation.

Jo Stevens Shadow Minister (Justice), Shadow Solicitor General

I listened to the answer that the Attorney General gave to my hon. Friend Nick Thomas-Symonds. Prior to being elected to this House, I represented families of people killed or injured at work. The majority of health and safety legislation providing protection for UK workers derives from EU law, and in his answer the Attorney General did not satisfy me that he will provide equivalent or better protection. Does he agree that workers need to be protected against injury, illness and death at work, and that workplace health and safety legislation is essential and not red tape? Will he give this House and, in particular, the families of those killed at work a guarantee that, at the very least, equivalent legislation and workplace protections will be urgently re-enacted?

Jeremy Wright, Attorney-General

I agree that injury, illness and death at work must be prevented and dealt with through appropriate legislation and regulation. Of course, we already sought to protect workers from those things prior to our membership of the European Union, and we will certainly seek to do so post-membership. I do not believe that it is beyond the capacity of this House to design legislation and regulation that will enable us to provide effective protection, and this Government are entirely committed to doing so.

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