The last thing our country needs is more uncertainty and a power grab by Ministers that undermines democratic accountability. Many constituents have contacted me to share their concerns about the Conservative Government’s proposed Retained EU Law Bill.
I’m very clear about this Bill. I do not support it in its current form. Along with my Labour colleagues, I voted against the Bill and we will continue to oppose a power grab from Ministers which undermines Parliamentary sovereignty and creates uncertainty over our laws. If the cross-party amendment is selected by the Speaker for debate and there is a vote, I will vote in support of it. Decisions on what happens to these laws should rest with MPs and parliament, not just with Ministers.
We cannot afford to place our employment rights, environmental protections and hard-won equal rights, at the mercy of Conservative Ministers.
The Bill in its current form will create more uncertainty, which is the last thing businesses need. I know this because I regularly meet with local businesses of all sizes, as well as with their trade bodies and they reinforce this in their conversations with me. The fact is that under the UK Conservative Government we have the lowest levels of business investment in the G7 and ripping up the rules that businesses rely on in order to trade will only make this worse.
This Bill will allow Ministers to amend or repeal all legislation carried over from our membership of the European Union – estimated to consist of over 2400 pieces of law – with nearly no parliamentary scrutiny. If the Government does not pass a replacement to any of piece of legislation before the end of next year, it will expire and no longer be law in our country. This puts at risk hard-fought rights and protections for working people, consumers and our environment whilst diminishing democratic scrutiny and accountability in key areas of our law.
It is clear that the Government want to use this Bill to embark on a process of mass deregulation, driving down standards, rights and protections. The laws at risk are not cumbersome “red tape” but important, often basic rights and protections that the public rightly expects.
We do need to establish the future status of laws carried over from our time as a member of the European Union, but I fundamentally disagree with the Government’s approach to doing this, seeking to give themselves the power to sweep away key areas of law, of great importance to people across the country, with no scrutiny, no say and no certainty over their replacements.
Instead, the Government should bring forward a positive set of proposals about where they consider the law actually needs to change to create improved protections and rights and allow MPs the time and power to scrutinise those proposals on behalf of our constituents.