Unfortunately, I have a medical appointment tonight and so can’t physically travel to London to vote against the “Retained EU Law Bill .” As you know, I can only vote by being there in person as remote voting is not allowed. Instead I’ll be “paired” with an MP who would be voting for the bill. They then don’t vote, and so the overall result is not affected. But this is an informal arrangement, and it means on the official voting record I will go down as having no vote recorded.
As you may know, this Bill will allow Ministers to amend or repeal all legislation carried over from our membership of the European Union – thought to consist of over 2400 pieces of law, and possibly as many as 3,800 – 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 would expire and no longer be law in our country. I am concerned that this puts at risk hard-fought rights and protections for British workers, while diminishing democratic scrutiny and accountability in key areas of British law. Environmental protections also form a substantial part of retained EU law, and the Bill puts some of our most important environmental social protections on a cliff edge.
I supported amendment 36 to the Bill, which would have required the Government to publish a list of every piece of legislation affected and allowed for parliamentary oversight of this process. It is completely unacceptable that the Government wants the power to potentially allow thousands of pieces of legislation to be removed from our statute book at the end of this year and we have no idea of the exact legislation it would apply to. Unfortunately, this amendment was voted down by Government MPs.
More broadly, I am completely opposed to this Bill, which I believe represents a reckless approach to our legislation. The Bill would cause enormous levels of uncertainty as we would have no idea what our laws will consist of in 12 months’ time. I share concerns that the Government is seeking to use this Bill 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.
I voted against the Bill at every opportunity in the House of Commons, and spoke in Parliament on behalf of the many prominent wildlife charities that have voiced their own opposition to the proposals. You can watch my speech here: https://fb.watch/i8TIIX5fAP/
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, seeking to give itself 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 the law needs to change or whether something can be done better, and allow MPs to scrutinise those proposals on behalf of our constituents.