Monthly column: Government’s Retained EU Law Bill weakens laws without proper parliamentary scrutiny

Brexit in Bedford

The Government’s retained EU law passed its third reading on Wednesday by 297 votes to 238.

This reckless bill risks vital workplace protections like holiday pay, maternity leave, safe working hours, protection from discrimination, environmental law, consumer rights from food standards to water quality; data protection, cyber security, intellectual property, tax, public procurement, insolvency, agency works to name but a few.

It is thought as many as 4,000 laws that we agreed with the EU will expire from the statute book at the end of the year unless they are specifically retained or replaced.

Brexit was supposed to be about asserting parliamentary sovereignty and taking back control, yet MPs fought in vain over legislation which gives ministers, not MPs, the power to dump several thousand UK laws without MPs being able to decide what they are.

The legislation awards the Government “Henry VIII” powers which will enable them to weaken laws without proper parliamentary scrutiny.

There are serious concerns about why the Government refused to back an amendment backed by Tory rebels, including Brexit supporter David Davis, to list all of the laws that are at risk and why they’ve introduced “Sunset clauses” so these laws will disappear overnight if the process is not completed by an arbitrary deadline.

Legal experts have warned of a “collapse in legal certainty, with grave consequences for individuals, industry, employers, regulators and public authorities” which will also have a damaging impact on investment and growth.

Have this lot learned nothing about the mess they create and the damage they inflict on the UK when legislation is rushed through without parliamentary scrutiny and due process?

We have a Brexit deal Boris Johnson rushed through, hailing it as a great success for Britain only a few months later to threaten to unilaterally rip up the self-confessed “terrible” agreement.

Rishi Sunak knows the bill is damaging. But he’s weak and in hoc to the Brexit cultists in his party and afraid of the Johnson supporters who will cease any opportunity to oust him. It’s always party first for the Tories.

We do need to establish the future status of laws carried over from out time in 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 the law needs to change or whether something can be done better and allow MPs the time and power to scrutinise those proposals on behalf of our constituents.

This is a monthly guest column provided by
Mohammad Yasin, Labour MP for Bedford and Kempston.
It is published unedited and does not reflect the views of the Bedford Independent.

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