The controversial Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill (RUEL) is now going through parliament. It was condemned in the Commons this week by Hilary Benn as giving unprecedented powers to government to sweep away law and he noted that there was little indication from the government as to how much change it intended.
Benn also warned that any EU rules not included by civil servants in the EU law “dashboard” would fall by default.
Former business secretary and champion of Brexit Opportunities, Jacob Rees-Mogg, had only just resigned when he attacked another Conservative backbencher, Richard Graham, for objecting to the speed with which the bill would enable 2,400 laws to be swept away. Rees-Mogg accused Graham of never having accepted Brexit – at which Graham formally objected and called on the Speaker to demand an apology.
The House of Commons Public Bill Committee has issued a call for evidence to inform their scrutiny of the bill:
The call for evidence includes a useful short explainer that is much more useful than anything from government. It sets out the checks, balances and flexibility for the government to essentially work with (not around) the sunset on all retained EU Law after the end of 2023. There is no intention to leave a void where the special status EU Law on the UK statute now sits.
- enable, via statutory instrument, most REUL) to be exempted from the sunset if it takes the form of legislative instruments
- enable the “sunset” to be postponed (for some but not all REUL) until as late as 23 June 2026, via statutory instrument
- rename any remaining retained EU law after 2023 “assimilated law”
- enable the effects of supremacy and general principles of EU law to be preserved or recreated in specific cases, via statutory instrument
The Bill is – largely – one which gives greater power to the UK government to more easily change retained EU law. It:
- formally abolishes the principle of supremacy and other general principles of EU law after 2023
- give the UK courts a new legal framework for reconciling inconsistent sources of law when they include those of EU origin, which ministers can influence via statutory instrument
- grant a suite of delegated powers to UK ministers and devolved authorities to revoke, restate, replace or update REUL/assimilated law by statutory instrument
- remove or downgrade existing forms of Parliamentary scrutiny of statutory instruments when they propose to modify or revoke law of EU origin
- expand the permitted use of Legislative Reform Orders (LROs) so that they can revoke retained direct EU legislation.
The Bill abolishes the Business Impact Target in the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 (SBEEA) – this is effectively a statutory obligation to produce an impact assessment on business of every qualifying regulatory provision (something like 2,400+).
Technical regulations related to machinery are the most immediately relevant EU laws for our members. We are urging full consultation and benefit/cost analysis of any changes. Politically, the most sensitive areas are potentially workers’ rights relating to issues such as working time and holiday pay; and environmental protection, although the Sunak government has already signalled a change, dropping the Truss policy in support of fracking.
The House of Commons Library also has a guide to the REUL: Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill 2022-23 – House of Commons Library (parliament.uk)