Peers debate The Retained EU Law Bill
The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill has attracted lots of media attention since its introduction to Parliament. The bill proposes that the estimated 4,000 pieces of retained EU laws will automatically expire at the end of this year unless they have been specifically restated, revoked, replaced or updated by ministers.
The government says the aim of the Bill is to help develop a new “pro-growth, high-standards regulatory framework” for the UK after Brexit. But in the second reading debate in the Lords earlier this month, Peers highlighted a number of issues in relation to climate and nature, including:
· Despite the Government having committed to protect 30% of our land and sea for nature and to enhance protection for our marine protected areas, the Bill puts key pieces of environmental regulations at risk of revocation or amendment which could mean key environmental protections are lost or watered down and could weaken economically important ecosystem services and natural capital.
· Concerns that insufficient capacity and time to allow Whitehall to review the huge body of laws, as well as a lack of adequate time for parliamentary scrutiny, could lead to a major threat to important standards and protections contained in the laws with a very real risk that key pieces of legislation will be lost .
· That that Bill is creating uncertainty for industry, employers, regulators and investors, at a time when businesses are increasingly calling for policy and regulatory stability to support a pro-growth net zero transition.
“The overarching soundbite seems to be “regulations must be bad, so we have to get rid of them”, but “regulations” is basically another word for protections. Indeed, regulations can be drivers of growth in themselves; for example, environmental regulations can drive investment in skills, innovation and job creation."
Baroness Altmann, Conservative
"Some pieces of retained EU legislation in that list are substantial, long-standing and deeply woven into the fabric of environmental protection in this country at national and local level, and are accepted by many people as vital, operational and well-constructed."
Baroness Young of Old Scone, Labour
“The Bill is putting ideology above Parliament, people and our precious planet.”
Baroness Parminter, Liberal Democrat
As the Bill moves to Committee stage in the House of Lords for further scrutiny today, a group of cross party Peers have published a letter in the Telegraph, arguing that the Bill in its current form would grant Ministers “virtually unlimited powers” to make crucial choices “behind closed doors”, putting key environmental safeguards in jeopardy.