11 May 2023
Today (11th May 23) the Government is tabling amendments to the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill (the ‘REUL Bill’) at Lords’ Report stage alongside publishing an update on our plans for regulatory reform. This amendment has been tabled in response to the feedback from businesses and other organisations with an interest in Retained EU law during the Bill’s passage.
Alongside this, we are publishing a paper ‘Smarter Regulation to Grow the Economy’ which is the first in a series of updates on how we are reforming sectors across the UK economy. It sets out an ambitious programme of reform to reduce our overall regulatory burden, maximise innovation and growth and support UK businesses and consumers. A copy of this report is available on gov.uk and can be found here.
REUL Bill and Programme Update
The ability for an independent UK to forge its own place in the world is one of the main reasons the country voted to leave the European Union. It is why the Government introduced the REUL Bill so that we could end the special status of retained EU law. It ensures that, for the first time in a generation, the UK’s statute book will not recognise the supremacy of EU law or EU legal principles. However, as the Bill is currently drafted, almost all REUL is automatically revoked at the end of 2023, unless a statutory instrument is passed to preserve it.
The Government has already reformed or revoked over 1,000 pieces of REUL. In addition to the list of around 600 coming in the Bill, the Financial Services and Markets Bill and the Procurement Bill will repeal around 500 pieces of REUL. We are committed to lightening the regulatory burden on businesses and helping to spur economic growth, and our Edinburgh Reforms of UK financial services include over 30 regulatory reforms to unlock investment and boost growth in towns and cities across the UK.
Over the past year Whitehall departments have been working hard to identify REUL to preserve, reform or revoke. However, it has become clear that the default of retained EU law sunsetting at the end of this year unless it is preserved has forced departments to focus on which laws should be preserved, ahead of prioritising meaningful reform.
That is why today we are proposing a new approach: the Government is tabling an amendment that will replace the current sunset in the Bill with a list of all of the EU laws that we intend to revoke under the Bill at the end of 2023. This provides certainty for business and other organisations by making it clear which regulations will be removed from our statute book. We will retain the vitally important powers in the Bill that allow us to continue to amend REUL, so more complex regulation can still be revoked or reformed after proper assessment and consultation. This will ensure ministers and officials are freed up to focus more on reforming REUL and doing that faster.
Proposed reforms will, of course, be subject to the appropriate parliamentary scrutiny mechanisms, which will ensure that parliamentarians can scrutinise the use of the powers in the Bill throughout the lifetime of the programme. In particular, all SIs which significantly reform retained EU law will be subject to the affirmative procedure and will be debated by both Houses. SIs which reform retained EU law in any limited way, which revoke retained EU law, or which restate interpretive effects will be subject to the sifting procedure, the procedure which worked well for EU Exit SIs. This is a proven method of parliamentary oversight that draws on the experiences of our parliamentary committees.
Today we have also updated the REUL Dashboard, which was first published on 22nd June 2022 and updated in January this year. The dashboard sets out for each piece of REUL its name, type and territorial extent. The Dashboard also provides an overview of the percentages of REUL which have already been amended, repealed or replaced. The data used to populate the dashboard will also be available to download via a file uploaded to our gov.uk page which can be found here.
Link to Written Ministerial Statement:
Written by: TW