I have been receiving a lot of correspondence over the last few days on the EU Withdrawal Bill, otherwise known as the Great Repeal Bill.
The Government has been clear that it wishes to minimise disruption to businesses and individuals as the UK leaves the EU. That is why the Repeal Bill is being introduced. This bill will transfer EU law, including the case law of the European Court of Justice, into UK law at the point of the UK's departure from the EU. This will make sure that the UK has a functioning statute book when it leaves the EU and it will provide the maximum amount of certainty, control and continuity.
The Bill will also give ministers in the UK Government and in the devolved administrations the power to make legal corrections to transposed EU legislation. Parliament or the devolved legislatures will also be able to scrutinise any statutory instrument made under this power.
While I support the Bill at second reading, it is on the basis that it is improved upon in the committee stage. There has been much discussion around the so-called ‘Henry VIII’ powers that will give ministers the power to change or update EU laws without putting changes before Parliament. On a practical level this measure is sensible, as putting every change before Parliament would be an impossible task due to the volume of legislation. However, I feel that the proposed powers go beyond what is reasonable for the Government to achieve its stated aims. To this end I have put my name to three amendments, all designed to ensure that the powers given to ministers are proportionate and strictly focused on achieving the policy objective.