Cheshire East Council

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Government to undertake review of ‘Retained EU law’, ensure courts have full ability to depart from EU case law "according to normal rules"

The Government is to conduct a review of ‘Retained EU law’, the legislation taken onto the statute book through the European Union (Withdrawal) Act of 2018, Lord Frost has announced.

In a statement to the House of Lords, the Minister of State at the Cabinet Office said: “[We] must now revisit this huge, but for us, anomalous, category of law.”

Lord Frost said that, in doing so, the Government had two purposes in mind. “First of all, we intend to remove the special status of retained EU law, so that it is no longer a distinct category of UK domestic law, but normalised within our law, with a clear legislative status. Unless we do this, we risk giving undue precedence to laws derived from EU legislation over laws made properly by this Parliament.”

The minister said this review would also involve “ensuring that all courts of this country should have the full ability to depart from EU case law according to the normal rules”.

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He added: “In so doing we will continue, and indeed finalise, the process of restoring this sovereign Parliament, and our courts, to their proper constitutional positions.”

Lord Frost said the Government’s second goal was to review comprehensively the substantive content of 'Retained EU law'.

“Now some of that is already under way - for example our plans to reform the procurement rules that we inherited from the EU, or the plan announced last autumn by…..the Chancellor to review much financial services legislation. But we are going to make this a comprehensive exercise and I want to be clear: our intention is eventually to amend, to replace, or to repeal all that retained EU law that is not right for the UK.”

He added: “That problem is obviously a legislative problem and accordingly the solution is also likely to be legislative. We are going to consider all the options for taking this forward. In particular, we will look at developing a tailored mechanism for accelerating the repeal or amendment of this retained EU law - in a way which reflects the fact that, as I have made clear, laws agreed elsewhere have intrinsically less democratic legitimacy than laws initiated by the Government of this country.

“Second, my Lords, we intend to begin a new series of reforms to the legislation we inherited on EU exit, in many cases as recommended by the TIGRR report [prepared by team led by Iain Duncan-Smith MP].”

Examples given by Lord Frost included reforms to the data rights regime, which he claimed would become “more proportionate and less burdensome than the EU’s GDPR”, an overhaul of clinical trial frameworks, and modernisation of “outdated” EU vehicle standards. The EU’s Port Services Regulations will also be repealed.

Other measures include permitting the voluntary printing of the Crown Stamp on pint glasses and reviewing the EU ban on markings and sales in imperial units and legislating in due course.

The Minister also promised that the Government would put in place much more rigorous tests within Government before it takes decisions to regulate. “Now that we have control over all of our laws, not just a subset of them, we will consider the reintroduction of a one-in-two-out system, which has been shown internationally to make a significant difference to how regulation recedes.”

Finally, the Government will create a new standing commission to receive ideas from any British citizen on how to repeal or improve regulation, he said. "The commission’s job will be to consider such ideas and make recommendations for change - but they will only be able to make recommendations in one direction - in the direction of reducing, or eliminating, burdens."

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