London Calling: Senedd at risk of being bypassed by Westminster’s Retained EU Law Bill
The UK Government’s Retained EU Law Bill risks bypassing the Senedd whilst giving yet more powers to Ministers in London.
Those are some of the serious concerns a Senedd Committee has outlined about the Bill and the impact it could have on the certainty and quality of law affecting Wales.
The Legislation, Justice and Constitution Committee says the Bill concentrates too much power in the hands of Ministers, bypassing the role of parliaments, including the Senedd.
Huw Irranca-Davies MS, Chair of the Legislation, Justice and Constitution Committee said the impact of the Bill cannot be underestimated.
“With an estimated 4,000 pieces of legislation on a wide range of important areas affected, proper consideration to the task at hand must be given by the Senedd and UK Parliament.
“On behalf of the people of Wales, the job of the Senedd is to hold government to account.
“This Bill, if it becomes law, will concentrate too much power in the hands of UK and Welsh government ministers, without proper scrutiny from the Senedd.
“For us to have good law in Wales on essential areas such as the environment and agriculture, we must have proper oversight and time to consider legislation.
“We’re calling on the Welsh Government to give us a clear idea of what implementing the retained EU law Bill would mean for Government and Senedd time.”
Retained EU Law
The European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 has become known as Retained EU Law.
Following the UK’s exit from the European Union, EU laws have stayed in place with the aim of avoiding gaps in important areas like product standards, animal welfare and employment law.
Now the UK Government says there is no longer a place for EU law and is attempting to remove or reform these laws with the UK Government’s Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill.
Because many of the laws are in subject areas devolved to Wales, such as agriculture and the environment, the Senedd’s consent must be sought on the Retained EU Law Bill passing through the UK Parliament.
This means ‘Legislative Consent Memoranda’ must be considered by the Senedd and a motion voted on by Members of the Senedd.
Unnecessary Ministerial Powers
The Senedd’s role is to hold the Welsh Government to account, and the Committee is expressing serious concerns that the Bill hinders this and gives too much power to government ministers.
First Minister Mark Drakeford has warned of the impact on the work of the Welsh Government and Senedd
Mr Drakeford has said that capacity would need to be diverted from elsewhere in the Welsh Government to cope with the Bill.
The Bill includes a ‘sunset clause’ on retained EU law, meaning that laws will be removed after 31 December 2023, unless they are saved or reformed.
The timetable for the Bill, caused by this sunset date means that the Senedd is likely to be confronted with an unprecedented workload in the autumn of 2023 – meaning other important work could be affected.
The Committee is calling on the Welsh Government to clarify and set out a frank assessment of the implications.
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