Wales’ Counsel General slams ‘constitutionally unacceptable’ EU law bonfire Bill
Wales’ Counsel General Mick Antoniw has slammed the UK Government bill which has been described as a “bonfire of retained EU laws” – and recommended the Senedd withholds its consent for the legislation.
The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill, was introduced by the former Minister of State for Brexit Opportunities and Government Efficiency, Jacob Rees-Mogg earlier this year, and is designed to make it easier for the UK Government, via the UK Parliament, to amend, repeal and replace more than 2,000 pieces of EU law retained after Brexit.
It also allows nearly all remaining retained EU law to be either repealed or absorbed into UK domestic law by December 31, 2023.
In a written statement, Mr Antoniw notes that the Bill “includes significant content that was not shared with the Devolved Governments prior to introduction” and described powers that would be granted to UK Government Ministers in devolved areas without the consent of Welsh Ministers as “constitutionally unacceptable”.
Setting out the Welsh Government’s position, the minister added: ”Our expectation is, in the first instance, that powers to amend devolved legislation should rest solely with the Welsh Ministers or, if held concurrently with Ministers of the Crown, that there should be a requirement on the face of the Bill for them to gain the consent of Welsh Ministers for their exercise in devolved areas”.
He also criticised the “arbitrary” deadline to review and actively save retained EU law by 31 December 2023.
Mr Antoniw added: “The Bill is a significant distraction at a time when the focus of government should be on matters of greater importance such as the cost-of-living crisis.
“It is our opinion that the body of retained EU law, as it currently stands, is in general fit for purpose.
“The imposition of the arbitrary deadline means that there is a very real risk in revisiting these legal instruments in haste, that interdependencies and other issues may not be identified, and that the consequence could be an inoperable statute book.
“As a result of this and other concerns with the Bill, which by its very nature could significantly impact on devolution, we are recommending that the Senedd withholds its consent for the Bill.”
Last weeks, MPs voted 280 to 225, majority 55, to give the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill a second reading.
It will undergo further scrutiny at a later date.
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