The Great Repeal Bill was published this month (June) by UK government, setting out plans to ensure a functioning statute book once the UK has left the EU.
Addressing MP’s in the House of Commons on the 30 March, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, David Davis, said the repeal bill would ensure “a smooth and orderly exit” from the EU.
European Communities Act
The European Communities Act 1972 (ECA) was the means by which the UK joined the EU in the 1970s. The first action of the bill is to repeal the ECA
David Davis believes that repealing the law will “end the supremacy of EU law in this country”, however, he explains that “a simple repeal of the ECA would leave holes in our statute book”, and so in addition to repealing the ECA the bill will convert EU law into UK law.
Finally the Bill will allow for laws that aren’t operating appropriately once we have left the EU to be corrected, so that the UK legal system “continues to function correctly outside the European Union”.
However this is not the full story.
Many Tory MPs including Brexit minister Liam Fox, have called for a bonfire of worker's rights and for the abolition of majority of health and safety legislation, and not just that which was as a result of the UK implementing EU Directives into UK law, e.g. Display Screen Equipment Regulations and the Management of Health and Safety At Work regulations, the latter of which has been marked for revision/abolition as part of the Government's 'Red Tape' campaign to deregulate business and free it of what it calls 'burdens on business'.
Concerns also exist for post Brexit Trade Deals with both China and the USA , with many commentators making the point that as a result of what now appears to be the Tory aim of having a 'hard Brexit', that the country will be so desperate for trade deals tat it will be happy to sign off standards, protections to consumers, and environmental standards that are far below those of the UK and Europe currently. Air Quality, water quality and food safety are all areas of concerns.
Derek Maylor in his April message to readers of this website said:
Does anyone believe the Government when they say that when applying BREXIT measures and cutting the alleged EU red tape that workers safety will not be affected? Phrases like ‘throw out EU regulations’ will be sounding over all the right wing press and they will merely say that they are doing what is asked of them, removing the burdens to business.
The Working Time Directive protects workers from the most unscrupulous style of management, having right to paid holiday and breaks, providing protection from excessive working hours which make conditions unsafe and unhealthy. A host of workplace Directives have been instrumental in the improvements in workplace safety throughout the EU and these must not be lost in a race to a low standard working environment.
The Trade Union Congress has criticised the Bill for falling short of Prime Minister, Theresa May’s promise “to fully protect and maintain all workers’ rights that came from the EU”.
Frances O’Grady, TUC General Secretary, said:
“The government proposes handing the power to change important rights and protections at work that British workers already have to judges. This means that important rules to protect workers could be overturned, without the UK Parliament having any say."
She added her voice to those concerned about employment rights and recall the Tory discussions under Cameron,that IDS was pushing in abolishing statutory sick pay along with employer's responsibility and to make workers open bank accounts they must use to fund any periods of sick leave themselves!
She said :
"The protections affected could include your rights to full holiday pay, equal pay for women, stopping indirect discrimination because of your race or gender, and help for workers when they are outsourced to a new boss.
The government is also taking wide-ranging powers that will allow ministers to scrap or water down rights like protections from excessive working hours, equal treatment for agency workers, and redundancy protections.”
O’Grady urged the Prime Minister to carve out a specific exemption in the Bill to “stop holes being punched in the rights that working people in Britain currently have”.
Richard Jones, IOSH Head of Policy and Public Affairs, said:
“As regards health and safety regulation post-Brexit, the ‘Great Repeal Bill’… will mean that the UK retains all EU-based health and safety laws, but that over time, our legislative provisions will be reviewed and may be amended.
IOSH will remain vigilant and work to ensure there’s no erosion of health and safety standards in the future. IOSH has been clear that the Prime Minister’s reference to not only protecting, but enhancing worker’s rights, must include health and safety.”
Karen McDonnell, Head of RoSPA Scotland, posted a blog following the introduction of the Bill to parliament. She said:
“While some berate the EU for telling us what to do in the world of health and safety, what they do not realise is that the rules they refer to were commonly created in UK law in the first place.
The UK is a world leader in the areas of road and workplace safety, with enviably low casualty rates; a world-class performance that has been hard-won through decades of investment in adopting evidence-based, life saving legislation and regulation, backed up by appropriate enforcement action.
In fact, we are so good at protecting our road users and workers that our cousins in the EU consistently borrow the legislation that we create here, and export it across the continent.
“The UK will only continue to be the safest place in the world to live if we protect our world-leading approach to health and safety.”
The Great Repeal Act and its implications have now been finally briefed to all MPs (who care to read it, unlike the majority that didn't read the EU Referendum briefing) in a new document published in the House of Commons Library, under the aptly named 'Legislation For Brexit: The Great Repeal Bill'.
This Bill will allow the Tories to hide, as they have done in the past, some of their worst attacks on the rights of the British people.
They will bury within the clauses of the Bill and add huge swathes of 'enabling' clauses which will escape the notice of most MPs; that will savage legislation which will no longer have the protection of the EU.
You can read the briefing document to all MPs by clicking on the cover picture above which will allow you to download the report in full. (pdf format)
The Government has announced that the Great Repeal Bill will repeal the European Communities Act 1972 (the ECA) and incorporate (transpose) European Union law into domestic law, “wherever practical”.
The full summary and background of the Repeal Bill can be read here
Source: TUC / HoC Library / Independent