Thank you for contacting me about the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill. I understand your concerns on this issue. I am a member of the European Statutory Instruments Committee which was established to review proposed revisions of our laws which are needed following Brexit so have seen at first hand what we have been changing. There are further changes which are needed to reflect that we have left the EU and we can now follow our wish to have a simpler regulatory and legal system.
Since we left the EU, all the laws which had been incorporated into British law from the EU have continued in force – “retained EU law”. The Bill will allow Parliament to repeal, amend and replace amend retained EU law. The Bill will also include a date by which all remaining retained EU Law will either be repealed or assimilated into UK domestic law.
The Government is committed to maintaining and enhancing workers’ rights following the UK’s departure from the EU. For example, the Working Time Directive has been transposed into UK law through the Working Time Regulations 1998, and under the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018 these and other Regulations have been retained. The regulations ensure that employees cannot be forced to work more than 48 hours a week. It is possible for employees to opt out of this provision voluntarily and in writing, either indefinitely or for a specified period. Employers can request that an employee opts out, but cannot terminate their employment or treat them unfairly if they decline.
Ultimately, the UK has one of the best records on workers’ rights, going further than the EU in many areas, and I am determined to build on this progress. By further protecting workers, supporting business to comply with the law, and preventing them from being undercut by a minority of irresponsible employers, the UK will remain a high-wage, high-employment economy.
The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 has led to the UK having one of the best records on health and safety in the world, and I am confident that this record will continue. The independent Health and Safety Executive (HSE) remains focused on ensuring that the UK's high standards continue and to reduce burdens for business.
This Bill will benefit people and businesses across the UK. While I appreciate that some groups have raised concerns about environmental matters, the Bill will not weaken environmental protections. Indeed, this government has acted to significantly increase environmental protection and is the greenest government this country has ever had. We have a new Environment Act which sets in law a series of environmental targets, enforced by a new Office for Environmental Protection. This Act is cleaning up the country’s air, restoring natural habitats, increasing biodiversity, reducing waste and making better use of our resources. We also have the Agriculture Act which encourages our farmers to build on their record of good stewardship and promote wildlife and diversity on their land.
I keep in touch with many environmental groups and farmers in Meon Valley, and I support the work they do to strengthen nature.
I hope this information is useful to you, thank you again for taking the time to write to me.