3 Viscount Hailsham debates involving the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill

Viscount Hailsham Excerpts
Lord Callanan Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Lord Callanan) (Con)
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My Lords, before I get into my speech, I note with great anticipation that we will be hearing not one but two maiden speeches today. We are indeed blessed. Let me first warmly welcome my noble friend Lady Bray of Coln and the noble Baroness, Lady O’Grady of Upper Holloway. I am delighted to note that Lady O’Grady has come from advocating for a people’s assembly in 2013 to joining us here today—quite the journey. I look forward to both their contributions to this debate.

First, I thank the Minister for Industry and Investment Security for ensuring that the Bill has been sent to us in this place following much reasoned and thorough debate in the other place. At all stages there were commitments made across a number of issues, including our international obligations, employment rights and environmental protections. I reiterate those commitments now and of course will continue to do so throughout the passage of the Bill.

The retained EU law Bill is the next step in reasserting the sovereignty of Parliament and untangling the United Kingdom from nearly 50 years of EU membership. Retained EU law was never intended to sit on our statute book indefinitely. Indeed, the time is now right to review retained EU law and end it as a special legal category. The Bill will achieve this by enabling the Government to more easily amend, revoke or replace retained EU law by the end of 2023. This will ensure that the Government are able to create legislation which better suits the UK without taking decades of parliamentary time to achieve.

The Bill enables the UK to fully grasp the myriad opportunities to create modern and agile regulation, to support the ambitions of our sovereign nation. There are countless opportunities for reform ahead of us, ranging from financial services to data, and from artificial intelligence to transport and energy. Through the Bill, the Government will work to develop a new, pro-growth, high-standards regulatory framework that gives businesses the confidence to innovate, invest, scale up and therefore to create more jobs.

Clause 1 lays the groundwork for an ambitious and efficient overhaul of all retained EU law. It establishes 31 December 2023 as the sunset date on which retained EU law will cease to exist, unless there is further action by government and Parliament to preserve it as “assimilated law” without its special EU law features. In this way, the sunset ensures that outdated and unnecessary laws are quickly and easily repealed. It will also provide government departments with a clear timeline to seize reform opportunities. Indeed, a sunset is the quickest and most effective way to accelerate reform across over 400 policy areas and deliver the rapid repeal of retained EU law.

It is only right to set the sunset of retained EU law as the default position. This ensures that we are proactively choosing to preserve laws inherited from our membership of the EU only where they work in the best interests of the United Kingdom. Some retained EU law is of course inoperable and removing it from the statute book is merely good democratic governance.

The sunset extension mechanism, found in Clause 2, will allow specified instruments or specified descriptions of retained EU law to continue in force beyond the sunset date where that is necessary and in our interests. The sunset date cannot be extended beyond the end of 23 June 2026. It is my hope that this clause proves unnecessary, but it would be irresponsible not to include a clause to allow for unforeseen circumstances. Together, these two clauses will facilitate reforms that will help to grow our economy, deliver the opportunities Brexit provides and support advances in technology and science.

From the end of 2023, the Bill will end the special status of retained EU law on our statute book. Clauses 3 to 5 will ensure that EU rights, obligations and remedies retained by Section 4 of the withdrawal Act will cease to apply and that the application of the principle of supremacy and general principles of EU law as rules of interpretation will end. The retention of these principles provided legal continuity at the end of the transition period, but it would be constitutionally inappropriate to leave these retained EU law principles on the UK statute book in perpetuity. In many cases, the principles and rights in question already overlap with well-established provisions in domestic law. This has the potential to undermine the clarity of our law. To reflect these changes, Clause 6 renames retained EU law which has not been sunset as “assimilated law” after the end of 2023. This is not, as some have said, a simple “rebranding” exercise but is a new body of law without the EU law rules of interpretation.

Where further provision is necessary, the Bill provides powers in Clause 8 and Clauses 12 to 14 to codify specific rights and interpretive effects clearly and accessibly in domestic statute. We are proud of the history of the UK legal system, in which common-law principles and legislation are well established. These reforms will continue that tradition and ensure that our law continues to develop as one best suited to the UK context.

Past judgments of the courts have set too high a bar for UK courts to depart from retained case law and the judgments of EU courts. Now that we have left the European Union, we must reassess when it is right to depart from retained case law and establish more UK-focused precedents. The retained EU law Bill will free our courts to develop case law on retained EU law in a way that is right for the United Kingdom. Clause 7 introduces new tests for higher courts to apply when considering departure from retained case law. The tests give higher courts greater clarity on the factors to consider, and greater freedom to decide when it is appropriate to depart from that retained case law. The clause will also facilitate more decisions on departure from retained case law. It empowers lower courts to refer points of law to higher courts for a decision on whether to depart. It also confers on the law officers of the UK and on the devolved Governments similar reference powers and gives them the right to join cases to argue with regard to departure from retained case law.

Clause 9 gives the judiciary powers in connection with the ending of the supremacy of EU law. Courts and tribunals will issue incompatibility orders and will be able to grant appropriate remedies in legal proceedings where retained direct EU legislation cannot be read consistently with other pieces of domestic legislation.

Retained direct EU legislation, composed mainly of EU regulations over which the UK Parliament had no real say, often does not reflect the UK’s priorities or objectives to drive growth. We are currently forced to treat some of this legislation as equivalent to an Act of Parliament when amending it. This limits our ability to make vital reforms and is constitutionally inappropriate.

Viscount Hailsham Portrait Viscount Hailsham (Con)
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In respect of the legislation that is to be revoked or re-enacted, is my noble friend going to tell the House what consultation there will be with the various stakeholders, who must run into the thousands?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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When secondary law is implemented there is a well-established procedure for appropriate consultations, which of course will take place. All those stakeholders are able to have their say through many Members of both Houses of Parliament as well.

Clause 10 will therefore ensure that retained direct principal EU legislation and Section 4 EU withdrawal Act rights are downgraded, ensuring that they are treated as equivalent to secondary legislation for the purposes of amendment.

It is critical to ensure that this body of law can be updated, amended and reformed using appropriate delegated powers. Without these measures, thousands of regulations will become stagnant—unable to stay up to date, react to new information or implement new international agreements without requiring a new Act of Parliament. Clauses 10 and 11 support this Government’s commitment to taking the necessary steps to put the UK statute book on a sustainable footing, guaranteeing that we can seize all the opportunities that leaving the EU supplies.

The powers in the Bill, combined with the downgrading of retained direct principal legislation, will make it easier for Ministers to amend or repeal retained EU law without the need for primary legislation. The powers have also been designed to deal with matters arising in relation to the sunset and the ending of retained EU law as a legal category at the end of 2023. It has become increasingly clear that there is a lack of subordinate legislation-making powers to remove retained EU law from the statute book. It is appropriate to take powers in the Bill to address this.

The retained EU law dashboard has identified over 3,700 pieces of retained EU law across 16 departments. While some of these laws will be preserved, of course, many are outdated, some are unduly burdensome, and others are increasingly unsuited to the UK’s economic circumstances. Therefore, it is necessary to have powers in the Bill that are capable of acting on a wide range of retained EU law covering a variety of different policy areas. This is not a power grab by the Government.

Hospitality Industry

Viscount Hailsham Excerpts
Tuesday 24th January 2023

(1 year, 5 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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The noble Baroness makes a good point. We will certainly keep the hospitality strategy under review. It is worth recognising that we have offered considerable support to the sector, as we have to all businesses. I am afraid that we cannot continue to provide such levels of support. Nevertheless, support is available through business rates relief and other policies, and we continue to liaise closely with the sector.

Viscount Hailsham Portrait Viscount Hailsham (Con)
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My Lords, would it not be helpful to make an assessment of the impact on the livelihood of those who work in the hospitality sector of the damage caused by the strikes on the railways?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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My noble friend makes an important point. The sector estimates that the railway strikes have cost it over £1 billion in lost revenue during the strike period, so they do have a significant impact.

Nissan: Sunderland

Viscount Hailsham Excerpts
Monday 31st October 2016

(7 years, 8 months ago)

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Viscount Hailsham Portrait Viscount Hailsham (Con)
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My Lords, with regard to the fourth reassurance given to Nissan, does my noble friend accept that in return for “free and unencumbered access”, to use the words of the Statement, European negotiators are likely to seek concessions from the UK on movement of persons, the acceptance of internal regulations and the payment of contributions? What was said to Nissan on precisely these points? If nothing, would my noble friend care to share the Government’s position with the House?