21. If he will include within the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill proposals for a mechanism to ensure that UK workers' rights and protections remain in line with EU rights and protections after the UK leaves the EU. (900663)
We do not need to be part of the EU to have strong protections for workers. As I explained earlier, the UK already goes beyond EU minimum standards, and the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill will not change that. In future, it will be for Parliament and, where appropriate, the devolved legislatures to decide on changes to employment law. The Government have committed not to roll back workers’ rights and to ensure that we keep pace with the changing labour market.
That is very interesting, because the Secretary of State for International Trade wrote in the Financial Times in 2012:
“To restore Britain’s competitiveness we must begin by deregulating the labour market. Political objections must be overridden… It is intellectually unsustainable to believe that workplace rights should remain untouchable”.
Is it not the case that we cannot trust the Tories with workers’ rights?
It is certainly not the case. I will say to the hon. Gentleman once again that this Government are committed not only to protecting workers’ rights, but to ensuring that workers’ rights keep pace with the changing labour market, as evidenced by the Taylor report, which the Government are currently considering.
We have heard very warm words about protecting workers’ rights, something which will be tested over time, but will Ministers detail today the precise mechanism that they will use to work with trade unions and employers to ensure that Britain does not become the low-standards capital of Europe post-Brexit and to maintain workers’ rights over time?
I join in congratulating my hon. Friend on his appointment. Whether in relation to workers’ rights or more generally, does he agree that had the British people wanted to be subject to EU law, they would have voted to remain in last year’s referendum? Does he agree that the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill actually restores powers to Parliament and that a vote against it is only a vote to ensure that the UK automatically keeps pace with EU law with no say of its own?
Of course my hon. Friend makes an important point, for which I am most grateful. An easy way to automatically keep pace with EU law, whatever it might be, would have been to remain in the EU, but the public did not choose to do that, so Parliament will decide the law in future and it will be for Parliament to scrutinise any proposed changes.
I warmly welcome the Minister to his place. Does he agree that the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill is not the great repeal Bill but the great continuity Bill? Workers’ rights will not be undermined by the Bill; they are already enhanced when compared with the EU.
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The original name—the great repeal Bill—was inspired by the greatness of its constitutional significance and certainly not because of any changes it makes to workers’ rights which, as we have said, will continue unchanged.