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Regulatory Reform and Retained EU Law

Volume 732: debated on Wednesday 10 May 2023

I am pleased to be able to update the House on the Government’s regulatory reform programme, and on amendments that we are tabling to the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill.

The ability for an independent UK to forge its own place in the world is one of the main reasons the country voted to leave the European Union. This Government are committed to seizing the opportunities following our exit, which is why we are now removing EU laws from the UK statute book.

The Government introduced the Bill so that we could end the special status of retained EU law. It ensures that, for the first time in a generation, the UK’s statute book will not recognise the supremacy of EU law or EU legal principles. As the Bill is currently drafted, almost all REUL is automatically revoked at the end of 2023, unless a statutory instrument is passed to preserve it.

Over the past year Whitehall Departments have been working hard to identify retained EU law to preserve, reform or revoke. However, with the growing volume of REUL being identified, and the risks of legal uncertainty posed by sunsetting instruments made under EU law, it has become clear that the programme was becoming more about reducing legal risk by preserving EU laws than prioritising meaningful reform. That is why today I am proposing a new approach: one that will ensure Ministers and officials can focus more on reforming REUL, and doing that faster.

Today the Government are tabling an amendment for Lords Report, which will replace the current sunset in the Bill with a list of the retained EU laws that we intend to revoke under the Bill at the end of 2023. This provides certainty for business by making it clear which regulations will be removed from our statue book, instead of highlighting only the REUL that would be saved. We will retain the vitally important powers in the Bill that allow us to continue to amend EU laws, so more complex regulation can still be revoked or reformed after proper assessment and consultation. Today we will also update the REUL dashboard, available on

We will still fully take back control of our laws and end the supremacy and special status of retained EU law by the end of 2023. We will also make our laws fit for UK purposes, reducing the regulatory burden and controlling the flow of new regulation. We will no longer tie business up in red tape.

I am pleased to say that the Government have already revoked or reformed over 1,000 EU laws since our exit. In addition to the list of around 600 we propose to revoke directly through the REUL Bill, the Financial Services and Markets Bill and the Procurement Bill will revoke around a further 500 pieces of REUL. We are committed to lightening the regulatory burden on businesses and helping to spur economic growth, and our Edinburgh reforms of UK financial services include over 30 regulatory reforms to unlock investment and boost growth in towns and cities across the UK.

As part of this drive for deregulation, today I can announce that we will make improvements to employment law which could help save businesses around £1 billion a year, while safeguarding the rights of workers. We will consult on cutting unnecessary red tape on recording working hours, streamline engagement with workers when a business transfers to new owners, and provide up to 5 million UK workers greater freedom to switch jobs by limiting non-compete clauses.

The regulatory reform update, “Smarter Regulation to Grow the Economy”, which I am publishing today, will be the first in a series of updates on how this Government intend to reform regulations to support economic growth. It sets out improvements to the better regulation framework to ensure that HMG only use regulation where necessary, and where regulation is used the impacts on wider Government priorities including competition and innovation are understood.

Our focus will be on policies that push businesses forward, increase their competitiveness in global markets and spur national growth.

Reforming and ending the special status of retained EU law in the UK is about making sure our laws work for the people who use them. Regulatory reform is integral to the Prime Minister’s mission to boost the UK economy; a mission that puts business, consumers, and the British public first.