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Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Act 2023 (Consequential Amendment) Regulations 2023

Volume 834: debated on Wednesday 13 December 2023

Considered in Grand Committee

Moved by

That the Grand Committee do consider the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Act 2023 (Consequential Amendment) Regulations 2023.

My Lords, these regulations were laid before the House on 16 October 2023 under the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Act 2023. The retained EU law Act brought about significant changes to the domestic body of law named retained EU law. First, it provided that EU interpretive effects would cease to apply to UK legislation at the end of 2023. Secondly, it provided the Government with powers to revoke, reform and amend retained EU law more easily. Finally, to reflect the loss of interpretive effects, it provided that “retained EU law” would be renamed “assimilated law” at the end of 2023. Therefore, the Government are bringing forward this instrument to ensure that references to “retained EU Law” in primary legislation are changed to “assimilated law”, and to make related consequential changes.

The SI will enact consequential amendments to 107 pieces of primary legislation in order to implement the renaming of retained EU law as assimilated law and to make related textual changes. These changes reflect what has already been agreed to by Parliament as part of the passage of the REUL Act. This SI simply implements consequential changes that both Houses have already agreed. For example, the SI states that, in Section 4B(3A) of the International Organisations Act 1968, “retained EU” should be substituted by “assimilated”. The changes are necessary to ensure that the statute book reflects the REUL Act and to provide legal clarity and accessibility to users of legislation.

The SI will make technical amendments to Acts of Parliament containing areas of devolved competence, including making changes to Northern Ireland primary legislation. I am pleased to confirm that the Welsh and Scottish Governments have provided consent, as has the Northern Ireland Civil Service in the absence of an Executive and Assembly. I thank officials for their close working and collaboration on this matter.

It is worth noting that this SI is a standard example of using a consequential power. These powers are common in many Acts. They simply allow the Government to make consequential amendments to legislation that both Houses of Parliament have already passed. The fact that we are debating such technical changes as this demonstrates the Government’s commitment to ensuring proper scrutiny for all statutory instruments laid under the REUL Act.

Finally, although this SI does not enact reform or make any policy changes, the Government’s commitment to reform remains unchanged. Our priority is to bring forward reforms that will unlock innovation, reduce burdens for business and ensure that our regulations are the best fit for the UK. I am the Government’s lead on smarter regulation, so reforming our regulations is a personal priority for me. I look forward to sharing additional reform SIs with the House in coming months.

With all that in mind, the principles behind the changes we are proposing today have already been agreed by both Houses as part of the passage of the retained EU law Act. These changes are necessary to ensure that the statute book reflects the provisions enacted by that Act and to ensure that the terminology is consistent throughout primary legislation on our statute book. Nothing that this SI does will enact policy changes. I beg to move.

My Lords, I confess I struggled to find the controversy in this statutory instrument. All it actually does is bring into effect the use of the phrase “assimilated law” instead of “retained EU law”. Paragraph 7.1 of the Explanatory Memorandum states:

“This instrument does not result in any change in policy effect, but rather provides clarity to users of legislation that the specific changes made by the REUL Act have taken effect—thereby helping to further modernise our statute book and improve its clarity and accessibility for businesses and consumers alike”.

It is basically a linguistic update. We on this side of the Committee very much welcome any bit of clarity and assistance that can be offered to business. From what we can see, it certainly is not a controversial statutory instrument. On that basis, we will support it.

Motion agreed.