Dr David Jukes, The University of Reading, UK

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Food Law News - UK - 2023

CIEH News Item, 11 May 2023

BREXIT - CIEH welcomes government rethink on plans to sunset retained EU law

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) have welcomed the UK Government’s U-turn on plans to revoke thousands of EU laws by the end of the year.

The government confirmed on Wednesday that it would amend the Retained EU Law Bill, removing a controversial clause that would see any retained EU law that hadn’t already been repealed, or replaced, fall off the statute book after 31st December 2023.

The move was confirmed by the Secretary of State for Business and Trade, Kemi Badenoch MP, after it was made clear that the government faced a major rebellion in the House of Lords, where the Bill is due to be debated next week.

CIEH have always acknowledged the need to review EU derived regulations to ensure they are fit for purpose and tailored to the needs of the country. However, CIEH have consistently opposed the government’s plans to arbitrarily revoke retained EU law that hadn’t been scrutinised by the end of the year. Such an approach would have resulted in an unnecessarily hasty approach to the legislative review process of thousands of complex and overlapping regulations.

CIEH have embarked upon a sustained campaign, spanning several months. From working with MPs and Peers from across the political spectrum in tabling parliamentary questions, working with coalition partners, such as the Chartered Trading Standard Institute (CTSI), with their ‘Save Our Standards’ campaign, to providing evidence to the Public Bill Committee, CIEH have been highlighting the risks the Bill posed to regulatory standards in the UK. CIEH have consistently been at the forefront of opposition to the government’s plans to rush through this vitally important process.

CIEH have also played a direct role in the Government’s U-turn. CIEH worked closely with a coalition of Peers in the House of Lords, drafting several amendments to the Bill in the House of Lords. It is here the Bill met its fiercest political opposition which has prompted this dramatic climbdown.

CIEH remain committed to engaging constructively in any review process of our regulatory frameworks under the provision that the high standards currently enjoyed in this country are either maintained or enhanced. CIEH also urge the government to afford greater opportunity for public consultation as well as parliamentary scrutiny of this process.

Dr Phil James, Chief Executive Officer at CIEH, said:

“We are delighted the government has finally listened to reason and has ditched its plans to arbitrarily revoke thousands of pieces of retained EU law by the end of the year.

Placing such a comprehensive legislative review, some 4,000 plus pieces of EU derived regulations, on a timer was never going to be achievable and we are glad the government has seen sense on this at long last.

We are proud of the role the CIEH has played in forcing this U-turn, demonstrating what can be achieved when we harness the passion and expertise of our membership community to achieve policy change at the heart of government.”

Louise Hosking, Executive Director of Environmental Health at the CIEH, said:

“We welcome the government’s change of direction. However, work remains to be done in ensuring our high regulatory standards are protected.

While we welcome this decision to remove the arbitrary sunset date, this is merely one clause in a wide-ranging Bill. The Bill still aims to review, repeal, or replace thousands of pieces of retained EU law, without any meaningful public consultation or parliamentary oversight. We urge the government to ensure that in reviewing retained EU law, they engage constructively with the CIEH, our members, as well as the wider public in this process.

Our regulatory standards are vital for protecting public health, and we at CIEH want to ensure these are maintained and, where possible, enhanced further.”

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