The Prime Minister Theresa May announced the ‘Great Repeal Bill’ in her party conference speech last October, and it was included in the 2017 Queen’s Speech, under the title the ‘Repeal Bill’.
A draft of the ‘Repeal Bill’ is to be published on Thursday, making it available for practical scrutiny by MPs and the public for the first time.
A white paper (outline) of the bill was published in March. According to the Institute for Government, the bill as described in the white paper will seek to do three things:
Repeal the European Communities Act 1972. This legislation provides legal authority for EU law to have effect as national law in the UK. This will no longer be the case after Brexit.
Bring all EU laws onto the UK books. 40 years worth of laws and regulations made over while the UK was a member of the EU will continue to apply after Brexit.
Create powers to make secondary legislation to deal with technical problems will arise as EU laws are put on the statute book.
Once the 19,000 EU related regulations are part of UK law, aspects of even whole sections of legislation can be repealed and changed like any other act of parliament.
This has led to worries environmental protections will be reduced, or certain groups of workers losing some employment rights.
The ‘powers to make secondary legislation’ are known as ‘Henry VIII clauses’, because they give the government powers Henry VIII had from 1539, which allowed him to make laws by proclamation without the approval of parliament.
As seismic as as all this this is, there are some legal problems with the bill.