UKMA is proud to join the Safeguarding our Standards coalition

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) established the Safeguarding our Standards (SOS) campaign in response to the Government’s proposed Retained EU Law Bill (REUL Bill). The Bill threatens food safety, product safety, animal health and welfare, fair trading, legal metrology and protection against scams and rogue traders. UKMA is concerned about the Bill’s threats to weights and measures legislation, which could undo many years of metrication progress. Last month, CTSI invited UKMA to join the Safeguarding our Standards coalition and UKMA agreed to join. SOS comprises a coalition of organisations and individuals with an interest in maintaining the protections that the people of the United Kingdom have benefited from for years.

The revelation on 8 November that a further 1400 laws could be affected by the REUL Bill – in addition to the 2400 previously announced – suggests that the full scale of the process outlined in the Bill has not been comprehensively understood. It also raises the prospect of even more pieces of legislation being affected as the deadline of 31 December 2023 approaches.

The Bill has a sunset clause of 31 December 2023 for all EU-derived laws. This means that they will automatically expire (i.e., disappear from the statute book) on that date unless a minister decides to save them. This threatens our standards, rights and protections, which could harm consumers and businesses. This would affect the ability of Trading Standards Officers to do their jobs and that would ultimately affect people and businesses across the UK. This could have disastrous consequences and could ultimately put lives at risk.

For this reason, the coalition urges the Government to scrap the REUL timetable. The coalition is asking the Government to give a cast-iron guarantee that British consumers will be no worse off – including upholding the highest standards for food, the safety of the products we use and the protections that safeguard so many of us on a daily basis. The Government must not rush to rewrite laws designed to protect the public without fully considering whether they are proportionate, enforceable and fit for purpose. Extra time would give legal experts, charities and other professions the opportunity to properly understand the consequences of any proposed changes to the law, time for Parliament to scrutinise those changes, and time for consumers and businesses to be consulted.

The CTSI Press Release contains a number of poll findings, including:

  • Most people think the Bill is a waste of Parliamentary time.
  • 92.5% of Trading Standards experts think that the Government should drop its 31 December 2023 sunset clause.
  • 72% of Trading Standards experts think that there should be no arbitrary timetable to sunset all EU-derived legislation.
  • 36.2% of the public are most concerned about lower food safety standards.
  • 31% of the public are most concerned about lower product safety standards.
  • The public want Government and Parliament to give priority to tackling the cost-of-living crisis and NHS waiting lists.
  • Incorporating EU legislation into British law was ranked last by the public in a list of the Government’s priorities.

The REUL Bill threatens to divert huge amounts of time and resources from the public’s priorities to an unnecessary and pointless exercise. The need for ministers and civil servants to review almost 4000 pieces of legislation by a very tight self-imposed deadline will take up a great deal of their time. In its current form, the REUL Bill shuts out the role of Parliament and removes the normal democratic safeguards that protect our standards.

Rushing the job to scrap or reform thousands of laws in a very short timetable is likely to lead to botched changes and do a lot of damage. Under the Government’s proposed timetable, thousands of pieces of complex and vitally important legislation will need to be reviewed, rewritten – and, potentially, scrapped – in a little over a year. Mistakes, omissions and contradictions are inevitable. In its current form, the REUL Bill could cause serious harm to the people, businesses, environment and economy of the UK.

CTSI recently wrote a letter to PM Rishi Sunak on behalf of the SOS coalition to express their and our concerns about the REUL Bill. You can see a copy of this letter here:

The following organisations are part of the SOS coalition and appear in the letter:

  • All-Party Parliamentary Group on Consumer Protection
  • Chartered Trading Standards Institute
  • Chartered Institute of Environmental Health
  • The Anti-Counterfeiting Group
  • Electrical Safety First
  • Child Accident Prevention Trust
  • Institute of Licensing
  • Association of Chief Trading Standards Officers
  • Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents
  • British Safety Industry Federation
  • Action on Smoking and Health
  • UK Metric Association
  • UK Weighing Federation
  • Unchecked

The letter ends by saying:

“We recognise the opportunities that reviewing legislation can bring and we appreciate that there are areas where divergence from EU law could benefit the UK. There is certainly potential to modernise and improve several aspects of consumer protection law. However, undertaking such a massive project, particularly during such a turbulent period, will require an appropriate amount of time and deliberation – otherwise it may end up doing more harm than good.”

3 thoughts on “UKMA is proud to join the Safeguarding our Standards coalition”

  1. In the late 1990’s I worked on three different Y2K projects. In 1996 I was assigned to investigate the Met Police’s CRIS (Crime Recording Information System) Project to see whether or not it was Y2K compliant. I found an inherent error which was corrected in either 1997 or 1998 (I had left the project by then). The correction was (I hope) fully tested out before being made live. The Y2K project had a hard deadline – all changes had to be fully tested and in place by 31 December 1999. Moreover we were only looking at one particular problem – the consequences of a computer system rolling the date over from “99” to “00” (or something else) rather than “1999” to “2000”. Work started three years before the deadline, but many computer programmes had known about this for years – in fact in 1985 I was consciously ensuring that anything I designed was Y2K compliant.

    In contrast, the Government’s Retained EU Law Bill (REUL Bill) is allowing a little more than a year to identify all the issues of which 4000 are known at the current time (not just one issue as in the Y2K scenario), rather than the three years that was allowed for the Y2K problem. Moreover, unlike the Y2K problem, there is no reason why 31 December 2023 should be a hard cut-off date. His Majesty’s Government would do well to look at the Y2K problem and see what they could learn from it.

    Like

  2. It’s really good to see that people are fighting back against this nonsense. I was beginning to wonder if anyone would. Hopefully over the next year, more will join the fight. Even if the organisers of this this diabolical plan to revert to imperial go through with it, there will be enough resistance to stop it.

    It’s good to see that the UK Weighing Federation has taken a stance and hopefully they will refuse to provide imperial based scales and refuse to calibrate and service those that continue to exist. I hope those organisations listed are just a sample and there are many more. Every engineering society and manufacturing industry needs to join if they haven’t already.

    Like

  3. The sunset clauses in the Retained EU Law Bill (REUL) are a classic example of how “Management by Exception” can go wrong. According to Wikipedia, “Management by exception gives employees the responsibility to make decisions and fulfill their work or projects by themselves”. This is exactly what the sunset clauses are designed to do – Government departments are expected to sort of any EU-derived legislation that might be within their remit without having detailed guidance from Central Government.

    Wikipedia goes on to say “If an unusual situation or deviation in the recorded data appears, which could cause difficulties for the business and can’t be managed by the employee at his level, the employee should pass the decision on to the next higher level”. However, the REUL Bill makes such corrections impossible – the problems will only become apparent once it is too late. This is exactly what happened to the “Herald of Free Enterprise” on 6 March 1987 – the officers on the bridge assumed that the staff had followed their orders correctly and that the bow doors were shut unless they were informed to the contrary. As it was, the bow doors were left open, no message reached the bridge, the ferry took in water and capsized killing 193 people.

    The REUL Bill threatends a legislative equivalent of the Herald of Free Enterprise disaster.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: