Government retreats on REUL Bill

The Retained EU Law Bill (REUL) Bill was scheduled for its Report Stage on Wednesday 19 April 2023. The Government has delayed the return of the REUL Bill. No new date has been set for the Report Stage. The Bill could be postponed for a long time, possibly beyond the next general election. After facing cross-party opposition from peers in the House of Lords, the Government is now considering what concessions to make on this Bill.

The delay conveniently avoids the local elections in early May, where the bonfire of EU laws that protect our standards, rights and protections could be a political liability. In the Bill’s current form, all EU-derived laws will expire by default at the end of this year unless a minister decides to save them. It could remove environmental protections such as acceptable water standards in British rivers and streams. One consequence of a lack of environmental regulations is the dumping of raw sewage into British waterways by water companies. This is an issue that has recently been reported in the media. If lots of regulations are allowed to disappear, we can expect more disasters like this.

It is encouraging that prime minister Rishi Sunak has proven that he is willing to take on the hardline Brexiteers. He did it over the Windsor framework, the new settlement for Northern Ireland, that amended the Northern Ireland Protocol, to resolve the problems with the previous agreement.

It would be ideal if the REUL Bill were scrapped. I suspect that PM Sunak is keeping the REUL Bill alive to appease the hardline Brexiteers in his party. If he finds it politically impossible to scrap it, let’s hope that he will remove the unacceptable features of this Bill.

UKMA has been concerned about this Bill because of the threat that it poses to existing weights and measures legislation. It threatens to undo decades of progress on metrication and to remove price transparency and consumer protection.

The Government has been forced to retreat after facing strong opposition from a wide range of stakeholders, including business groups, trade unions, environmental groups and charities, and from MPs and peers in all the main political parties, including the Conservative Party.

The battle over the REUL Bill is not yet over. We must continue to push them back further and ensure that this Bill never sees the light of day.

Further reading:

7 thoughts on “Government retreats on REUL Bill”

  1. Good! It also demonstrates that the House of Lords does have a purpose and an effect in modifying and tempering government business.


  2. This bill received its first reading on 22 September 2022, less than three weeks after Liz Truss became prime minister. Its sponsor was Jacob Rees-Mogg, then a member of the cabinet. Had it been passed quickly; the government would have had 15 months in which to meet the sunset [31 December 2023] deadline. Today Truss and Rees-Mogg are both back-benchers and there are only 8 months left before the sunset deadline. If the 15 month deadline was unworkable, how is it possible that the 8 month deadline has a chance of working?

    In the past, the Parliamentary sessions have ended in April or May, but no date has yet been announced for the 2022/3 session to be prorogued, though I have read that the current session is expected to last until November 2023. (The current session began on 10 May 2022. When Parliament is prorogued, any bills that have not completed all their stages fall by the wayside and the King, in his speech from the throne, outlines the Government’s plans for the following session. If a bill is reintroduced, it must go through all its stages from scratch.

    Thus, if back-room negotiations between the Government front bench and the House of Lords continue beyond the summer, the bill has a good chance of just falling by the wayside.


  3. It is possible that a secret deal was made behind the scenes between industry and government and out of the prying eyes of the news media. The delay could eventually become indefinite, such that it isn’t scrapped officially, but in practicality it is scrapped.

    It does appear that the the greatest support of this bill is from the fake news industry that seems to support anything that smells of progress. The media has always shown support for anything that benefits the extreme minority at the expense of the majority as if they have a secret wish to see the countries they operate in descend into darkness. All under the pretense of freedom of speech.

    I do hope for the sake of the future generations that this bill if it isn’t eventually scrapped is indefinitely suspended.


  4. Today’s Times has an article “Brexiteer anger as cold water poured on bonfire of EU laws”. The article goes on to say that rather than have a “sunset clause”, the bill will list about 800 pieces of EU legislation which will be removed from the statue book. The Business Secretary, Kemi Badenoch, told the European Research Group (ERG) of MPs were told that unless they accepted this “watering down”, the bill would not get through the House of Lords.


  5. The latest news (17:58 on 4 May 2023) on the REUL bill is that it will go to the report stage on 15 and 17 May 2023. During the Report Stage, the Lords will consider amendments proposed by the Committee Stage. These proposed amendments can be seen at Many of the proposed amendments are contradictory so the Lords will have to consider which amendments they like (if any). For example, one of the proposed amendments wants to scrap the sunset clause while another wants to change the sunset clause from 1 December 2023 to 31 December 2026.

    Once the report stage has decided which amendments, if any, should be made to the bill, the bill will have a third reading in the Lords when they can decide whether to accept the amended bill or whether to throw it out completely. If they decide to accept the amended bill, it goes back to the House of Commons. If the Commons accept the amendments, then it goes to the King for signing, if they do not accept the amendments, then it will shuttle between the House of Commons and the House of Lords until agreement is reached. If no agreement is reached before the end of this session of Parliament (probably November) the bill will fail.


  6. The latest news on the REUR Bill (BBC News, timestamped 17:30, 10-May-2023, is that ministers have agreed to remove the “sunset” clause from the REUR Bill. The Business Secretary said that the cut-off point would be replaced by a list of 600 bills that the government want to replace by the end of the year. I notice that she used the word “replace”, not “scrap”, but I don’t know what that means by that (I am not sure whether she does either). Jacob Rees-Mogg, who introduced the bill, has blamed everybody but himself for the failure of the bill to create a “bonfire of regulations”.

    The administrative stages that need to be performed are the report stage in the House of Lords, scheduled for 15 and 17-May where the amendments to the bill will be formally made, followed by the 3rd reading in the House of Lords where the bill will be accepted or rejected as a whole. Assuming that the Lords pass the bill (as amended), it will then go to the Commons who approve the changes made in the Lords (or reject the changes and send it back to the Lords). Once both houses have agreed the final version of the bill, it goes for Royal Assent after which it will become law.


  7. Martin,

    It seems to me that they intend to look at each law passed since the UK joined the EU and see if it needs to be “scrapped” or not. If laws are scrapped, then what will replace them? Thus the laws that are to be removed will in fact be replaced with something else.

    In the case of metrication, if it is decided to scrap metrication, the WMA would have to be amended in some form. I personally can’t see them reverting to imperial. Since the UK has been metric for some 50 years, the vast majority of industries have been metric for about the same amount of time. To force them to revert to imperial would be rather expensive and chaotic endeavor. I’m sure that the leaders of industry have already made it known to the powers to be that they will not return to old units and if push comes to shove will shut down their English operations and move elsewhere and take their profits with them.


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