Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill

Written evidence submitted by Professor Maria Lee (REULB11)

1. I am grateful for the opportunity to provide evidence to the Committee on this most important Bill. I am a Professor of Law at University College London, and have been teaching and researching environmental law for many years. [1]

2. There is a great deal of detail in the Bill, and much to be said about that detail. However, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that it is the basic premise of the Bill that is most disturbing. A vast body of law stands to be repealed without requirement for any further scrutiny, impact assessment, parliamentary involvement or public consultation.

3. Such an approach to law reform is astonishing. Whilst the difficulties of parliamentary involvement in secondary legislation are well-known, the normal processes of law reform are crucial to both democratic decision-making and effective, evidence-based decision-making. This Bill would remove the normal democratic process for the testing of both the evidence and values on which law is based.

4. This is more than a practical question; it is not simply about providing more time or more resources. It is fundamentally about the principle of good, democratic law-making, and the accountable use of evidence and of power.

5. There is much to be said about the powers this Bill would grant to the Government of the day to restate, revoke or replace retained secondary law; [2] again though, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that all of these measures turn around the fundamentally problematic sunset provision in Clause 1.  

6. It should also be emphasised that this constitutional anomaly is not needed; adequate powers to amend retained EU law exist already. If that takes time, it is because it is difficult and important, and that fact cannot be avoided by the apparently simple measure of automatic repeal.

November 2022

[1] .

[2] For my brief thoughts from an environmental perspective , see .


Prepared 9th November 2022