Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill

Written evidence submitted by the BRC (British Retail Consortium) (REULB12)

About the BRC

The BRC’s purpose is to make a positive difference to the retail industry and the customers it serves, today and in the future.

Retail is an exciting, dynamic and diverse industry which is going through a period of profound change. Consumer expectations continue to evolve, and technology is enabling retailers to respond, changing how people shop. Concurrently costs are increasing significantly and consumer spending is slowing. Retailers are responding with resilience but prices for consumers are needing to rise and retail profits are under pressure.

The BRC is committed to ensuring the industry thrives through this period of transformation. We tell the story of retail, work with our members to drive positive change and use our expertise and influence to create an economic and policy environment that enables retail businesses to thrive and consumers to benefit. Our membership comprises over 5,000 businesses, including physical retailers, online only and multi-channel retailers operating across both channels, delivering £180bn of retail sales and employing over one and half million employees.

BRC Submission

The BRC wishes to make some brief comments on the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill for the consideration of the Committee.

1. Timing: We believe this is the wrong time to undertake a rushed assessment of 2500 pieces of regulation. Instead, the Bill should focus on any necessary in principle changes to reflect the changed role of the ECJ and to ensure that UK institutions are the final arbiter. If the objective is to ensure a full assessment of all regulation, the existing process should be revisited with the review process taking place over a much longer time period.

2. Immediate focus: In the immediate future the Bill should require the focus to be placed on:

a. renaming any remaining retained EU law after 2023 "assimilated law"

b. formally abolishing, for wholly domestic law purposes, the principle of supremacy and other general principles of EU law after 2023

c. enabling the effects of supremacy and general principles of EU law to be preserved or be the preferred vehicle. recreated in specific cases, via statutory instrument

d. giving the UK courts a new legal framework for reconciling inconsistent sources of law when they include those of EU origin, which ministers can influence via statutory instrument

3. Evidence-Based Approach: It has long been a principle of the UK approach to making or amending legislation that any change or proposal should be evidence based, accompanied by an impact assessment and subject to proper consultation with stakeholders. We believe those are important elements of better regulation and should be incorporated into the Bill.

4. Better Regulation: To assess 2500 regulations for repeal, retention or amendment in less than 1 year will almost certainly mean that a better regulation process will be impossible. Not only stakeholders but Departments will inevitably fail to spot some unintended consequences of any decision on any specific regulation. This will be compounded by the proposed lack of Parliamentary scrutiny. For this reason, improved and full Parliamentary scrutiny should be incorporated into the Bill.

5. Ongoing Process: Remembering that all EU law was fully considered in the European Council, of which the UK was an important member, and the European Parliament, the BRC would instead recommend a steadier procedure whereby Regulations are considered for amendment or repeal in the normal way – as and when desirable or necessary. We would not place an end date on such consideration because we believe that the normal review processes for regulations should apply. However, if one is to be imposed, it should be 5 years from the passage of the Bill and not one that requires rushed decisions and a major diversion of resources.

6. Utilisation of Planned Legislation: In some instances, already planned primary legislation should be the preferred vehicle – the Data Protection Bill and the Consumer Protection Draft Bill are two cases in point.

7. Prioritised Approach: In other areas it would be appropriate for the Bill to propose that Departments should identify a smaller number of key areas for initial consideration with full consultation on these with Stakeholders. These might include a focus on issues in Regulations where major UK positions were not adopted in the EU consideration and these are still considered to be live concerns. The Bill should impose a deadline for these initial areas to be identified of 6 months after Royal Assent.

8. The BRC believes that such a steady, more considered approach with more effective Parliamentary scrutiny would better serve the requirements of good regulation.

November 2022


Prepared 9th November 2022