Apr 5th, 2017
Give the public and parliament more say on new laws
By Rachel Whalley
The government’s just revealed their proposal for how they’ll change Britain’s laws when we leave the EU. It’s not good news. They want to bypass parliament and write new laws behind closed doors. It would give the government the power to change rules which affect all of us, without proper votes.
So far, it’s just a proposal. If we stay silent, it happens. But a huge petition signed by all of us could help change their minds – and make sure the laws which come in after Brexit get proper votes in parliament.
If you don’t want Brexit to mean we swap murky lawmaking in Brussels for murky backroom lawmaking in Westminster, please sign the petition now:
Lots of UK laws need changing, once EU rules have gone. They cover everything from how much paid holiday we get, to food and medicine safety, to the ban on bee-killing pesticides. Imagine hearing the news that your holiday pay is getting cut, without even a proper debate in parliament?
Around half of 38 Degrees members voted Leave. The other half voted Remain. But since the referendum we’re working together, speaking up for a Brexit that works for everyone. One of the best ways to do that is to make sure new laws get voted on in parliament – because then we can push our MPs to represent the views of us, their voters. If laws change without proper debate, it’s much easier to shut the public out.
Can you add your name to the petition right now and demand new laws are looked at properly? There are nearly 120,000 signatures so far, and rising!
When we Brexit, the government will need to rewrite lots of rules which previously came from Brussels. First, they’ll take all existing EU laws and put them into UK law. Then they’ll go back and change these rules one by one. The start of this process will be a law later this year, called the “Great Repeal Bill”.
This is a necessary process. But it needs to be done properly. The government is suggesting that it would be too time consuming for MPs to look properly at all the changes. So instead the Great Repeal Bill could give them the power to change lots of laws in the future without fresh votes. This would be known as a “Henry VIII” clause, after the Tudor king who tried to rule by decree instead of going through parliament.
The problem with a “Henry VIII clause” is that it would bypass the democratic safeguards which we’ve built up since Tudor times. Even if we trust Theresa May not to abuse these powers, they could also be open to abuse by future prime ministers.
The laws affected cover many different areas of life – protections for the countryside and wildlife, our rights at work and as shoppers, safety standards for medicines, etc. Everything the EU currently has a say on!
We need to make sure that the Great Repeal Bill does what it’s meant to do – set the legal basis for leaving the EU – without also handing the government huge new anti-democratic powers. That means making sure it doesn’t contain a “Henry VIII clause”, and that future changes to the law have to be voted on properly in parliament.