Government publishes European Union (Withdrawal) Bill (aka Great Repeal Bill)

The Government has today published its 'European Union (Withdrawal Bill)', otherwise known as the Great Repeal Bill. The Bill repeals the European Communities Act 1972, provides for the retention of existing laws derived from the EU, and seeks the power to make appropriate changes to domestic laws which refer to or are enmeshed with European laws or institutions.

The Bill is an enabling Bill, designed to provide framework powers to Government in order that they can undertake work to unpick the complex issues of EU regulation, and does not go into detail about what laws are affected and what changes will need to be made. The Bill relies on so-called 'Henry VIII' powers to modify this panoply of laws without parliamentary scrutiny.

CIfA acknowledges the Bill and will be monitoring the actions of Government over the coming 18 months to ensure that the Government does not abuse the powers it is granted under this Bill by using them to substantively change the law in the process of 'translating' it in line with Brexit. This Bill is about retaining continuity as the UK leaves the EU, not about instituting policy changes without the proper oversight.

In a slightly longer timescale, CIfA will need to ensure that valued European laws like the regulations which enable Environmental Impact Assessments are not eroded by future policy change in the UK. However, no changes like this are expected to be brought forward for at least two years as the Government deals with more immediate needs such as agreeing trade deals and replacing funding previously attached to EU schemes.

There are a number of other 'Brexit Bills' on the legislative agenda for the coming two-years, including an Agriculture Bill, which, among other things, will determine how the UK will pursue environment stewardship beyond the provision of the European Common Agricultural Policy, and the Immigration Bill, which will set out a new system for immigration post-freedom of movement. Both of these Bills will have important impacts for the archaeology sector and will be a core part of CIfA advocacy.

A Government fact sheet on the Bill can be downloaded here.
The full text of the Bill is available here.

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