A number of constituents have been in touch to encourage me to support Amendment 48 to the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill. Ahead of the vote this evening, I want to explain my reasons for opposing Amendment 48.
Fundamentally, the measures in the amendment are not necessary. We are already increasing our environmental protections. For instance, we have set robust new environmental targets under the Environment Act 2021. This landmark piece of legislation responds to a clear and urgent scientific case, and growing public demand, for action to address environmental challenges.
The amendment would also create significant additional bureaucracy and delay for businesses, stifling economic growth in Mid Sussex. The amendment has a broad range of stipulations and accepting these would be highly resource intensive; having a severe impact on the ability of government to use the Bill to legislate and deliver on its environmental goals.
Legally, I also have concerns. Firstly, it would be difficult to prove objectively that changes to regulation do not lower environmental protections. This could risk tying government up in litigation, costing the taxpayer. Legal uncertainty is another concern. Clause 16(2) is unclear, since it does not specify that it applies only to REUL relating to the environment or food safety, composition or labelling. It could be held to apply more broadly, meaning that Departments may need to go through this process for any regulation to be reformed under REUL.
I can assure you this Government and I remain fully committed to upholding environmental standards and food protections. As such, I believe the measures in the amendment are therefore not necessary.
You can read more about my thoughts on the REUL Bill here.
You can read more about our world-leading environmental protections here.