Withdrawal Bill needs to include scrutiny for any backwards steps on the environment

With all the Henry the Eighth powers, secondary legislation making powers, and judicial erasure powers that Parliament will have handed to the Government in the Withdrawal Bill and other Brexit legislation, Ministers are going to find themselves with an unprecedented ability to rewrite enormous aspects of UK law at will. The Commons will be effectively by-passed and the Lords may feel compelled to wave it all through, as happens with almost every piece of secondary legislation. For this reason, it is so important that we put a backstop into law now, to protect environmental, food safety and animal welfare standards. 

The government says that they want to improve these standards, and not reduce them. That’s fine – I’ll support anything that improves standards. But if Ministers are truly committed to not reducing standards then why not include a guarantee in the legislation itself?

In the absence of an Environment Bill or the promised Environmental Enforcement Body, then we need a minimum level of protection for our existing standards. Any measure that will have the effect of weakening our environmental protections must face the full scrutiny of Parliament and not be snuck through in secondary legislation. This shouldn’t be a contentious point, and I hope the Minister will concede to the strength of the arguments and accept this Amendment

Crowdfunder: referendum law breakers

For democracy to work fairly and effectively, all campaigners and parties must operate on a level playing field; no one can be above the rule of law.  Whichever way we voted in the referendum, we should all agree that wrong doing needs to be dealt with.

That is why I have joined with other concerned politicians and ex-politicians, Tom Brake MP, Ben Bradshaw MP and Fiona Mactaggart who believe in accountability and that is why we are asking for your support in our legal action. Continue reading “Crowdfunder: referendum law breakers”

The Lords take a second bite

Amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill come back to the Lords today and while the media is focused upon giving the Commons a meaningful vote over the EU negotiations, a lot of other critical issues are at stake. Deleting the Henry 8th powers is crucial if Parliament wants to genuinely take back control of power from the executive. Retaining the charter of Human Rights would show that we intend to remain a progressive and democratic country. Continue reading “The Lords take a second bite”

Lords debate Brexit

As someone who has advocated leaving the EU for over two decades, I resent people saying I am out to ‘wreck’ the Brexit bill by seeking to amend it. Many of us have huge concerns that we will lose environmental and social protections because of the way the Prime Minister is approaching these negotiations. I am concerned that the Cabinet will attempt to dump protections for everything from wildlife and countryside to workers rights and climate change, by using a combination of exit negotiations and secondary legislation. It is wrong to use the referendum result as cover for by-passing proper Parliamentary scrutiny and the Lords has the job of ensuring that a democratic process is followed throughout the different stages of the negotiations. As for the threats of Lords abolition and replacing it with a democratically elected second chamber, that would be a welcome bonus.