Debates between Lord Krebs and Baroness Ludford during the 2019 Parliament

Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill

Debate between Lord Krebs and Baroness Ludford
Baroness Ludford Portrait Baroness Ludford (LD)
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Absolutely. George Peretz refers to the bits of an SI that were not made to implement an EU obligation. Do they remain as what he calls “bleeding chunks”, because of the “so far as” caveat? He calls them Frankenstein SIs, which may or may not make any sense as law. If an SI has been partially made to implement an EU obligation, will it be on the catalogue or list or whatever?

In a meeting yesterday I mentioned one problem, and I shall mention it here now. I had a Liberal Democrat colleague in the European Parliament, Chris Davies, who consistently raised the question of what were called in the jargon “correlation tables”. What that meant was traceability—being able to see how EU law was being implemented in all the member states. That had various advantages, and one advantage that it would have now is that we would not have hundreds of civil servants scurrying around Whitehall who should be doing more important work than trying desperately to find out what is retained EU law, because the EU measure being implemented is not cited in the SI or even in primary legislation.

That is one problem that we have now—and I will repeat an example that I have given before, which is something that I know something about. The Extradition Act 2003 implemented the European arrest warrant. You will not find the term “European arrest warrant” in the Act, which just referred to Part 1 and Part 2 countries for extradition. Part 1 was broadly about European arrest warrant countries, but an ordinary person opening up the Extradition Act would not have had a clue that it was implementing the European arrest warrant. So I am afraid that successive Governments have made a rod for the back of the present Government, and all those poor civil servants, and the National Archives and everybody else who is being dragged into this absurd exercise.

There has been a failure for a variety of reasons, one of which is the gold plating. There would be some dusty project in a Whitehall drawer somewhere, and then an EU measure would come along that was a wonderful vehicle for it. They could never justify to Ministers putting it through in a Bill, so they thought, “Aha, nobody will notice. When we implement it through Section 2(2), we’ll blame the EU or we’ll kind of hide it among all this stuff”. So I am afraid that chickens are coming home to roost with regard to the 4,000 or however many thousand measures. We do not know what is in the scope of this Bill. More importantly, all the people out there in the real economy—the businesses, the trade unions, consumer organisations and travel firms—do not know what EU law they are going to be continuing to operate, and that frankly is a disgrace.

Lord Krebs Portrait Lord Krebs (CB)
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My Lords, I return to the by now infamous letter, which I too opened a few minutes ago. As the noble Lord, Lord Fox, said, when we talked about regulatory burden we asked for some worked examples, because it is only when you have the worked example with the actual numbers—maths homework—that you can actually see how it is going to operate. When I opened the letter, I thought for a moment it was a spoof, because it says:

“There is no definition of regulatory burden in the Bill, as … such a definition could unnecessarily constrain departments”.

It also says—this is helpful—that decisions about the regulatory burden

“will take place on a case by case basis and it will be an ‘in the round’ consideration that encompasses the vector of considerations in clause 15(10).”

If that is the worked example then, my God, we need a bit of help. I hope that when we get the real letter, rather than a spoof letter, it will actually tell us how this trade-off between a bit more regulation there and a bit less regulation over here is going to work.