The first of the big Brexit Bills is now upon us. On Thursday September 7, the EU (Withdrawal) Bill (also known as the Repeal Bill) will have its second reading in Parliament. It will establish the new foundations of how UK law will in future be created, governed, scrutinised and enforced.
Sustain has joined the new Repeal Bill alliance, coordinated by Unlock Democracy, to press for better policy outcomes from the Repeal Bill, for people and the planet - health, welfare and sustainability. Sign up your organisation for news or to get involved at www.repealbill.org and follow on Twitter at @fixrepealbill Unlock Democracy has published a very helpful briefing: https://repealbill.org/s/170815-The-Repeal-Bill-Alliance-briefing-on-the-bill.docx
Please Tweet: Don't let the Repeal Bill mean Bad Food Britain. Write to your MP now to protect good food standards! http://bit.ly/2xbEyBh @fixrepealbill
What is the Sustain alliance doing to respond?
- Farm antibiotics: Controls governing unnecessary use of antibiotics on UK farms must be reliably preserved and urgently improved, says the Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics.
- Baby food standards: The Repeal Bill must guarantee continued high standards for baby food bought and sold in the UK, says the First Steps Nutrition Trust.
- Additives in children’s food: The Repeal Bill must not allow a slip back to the bad old days of chemical-laced food for children, says Action on Additives.
- Protected food names: The premium status of Britain’s high quality food producers must be upheld by the Repeal Bill to prevent loss of protected food names and their marketing and export opportunities, says Artisan Food Law and the Real Bread Campaign.
- Animal welfare: The legal principle that animals are sentient beings must not be lost. Currently, the Repeal Bill fails to uphold the requirement that the UK government must “give full regard to the welfare requirements of animals” when making policy, says Compassion in World Farming.
- Chemicals: The risk to environment and health protection is high, as the UK Government has not committed to the UK staying within highly sophisticated and world-leading EU systems for regulating risky chemicals, says ChemTrust.
- Pesticides: Rules must be upheld in the Repeal Bill that govern pesticides, from safety levels of residues in food, to the licensing of chemicals allowed to be used on farms and in parks, says Pesticides Action Network.
- Environmental protection: The Repeal Bill must not remove fundamental principles of environmental protection, and must make sure that UK law can be properly implemented and enforced, says the Greener UK alliance of 13 leading environmental organisations. And the Repeal Bill puts environmental protection at great risk, says Richard Benwell of Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, writing for Wildlife & Countryside Link.
- Workers rights: The Repeal Bill must safeguard existing EU equality and human rights protections, says UNISON – the public service union.
- Human rights: The Equality and Human Rights Commission has set out important principles that must be upheld by the Repeal Bill, covering issues such as rights of the child, equal pay, disability rights, holiday pay and measures to address human trafficking. Worker and human rights are also the subject of a briefing paper from Global Justice Now.
- Parliamentary Scrutiny. The Hansard Society has published a new paper, Taking Back Control for Brexit and Beyond, setting out proposals for a new EU (Withdrawal) Order that would strengthen scrutiny and help overcome challenges associated with delegated legislation.
What Sustain is calling for in the Repeal Bill
- Retain legal principles that underpin good environmental protection, such as the precautionary principle, the principle that preventive action should be taken, that environmental damage be rectified at source, that the polluter should pay, and access to justice; also that animals are sentient beings.
- Make provision for important citizen rights to be re-instated in UK law that will be lost through the repeal of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.
- Confirm that any substantive changes to UK policies and standards, before or after Brexit, must be made by primary legislation only, giving a full and proper role to parliamentary scrutiny, on behalf of UK citizens and, where relevant, scrutiny by devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
- Limit delegated powers, including Henry VIII powers, strictly to the purpose of faithful conversion, with a statement on the face of the bill that powers cannot be used for purposes beyond faithful conversion, and with a time limit or ‘sunset clause’ for the exercise of such powers.
- Set out new arrangements for good food governance, to ensure the continued provision by suitable organisations of: monitoring, measuring, ensuring proper implementation, checking compliance, enforcing, reviewing and reporting, co-ordinating and publicising. These must have adequate resources, appropriate independence, relevant expertise and sufficient powers, to deal with, for example food safety, animal and plant health, pesticides, food traceability, food fraud and environmental protection.
Published 7 Sep 2017
Good Trade Campaign: Campaigning for good trade that benefits people and the planet at home and overseas.
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Kath is Chief Executive of Sustain: The alliance for better food and farming, since 2016 leading the alliance's response to Brexit and its profound implications for healthy and sustainable food, farming and fishing and developing the Campaign for a Better Food Britain. During the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic in 2020, Kath has been the alliance lead on Food and Vulnerability, serving on numerous liaison and coordination groups to support the emergency food response at local and national level. She was instrumental with the Good Law Project and Doughty Street Chambers in launching a judicial review of the government's approach to children's holiday hunger during Covid-19.
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