CTSI is leading a coalition of consumer protection experts in expressing deep concern that the Government’s proposed Retained EU Law (REUL) Bill could harm consumers and businesses.
The Institute has launched the ‘Safeguarding Our Standards’ campaign and has written an open letter to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, co-signed by organisations including the Chartered Institute for Environmental Health, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents and Electrical Safety First, urging the Government to to scrap the Bill’s current deadline of 31 December, 2023.
REUL, which was proposed by former Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg in September, would mean redrafting and potentially scrapping thousands of laws that affect food and product safety and consumer rights, as well as environmental protections and workers’ rights.
A survey of CTSI members found that the overwhelming majority (92.5%) believe that the Government should consider dropping its commitment to sunset legislation by 2023 and almost three-quarters (72%) said that an arbitrary timetable to sunset all EU-derived legislation should be abandoned altogether.
Instead CTSI is urging the Government to potentially explore a phased approach to sunsetting legislation based on specific legislative areas.
CTSI also commissioned a public survey, which found that the public is most concerned about loss of protections in areas including food safety (36.2% ranked this as their number one priority), product safety (ranked number one by 31%), and upholding laws that help enforcers crack down on scammers and rogue traders. This was mirrored by views from the Trading Standards profession – with product safety, food safety and fair trading being key concerns.
The public think that the Government and Parliament should be prioritising their time dealing with the cost-of-living crisis, closely followed by action to tackle NHS waiting lists. The translation of EU legislation into UK law was ranked last by the public in a list of the Government’s priorities.
CTSI Chief Executive, John Herriman said: “These latest findings confirm our fears around the current timetable for the Retained EU Law Bill. Rushing to overhaul vast swathes of UK legislation, particularly when the country faces such an unprecedented set of other challenges, is not something that those of us working in Trading Standards or consumer protection want, and there is clearly concern from the public that the Government should be focusing its precious Parliamentary time on other matters. We would urge the Government to reconsider the implementation timetable for the Bill and to potentially explore a phased approach.”
Yvonne Fovargue MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Consumer Protection, said: “This campaign, rightly, is not about refighting battles about Brexit. Rather, it’s about ensuring that we have good regulation in place that protects consumers and keeps people safe.
“Yes, we should always keep regulations under review and make sure they are fit for purpose. But let’s not play into a fantasy agenda that equates regulation with barriers to trade and growth. That’s nonsense.
“Good regulation benefits business and consumers alike. Let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater.”
Changes to legislation, as proposed by the Retained EU Law Bill, would affect the ability of Trading Standards to carry out enforcement work, which in turn would affect ordinary people and businesses across the UK.