Yesterday (10 May 2023) the Government published a package of regulatory reform measures and provided an important update on the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill, which had set out to sunset nearly all retained EU law on the UK statute book by the end of 2023. This followed the UK’s departure from the EU and the Government’s commitment to end the supremacy of retained EU law from UK law by 2023.
This Government’s commitment to reducing burdensome regulation has been widely welcomed by industry. However, in taking the approach of jettisoning all EU-derived legislation, unless otherwise stipulated, this threatened to cause considerable uncertainty about the UK’s future regulatory and legislative landscape. Consequently, it generated significant speculative work across Whitehall to scrutinise several thousand pieces of EU-derived law very rapidly, with limited scope to conduct sufficient industry engagement.
ADS raised concerns through several channels regarding the uncertainty the Bill could unintentionally generate, notwithstanding the laudable intention to rationalise and streamline the UK’s statute book. With that in mind, ADS warmly welcomes the decision yesterday to adjust the Bill so that it makes clear which laws will be revoked at the end of the year, providing clarity to our sectors about which regulations will be removed from the statute book. ADS will also continue to work closely with key regulators, including the Civil Aviation Authority, to identify complex regulation that could be revoked or reformed to drive innovation and growth.
As part of the wider package of measures, the Government published a policy paper entitled Smarter regulation to grow the economy, which sets out to reduce reporting requirements for elements of the Working Time Regulations (which the Government estimates could save employers over £1bn a year); embeds the principle that regulation should be the last, rather than first, response of Government; takes forwards Professor Dame Angela McLean’s recommendations on strengthening regulators’ Growth Duty, which is to focus primarily on economic growth; and to limit the length of non-compete clauses to three months.
ADS agrees with the Government’s pro-growth approach to regulation and keenly awaits further developments in delivering its regulatory reform agenda, while at the same time recognising the crucial importance of high-quality regulation in many areas, for example aviation and aerospace, for public trust, innovation, and safety.