Government Using Brexit to Rip Up Your Pension Protections: the EU Bill Memo #2

Today the Retained EU Law Bill returned to parliament. Ministers refused to take questions from opposition MPs, as they struggled to justify this destructive legislation. Here's what we learned today about this bill: 

The First Right to be Abolished Revealed…Pension Protections! 

Currently two important judgements based in European law require the Pension Protection Fund to pay out half the value of your pension if your employer goes bust. Today the Ministers confirmed that the Government will not seek to replace these rights, meaning it is likely that employees will now only be able to secure a lower level of compensation. Our fear is that this is only just the start of this Government using Brexit to rip up your rights : 

"The Bauer judgement was raised. The Department of Work and Pensions does not intend to implement the Bauer judgement through the benefits system as it is a European Court judgement which does not fully align with the UK Pension Protection Scheme. The Hampshire judgement was raised, which is a clear example of where an EU judgement conflicts with UK Government policies and removing the effects of this judgement will help restore the effects of the system to the way in which it was intended." Minister Nus Ghani, Hansard Tuesday 22nd November 2022

The Sunset Clause is a 'deadline in search of a headline'....

This Bill starts with a 'sunset clause' that automatically deletes over 3,800 pieces of legislation by the end of 2023 if they are 'retained' EU law. Shadow Minister Justin Madders MP captured the Government’s motivation perfectly by describing this as ‘deadline in search of a headline’. Today Government Ministers resisted attempts to move this date, meaning  Parliament will be required to sit for 4,000 hours to hold all the legislative committees required to replace the laws deleted by this bill within the next year if they are to be replaced- to put this in context, during the entirety of the Brexit process Ministers only managed 600 such committees. Little wonder the Secretary of State is briefing the media that they will extend the sunset clause to avoid a legislative logjam - yet Minster Ghani described this deadline as ‘the backbone of this Bill’ as it reflects their obsession to abolish anything European even if it causes legal chaos.  

They still don’t know how many other rights this bill will delete… 

When Jacob Rees-Mogg published his 'dashboard' of laws in June 2022, it was described as an 'authorative, but not comprehensive' list of the laws affected. Campaigners and parliamentarians have now identified multiple examples of laws that will be affected by this bill but are not listed on this dashboard. The Minister has now admitted that officials are still trawling through UK laws to work out what rights would be abolished by this legislation if it is passed - but is still asking MPs to pass the bill even though there is no guarantee what it will do. Today the Government also voted down attempts to require them to publish a comprehensive list of the laws affected in the bill, covering up the real scale of the destruction this will cause. 

They voted down our attempts to protect environmental, employment and consumer rights...

Given the destructiveness of deleting thousands of rights from the statute book overnight, Labour tabled amendments to test Minister's pledges to protect key rights - these covered a wide range of laws including maternity rights, paid leave entitlement, TUPE rights, live animal exporting, restricting animal testing, stopping raw sewage discharging in our water, compensation rights when your travel is delayed, control of asbestos, the airworthiness of planes, and electrical goods safety standards to name but a few. 

Today the Government MPs voted down measures protecting each and every one of these rights. 

Ove the coming weeks, Labour Movement for Europe MPs including myself will be working with the front bench and other Parliamentarians to challenge the Government on these disastrous plans - you can help us by emailing your MP to ask them to oppose this chaotic and destructive legislation. 

You can find a briefing on this Bill here and you will be able to find the full transcripts of these evidence sessions here. The next session of the Bill will be on Thursday 24th November.