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Statement by Lord Frost in the House of Lords: 16 September 2021

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Gentlemen, with the permission of the Chamber, I will now make a statement, which is also being made in another country, on the possibilities that this country has now that we have left the European Union.

Gentlemen, while we were members of the EU, some of the most difficult issues faced by the Governments of both sides were on the regulatory issues created by the European Union. To take just a few examples: the Services Directive, the REACH directive, agricultural policy reforms and many pieces of financial services legislation, etc.

And very often such laws that had effect in this country reflected unsatisfactory compromises with other EU member states. We knew that if we did not save something from the sausage legislative machine, we would be voting and risking getting nothing. The resulting laws were created to lock each country – regardless of strengths or weaknesses – into the same structures. hey were very often too detailed and descriptive.

Moreover, the results of those negotiations, those laws, usually either had direct legal effect in the UK or passed into our law through secondary legislation and in any case, with very limited genuine democratic control.

Gentlemen, this Government was elected to end Brexit and change this situation, and that is what we intend to do.

Much has already changed in recent months. But given the extent of EU influence over our political system for almost 50 years, this is a big task.

So to start it off, we asked my RHF Sir Iain Duncan Smith to lead a team to review our existing laws in this area and our future opportunities. That team reported earlier this year and since then my RHF Chancellor and I and other colleagues have considered his so-called TIGRR report in some depth.

I am writing to Sir Iain today with our official response to his report, and, most importantly, with our plans to act on it. I am sharing the response of the Governments with the Chairmen of the Committees, I will deposit it in the Libraries of both Houses and it will be available very soon at gov.uk.

Gentlemen, I now want to highlight some of the most important elements of these plans.
First of all, we will do a review of the so-called protected EU law and with that, I mean many parts of the legislation we have taken in our statute book through the European Union Act (Withdrawal) of 2018 and we must now reconsider this large, but for us, abnormal category of law.

In doing so, we have two goals in mind. First of all, we intend to abolish the special status of protected EU law, so that it is no longer a separate category of UK domestic law, but normalized within our law, with a status clear legislative. If we do not, we risk giving undue priority to laws derived from EU legislation over laws properly drafted by this Parliament. This review also includes ensuring that all courts in this country have the full capacity to depart from EU case law under normal rules. In doing so, we will continue, and indeed finalize, the process of restoring this sovereign Parliament and our courts to their proper constitutional positions. Our second goal is to comprehensively review the essential content of the protected EU law. Now some of them are already under development – for example our plans to reform the procurement rules we inherited from the EU, or the plan announced last autumn by my Chancellor RHF to review many financial services legislation. But we are going to make this a comprehensive exercise and I want to be clear: our aim is to ultimately change, replace or repeal all that reserved EU law that is not appropriate for the UK.

This problem is obviously a legislative problem and accordingly the solution is also likely to be legislative. We will explore all the options to move this forward. In particular, we will look at the development of an adapted mechanism to expedite the repeal or amendment of this well-preserved EU law – in a way that reflects the fact that, as I have made clear, laws agreed elsewhere have essentially less democratic legitimacy than the laws initiated by the government of this country.

Secondly, gentlemen, we intend to embark on a new series of legislative reforms that we inherited after leaving the EU, in many cases as recommended by the TIGRR report.

And let me give just a few examples.

We aim to create a pro-growth, trusted data rights regime, more proportionate and less burdensome than the EU GDPR. My previous SofS RHF for Culture announced on 10 September a consultation which is the first stage in setting new rules. We intend to review the inherited approach to genetically modified organisms (GMOs), which in our opinion is very restrictive and not based on sound science. And my RHF Secretary of the Environment will also soon outline plans to reform the regulation of gene-edited organisms.

We will use the provisions of the Law on Medicines and Medical Devices 2021 to review our clinical trial frameworks, based on outdated EU legislation, giving a major boost to the UK world-class research and development sector. and giving patients access to new life-saving medicines faster. MHRA which is a world class regulator as we know it, is already reforming the regulations of medical devices to create a world leading regime in this field.

Gentlemen, we will bring out the potential of Britain as a world leader in the Future of Transport. And my RHF Transport Secretary will soon set out ambitious plans which include modernizing outdated EU vehicle standards and unlocking the full range of new transport technologies. We also intend to repeal the EU Port Services Regulations – which is a very good example of a regulation which was very towards the interests of the EU and never worked properly for the UK.

We will move our work forward in Artificial Intelligence, where the UK is already at the forefront of fostering global progress. We will soon publish the first National AI Strategy in the UK, which will set out our plans to overload the UK AI ecosystem and set the standards that will guide the world.

Third, my Lords, as recommended by the TIGRR and Penrose Review and as promised in the current consultation on Better Regulation Framework Reform, we will place much stricter tests within Government before making adjustment decisions. Now that we have control over all our laws, not just a subset of them, we will consider restoring a one-to-two system outside, which has been shown internationally to make a significant difference in how regulation is reduced.

Finally, my gentlemen, Brexit was intended to give everyone in this country – once again – a say in how it is run. This is also true in this area and we aim to exploit everyone’s ideas.

So we will set up a new stable commission, under visible and energetic leadership, to get ideas from every British citizen on how to repeal or improve the regulation. The work of the committees will be to consider such ideas and make recommendations for change – but they will only be able to make recommendations in one direction – in terms of reducing or eliminating burdens. I hope that in this way we will use the collective wisdom of the British people and begin to remove the dominance of arbitrary rule, of unknown origin, over the daily lives of the people.
Gentlemen, let me conclude by making it clear that this is only the beginning of our ambitious plans. Of course I will be back to this House regularly to keep you informed of progress, and most importantly to set our further goals. Gentlemen, Brexit was about regaining control. The ability to remove the distortions created by EU membership, to do things differently, in ways that work best for this country, and to promote growth, productivity and prosperity, and that is what we aim to do.

I acknowledge that Brexit was not an election initially supported by everyone in the country, or even seems by some in this House. But Brexit is now a fact. This place has now embarked on a great journey. Each of us has the opportunity to make this new journey a success – to make us a happier, more prosperous and more united place, and I hope everyone will join us in doing so.

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