Brake: Great Repeal Bill is the biggest power grab since Henry VIII

There is a certain arrogance about naming a piece of legislation “great”  before it is even enacted. The Government has today revealed how it will legislate to get rid of those pesky bits of European law that the Tories hate so much. You’ll hear a lot about “Henry VIII powers.” This is what the Parliament website says about them:

The Government sometimes adds this provision to a Bill to enable the Government to repeal or amend it after it has become an Act of Parliament. The provision enables primary legislation to be amended or repealed by subordinate legislation with or without further parliamentary scrutiny.

Such provisions are known as Henry VIII clauses, so named from the Statute of Proclamations 1539 which gave King Henry VIII power to legislate by proclamation.

Given that they had to be dragged kicking and screaming to even put the Article 50 Bill to Parliament, they will no doubt be pushing the boundaries of these sweeping powers. Tom Brake, our chief whip, was not impressed by the plans:

Theresa May and her ministers are resembling a medieval court more and more every single day. This shameless power grab under the cloak of secondary legislation would have made Henry VIII blush.

If needed, we will grind the government’s agenda to a standstill, unless proper and rigorous safeguards are given over the Great Repeal Bill.  The ball is now in the Prime Minister’s court.

Liberal Democrats will fight to maintain the high standards for the environment, health, safety, consumer protection, employment and equalities that the UK currently adheres to as an EU member. Nobody voted to diminish their rights, make themselves poorer or to make their country less safe.

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  • A statute of Henry V111 ? The King of England ?

    I don’t seem to recall that particular liberal gentleman being King of Scotland or that his writ included Scotland …… though I do know his sister Margaret was packed off by her Dad at the age of 14 to marry James 1V of Scotland. She stayed the night in my village on the way to Edinburgh and the village cross still has her coat of arms on it. Fortunately I wasn’t there at the time.

    But then what can you expect from a Government with its power base in the South East of England ?

  • “There is a certain arrogance about naming a piece of legislation “great” before it is even enacted.”

    Oh this is awkward…..

  • I accept that theoretical premise of not wasting time and resources on cosmetic changes is reasonable, but there must be a rigorous system in place to ensure that all changes really are just cosmetic, and agreed to be cosmetic by all parties.

    We should insist on a series of small committees who can take it in turn to review and approve all of these changes. It will be tedious, and I’m sure MPs would rather be doing something more interesting, but we cannot be in a position where legislation can be changed without some scrutiny.

  • Trust me I’m a Tory. Difficult one that, I think the answer needs to be a resounding NO.

  • Mark Goodrich 31st Mar '17 - 12:39am

    The “great” part of the title is more accurate that the “repeal” part given that it is enacting EU law into English law. It seems the govt have adopted the American tactic of ludicrous names for bills with a hint of Orwellian newspeak.

    We should therefore call it “The Great Dog’s Brexit Act”.

    Seriously, it is a power grab from parliament and it will be interesting to see if any Tories are prepared to resist. I think the other parties are likely to be united in opposition.

  • nvelope2003 31st Mar '17 - 4:33pm

    Nobody voted to make themselves poorer ? Well actually they did whether they knew it or not and plenty of them seemed to have accepted it because when they were asked they said they did not care if the local factories which employed half the people in their town were closed down as long as Britain regained its sovereignty and we got back our country. Unfortunately for them the “WE” did not include them but the rich people who are hoping to make a fortune out of abolishing the minimum wage and the rights we have because of the EU as some MPs made clear in the debate in Parliament.

  • Westminster Reform: One small step: LibDems introduce a private members bill to effectively repeal the relevant provisions of the Statute of Proclamations 1539, so that primary legislation can only be amended or repealed by subordinate legislation with Parliamentary scrutiny. Obviously the other way would be to tack an amendment on to a bill passing through the HoL.

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