20th July 2017
Last week saw the publication of the European Union Withdrawal Bill – previously known as the Great Repeal Bill.
The Bill sets out how all the rights and protections which were part of our membership of the European Union will be transposed into UK law. This includes our rights at work like our entitlement to 5.6 weeks of paid holiday each year, to paid maternity, to paternity and adoptive leave for new parents, and vital health and safety regulation. They include environmental protections, food safety standards, consumer safety standards and animal welfare protections.
This vast swathe of complex regulations make sure we all have minimum standards of protection as workers, as consumers, and for our animals and environment.
These standards have been thoroughly researched, debated and legislated on a Europe-wide basis. No one country could undercut the other’s rights, safety and protections. These standards have then been continually improved when necessary by the EU.
W hen we leave the EU, the UK will be responsible for all these regulations. This government has proposed that our current regulations will become UK law as they are; but they have also proposed that any of those complex, vital regulations could be amended by a small committee of hand-picked MPs, without a proper vote in the House of Commons.
This proposal is extremely worrying. Many High Peak constituents have written to me with concerns about the lack of proper scrutiny being given to these vital rights and protections.
Corporations are pushing the government to take away some of the most important protections we all rely on. It is important that any changes to our rights go to a full vote. All MPs should be accountable to the people affected by any changes to their rights.
The Labour Party will vote against the Bill as it stands. MPs must be able to stand up for constituents and their concerns.
Regulations that could be improved are those for small businesses: I met with the Federation of Small Business and will look at where red tape can be reduced. However, as a trade unionist of over 20 years, I will make sure that any reductions do not adversely affect employees or consumers.
I have been pressing the government about the poor level of funding provided for nurseries, especially government’s proposal for 30 hours childcare for 3 and 4 year olds. The underfunding is causing many problems at nurseries across High Peak – and the rest of the country. I want to ensure that places are increased and costs reduced for all parents, but the lack of funds is meaning the opposite in many cases. I’d like to hear your experiences at www.facebook.com/ruthgeorgeHP