08 August 2019

Brexit unbound

Prometheus unbound

Increased throughput sees Brexit-related laws passed more than triple in first half of 2019, while significant non-Brexit legislation has been delayed.

The number of new Brexit-related laws passed in the UK more than tripled over the first half of 2019 to 488, up from 112 in the previous six-month period, shows research by Thomson Reuters. In the first half of 2018, only one Brexit-related law was passed.

Legislative throughput

Brexit-related laws refer to those that will come into effect on the UK’s planned exit day of October 31, 2019 to ensure there are no legislative gaps once EU regulations cease to be directly applicable in the UK. There has also been a large increase in the number of amendments to both UK and current EU legislation. Over the same period, 66,100 amendments were made, up from 7,500 in the previous six-month period. Many existing laws are being amended so that they will still apply post-Brexit. The UK Government still needs to secure the backing of the House for the method of exit, but also several key Brexit-related bills still need to be passed, including: The Trade Bill, giving the Government powers to “roll over” existing EU trade deals; The Financial Services Bill, to give the Government powers to implement future EU financial services regulations in the UK, to provide certainty for financial institutions; and, The Immigration Bill, establishing the “settled status” regime for EU citizens living in the UK. Charlotte Brady, legislation department manager at Thomson Reuters, said “The legislative machine at Parliament has significantly increased throughput in recent months,” adding, “There has been a lot done in preparation for Brexit and there is still plenty to do.”

Legislation delayed

Excluding Brexit-related legislation, there has been a fall in the number of laws passed in this period. The number of laws passed in the UK, excluding all Brexit-related laws, fell to 1,861 last year (year-end 30 June), down from 2,233 the year before and 4,241 five years ago. A number of planned domestic reforms have been postponed, such as the Good Work Plan, described as “biggest package of workplace reforms for over 20 years,” improving working conditions for agency and zero-hours workers. Other delayed legislation includes the Fair Funding Review, setting new baseline funding allocations for local authorities by delivering an up-to-date assessment of their relative needs, and a long-awaited Green Paper on the future of social care in the UK.