Okay - here's some live tweeting of the Public Bills Committee's evidence session with witnesses on the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform Bill) (henceforth the Mogg Bill for space). (I'm 20 minute lates because of parking, so am not watching live!) 1/
We start with Sir Stephen Laws, who used to be a Parliamentary Counsel and and now works for Policy Exchange. He's in favour of the Bill because it according to him makes the law "less obscure" by reference to weird unwritten principles. 2/
This is a reference to the general principles being retained by retained EU law, but his claim that it is 'imprecise' is very strange - and the idea that UK knowledge of how to deal with EU law will become 'lost knowledge' is a rather dramatic statement! 3/
Sure, EVENTUALLY we'll be out of the EU longer than we were in it - but given that Parliament can overwrite retained EU law outwith this Bill, why would retained EU law remain on the books for another 50 years?

He's now talking about parliamentary scrutiny... 4/
... and arguing that scrutiny of everything is a 'myth' and only politically salient issues should be debated. All commentators will agree to this in principle; the problems with this Bill is that it rushes through all possible scrutiny available. Not helpful. 5/
(Needless to say, I'm going to disagree with most of what Sir Laws feels about the Mogg Bill. He notes the Bill shouldn't set out parliamentary procedure in detail. But if it doesn't, then where does the procedure come from?!) 6/
Suggestion on all sides that perhaps the government should tell Parliament more about its plans.

Most insipid partisan question: do we agree that with Brexit EU law should be gone from our legal system? Come on. This isn't actually EU law anymore. Parliament opted to keep it! 6/
Oh, my God, a few more like this: do we agree the EU legislates differently so this is all bad and wrong? Yes, the UK has a different system, so we should do this the UK way!

Nobody disagrees with Parliament taking charge of retained EU law. It's *how*. That is the issue. 7/
Would also argue that it's a massive overstatement that retained EU law makes life very hard for those who have to use it. The rules are clearly set out and by and large a proxy of how EU law used to work, which isn't forgotten knowledge yet. Anyway. 8/
There's a big theme here that we didn't actually *want* any EU law, we were made to adopt it under duress and so we effectively are escaping the shackles etc.

But Parliament *opted* to keep all of this and deal with the substance in due course. AHHHH!! 9/
I'm skipping over a bunch of this only to note that a Committee member asks what the effects of the Mogg Bill are on the GFA and the Protocol.

Sir Laws was not prepared for this question, and is not able to answer it. (Spoiler: it's not good news.) 10/
Sir Laws continues to stress that things like "supremacy" of retained EU law are "confusing". Everything should be like all other law, latest views of Parliament should count. OK - but that is not the priority system the Bill actually establishes! 11/
Good practical question - replacement should be possible, but can it be done this quickly?

Laws argues this is a rational approach and mentions Cass Sustein but doesn't actually address the timeline, which is probably the key element here. 12/
Oh, he notes we've had 6 years to think about the law and what we want to keep!

Haha. YES. We've not been busy at all over those 6 years and secondary Brexit legislation has ABSOLUTELY been a priority during that time. COME ON. 13/
There is a misunderstanding of the substance of what this law is. Sir Laws argues that revoking these rules doesn't stop people from acting the way they did when they were the law. But the EU regulatory framework doesn't just enable set activity - it also precludes it! 14/
The Mogg Bill enhances sovereignty!!!!!

I am going to pass out in sadness that 6 years later we're still having this insipid debate about what a 'win' we got out of Brexit. PARLIAMENT CAN REPLACE ALL THIS LAW ALREADY! THAT IS MAX SOVEREIGNTY! 15/
Stella Creasy asks a pointed question about *who* this returns control to - ministers or Parliament? Sir Laws praises the political constitution: Ministers will not propose things that Parliament won't agree with. But that assumes that Parliament will *notice* this happening. 16/
We are now joined by @CSBarnard24 and Alison Young. I know what CB thinks about the Bill and can guess what AY thinks about it, so this will be quite the contrast to Sir Laws. 17/
CB stresses that there are issues with the Dashboard - it's incomplete, and so laws may disappear that the government isn't even aware of. This is obviously amplified with another 1400 pieces of 'retained EU law' being discovered today. 18/
CB makes clear that her objections are not to the idea of retained EU law being replaced - rather the sunset clause and the delay provisions generate substantial uncertainty, and also counters Sir Laws' note about 'voluntary compliance'. 19/
AY chimes in with my observation that the government has barely had the time to have a detailed look at secondary legislation. Complete lists of found REUL should be set out, and added to with regulatory caveats. 20/
CB contests the idea that "supremacy" is alien. We have conflict of laws rules all over the UK legal system. The 2018 Act simply identified what the conflict rule applicable to REUL was. Parliament can change it if it wants to. 21/
AY notes that drafting of EU law does reflect a different purpose - harmonisation, compromise - but we're used to it and used to interpreting it. Interpreting the laws using UK mechanisms rather than the EU ones that the law is drafted for might also become unclear. 22/
Those interpretative principles should thus probably also be retained if REUL is kept after the sunset dates - simply so that there is certainty about how law is meant to be read. 23/
CB notes that there's no precedent for this type of 'turning off' Bill. There are clear risks associated with it - and why social policy and environment should be carved out, because there are TCA obligations there that we shouldn't accidentally abrogate. 24/
AY notes that this is in her view also unprecedented, and that legal system changes usually take place the way the EUWA 2018 anticipates - gradual change per sector! 25/
AY in response to Sir Laws - nobody is arguing against the idea of changing law. It's the way in which it's being proposed being done - which is particularly a problem for businesses, who need the legal certainty (and clarity of change) over a longer term. 26/
CB notes that the business of legal academia is a forever proposal to change the law, so the idea that we're hostile to legal change is not correct. (Ha!) 27/
Now a discussion over provisions to 'keep' REUL and make it assimilated law eventually. CB stresses that there's nothing in the Bill about how the Ministers are meant to engage with these decisions to keep or not. Real issue here about capacity in departments. 28/
Very unclear what the rest of the process of retention is: any consultation? Does Cabinet eventually get informed? Is there a 'Star Chamber' to oversee legal decision-making? None of this is in the Bill, which CB notes is a big problem. 29/
AY notes that liaising between departments is also essential but not set out - there may be REUL that addresses issues in several departments.

As for parliamentary scrutiny - default is negative. Parliamentary time is so limited that the timeframe doesn't permit much else. 30/
Stella Creasy (again on point) stresses that Parliament basically never uses negative or affirmative to overturn secondary legislation - so this in practice won't amount to much. Does AY propose anything further for scrutiny?

AY refers to the EUWA 2018 processes. 31/
AY confirms that Ministers have to propose to do something - otherwise no scrutiny of decisions at all, and the REUL just disappears at the sunset point. Nothing in the Bill to enable better scrutiny here. CB notes that also protesting REUL amendments = risk of sunset. 32/
We return to the question on the Protocol: how do these sunsets affect the Protocol and GFA? CB notes Annex 2 for 'live EU law'. Clause 1(5) of Mogg Bill contains a carve-out for NI legislation - but it's an unclear one, not least because Protocol Bill also happening! 33/
Sir Laws' comments about "carry on" possibilities after sunsetting REUL. Will they not actually drop standards because the floor goes away? AY: yes, business will go for the cheaper option if possible. 34/
I'd add as the caveat that if they want to do business with the EU, that will be less of a factor, which begs the bigger question about axeing all of this regulation: what's the point? ... Haha - CB makes exactly this point, so compliance will be there but is market induced. 35/
Stella Creasy back on it - clause 15 prevents higher standards from being introduced if they produce a bigger burden, no? AY - hugely broad interpretation of a 'burden' here, so clause ambiguous - might actually result in legal claims and more legal uncertainty. 36/
CB: we can lower our standards in some areas, but TCA precludes it when it affects trade between EU and UK - which would make lowering those standards very costly. 37/
Our next witnesses are Martin Howe KC and Tom Sharpe KC - and I am going to take another break from tweeting about this because I have a separate meeting at 11! To be continued. 38/
Okay! Back we go. They start in with the clause 7 conditions for departure from CJEU case law when interpreting REUL. Justification per the witnesses is TuneIn; they wanted to see CJEU case law as persuasive, not binding. 39/
MH cites TuneIn to note that even if EU law is only persuasive it will still be followed (however unsatisfactory the relevant case law is, and per MH it was very unsatisfactory). 40/
TS agrees that this requirement for bindingness should be scrapped (and might actually be the most vocally Eurosceptic witness I've seen in the last six years). 41/
Per TS, this Bill has taken too long to be developed because democracy demands we get rid of all EU law as soon as possible, I think. He believes that in sum, the Bill will achieve that. 42/
MH also thinks the Bill is "desperately needed" - EUWA 2018 is flawed because interim preservation of REUL was necessary, but EUWA 2018 made it impossible to change most of it except by Act of Parliament and to keep EU LAW DOCTRINES 👻 that create "uncertainties". 43/
I am going to struggle to report on what is being put forth here because it feels like political campaigning with a legal hat on - so far, no consideration of practical working of the Bill, and a lot of going back to "keeping EU anything is not what the people wanted". 44/
MH has a case study at hand of why amending these rules (which have hindered parts of UK legal development because of EU influence) via primary legislation is a non-starter because of how long it will take. (Missed the name, sorry.) 45/
Per MH, the Mogg Bill provides adquate parliamentary scrutiny because it's comparable to what s2 of ECA 1972 provided. (Obviously the EU legislature cannot ever provide any meaningful scrutiny, so let's ignore that it does it instead of Parliament!) 46/
TS sings the same tune: no Parliamentary oversight of any EU law (and no mention of EU institutional oversight). So we have to get rid of it and anything that replaces it is basically better. 47/
That said, TS does advocate for a sifting procedure to minimise discretion (and better government communication about what they're intending to do, one assumes). 48/
MH hilariously notes that the Bar Council is getting too involved in political issues with its attitude towards this Bill. I need a five minute break to recover. 49/
Some implied "small c conservatism" being alluded to here - all those Remainers really don't like change. TS basically censures the Bar Council for getting involved in this debate at all. Oh, also the Hansard Society (who I guess are allowed to comment?). 50/
More Political Constitution defending here. Why so negative about the consequences of this? Are we not a lovely, well-governed country? Is the HoC not a genuinely decent place?

... 51/
TS thinks a lot of REUL will remain (nevermind the cliff edge) and that business won't actually race to the bottom. "Public scrutiny and reputation" will ride to the rescue. Concerned folks need to stop being so "shrill". 52/
Stella Creasy is 🔥 on this brief. Wholly on top of it, to the point of being aware of evidence submitted to separate Committees by these witnesses. And asking targeted, intelligent questions. This is when these Committees work - when the MPs buy in and take them seriously. 53/
MH wanted further scrutiny - but now does not, but did in 2016 and wish he'd been heard then, when this process should also have been started.

Stella Creasy: but you've argued that we should know what we should know what we're slashing and burning - so shouldn't we? 54/
MH: well you should press ministers ON what they plan on doing...

Stella Creasy: but we don't have those powers in this Bill.

MH: [no particular response to how to make this happen despite her offering his own solution] 55/
The chair rescues MH, who gets a friendly question suggesting basically that task forces be established in each department (including legal experts) to assess what REUL exists and how it might be replaced?

I mean, that's a great suggestion, but it's not in the Bill! 56/
And do we have the civil service capacity to do it? In this timeframe?

I have some sympathy for the argument that this needed to be started from 2016 onwards given the Brexit we were promised - but that's not where we are, so ramming it through now isn't the solution. 57/
TS here notes that this Bill is only a framework and so not everything is in there. OK - but should a Bill that basically torches half the legal landscape *be* a framework? 58/
An MP is here literally telling the witness to agree with him on identified shortcomings of the Bill as writ - and MH and TS reject these things as being inappropriate for being in the Bill, because flexibility is needed and those are political matters. 59/
Oh, the next witnesses include the Chair of the Bar Council! Hahahaha. Also @GeorgePeretzKC and Eleanor Duhs. HERE WE GO. 60/
(George is not here yet - but off we go). Mark Fenhalls KC, the chair of the Bar Council, and ED will start us off.

MF basically goes in hard: this approach is nothing but risks. 61/
Business responded to him by saying: why would we do any business with the UK until 2024 when we have some ideas of what the regulations actually will look like?

MF: government should take the approach taken in the FSM Bill - consultation with sector, measured changes. 62/
Can such a more measured approach be finished by 2023? MF: basically, LOL no, and this is a political problem that we're making for ourselves.

"This is our law. ... The previous speakers may not like the scrutiny that existed but we were part of it." 63/
ED adds that getting the statute book ready for Brexit took over 2 years - and that was a massively simpler task than this one, which actually decides on substance of legislation! 64/
GP is here now - commenting on effect of the sunset clause. Sir Laws makes point that law changes happen - but "there is every difference" between a targeted proposed reform and just threatening to change all the law but without any idea of what comes next! 65/
The Brexit Chorus, in the shape of a Minister Ghani, asks MF to [yawn] confirm that when we were in the EU, Parliament did not scrutinise EU legislation. It's quite tedious, really. MF is now getting accused of not respecting the referendum. High quality work, this. 🙄 66/
Yeah, this isn't just a little tedious - it's revisiting 2016 debates for absolutely no purpose when absolutely everyone critical of the Bill has no problems with REUL being changed, but rather with a politically charged cliff edge being injected into that change process. 67/
ED notes that the second cliff edge is also not that far away (but 2026 would obviously be better!). She flags the GDPR as being an area where a disappearance of the EUWA 2018 brings a lot of costs with it. 68/
She's very good on hammering home the point that getting rid of the data standards that give us adequacy with the EU being a huge cost burden for the UK, and it might happen accidentally here if nobody intervenes. 69/
GP notes that having more time would help - but there are wider concerns about the Bill that a longer timescale would not remedy. [Eg, interpretative rules re 'retained' REUL, and so on.] 70/
GP also, like CB, stresses the problem with the cliff edge in terms of amendment of the REUL: it will become a "this or nothing" Parliamentary discussion (if at all) because of the automatic expiry of the laws in question. 71/
GP and MF both flag that the incredibly rushed process of scrutinising this within departments might result in errors in transcription/adoption, and it's not clear that the Bill allows those kinds of errors or mistakes to be amended. MF advocates for a list of affected law. 72/
(This in light of the new discovery of 1400 more laws this morning.) MF notes that a framework Bill is not suitable for this reason: the process is not careful and evidence-led in terms of revision. 73/
This is now getting personal: MF getting asked if he hates this Bill because he hates Brexit and voted against?

Completely ignoring the evidence actually given, which is that the Bill's critics are unhappy with the 'cliff edge' - not the idea of motivated change. 74/
Another question about whether it's gross for foreign law to be supreme now that we're sovereign. ED notes that this was a Parliamentary choice and Parliament can do whatever it wants to now, but that shouldn't be done in a rush with legal certainty as a consequence. 75/
Stella Creasy asks one more good question here about business uncertainty. MF suggests they take evidence from business - ED confirms they won't invest unless they know what the law is going to be, which this Bill precludes. 76/

This was an incredibly depressing bit of insight into how little politics has moved on from 2016, or to what extent the government seems to think that Brexit point-scoring is still what people want from it. 77/
The government-supporting MPs in the room basically resorted to personal insult or trite Brexit slogans about sovereignty and freedom and democracy. They refused to engage with the points actually made about the effects on business, the risks involved in sunsetting, etc. 78/
The evidence I saw that raised concerns with the Bill was targeted to specific provisions with dubious effects. The evidence in favour of the Bill suggested that concern about those effects was "shrill" because the Commons does check Ministers, who should be ready for this. 79/
Half this session argued that business needs to know what the law is going to be next year, and that accidental or rushed cuts in the statute book are to be avoided. The other half argued couldn't counter that with anything but "bloody Remainers". Very depressing in 2022.


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Very interesting live tweet thread: