Senior members of the Conservative Party are opposing the UK Government’s plans to abolish EU laws, which includes crucial water safety regulations. They have warned that the Government may suffer defeats in the Lords unless it changes its approach.
The Retained EU Law Bill is being pushed through the Lords by Ministers, with the promise to remove thousands of laws and regulations made in Brussels. However, concerns have been raised by members of the Conservative Party, including Senior Tory peer and former minister Baroness Altmann. She has criticised the Government’s approach to the Bill, warning that it would lead to the removal of protections without any public knowledge.
There are fears that the legislation could remove several environmental safeguards, such as the Bathing Water Directive and the Water Framework Directive, which protect swimmers and wildlife from water pollution. Baroness Altmann has described the Government’s approach as “anti-democratic” and has called for the British public to have a say in the changes to the laws.
The Government has insisted that it will not weaken standards in areas such as the environment, but it has refused to disclose which EU laws and regulations will be maintained.
This has led to growing unrest among Conservative members of the Lords, with some warning that the Government is on course for a string of defeats on the Bill unless compromises can be made.
Peers from across the political spectrum have demanded that the Government reconsider its plans, as they fear that the changes will weaken environmental standards. The Liberal Democrats are expecting to secure significant support for an amendment to the bill, which will protect the two water regulations from being abolished.
The Government has responded by saying that environmental protections will not be downgraded. However, the growing opposition to the Bill from members of the Conservative Party and other peers suggests that the Government may have to rethink its approach.
This article was submitted by April Carney, 7th March 2023