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Retained EU Law Bill ‘ping pongs’ through parliament

The much-debated Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill, which, if passed, will see several key pieces of legislation removed from the statute books, is currently ‘ping-ponging’ between the House of Lords and the House of Commons in an attempt to agree the exact wording of the new legislation.

Last week, Commons rejected Lords amendments to the Bill, thereby sending the Bill back to the Lords. A Bill may go back and forth between each House until both Houses reach agreement on the exact wording of the Bill - this is known as 'ping pong'.

When the exact wording has been agreed by the Commons and the Lords, the Bill is ready for Royal Assent. Once a Bill receives Royal Assent it is made an Act of Parliament (the proposals in the Bill become law).   

The Commons’ recent rejection of the Lords amendments is expected to prolong the ‘ping-pong’ of the Bill between the two Houses, but, says IOSH, the lack of government rebels in the Commons, coupled with the government’s major concession limiting the scope of the so-called sunset clause to 600 pieces of tidying up regulations, means the Bill may now be close to being passed.

The government originally planned, under the Bill, to repeal or replace over 4,000 pieces of law by December 2023. However, on 10 May, ministers announced that the mass deletion would not go ahead. Instead, the government will produce a list of 600 laws it wants to replace by the end of the year.

Critics of the much-discussed Retained EU Law Bill feared that, if passed, it could see the end of the UK’s exemplary health and safety record and introduce a wave of new responsibilities. But, says Kate Gardner, health and safety trainer at International Workplace, in terms of what needs to change in the running of the workplace to maintain a healthy and safe workforce, there’s actually very little – provided you are currently complying with your health and safety duties:

“Sitting above the many pieces of EU legislation is the UK’s health and safety legislation, which won’t change. The primary legislation – in the form of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSWA) - will still be there. We’ll still be responsible for providing safe workplaces – removing EU laws essentially takes away the toolkit that guides us in carrying out our responsibilities, but we’ll still have the legal duties to comply with that the HSWA imposes on us all.”