The Great Repeal Bill – Protecting Devolution

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2017 National Delegate Conference
28 February 2017
Carried as Amended

Conference notes that following the vote to leave the EU in June 2016 the UK Government has consistently shown a disregard for the views of the devolved administrations in relation to the protections necessary when leaving the EU.

Conference notes the UK Government plans to introduce a ‘Great Repeal Bill’ designed to repeal the European Communities Act 1972 and incorporate existing EU law into UK law.

Following the passing of this Act decisions will be made, possibly by UK Government Ministers acting alone, about which elements of EU law to retain and which elements to discard. Given the current UK Government’s attitude to equality and human rights in general, and worker’s rights in particular, this has potential adverse implications for UNISON and its members across the UK.

Conference notes that this legislation will have major implications for the devolution settlements in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales as it may seek to implement a range of EU law relating to areas that are within the remit of the devolved legislatures and administrations. It may also allow UK Government Ministers to legislate to change existing EU laws without the consent of the devolved legislatures.

Conference believes that devolution has been to the benefit of our members, particularly within the fragile Northern Ireland peace process. Any interference by the UK Government in the devolution settlement, or attempts to ‘claw-back’ powers which have been devolved are unwelcome and will damage the delicate constitutional settlement across the UK.

Conference calls on the National Executive Council to develop a campaign, including working with the Trade Union Council of the Isles, seeking that the devolution settlement is respected throughout the process of developing and implementing the Great Repeal Bill. This campaign should include seeking that:

1)The UK Government does not ‘claw-back’ powers which have already been devolved in order to weaken existing EU law protections;

2)Legislative consent for the provisions of Great Repeal Bill is sought from the devolved legislatures, including any removal of the requirements placed on the devolved legislatures to abide by EU law, any alteration of the competencies of the devolved legislatures and administrations, and any changes to EU law arising from the Great Repeal Bill;

3)The devolved administrations are given the autonomy to reach their own positions regarding the retention and development of EU laws, including the future status of EU law, such as decisions of the Court of Justice of the European Union, in relation to devolved matters;

4)Further devolution of powers is brought forward if required, including, but not limited to, any powers that are ‘repatriated’ from the EU.