Madeleine Moon MP

Labour Member of Parliament for Bridgend

So what are Henry VIII powers?

When Parliament returns in September, MPs will have the Repeal Bill waiting for them to debate and vote on. It essentially converts EU law into UK legislation.

Controversially, the Bill includes proposals to give ministers extensive “Henry VIII powers”, also known as statutory instruments, to make changes to laws without full Parliamentary approval. The Government say they need this to correct some laws after Brexit. For example, they will need to amend laws that refer to the “European Commission” or to the UK’s “EU Obligations” as they will no longer apply once we exit.

There’s a reason why they’re known as Henry VIII powers. Just like the Statute of Proclamations gave Henry the power to make any laws he wanted simply by decree; statutory instruments will allow ministers to change Bills with little or no Parliamentary oversight. This means hard-won rights could be removed or weakened without any say from Parliament. It’s estimated that there could be between 800 and 1,000 statutory instruments which will have limited Parliamentary scrutiny. This raises serious concerns about democratic legitimacy and parliamentary sovereignty - the government could change laws without your elected representatives having a vote.

At a time where the constitutional fibres of the UK will be reshaped because of swathes of legislative changes, total transparency and accountability is needed more than ever. Some of our cherished rights will be left to the whims of ministers and their Henry VIII powers – and we all know what Henry did with such sweeping powers.

 

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