Brexit law-making mustn’t stop the UK in its tracks

Rob has said that Britain’s vital transport and logistics sector risks grinding to a halt if Brexit law-making is not handled properly, saying that the Government’s plans for a Great Repeal Bill risk missing out many crucial pieces of legislation or bogging down our road, rail, sea and air freight industries for years to come.  
 
Speaking in a debate on Exiting the EU and Transport, Rob identified areas where all avenues for freight movement could face a regulatory nightmare.  Among the examples he highlighted were:
 
·         At sea, new EU law arising from the Ports Service Directive, currently under consideration, would be seriously harmful against the UK’s privately-owned facilities if it wasn’t removed quickly by the Great Repeal Bill 
·         In the air, leaving the EU would mean an end to UK participation in the Open Skies negotiations between the EU and US and could mean a return to the last bipartisan deal, Bermuda II, which was drawn-up in 1946 and is not suitable for modern aviation
·         On the roads, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency is already under-resourced and bereft of serious powers relating to non-UK vehicles – a situation which, without better financial and statutory support will only get worse after Brexit

“I’m not suggesting that government isn’t concerned about or aware of these problems, just that the plan to deal with everything in one big bill and then gently work our way through all the laws that will need changing is really not practicable,” he says.  “If every MP puts forward even three amendments to the bill because of the issues they think are most crucial it will take weeks and months to debate.  In honesty, I could already name thirty amendments of my own I think would be vital to table right at the outset.  It’s just not going to work.”
 
Rob says the government might be better off identifying elements of EU law where there is broad agreement they are not needed in a future outside the organisation and jettison those, rather than initially adopting them only to take years to repeal them afterwards.  On those laws Britain will want to keep, he said in the debate, “What has come out of discussions with various sectors of the industry is that a lot of EU legislation are laws that we wanted in the first place, and, if Members will pardon the pun, it is legislation that we drove forward.”  Rob says, “It would be helpful if the bill was seen not as a Repeal Bill but one to domesticate those laws which are to be kept as quickly as possible.  If we don’t do that, our most important industry could be left in a legislative limbo for years to come and the effects could be catastrophic for British competitiveness.”
 
Rob says one of his greatest concerns is about the ability of the Department of Transport to cope with the sheer volume of work needed to accept or replace existing EU legislation, something which is even more apparent at this time of year.  In the debate he said, “The logistics industry makes Christmas happen.  It delivers everything.  Yes, of course Santa has his part to play, but without the logistics industry the turkeys, the presents and everything else would not happen.  We should put on record what we owe to the people in the industry.  I am concerned about the level of staffing available in the Department for Transport to consider these important issues.  The Freight Transport Association, the Road Haulage Association, magazines such as Motor Transport and others are doing a lot of work on the implications of Brexit for some, if not all, of the industry, and I believe they stand ready to help the Department.”