Govt threatened with legal action over ‘power-grabbing’ Henry VIII clauses

The Good Law Project is warning that the government could rip up workers' rights without Parliamentary scrutiny

1 Feb 2021| News

Lawyers are preparing to take action against the government’s use of so-called Henry VIII clauses – the powers Boris Johnson’s administration gave itself to change laws without Parliamentary scrutiny.

The Good Law Project is seeking a judicial review against the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) after it revoked EU State Aid using such powers, the Guardian reported. The campaigning organisation warned that the government could rip up other laws too.

“Ministers can now rewrite the rules on everything from your rights at work to environmental protections,” barrister Jolyon Maugham told the newspaper.

“It is no exaggeration to state that any area of law previously touched on by the EU is now within the purview of government.

“Government is wresting power from parliament and giving it carte blanche to ministers to remake almost every aspect of national life.”

Statutory instruments – the mechanism used to change law without parliamentary scrutiny – were originally designed to make technical tweaks to Acts that have become outdated rather than altering the rules in any material sense.

The Good Law Project argues that using such powers to push through policy decisions “raises an important issue of constitutional law”.