"Henry VIII powers" that enable ministers to act without scrutiny of Parliament are criticised
Two House of Lords Committees have published highly critical reports on the Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Bill that is currently going through the UK Parliament, which aims to deregulate (remove regulatory safeguards from) a whole subclass of GMOs. The Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee (DPRRC) report is here and the Constitution Committee report is here.
Both reports voice concern about the excessive powers that the bill confers on ministers to do what they want without the scrutiny of Parliament – powers that a legal briefing called "Henry VIII powers", after that monarch's style of ruling by proclamation.
For instance, the DPRRC points out that the bill leaves it up to ministers alone to decide what information the applicant has to give to the Secretary of State before they can market or release a "precision bred" GMO and whether the applicant has to do an environmental risk assessment.
The Constitution Committee says of the bill, "It is unclear what requirements will be placed on those wishing to release or market precision bred organisms, including precision bred animals, under Part 2 of the Bill. The effects may be significant. Given public anxiety in this area and the novelty of the simplified regulatory regime established by the Bill, we recommend the Government publishes indicative draft regulations while the Bill is before the House, to assist the House’s consideration of these clauses."
If you have limited time, it's worth reading those parts of the reports that are in bold type, as they summarise the concerns.
The new reports come after previous damning reports on the draft bill by the House of Lords Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee and the Regulatory Policy Committee, the latter of which concluded that the government had failed to make a convincing business case for deregulating GMOs.
GMWatch and other concerned groups and individuals continue to work hard to try to ensure that the best possible amendments to this atrocious bill are put forward.