One of PLP’s key projects in the wake of Brexit is the SIFT Project. SIFT stands for Statutory Instruments: Filtering and Tracking and the goal of the SIFT Project is to scrutinise the Statutory Instruments created to facilitate Brexit, to check they conform to public law standards and do not undermine fundamental rights.

You can read the first blog from the SIFT Project at the UK Constitutional Law Association blog, here.

Statutory Instruments are laws that can be written by Ministers without having to pass an Act through Parliament.  The Government estimates it needs at least 600 new Statutory Instruments in order to leave the European Union. The breadth of the powers given to Government Ministers to create Statutory Instruments related to Brexit  is unprecedented in recent times. These powers include Henry VIII powers which gives Ministers the power to amend Acts of Parliament themselves.

PLP is concerned that Ministers could use these powers to do more than make sure that UK law functions correctly after leaving the EU, potentially affecting fundamental rights and freedoms, particularly of the most vulnerable in society.

In response, PLP has launched the SIFT Project to monitor and scrutinise these Statutory Instruments to check they conform to public law standards and do not undermine fundamental rights. There are at a minimum another 300 Statutory Instruments that need to be laid between January 2019 and Exit Day. PLP is working in partnership with the Hansard Society to monitor these instruments and to check they conform to public law standards.  In particular, PLP is tracking those instruments most likely to affect the UK’s most vulnerable populations.

To assist in this mission, PLP is using the Hansard Society’s invaluable Statutory Instrument tracker which tracks the progression of every instrument through Parliament.   This is a subscription service as part of the Hansard Society’s Westminster Lens data project.

As part of the SIFT project, PLP is eager to establish a network  of organisations with subject matter expertise who can help to identify additional problems with Statutory Instruments, be they legal or policy problems.  PLP is keen to hear from organisations that would like to be involved in the network or who have been independently scrutinising Statutory Instruments. Immigration, social security and social welfare law, environmental law, equality law and human rights, labour rights, consumer protection, data protection and privacy and health and human services are areas of particular interest to PLP. If you think your organisation could be a suitable network member, please get in touch. Email Alexandra Sinclair at a.sinclair@publiclawproject.org.uk