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Lords challenge Government again on post-Brexit chemical regulation

The House of Lords EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee has written to Defra Minister Thérèse Coffey MP highlighting the significant concerns that remain about the Government's preparedness to take on the regulation of chemicals and maintain chemical trade after Brexit, only weeks before it may need to do so.

The Committee has been corresponding with the Minister to monitor progress in establishing a UK chemicals database and whether the essential functions would be tested and ready for use on Brexit day. Based on the Minister's latest letter, the publication of the legislation that would implement a UK chemical regulation regime post-Brexit, and new guidance from the European Chemicals Agency, it is the Committee's view that:

  • Some chemical safety tests may need to be re-done, which would increase businesses' costs, potentially reduce the number of chemicals available in the UK, and increase the amount of animal testing.
  • The Minister has not stated whether the UK's database of chemicals that are authorised for use in the UK will be ready in time, or explained the Government's contingency plan for if the database is not ready on Brexit day.
  • Some companies are not aware of the Government's plans for post-Brexit chemical regulation.
  • It is not clear whether the Health and Safety Executive will have enough resources to perform its new tasks as the UK's chemicals regulator.

Lord Teverson, Chair of the Sub-Committee, said: “We are a mere three weeks away from potentially having to regulate chemicals for ourselves, and as far as we can tell from the Minister's updates we find ourselves with neither a functioning database nor a functioning regulator. The Government is risking people's safety, not to mention the viability of the UK's chemicals sector, by not being adequately prepared.”

The Committee has written to the Minister seeking reassurance on the outstanding issues. Read the full letter here.

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