Fewer mice would be “gorging” on crumbs in the House of Lords if UK law allowed for more powerful vacuum cleaners, according to a minister.
Cabinet Office minister Lord True joked the rodent problem in the upper chamber would be eased by scrapping EU regulations on the cleaning device.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Cabinet Office minister responsible for Brexit opportunities, has launched a dashboard to show how many changes have been made to the 2,400 pieces of EU legislation retained following Brexit.
Announcing the initiative to MPs, Mr Rees-Mogg said it highlights “unnecessary and disproportionate” EU regulations on consumer goods, including those “regulating the power of vacuum cleaners”.
Lord True, responding to questions from Liberal Democrat peer Lord Wallace of Saltaire, said: “Mr Rees-Mogg made very clear it’s not necessarily the expectation that all these will be swept away, as Lord Wallace said. These matters will be looked at on their merits.
“Frankly, one of the examples that (Mr Rees-Mogg) gave in the Commons was the power of vacuum cleaners.
“Perhaps, my Lords, if we had more powerful vacuum cleaners in this place we wouldn’t have mice running around the place gorging themselves on all the bits and pieces of crumbs that are left.
“But, my Lords, there is a serious issue here despite what was said opposite.
“I think it is perfectly reasonable that departments, and this is the expectation of departments in concert with interested parties, to examine the case for the continuation of this mass of regulations.”
Lord Wallace had earlier said he “wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry” when he read the statement on the Government’s plans to deal with retained EU law.
He said: “It takes us into a surreal world of fantastical government in which, as the minister for Brexit opportunities declares, our country will achieve great things.
“That’s like Donald Trump promising to make America great again – just as windy and just as empty in content.
“There’s no evidence behind this statement, I challenge the minister to find any.”
Lord Wallace recalled helping to oversee a three-year project to survey businesses about EU regulations, noting: “Sector-by-sector, the responses came in saying that companies were happy with the current balance between domestic and the European regulation.”
Lord True, in his opening remarks, told Lord Wallace: “On the sixth anniversary of the Brexit referendum, I am inclined to say that the Liberal Democrat Party – he didn’t know whether to laugh or cry – his sneering response tells me that the Liberal Democrats, like the Bourbons of Naples have learnt nothing and forgotten nothing in their desperation to keep the United Kingdom in line with the European Union’s orders.”