United Kingdom Internal Market Bill

(Limited Text - Ministerial Extracts only)

Read Full debate
Committee stage & Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Wednesday 28th October 2020

(3 years, 8 months ago)

Lords Chamber
United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020 View all United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020 Debates Read Hansard Text Amendment Paper: HL Bill 135-III Third Marshalled list for Committee - (28 Oct 2020)
Amendment 61 in my name would delete the first reference in the Bill to any part of the offending Part 5. For the purposes of good management, it is far better that instead of addressing that in this group, we wait until we get to Part 5. Amendment 61 was intended to be a paving amendment to the Part 5 debate, so I will leave that until then.
Lord Callanan Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Lord Callanan) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank everybody who has contributed to what has been, as always in this House, a fascinating debate, ranging far and wide, from cattle droving in the 1700s, through to the immense knowledge of the noble Lord, Lord Liddle, on current EU matters. It is good to see him again to take up cudgels across the Dispatch Box. As he knows, I do not agree with him, but I always enjoy debating these matters. I hope that noble Lords will have patience today. I have quite a lot to say—many points have been raised and I intend to go into a lot of the detail. I apologise if my remarks are a little long.

Amendments 7, 8, 20, 21, 22, 26, 32, 45 and 61, all seek to alter or change the application and scope of mutual recognition and non-discrimination for the internal market and goods. The workings of mutual recognition and non-discrimination as applied in this Bill have been carefully designed to suit the UK’s unique constitutional and legal arrangements. We consulted widely on this, based on the Government’s proposals set out in the White Paper in June.

The noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, wanted to know in detail about the consultation. We published for her benefit, a response in full to the White Paper consultation on 9 September and I would be happy to send her a copy. The consultation demonstrated that UK businesses and industry representatives are overwhelmingly supportive of the measures to prevent discriminating behaviours within our internal market. I will set out the rationale why I cannot accept these amendments. I am happy to explain how mutual recognition and non-discrimination work in greater detail.

We have been clear that the UK will do nothing to diminish its reputation as a leading nation when it comes to setting and expecting high standards of its domestic businesses and international trading partners. I know this is a concern that the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, has expressed on other Bills that we have discussed in relation to EU exit and is what she seeks to address in Amendment 7, but I contend that this simply will not arise.

Removing imported goods from the mutual recognition principle would mean that those goods, simply because of where they were sourced, could not benefit from the same regulatory treatment as goods produced in the United Kingdom. Even when produced to identical specification and quality as domestic products, this discriminatory impact would put imported goods at a conspicuously unfair disadvantage. Under such a discriminatory approach, we would be likely to be in clear breach of our World Trade Organization commitments to treat imports from other countries no less favourably than similar products produced domestically.

This amendment would also create continued uncertainty for importers. Those businesses whose supply chains rely on overseas sourcing could find themselves at a competitive disadvantage. This amendment would not tackle the issue it seeks to address and would have significant negative consequences for the UK if included.

There was considerable discussion of Amendment 8, tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, which would ensure that food and animal feedstuffs would not fall within scope of the mutual recognition principle. Like my noble friend Lady Noakes, I was slightly struggling to understand the relevance of his comments about pig semen. I think he asked whether pig semen across the island of Ireland would be affected by Clause 2, but I am happy to confirm for his benefit that pig semen will be subject to the same rules as other goods across the island of Ireland and only when it moves from Northern Ireland to Great Britain will it be subject to any checks. On pigswill, I am happy to confirm for him that the Government will not allow the reinstatement of its use.

This amendment could have serious consequences for the food supply chain, as foods sold in one nation could not be sold in another if there were different regulatory requirements, creating significant barriers to trade within the UK. As I have said, the Government remain committed to maintaining the highest standards in food and feed safety. The UK internal market approach will not change the approach to determining food and feed safety and hygiene policy. I can put at rest the noble Lord’s mind and that of the noble Lord, Lord Purvis: Schedule 1 to the Bill contains an exclusion to the market access principles to continue to enable the UK Government and the devolved Administrations to take appropriate risk-management measures to prevent or reduce the movement of unsafe food or feed from one part of the UK to other parts. I will have more to say about that later.

Turning to Amendment 20 and the consequential Amendment 22, tabled by my noble friend Lady McIntosh and relating to the exclusion of certain existing statutory requirements from the mutual recognition principle, Clause 4 ensures that pre-existing regulatory differences within the UK are excluded from the scope of mutual recognition. This is a forward-looking Bill that seeks to ensure that businesses can continue to enjoy the benefits of our well-integrated internal market after the transition period ends on 31 December. Businesses already live with and have adapted to any regulatory differences that currently exist, so mutual recognition does not need to apply retrospectively. In line with this objective, Clause 4(2)(b) ensures that this exclusion is specifically targeted at those areas in which regulatory differences have previously emerged.

This amendment would widen the exclusion to include any statutory requirement that existed prior to the relevant day set out in the Bill, regardless of whether there had been divergence in that area. However, this is not necessary. Mutual recognition has a practical effect only in areas where requirements differ across the UK, which is why the exclusion is targeted at those areas. Regulatory requirements, which are currently harmonised across the UK, do not need to be specifically excluded as the application of mutual recognition will not make any difference to the status quo. Of course, if the existing requirements excluded by Clause 4 are amended in a way that changes the effect or outcome of the legislation, they would then come within the scope of mutual recognition.

Amendment 21 is consequential on Amendment 6, which we discussed previously as part of a wider discussion on market access principles. It would amend the exclusion of pre-existing requirements from the mutual principle if Amendment 6 is also adopted. My noble friend Lady Bloomfield addressed Amendment 6 yesterday in the fifth group but, in brief, these amendments in combination would enable harmful regulatory divergence within the UK internal market into 2021 and beyond. This could lead to new barriers for businesses trading within the UK, instead of clarity and certainty.

The noble Lord, Lord German, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, asked about any follow-on emissions trading scheme. This is a non-market framework, so it would not be captured by the market access principles as it does not relate to a good or service.

The noble Lord, Lord Purvis, raised a number of questions about fertilisers. I shall give him a detailed reply. To exclude from the principle of mutual recognition as proposed by the Bill the safeguarding decisions of Administrations in relation to the placing on the market of fertilisers would allow each Administration to ban the sale of a fertiliser or impose conditions on that fertiliser in their jurisdiction in response to a risk to the health and safety of humans, animals, plants and the environment. We think it necessary to retain the current ability for the individual nations to take local circumstances into account and immediately to take a fertiliser deemed unsafe off the market in their territory without the risk of that product finding its way back into that territory via another nation. Without that amendment, it could take some time formally to ban a product through legislation—perhaps a couple of years.

The noble Lord also asked about pesticides. Decisions on which pesticides can be authorised to be marketed and sold in each part of the UK are already within devolved competence. All four Administrations work closely together, supported by HSE, and most decisions can be taken jointly by consensus. However, retaining the ability of each Administration to take its own decision where necessary is important, for example, if merely to consider locally specific factors, such as environmental or farming conditions, which can differ across the UK. This has worked well for many years where there has been occasional divergence between different parts of the UK and has not, so far, caused problems. This amendment therefore maintains the current position.

Amendment 26, tabled by my noble friend Lady McIntosh, seeks an explanation of the meaning of Clause 5(3), which I am happy to give. Clause 5(3) will operate so that any future requirements that fall within the scope of the non-discrimination principle will be of no effect to the extent that they are discriminatory. For the benefit of the lawyers, this does not mean that the requirement is to be treated as if it never had any legal effect. Rather, it allows the continued operation of the requirement, except to the extent that it has discriminatory effects. This aims to ensure that businesses can continue in their trade and goods can continue to be sold, despite protectionist measures that might treat goods from one part of the UK more favourably than goods from another. As the Bill deals with trade across the whole of the United Kingdom, the intention is that this will apply to all legislation: secondary legislation, primary legislation passed by devolved legislatures and legislation passed by the UK Parliament.

We believe that this does not require further elaboration in the Bill and is clear that only changes to existing legislation that affect the outcome are in scope. The amendment in question could cause confusion as there may be amendments that are considered “significant”, but do not change the outcome or effect of legislation. Fundamentally, however, the drafting in this clause will allow businesses to continue following the same regulations as they have been accustomed to, as our desire is not to disrupt their operations. That flexibility is important, because we want this provision to catch legislation only to the extent that it produces discriminatory effects. If something is not law, it cannot have any effect. As I said, we want to create a presumption that future Acts of Parliament are subject to this rule, which the current drafting allows.

My noble friend Lady McIntosh also asked whether, if the FSA and FSS had different rules, that would impact on the free movement of goods. The principles of mutual recognition and non-discrimination will apply to goods, including food, feed and animal products. This means that a good that can be lawfully sold in one territory can be lawfully sold in the other territories without having to comply with that other territory’s requirements. The only exclusion from this, as I said earlier, is set out in Schedule 1, which provides for exclusion in emergency scenarios where specific criteria are set out.

--- Later in debate ---
Lord Purvis of Tweed Portrait Lord Purvis of Tweed (LD)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Minister did not explain why services from the Isle of Man to the rest of the United Kingdom will be considered within the United Kingdom internal market, but goods coming from the Isle of Man are outside the single market. There are many service providers from the Isle of Man. In fact, financial services are probably a bigger part of the Isle of Man economy than goods for export. I would be grateful if the Minister could explain this. The Minister did not respond to my point about whether these regulations apply to the services that citizens receive for higher education. This is very important within Scotland.

My point to the Minister, I believe, justifies my argument on the good working relationship across the four nations on fertilisers and pesticides. The Minister referenced the justification for the government amendment about the need to work in emergencies. Paragraph 1 of Schedule 1 already has exclusions from market access principles for threats to human, animal and plant health. Emergencies were already covered. The amendment that the Government brought forward was not on emergencies; I looked at the regulations that it covers, which are in paragraph 9 of Schedule 1 on fertilisers and pesticides. The Bill will allow the Scottish Government, and a Welsh Government or UK Government acting for England, to make a different judgment on the advice they get from the single regulator about the safety of a pesticide for, as the Minister Paul Scully said, “movement and use”.

So, if English farmers, under the authority of the regulations in the Bill, decide to use fertilisers on crops—barley—that are unsafe in the view of the Scottish Government, the Bill will allow the Scottish Government to prevent that barley from being used in Scottish distilleries. The Minister said that the whole purpose of the Bill was to prevent that from arising. So he has managed to undermine the entire intent of his argument at Second Reading, which was that the purpose of this legislation was to prevent a barrier from a different decision being made on safety grounds. If this amendment, which the Government brought forward, allows for different decisions to be made on the safety of pesticides used in different parts of the UK, I hope the Minister will reflect on what he said about the justification for the Bill.

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I understand the point the noble Lord is making, but I think we are talking at cross purposes. It would allow provisions on unsafe products, but the provisions would be based on advice from the common regulator—so presumably the authorities in England would draw the same conclusion. It does not allow a Minister to dream up a definition of “unsafe” and implement provisions on that.

On the noble Lord’s first point, if he will forgive me, I will write to him.

--- Later in debate ---
Baroness McIntosh of Pickering Portrait Baroness McIntosh of Pickering (Con) [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I am struggling to understand the Minister’s reply on Amendments 26 and 45. I am particularly concerned about Amendment 26, which is a probing amendment and simply asks for greater clarity, which I do not think we have had. Is he saying that the statutory requirement has no effect? Does he mean that it is valid or not? Is it enforceable? I am trying to avoid a situation where there is any doubt whatever, and court action might be taken. I do not quite understand his answer that the possibility of court action is excluded if, in the view of others, a statutory requirement has effect and could, therefore, be actionable.

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

No, it does not mean that the requirement is to be treated as though it never had any legal effect. Rather, it allows the continued operation of the requirement, except to the extent that it has discriminatory effect.

Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town Portrait Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I think I am Baroness Hayter of Confused. I did not understand that last reply. I thank the Minister for attempting to answer the question, though I have to warn him that I think he is in trouble with the boss. I think he admitted that there would be checks at the border between Northern Ireland and Great Britain on pig semen. The boss said, “No checks, no extra paperwork”. I am now hearing noble Lords say, “New checks”. That is not what the Prime Minister said at that reception. He said, “If there’s a piece of paper, send it to me and I’ll throw it away”. I shall make no comment on semen causing particular problems, but it seems that there would be checks on it.

I shall try to be brief because a lot of points have been raised. I thank all noble Lords who have spoken, particularly those who support the line we are taking. I fear that many of these questions flag up the problem that the Bill was drafted without the full involvement and agreement of the devolved authorities. We may not be where we are if those discussions had taken place beforehand. I think it was the noble Lord, Lord German, who talked about parallel tracks between the common framework and this Bill. It loses not only the consensus approach to the common frameworks that we have discussed before, but the flexibility that the noble Lord, Lord Purvis, mentioned. We want to build on this. I hope the Minister will hear some of these questions and see whether he can give a response that ensures clarity for business, as well as for those operating in this area.

The Minister did not answer on universities and I am not sure he answered about the all-Ireland agreement. A lot of other points were raised about animal feedstuffs and pesticides. It would help if some of those dialogues could continue before we get to Report. It is also worth listening to what my noble friend Lord Liddle said. The Government should stand up and say that they support the maintenance of the devolved settlements, and that they recognise and want to keep diversity where it would still enable us to have an internal market. That sort of statement would be helpful.

I am sorry that the noble Baroness, Lady Noakes, is now not allowed to come back at me for what I am going to say. I partly agree with her. We want trade and believe that it is good, but not at any price—not at the price of safety or the environment. This does not mean that we are not in favour of greater trade with all the benefits that it has brought. I also agree with her that, of course, we favour free, and barrier-free, trade. That is why some of us want a deal with the EU, which has no tariffs or checks, and we wanted to stay as close to it as possible. I know it was not her view that we should stay in. I think I once heard her say—I am happy to correct this at the end if I am wrong—that trading on WTO terms would not be the end of the world. Good, the noble Baroness is nodding, so she confirms that she said it. That, of course, would mean a lot of checks and a stop to free trade.

The issues raised in this debate need further consideration. We have to resolve the question that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, asked. Will there be any input by the devolved authorities into importation by, particularly, the English Government? They will need some comfort over that. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

--- Later in debate ---
Moved by
9: Clause 3, page 2, line 21, leave out “any” and insert “a particular”
Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment would clarify that the purpose of Clause 3 is to identify what are the relevant requirements that apply to a specific sale of goods (the word “sale” being defined broadly in Clause 14).
Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I apologise in advance if noble Lords are in for more technical explanations. We will take together the minor technical amendments in my name to Clauses 3 and 4. All involve drafting improvements or clarifying technicalities. None of these amendments results in a change of policy, but they need full and proper scrutiny in this Chamber and noble Lords deserve an explanation of the improvements that they make to the Bill.

First, I turn to Amendment 9. This clarifies Clause 3 by identifying what is a relevant requirement in relation to a specific case where particular goods are sold. Without this amendment, there could be ambiguity as to whether a requirement needs to apply to all sales of all goods to be a relevant requirement. For example, where a business has produced a tin of biscuits in Scotland and seeks to rely on the mutual recognition principle to sell them in England, this amendment makes it clear that the relevant requirements are those that would apply to the sale of the biscuits in England and to the equivalent, hypothetical sale of the biscuits in Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales. Requirements that apply to other sales of other goods—for example, requirements that apply to the auctioning of a painting—would not be relevant requirements in this context. Without this amendment, there is a risk of legal uncertainty over which requirements are relevant. This could create confusion, costs and inconvenience for businesses.

Amendment 10 provides similar clarification. It emphasises that subsection (2), which defines and therefore enables one to identify a relevant requirement in relation to a particular sale, makes relevant requirements only in relation that sale. Requirements are not relevant in any general way; they are relevant only in relation to the sale in question.

Amendment 18 clarifies that Clause 4(1)(a) refers to a specific sale of goods, rather than a hypothetical sale of goods. It makes clear that we are referring to an actual sale of goods and not to a hypothetical sale. As a result, the amendment removes any potential ambiguity around which existing statutory requirements are excluded from the mutual recognition principle. This amendment also ensures consistency with Clause 3(1), as proposed to be amended by Amendment 9—also in my name. Once again, we are considering requirements which apply specifically to a particular sale—for example, the requirements that would apply to the sale of a tin of biscuits in England, as per my previous example, but not all requirements that might apply to any other sales of goods. This makes clear which statutory requirements might be excluded, if the conditions in Clause 4(2) are met.

Amendment 19 corrects a small drafting error in Clause 4(1)(a). This paragraph refers to “a” part of the United Kingdom when it should refer to “the” part of the UK mentioned in the opening words of the subsection. It removes any ambiguity around which part of the United Kingdom is being referred to in Clause 4(1)(a), so that there can be no doubt that when we are considering English requirements, we are considering how they apply in relation to a sale in England. Without this amendment, there could be confusion over whether we are referring to just those requirements which apply in England or to requirements which could apply in any part of the UK.

Finally in this group, Amendment 23 aligns the language used in Clause 4(2) and 4(5). Both provisions refer to a hypothetical sale on a particular day, rather than to an actual sale. These subsections set out the conditions for when an existing requirement will be excluded from mutual recognition. Both should refer to a hypothetical sale on the relevant day. This amendment clears up the ambiguity by making it clear that both subsections refer to a hypothetical sale, rather than to an actual sale. Aligning the language in this way will make the drafting of this clause clearer and will avoid any confusion over why the wording is different in Clause 4(2) and 4(5) when both should refer to a hypothetical and not to an actual sale.

Taking again the example of the sale of a tin of biscuits, Clause 4(2) and 4(5) refer to the statutory requirements around the sale of biscuits, which would have been enforced in different parts of the UK on the relevant day, which is the day before this Bill comes into force, if the tin of biscuits had been sold on that day. This means that we will always be talking about a hypothetical sale here, and the amendment to Clause 4(5) makes this clear. Without this amendment, it is not clear that Clause 4(5) is referring to a hypothetical sale, which may cause confusion. I beg to move.

Baroness McIntosh of Pickering Portrait Baroness McIntosh of Pickering (Con) [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I am interested to know why the Minister felt that these amendments needed to be moved at this time; what provoked that? Furthermore, who decides—and in what circumstances—what is a hypothetical sale, as opposed to a real sale?

--- Later in debate ---
Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Portrait Lord Stevenson of Balmacara (Lab) [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I have mainly technical, minor drafting points, which do not require much discussion. The Minister was consumed during his speech because of the hypothetical tin of biscuits that he brought into play. I am so glad that we do not have details of what pig semen is carried in. I much prefer us sticking with the tin of biscuits as our main metaphor in these issues.

Like the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, I wonder why these amendments are being tabled now. After all, the Bill has been through the other place and been republished. Only now are we getting evidence of “scrubbing the text” to ensure that the sorts of issues raised in this group of amendments will not get into the final version of the Bill. It is a minor criticism of a very minor issue, and I am happy to await the answers to the questions raised by the noble Lord, Lord Purvis, which would bear substantial response and will need to be dealt with at the appropriate time.

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I apologise to noble Lords for hesitating in my answer earlier. There is a danger of this “tin of biscuits” example assuming the same significance that the maiden aunts of the noble Lord, Lord Lisvane, did, during the EU withdrawal Bills. I see smiles from noble Lords who were involved in those debates. However, I am not sure that we should pursue the “pig semen” argument of the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson.

To answer my noble friend Lady McIntosh, these are technical changes relating to drafting errors that became apparent in further studying the text following amendments tabled by noble Lords. Following further examination by government lawyers, the Bill was drafted fairly speedily over the summer. Our intention was to avoid government amendments, but we wanted to hear the replies to the consultation and the White Paper. They are technical and legal clarifications that change none of the policy intent.

I assure the noble Lord, Lord Purvis, that the minimum unit alcohol pricing policy is unaffected, because it is an existing measure that is excluded, and because it is specifically excluded in addition to that, via various clauses. I will write to reassure him of that. Regarding his points about gin and vodka, I am not an expert on the Scottish measure, but I think it affects the retail price of the sale and not wholesale prices, and therefore the product would need to be sold at a different price, as specified in the Scottish measure. However, I consulted officials when we first debated this legislation and was assured that the Scottish measure would be unaffected by this legislation. I am happy to write reassuring the noble Lord on that point.

Baroness Fookes Portrait The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Baroness Fookes) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I have received a request from the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh of Pickering, to speak after the Minister. My apologies; I gather that is not the case.

--- Later in debate ---
Moved by
10: Clause 3, page 2, line 28, after first “requirement” insert “in relation to the sale”
Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment would clarify that a statutory requirement that meets the conditions in paragraphs (a) and (b) of Clause 3(2) is a relevant requirement in relation to the sale mentioned in Clause 3(1).
--- Later in debate ---
Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town Portrait Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, there is little to add to what my noble friend Lady Andrews and other members of the hard-working, thorough and thoughtful DPRRC have said, along with the noble Lord, Lord Fox, and others who have spoken in the debate. However, I would remind the noble Lord, Lord Thomas, whose party has been in government more recently than we have, that I do not recall any reluctance on the part of the coalition Government to reach for secondary powers when it suited them—but perhaps his memory is rather shorter than mine.

I should say to the Minister that these amendments are pretty much bound to be accepted by the House on Report. That, of course, will leave the Government having to try to defend in the House of Commons in more detail than they have had to thus far why they should gift themselves the most remarkable and far-reaching powers, none of which, as has been said, have they sought to justify by purpose, urgency or anything else. Rather than repeat what the 24th report sets out and what has just been set out so eloquently, I urge the Minister to listen to the wise words and, either after discussion or of his own accord, take these unnecessary and worrying powers out of the Bill.

My noble friend Lord Liddle touched on the powers in Part 5. Obviously we will take those out, but of course the Government might try to put them back in again. We should remember that this group of amendments covers regulations that would, if they manage to keep Part 5 in or return it, be made in some areas of Part 5. These regulations are really serious, due to the current Clause 47(2)(a), which, as everyone will know, gives the status of primary legislation for the purposes of the Human Rights Act to secondary legislation. Inexplicably and extraordinarily, those pieces of secondary legislation would therefore not be able to be struck down if they breached convention rights, rather they would have thrown around them the protective ring that is normally used only for primary legislation. But those measures are regulations that will not have been through the legislative process. They would be introduced as secondary legislation by regulation, but would suddenly be preserved as if having been given the status of primary legislation. That is set out in Clause 47(2)(a)—I hope I have got that right; I have my learned friend next to me, in case I have got it wrong.

Needless to say, the Joint Committee on Human Rights had rather a lot to say about this constitutionally unacceptable ruse. Its members have tabled an appropriate amendment to remove it when we get to Part 5, and quite right too. The Government seem to want to legislate by regulation—unchallengeable in court, therefore —giving it primary status that goes even further than the other Henry VIII powers which were considered by the DPRRC. I have a feeling that the committee met before the insertion of this clause in the Commons—I think I am getting a nod from behind me—which is presumably why the Delegated Powers Committee did not discuss it.

I add a further comment that goes beyond the Bill but is a reflection of what has already been mentioned. I have spoken in the House previously about the book, How Democracies Die, which lists institutional forbearance —along with the rule of law, respect for the opposition and a free press—as a fourth vital element of what the authors call quadrilles, which go beyond democratic elections, on how to have a robust and fully functioning democracy. Institutional forbearance is an interesting term and is defined in the book as,

“the action of restraining from exercising a legal right”,

thereby perhaps avoiding actions which, while within the law, violate its spirit. It is what my former supervisor, the noble Lord, Lord Hennessy, would call the “good chaps” theory of government. I agree that regulation-making powers can be donated to Ministers but the purpose of that was to enable small adjustments to the policy of an Act to be finalised or tweaked without primary legislation. It was not meant to gift big policy decisions—especially not of the sort included in the Bill, which I heard today was hurriedly written over the summer—to the Government with effectively no parliamentary scrutiny or agreement.

Therefore, like my noble friend Lady Andrews, and the noble Lord, Lord Fox—whose extremely useful quote from the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, I have not heard before—I am concerned about the extensive, unnecessary and quite unjustified use of Henry VIII powers, not simply in this Bill but in others. It is a worrying pattern that this House has a duty to curtail. I hope that this is the last occasion on which we have to remind Ministers that they should carry out the primary laws as passed by Parliament, not take to themselves powers to make their own laws.

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I have a sense of déjà vu about this debate. The noble Lord, Lord Liddle, will well remember our debates on the EU (Withdrawal) Bill. These amendments relate to delegated powers included in Parts 1, 2 and 5 of this Bill. I should probably decline the kind opportunity afforded to me by the noble Lord, Lord Thomas, to comment on the parentage of Henry VIII, apart from saying that the noble Baroness, Lady Bloomfield, who is an expert on all these matters, tells me that his parents were Henry VII and Elizabeth of York—officially, at least.

I should say in answer to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope of Craighead, and his comments on the Sewel convention that the Government are fully committed to that convention and its associated practices for seeking consent. These powers are purely there to ensure that the legislation works properly and is future proof. There is no intention whatever to use the powers to avoid Sewel processes.

I should like to take this chance to emphasise the importance of these powers for the ongoing dynamism of our internal market, and to emphasise that the Government will not take lightly their responsibility in administering these powers. I am of course listening carefully to what your Lordships say but it is important for me to explain how we intend to use these powers.

The Bill aims to ensure a smooth transition for businesses as they are no longer subject to EU constraints. However, we recognise that this is an ambitious new system and the Government want to make sure that it works as well as possible for businesses and for devolved Administrations. As the system embeds in the functioning of law and trade, we will of course be monitoring this. We will speak to stakeholders and devolved Administrations to ensure that it works as well as possible within our constitutional framework. Where it does not, the Government need to be able to make necessary amendments to the system for the benefit of all parts of the UK. In line with normal arrangements for secondary legislation covering devolved matters, we will of course engage with the devolved Administrations in the spirit of the devolution memorandum of understanding. This system has worked well for 20 years and continues to do so.

--- Later in debate ---
Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Portrait Lord Stevenson of Balmacara (Lab) [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I join the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, in thanking the Scottish Law Commission for its contribution to this debate; it keeps an eagle eye on issues in front of your Lordships’ House and from time to time delivers material that is very useful to us as we go through our duties.

As the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, said, these are probing amendments. They are about the possible uses of super-affirmative procedures and, as she says, relate to issues in the Bill that might well qualify under her heading for a higher degree of scrutiny.

The noble Lord, Lord Thomas, gave us a useful tour d’horizon of the available ways of doing super-affirmative. I agree with him that there is a case to be made here for looking at them in more detail to make sure that they are picked up and looked at regarding their best purpose, but that perhaps is not for today; there are bigger issues here and they should be looked at, but not in this Bill.

My noble friend Lord Judd asked whether the Government really welcome scrutiny or are simply pursuing their normal process—which seems almost inevitable for any Government—to try to obtain absolute control over the legislation they are bringing forward. I suspect the answer to that question is not to be found in providing for better scrutiny. This is a Bill with deeper problems. I do not think that these proposals, although they have their merits, are the right way forward in trying to unscramble those deeper difficulties. I look forward to hearing the Minister respond.

Lord True Portrait The Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Lord True) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I thank my noble friend for tabling her amendments, which relate, as she explained to the Committee, to the implementation of a super-affirmative resolution procedure. This debate is something of a coda to the previous group. It teases at the questions that many of your Lordships raised there and to which my noble friend Lord Callanan responded in some detail, so, if the House will forgive me, I will not repeat those general arguments in relation to these matters, although I repeat that the Government believe that these powers are important for our internal market. As my noble friend Lord Naseby said, we are dealing with trade matters. I repeat that the Government will not take lightly our responsibility in administering these powers.

I thank all those who took part in this debate for the interesting speeches we heard. On a personal note, I always welcome seeing the noble Lord, Lord Judd. I agree with his expression of admiration for noble Lords and Baronesses on the Front Benches opposite for their work on this Bill. Perhaps he will allow me to extend that sentiment to my noble friends Lord Callanan, Lady Scott and Lady Bloomfield and my colleagues.

Pleasantries apart, of course we acknowledge that the Bill gives the Secretary of State the ability to amend the list of legitimate aims, relevant requirements and schedule exclusions through a draft affirmative statutory instrument, with just one time-limited made-affirmative power, which relates to the services exclusions in Clause 17(4). We are fully committed to ensuring that the use of these powers is subject to effective oversight and consultation. That is why any use of the power would require an affirmative regulation to be passed in both Houses of Parliament. This will ensure that Parliament would be able to scrutinise and vote on any changes.

Turning to the substance of my noble friend’s amendments, if we were to accept Amendments 14, 29, 40, 76, 77, 101, 133 and 176, to which my noble friend spoke in this group and which call for the super-affirmative resolution procedure, it would cause unnecessary delay when a change was urgently needed. That point was very forcefully made by my noble friend Lord Naseby in a compelling speech made from the standpoint of his immense experience in chairing the proceedings of the other place.

Although your Lordships’ Delegated Powers Committee had many observations on this legislation, it did not propose the super-affirmative resolution procedure. I repeat: there is a risk of undue delay in a situation that may arise where it appears necessary to act swiftly to prevent undesirable outcomes. My noble friend Lord Callanan gave a number of examples on the previous group. The Government may need to respond quickly and effectively to maintain the status quo after the transition period has ended.

We believe that the draft affirmative resolution procedure—noting that the made-affirmative power is time-limited—offers sufficient parliamentary scrutiny while enabling the Government to act quickly. I therefore ask my noble friend to withdraw the amendment. While I think her amendments attracted the interest of the Committee, and I am grateful to her for bringing them forward, I think it would be fair to say they did not carry the support of the Committee.

As my noble friend has acknowledged, Amendment 24 is consequential so I will not address it in detail. Amendment 25 seeks to probe the Government’s understanding of what is meant by “substantive change” in Clause 4. I can tell my noble friend that it means that any changes that re-enact regulation in a way that changes its outcome count as substantive. Where existing legislation receives technical or minor amendments that do not alter its substance, that does not count as a substantive change.

I hope these responses address the concerns of my noble friend and therefore ask her to withdraw her amendment.

Baroness Morris of Bolton Portrait The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Baroness Morris of Bolton) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I have received a request to speak after the Minister from the noble Lord, Lord Purvis of Tweed.

Lord Purvis of Tweed Portrait Lord Purvis of Tweed (LD)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I am grateful for the Minister’s comments on Amendment 25. It was a question linked to the previous group that the noble Lord, Lord Callanan, did not respond to, so I am very grateful that he did.

The Minister talked about how “substantive change” is now defined. We are now in the realm of what the Minister said is a Pepper v Hart moment because what is said on the record at the Dispatch Box is very important, and these measures require a different outcome. The policy outcome intentions of many of these measures might remain the same, but some elements would be different. If the Minister is saying—on minimum unit pricing, for example, or on environmental or public health considerations—that if the intended outcome of the re-enacted or updated requirement remains the same, would that continue to be exempt? That is important because, in both the legislation and the Explanatory Memorandum, that is not so defined. If minimum unit pricing changes the level of the price, or if tuition fees continue but their level changes, if the policy intent is the same, the exemption will carry on—is that the correct understanding?

Lord True Portrait Lord True (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I note and hear what the noble Lord has said, but I think he would allow me not to enter into speculative discussions. I have put to the Committee a response to a question—a response provided to me to advise the Committee. As for its application, that is a matter that would be speculative and could be considered further. I will stand by the words that I put before the Committee.

Baroness McIntosh of Pickering Portrait Baroness McIntosh of Pickering (Con) [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank all noble Lords who have spoken in this debate. I was grateful for the opportunity to probe the extent to which this procedure of super-affirmative resolution may be more appropriate.

My noble friend Lord Naseby might not think that this is a matter of life and death, but if you are dealing with perishable goods—particularly animals and their movement over what will be internal borders—that might be the case. I part company with my noble friend on the EU-Japan agreement; it actually does not go that far. My understanding is that what was heralded as a bigger market for cheese, which will be very welcome, relies on the EU allowing us to use what is left of its quota that it does not wish to use. It is the leftovers—the crumbs under the table. It could be very helpful to our cheese producers, but it is not quite as straightforward as one might first think.

--- Later in debate ---
I turn finally to Amendment 48, which seeks to amend the regulatory powers in Clause 10 to amend Schedule 1. It covers similar ground, requiring the Government to seek the consent of the devolved authorities before any changes to the schedule of exclusions from market access principles. These currently include unsafe foods, for example—although sadly not public health. The key issue again is the need for any changes to this schedule to be made only after consultation, and hopefully agreement, with the devolved authorities. The issue is dealt with in more detail in a subsequent group. Here, as my noble friend Lord Liddle and others have said, we are talking about moving forward within our devolved system, not undermining it and not taking powers back to London. That is why the amendments in this group are so important.
Lord True Portrait Lord True (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I am grateful to all those who have spoken in what has been a thoughtful debate absolutely in the proper traditions of your Lordships’ House, both in the spirit of inquiry and in the main—I will come to that point in a minute—in manner. I am of course sorry that the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, was unable to be here, but I was delighted to hear the noble Lord, Lord German, move the amendment so ably. I was also glad to learn that he is an assiduous reader of the words of my right honourable friend Jacob Rees-Mogg. I can tell him that that is a very improving activity and I heartily commend it to him. I would say in response to his point that this legislation has collective agreement and therefore it is subscribed to by all members of the Government.

Having mentioned the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, and having in mind the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Wigley, I would like to thank the Welsh Government, who had an involvement in some of these amendments, for what has been their positive engagement on this Bill to date at both ministerial and official levels. I have had the privilege of being present at discussions on this matter.

When I talked about taking exception, I was thinking about tone. People have asked what the Government’s intention is and what the exceptional circumstances are. Like it or not, the exceptional circumstances are that, after a lengthy period of being a member of the European Union, which effectively controlled our internal market, the British people have elected to leave the European Union and the British Government—and British Governments collectively—have a responsibility to provide for successor arrangements. I do not believe that this should be the occasion for a great set of conspiracy theories. I do not agree with the noble Lord, Lord Liddle, that the Government are making a meal of the system, and I reject what he said about the Government abandoning the frameworks. We have discussed that at length in this Chamber and I have set out the continuing commitment of this Government to the framework process.

So, as we discuss this, it is important that the process of respect goes all ways, and this Government have a profound respect for all the peoples of these islands and all those involved at every level in the difficult process of governing effectively and responsibly the people they have the honour to represent. The Government seek to go forward co-operatively with the devolved Administrations and all other people in our democracy. I do not believe—with great respect to my noble friend Lord Cormack—that it is helpful to use words such as “domination” as an aspiration of the Government, and nor is it helpful for the noble Baroness, Lady Bennett, to talk of dictatorship. That is not the way in which this Government think, behave or intend to go forward. They hope to go forward with respect and co-operation.

The Bill attempts to ensure a smooth transition for businesses, as they are no longer subject to EU constraints, and to maximise certainty through the Covid recovery and the end of the transition period. It does not remove powers from the devolved Administrations. What the Bill does do is ensure that no new barriers to intra-UK internal trade will be created following the end of the transition period, and that companies from all parts of the United Kingdom will be able to trade seamlessly with one another. That is an objective that everybody in this House genuinely shares. I agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Purvis of Tweed, said: I believe that everybody in this Chamber—or, at least, almost everybody—is committed to maintaining the union of the United Kingdom. We intend, and obviously hope, to perpetuate and protect the system where companies from all parts of the United Kingdom are able to trade with each other.

Following the end of the transition period, devolved Administrations will see an increase in their powers in multiple devolved policy areas, as the role of the EU institutions falls away. They will include areas where the EU has previously set regulatory standards. The Bill seeks to strike a balance between respecting devolution and ensuring that UK companies can continue to trade unhindered in every part of the UK. Hearing some of the things that have been said, one would not think that it was this Conservative Administration who, as recently as 2017, extended so profoundly the role of the Welsh Senedd. It is vital that legislation introduced by the Bill should act across the whole of the UK, providing all of our businesses and consumers with the same degree of certainty. That is important in whatever corner of the four parts of our kingdom businesses and consumers live, just as there must be the same protection from discrimination and the same opportunities for prosperity and well-being. We owe that to every corner of this kingdom.

Yes, the driving principle of the Bill—maintenance of the internal market—is captured by Amendment 109, in the name of the my noble and learned friend Lord Mackay of Clashfern. The purpose of the Bill is as he set it out, but I do not see how it could be used for any other purpose, and I do not believe that to restate it on the face of the Bill could be anything other than potentially confusing. But I do take the spirit and the letter of what my noble and learned friend said: this is the purpose of the Bill, and it certainly is not to be set in the context of conspiracy theory. It provides for a new system that is both ambitious and necessary and, as I have said, it is a pivotal moment for the United Kingdom to develop its own bespoke regulatory system and we must make sure that this offers benefits to businesses in every part of the United Kingdom and to the devolved Administrations.

The noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope of Craighead, made a typically thoughtful opening speech. I hope that I misheard him when he said that he regretted the provisions in the Bill as a whole; I believe he was referring to the nature of the regulatory powers. In his remarks, he put forward some ideas that obviously—as my noble friend Lord Callanan said in an earlier debate—we will read carefully.

I can answer directly on the Sewel convention, about which the noble and learned Lord asked a second question. It was addressed earlier by my noble friend Lord Callanan but, for those who were not here, I repeat that the United Kingdom Government continue to demonstrate respect for and commitment to the convention. As such, they have sought the consent of each devolved legislature for the Bill through the established practices and procedures.

However, the convention envisages situations whereby the UK Parliament may need to legislate without consent; the noble Lord, Lord Purvis of Tweed, referred to such a situation. The Government have continued to hold positive discussions with the Welsh Government and the Northern Ireland Executive at both official and ministerial level. The door remains open to the Scottish Government, should they wish to re-engage on internal market matters. It is regrettable that the Scottish Government walked away from discussions on the internal market in March 2019; we urge them to return to the table.

We consulted extensively on the UK internal market White Paper, and received more than 300 responses and overwhelming support from businesses and industry to maintain the status quo and avoid new trade barriers emerging. The consultative nature of that work does not end there. I understand the undertone of what Members have sought in these amendments. We will of course monitor the implementation of the provisions in the Bill and speak to stakeholders and the devolved Administrations to ensure that it works as well as possible within our constitutional setting. The system requires effective and clear governance to provide the necessary certainty for business. Where the system is not working, the Government need to be able to act quickly and effectively to fine-tune the system for the benefit of everyone. That matter was discussed earlier today.

It is suggested by your Lordships that some of the provisions in the Bill should be subject to the prior consent of the devolved Administrations. Amendments 15, 16, 30, 41, 42, 48, 49, 75A and 100A would require this, meaning that, as a pre-condition, Ministers from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland would all have to agree with any change before it could be given effect. A number of noble Lords alluded to difficulties that might arise in certain circumstances. Clearly, such a provision could undermine the Government’s ability to act rapidly and decisively to make any changes necessary to reflect the interests of all parts of the United Kingdom, although noble Lords will, I know, have different views on the likelihood of that.

However, there is also a matter of principle at stake: attaching a requirement to obtain consent from the devolved Administrations would undermine the responsibility of Parliament with regard to the internal market. My noble and learned friend Lord Mackay of Clashfern referred in his excellent and thoughtful speech to the importance of the central role of Parliament. The Government believe that this is a fundamental issue. There may at times be a need to legislate effectively for the whole of the UK and only Parliament is capable of doing that. It is a responsibility that we take seriously; we should not resile from or compromise it in any way.

We are fully committed to ensuring that the use of the powers in the Bill are subject to effective oversight and consultation. First, any use of the powers would require an affirmative regulation to be passed in Parliament. This will ensure that MPs from all parts of the UK can scrutinise and vote on any changes.

Secondly, consultation with colleagues in the devolved Administrations is required for any change to the relevant requirements in Clause 3. It is true that a legislative consultation requirement would not be appropriate for the powers relating to exclusions from the market access principles or the list of legitimate aims for non-discrimination. In this case, the Government may need to make a swift decision in the interests of all parts of the United Kingdom, should there be an emergency or an unforeseen issue in future. In these instances, there may be no time to have a consultation period to seek consent. However, for all powers, UK Government officials will engage with the devolved Administrations in the spirit of the devolution memorandum of understanding. This system has worked well for 20 years and continues to do so.

--- Later in debate ---
Moved by
18: Clause 4, page 3, line 38, after first “a” insert “particular”
Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment would clarify that Clause 4(1)(a) relates to a specific sale of goods (the word “sale” being defined broadly in Clause 14). This is for consistency with Clause 3(1) as proposed to be amended by my amendment to Clause 3 at page 2, line 21.
--- Later in debate ---
Moved by
23: Clause 4, page 4, line 12, leave out from “have” to “place” and insert “had the same effect in relation to the sale (if it had taken”
Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment would bring the wording of Clause 4(5) into line with Clause 4(2).
--- Later in debate ---
Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank everyone who has spoken in what has been another excellent debate. Most of the points have been valid. I will disagree with many of them but noble Lords made their points well.

Before I start, the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Moulsecoomb, knows that I have tremendous respect for her: we do not often agree, but I have tremendous respect for her views. However, talking about an “extremist ideology” and “hypercapitalism”—whatever hypercapitalism is—does not aid her cause; I would prefer that noble Lords address the issues in a better and more constructive manner.

The scope of the market access principles and the areas of regulation included in Schedule 1 have been carefully designed to avoid unnecessary barriers within the UK’s internal market while ensuring that the devolved Administrations and the UK Government can act to preserve the proper functioning of certain policy areas. This is where I part company with the noble Lord, Lord Fox, because when he talks about the principle of uniformity in an internal market, that is, of course, the EU system, and I do not recall the Liberal Democrats having much of a problem with that in years past. The system of mutual recognition does allow diversity, but while not discriminating against other countries’ goods. The principle of mutual recognition and market access principles allow diversity of policy. The EU system, of which the Liberal Democrats were previously particularly fond—as far as I am concerned—does not because you have common standards and common principles. I understand the argument about the so-called race to the bottom, et cetera, but that is the system that the Liberal Democrats happily signed up to and defended loyally for many years—indeed, it is still their policy that we should rejoin the EU and assume a further application of common principles. I do not agree with it, but it is a view.

I am listening carefully to what many noble Lords are saying this evening, but it is important, so I will take the time to explain why we have taken the approach we have to the application of the market access principles and the exclusions from these principles. Amendments 35, 36, 37, 39A and 95 seek to alter the list of legitimate aims for the disapplication of indirect discrimination against goods and services. The current list of legitimate aims for indirect discrimination against goods contains

“the protection of the life or health of humans, animals or plants”,

which will, of course, align in many cases with the protection of the environment. It also contains

“the protection of public safety or security.”

I agree with my noble friend Lady Noakes that expanding the list of legitimate aims beyond the current list would increase the grounds on which goods from one part of the UK could face discrimination in another—maybe in small, incremental steps, but with each addition steadily eroding the benefits that we all enjoy of the UK internal market. Expanding the list would also make discrimination easier to create and implement within the internal market, which would contradict our policy objectives.

I am of course aware of the comparisons that have been made to the EU system and its list of legitimate aims. The UKIM Bill and non-discrimination principle have been designed to take account of the UK’s unique circumstances, reflecting that our market consists of four highly integrated, highly aligned parts. Conversely, EU provisions deal with 27 countries, all with diverse histories, cultures and competing market priorities. It is therefore right that the list of legitimate aims in the Bill is more narrowly focused. Should a need to amend the list be identified, the Bill allows for the Secretary of State to add, vary or remove additional legitimate aims.

Let me deal with the points raised about legitimate aims by my noble friend Lord Young and the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, as well as, on a number of occasions, the noble Lord, Lord Purvis, with regard to minimum alcohol unit pricing. I reiterate that policies such as minimum alcohol unit pricing and other innovative pricing policies are not covered by mutual recognition, unless they result in disguised prohibition. It would also be possible to enforce them regardless of what is on the list of legitimate aims or indirectly discriminatory measures, as long as they are non-discriminatory.

The noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, mentioned air guns. All the existing requirements will be out of scope—as I have said, the Bill is forward looking—unless they are amended significantly. Other than that, the air gun restrictions would have to create a significant adverse market effect for indirect discrimination to apply. That is before any consideration of whether that meets a legitimate aim. On her point about unfettered access for Northern Ireland goods, this is an unequivocal commitment from the Government precisely to take account of the possibility of divergence. It precludes qualifying Northern Ireland goods from being subject to new checks and controls and it protects their access to the whole of the UK market, no matter what the legislative regime is in Great Britain.

Amendment 39A is a more nuanced version of Amendment 38. It aims to limit the Secretary of State’s regulation-making powers to only add or broaden a legitimate aim—the Secretary of State would not be able to vary or remove a legitimate aim. Again, I appreciate the nuance of the amendment, but I must emphasise the importance, as we see it, of ensuring that the Government have the ability to adapt and improve the list of legitimate aims to address any challenges that arise—for example, during the implementation phase. We will of course listen attentively to businesses and to consumer stakeholders and may employ the powers that the amendment seeks to remove to ensure the UK internal market’s continued smooth functioning. To clarify another matter about which some have asked, Her Majesty’s Government and the devolved Administrations are not constrained by the rules against indirect discrimination when they need to take reasonable action to protect the life or health of humans, animals or plants, or to protect public safety or security.

Amendment 95 has a dual purpose. It seeks to remove the list of legitimate aims for indirect discrimination against services in Clause 20 and, as such, it would also remove the Secretary of State’s ability to amend that list. The list of legitimate aims covers a limited range of necessary objectives for regulators, which would justify a requirement that may have a discriminatory effect. The legitimate aims are the protection of the life or health of humans, animals or plants, the protection of public safety or security and the efficient administration of justice.

The inclusion of the list of legitimate aims is in our view vital, as it clarifies whether a requirement should be considered indirectly discriminatory and thus whether it is justified to put an affected service provider at a disadvantage compared to a similar provider from another part of the United Kingdom. To allow the flexibility to adapt to potential changes in circumstance—for example, in relation to future types of services regulation—a power for the Secretary of State to add, vary or remove additional legitimate aims is crucial and has therefore been included in the Bill.

I turn now to Amendments 50, 51, 52, 52A and 56, which seek to add in new clauses before and after Clause 10 of the Bill. The proposed new clauses would introduce a new set of conditions that would need to be met in order for an exclusion to be applied. Exclusions have been tightly defined to areas where the market access principles would adversely affect, or prevent the proper functioning of, the UK internal market. For example, we have made it possible for authorities to continue to consider local environmental conditions when authorising a chemical for use in a particular part of the UK.

Turning to Amendment 52, the protection of the environment and tackling climate change are vitally important, and something that the Government are, of course, already committed to. The UK leads the world in environmental standards and tackling climate change. We were the first major economy in the world to set a legally binding target to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions from across the economy by 2050. The EU is only just now catching up with us. We have also been quick to take action against single-use plastic, with our ban on the supply of plastic straws, drinks stirrers and cotton buds having come into force on 1 October this year.

Moving on to Amendment 52A, broadening exclusions from market access principles could result in significant challenges for the UK’s internal market. These are intentionally narrowly drafted to ensure that there are no unnecessary trade barriers that would ultimately increase costs to businesses and consumers while reducing choice. These amendments also do not take into consideration the impact any exclusions might have on unfettered access and Northern Ireland’s place in the UK’s internal market.

Amendments 33 and 34 are both consequential on Amendment 50, which I addressed above. Amendments 55 and 56 are consequential on Amendment 50 as well. Taken together, these amendments would replace the existing schedule of exclusions with a significantly wider exclusion process. The proposed process is not sufficiently targeted and would increase the potential for trade barriers to emerge. For these reasons, I ask noble Lords not to press their amendments.

Amendment 47A limits the Secretary of State’s regulation-making powers to only add to or broaden the exclusions in Schedule 1. The Secretary of State would not be able to vary the meaning of the exclusions in Schedule 1, nor to remove the exclusions entirely under the amendment. This might make it impossible for the Government to respond to business and wider stakeholder feedback and to act rapidly to adjust the list of exclusions if implementation shows the need for a review. While we are committed to retaining this power in the Bill, we are also fully committed to ensuring that the use of this power is subject to effective oversight and scrutiny.

First, any use of the power would, of course, require an affirmative regulation to be made in Parliament. This would ensure that MPs from all parts of the UK would be able to scrutinise and vote on any changes, along with Members of this House. Secondly, in line with normal arrangements for secondary legislation covering devolved matters, UK Government officials will engage with the devolved Administrations in the spirit of the devolution memorandum of understanding. This is a system that has worked well for 20 years and continues to do so. I hope, therefore, that noble Lords will agree that it is not appropriate for us to accept that amendment.

Turning to Amendment 54, the proposed new schedule is related to the new clause in Amendment 6, to which I responded on Monday. These amendments would, in combination, prevent the market access principles from applying in time at the end of the transition period. The lengthy process they put in place before the principles can apply would mean a considerable delay in securing business certainty that trade can continue unhindered within the UK’s internal market. Furthermore, they would limit the areas that the market access principles could apply to. This would again unduly constrain the scope of the principles and fail to fully protect the internal market.

Amendment 57 removes the requirement that a measure meets all the conditions set out in paragraph 2 of Schedule 1 to be excluded from the mutual recognition principle. The conditions in paragraph 2 of Schedule 1 relate to the exclusion of certain food and feed measures from the mutual recognition principle, where this is required to address a serious threat to the health of humans or animals. A measure will be excluded from the mutual recognition principle if all the conditions in paragraph 2 are met. These conditions were designed to be cumulative and work as a whole, and in our view would not be effective individually. The fourth condition, for example, relates to the responsible Administration providing a risk assessment of the threat addressed by the measure in question, which is essential in situations relating to protecting human, animal and plant health, but is not a stand-alone condition for any exclusion. As this amendment weakens the ability of the Bill to ensure that we can address a serious threat to the health of humans or animals, I hope that noble Lords will agree not to move it.

--- Later in debate ---
Lord Fox Portrait Lord Fox (LD)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I sometimes wonder whether the Minister sustains himself through the long periods of Committee by imagining himself throwing off the yoke of hideous EU conformity. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. How does the noble Lord explain all the examples of diversity across the four nations of the United Kingdom if there is this conformity? How can his comment that the market has worked very well for 20 years stand up, if this conformity was so bad? Indeed, the 2020 assessment by the Government of the frameworks says that they will maintain, as a minimum, equivalent flexibility for tailoring policies to the specific needs of each territory, as afforded by the current EU rules. The Government clearly recognise the flexibility in the current EU rules.

I commend the Minister for getting through that lengthy statement without once mentioning the words “common frameworks”. There is still no explanation of how the common frameworks inform the Government’s view today of the internal market. Will he please answer that question?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thought my comments might provoke a reaction from the noble Lord. Of course, there are EU common standards in many areas as well as EU minimum standards in many areas, and it is possible for Administrations to go further than those minimum standards in many areas, as he will know from his knowledge of EU affairs.

I have said a number of times that we are committed to the work on frameworks and will take it forward, but we were looking for frameworks in something like 38 different areas. So far, we have managed to agree frameworks in two of them. In terms of the frameworks that have been approved by the ministerial committee, I think those numbers are correct; I will write to the noble Lord if they are not. We are committed to taking forward that work on common frameworks, but we believe that this legislation provides an underpinning to that work. We do not believe that they are mutually exclusive; indeed, we think that they complement each other.

--- Later in debate ---
For goods, it simply states “re-enacts without substantive change”. For services, it says “re-enacts or replicates”. Does it simply mean that it is a re-enactment? I do not know what “replicates” means as far as this is concerned. What is a replication of a regulatory requirement that is different from a re-enactment? I would be grateful if the Minister could respond to those points?
Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

It may be helpful to the noble Lord, Lord Purvis, who I know is interested, if I return to a question he asked on the previous group—the vexed question of coal and the English-Welsh border. Let me build on the answer given by my noble friend Lady Bloomfield. Under mutual recognition, the use of coal could be banned regardless of where it is bought. The sale cannot be stopped simply because the use is not permitted. The use would still not be permitted in England, even if the coal is bought in Wales, or if it is legal to use it there. It is the distinction between sale and use that my noble friend referred to. I thought the noble Lord would like early clarification of that.

Amendments 68, 69, 70, 71, 78, 81, 84, 89, 92, 96 and 102 seek to alter the application and scope of both the exclusions and non-discrimination rules for the internal market in services. Several of these amendments centre on the application of the services rules and the non-discrimination principle. This non-discrimination rule is a fundamental safeguard for businesses, ensuring that there is equal opportunity for companies trading in the UK, regardless of where in the UK the business is based. I will address the amendments in related groups, and I am happy to explain how the services rules work, and the list of exclusions, in greater detail.

I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, for tabling Amendments 68 and 96 on consumer protection. I hope to be able to persuade her that they are unnecessary. As I set out on Monday, the Government are committed to maintaining and protecting the highest consumer standards across the UK. This legislation will be to the benefit and protection of the country’s consumers. Without an updated, coherent market structure, UK services trade could be significantly and detrimentally affected. Future complexities could arise, and costs could then be passed on to consumers through an increase in prices or a decrease in choice.

Amendments 69, 71 and 78 would provide that Part 2 applies only to services specified in regulations. We believe that these amendments are contrary to the aims of the Bill, because this is the opposite to the current approach, which is that mutual recognition and non-discrimination applies to all services except those specified in the schedule. Further, the amendments set restrictive consultation and reporting conditions on a Secretary of State wishing to make those regulations, and a requirement for devolved Administration consent to regulations extending the list of exclusions in Schedule 2. My noble friend Lord True spoke about this issue earlier today in the group on the involvement of the devolved Administrations.

Clause 17 currently aligns with the wider aims of the Bill—to allow businesses and people to trade as they do now, without facing additional barriers based on which nation they are in. These amendments run contrary to those aims. They would make the raising of barriers to service provision the default position, by not applying mutual recognition and non-discrimination principles in the Bill to any services unless specified. The reporting and consultation requirements the amendments place on specifying regulations also mean that bringing services into scope of the rules of Part 2 of the Bill, including all those to which the principles of mutual recognition and non-discrimination apply under retained EU law, would be both difficult and time-consuming. This would, in turn, cause disruption to businesses seeking to provide their services across the whole United Kingdom.

Overall, these amendments could raise barriers to service provision across the UK where even the current system does not, and would seriously hinder any attempts to develop a co-ordinated and focused response to the evolution of services in the future. Therefore, while I recognise the spirit in which these amendments were tabled, I am unable to accept them. However, to answer the questions asked by the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, and my noble friend Lady Neville-Rolfe, on financial and legal services, and to allay their specific concerns, I can reassure them that legal services are excluded from the mutual recognition principles, and financial services are excluded from Part 2 entirely.

As my noble friend Lady McIntosh makes clear in her explanatory statements accompanying Amendments 70, 81, 84 and 92, their primary purpose is to probe the drafting of the Bill. On Amendment 70, the intention of Clause 16(5)(c) is to restrict the application of Part 2 only to new requirements that take effect after Part 2 itself does. This is because the Bill is intended to prevent future obstacles to trade within the single market, not retrospectively review all existing requirements.

Clause 16(5)(c)(i) provides that requirements already in force are not subject to the principles in Part 2. Clause16(5)(c)(ii) recognises that there will inevitably be new iterations of rules, which will in fact simply restate the previous rules that were in place. This provision sets out a threshold, beyond which the new requirement will be brought within scope, and that is where the requirement has changed in substance.

My noble friend in particular asks the meaning of “substantive change”, which her amendment would replace with the phrase “significant amendment”. This wording is simply intended to distinguish between those rules which are genuinely new and different from those which may have been in place beforehand, and those which are in fact substantively the same rules. My noble friend’s suggested change uses the term “significant”, which is less easy to quantify and suggests to me a higher threshold before which a change would bring the provision within scope of the principles in the Bill. “Change” and “amendment” are of course covering fairly similar ground, but I suggest that “amendment” would more commonly be used when talking about changes to text. Since Part 2 is operating on requirements imposed by or under legislation rather than the text of the legislation itself, we think, in these circumstances, that “change” is the most fitting word— but there will probably be lots of work for the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer, and his friends in interpreting this.

I turn now to Amendments 81 and 84. In Clause 21, a legislative requirement is one imposed

“by, or by virtue of, legislation”.

This extends beyond legislation to rules produced by bodies with powers delegated to them in respect of a particular field of regulation, and it may include licences or requirements contained therein. My noble friend’s Amendments 81 and 84 would appear to have the same effect. However, in my view, the term “of no effect” is the more appropriate to apply in respect of a licence or a non-legislative rule.

Turning now to Amendment 92, the purpose of the words “less attractive” in Clause 20(3) is to encompass requirements which are not outright prohibitive but which otherwise make it harder to offer a service in a particular market. Without these words, the clause could be read as referring only to actively punitive measures, when in fact it is intended to cover a broader range of harms under the definition of direct discrimination. My noble friend will no doubt also be aware of the amendment in my name to Clause 20, which seeks to clarify the meaning of the test for indirect discrimination in that clause—although the language that she highlights remains unaltered by it.

Amendments 89 and 102 from the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, seek to remove the reference to the legitimate aims in Clause 20. These amendments should be read alongside the other amendments in the noble Baroness’s name. The wider purpose of all these amendments is to alter the legitimate aims in Clause 20. The amendments would have the effect of making the principle of non-discrimination almost absolute, not allowing any requirement which had an indirectly discriminatory effect, no matter how valid or urgent the justification. I suspect that this was not what the noble Baroness intended with this suite of amendments.

Clause 20(2)(d) provides that a requirement will be discriminatory only if it cannot be justified by a legitimate aim. Amendment 89 suggests removing that. Clause 20(9) provides that, to determine whether a regulatory requirement can be considered as a necessary means to achieve a legitimate aim, particular consideration must be given to the effects of the requirement in all circumstances and to the availability of alternative means to achieve that aim. This subsection is key to determining whether a legitimate aim may be relied upon. It is designed to assist the reader and its removal would hinder the effective application and operation of the test. The subsections are both key to the effective operation of the non-discrimination principle provided for by Part 2 of the Bill. I therefore cannot accept these amendments.

Amendment 103 relates to Part 3 of the Bill, concerning professional qualifications. As used in the clause, “mainly” has been used in this context to ensure that the majority of the experience that a professional is relying on is obtained in the United Kingdom. This is so that relevant authorities can reliably assess the professional’s experience. The decision to use “mainly” rather than “substantially”, or other similar words, is so that professionals can rely on their experience for this part of the Bill without it being interpreted as the whole of their experience needing to have been obtained in the UK. I hope, therefore, that this explanation satisfies the House and that the noble Baroness feels able not to press her amendment.

--- Later in debate ---
Lord Falconer of Thoroton Portrait Lord Falconer of Thoroton (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I go back to the very interesting answer that the Minister gave on the coal example. Let us assume that the coal example, which he described as being a prohibition on sale but not use, did not come in a pre-existing requirement and that it had been entered into after this Bill became law. I would be right, would I not, in assuming that such a requirement would offend against the non-discrimination principle under Clause 8? It is obviously a disadvantage to be able to sell coal to people who cannot use it. In those circumstances, it is valid only if that was a provision entered into after the Bill became law if such a provision was justified by one of the legitimate aims identified in Clause 8(6). Would I be right in assuming that? Would I be right in assuming that the question of whether the ban on the use of coal survived would depend upon a private law action between the supplier of the coal and the buyer of the coal?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I do not think the noble and learned Lord is correct in his assumption, but it is a detailed legal point, so I will take further advice and reply to him in writing.

Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town Portrait Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I thank noble Lords who have contributed to the debate, which poses more questions than even I had realised. I have also realised that I have not got a complete handle on the services that are covered. Are financial services excluded? I think auditing is excluded. It would perhaps be helpful if a note could be passed about what services are covered. I assumed they are cultural and intellectual property, education and architecture, but there are some interesting ones where there are big differences at the moment between countries.

I am particularly thinking of residential property, where Wales now licenses landlords and is ahead of us in licensing letting agents. We are now in discussion with the Government about the licensing—shortly, we hope—or authorisation of all property agents, but then that would be different between England and Wales and Northern Ireland and Scotland. Presumably all that would be caught by this, but I am not certain.

This is a genuine question and it would be really helpful to have, without it being part of the Bill and without it committing the Government to anything, a more useful note of what is covered. Then we could look at what is already different, particularly in licensing, as is certainly the case in the area that I know about of residential agencies in Wales and elsewhere.

In a sense, the bigger issue is the one I set out at the beginning. The noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Rolfe, put it much better. I was asking about the purpose of Part 2. I think the noble Baroness went further and asked whether we even need Part 2. It actually comes back to whether we need the whole Bill or whether the common frameworks road might be the better one, or, as the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, asked, whether it might be sufficient to fall back on the 2018 position on what things could not be agreed—it would probably save an awful lot of this. The purpose of Part 2 needs justifying, rather than defining. Why do we need it? Is the noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Rolfe, correct that we do not need this level of detail?

If the Minister could also informally explain a little more about what would be covered, that would be helpful, and we might come back at a later stage to look at whether we could define why we have this part. However, for now, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

--- Later in debate ---
Moved by
82: Clause 19, page 13, line 27, leave out “, and section 20,”
Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment is consequential on the amendment adding a definition of relevant connection to Clause 20 (page 14, line 16).
Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, in moving Amendment 82, I shall speak also to Amendments 83 and 85 to 88 in my name.

Clause 20 provides the test for assessing whether a regulatory requirement is indirectly discriminatory in relation to service providers. The indirect discrimination test comprises several elements, including a test for difference of treatment between incoming and local service providers and a test to assess whether the difference in treatment gives rise to an adverse market effect. This group of amendments would provide greater clarity to readers, particularly in relation to differential treatment and adverse market effect. The amendments would break up concepts previously included in Clause 20(4) and deal with the unequal treatment test separately from the adverse market effect test. This revised drafting also allows for clarification of the language.

This change delivers the same policy objectives but with greater clarity. It is supported by consequential amendments throughout Clause 20, including new definitions for local and incoming service providers. The definition of “relevant connection” is also moved into Clause 20 to link it better to the provision. Limb C of that definition is deleted because it is not relevant to indirect discrimination. A consequential amendment to Clause 19 supports this.

In my detailed remarks, I will focus on Amendments 90, 91 and 93 upon which the other amendments are consequential. Amendments 90 and 91 would provide greater clarity and break up concepts that were previously packed into Clause 20(4). They deal with the unequal treatment test separately from the adverse market effect test, and this division also allows for a clarification of the language. These amendments would introduce and define the concept of “relevant disadvantage”, tying it more clearly to the concept of unequal treatment between incoming and local service providers. Importantly, the more clearly laid out test for relevant disadvantage between local and incoming providers makes plain that it does not require all incoming providers to be disadvantaged or all local providers to be advantaged. That was the intended effect of the drafting; this amendment would ensure that it is clear.

Amendment 93 does two things. First, it defines local and incoming service providers—terms used in this group of amendments. Secondly, it copies the definition of “relevant connection” over from Clause 19, linking it more clearly to this provision. Limb C of the direct discrimination provision is deleted because it is not relevant to indirect discrimination.

Amendment 94, which is unrelated to the other amendments in this group, would simply remove a provision that is now no longer necessary. I beg to move.

Baroness Neville-Rolfe Portrait Baroness Neville-Rolfe (Con) [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I apologise to my noble friend the Minister for speaking on a technical amendment. I support much of the Bill and have limited my contributions accordingly.

However, I want to ask for a fuller explanation of Amendments 90 and 93, which again relate to services. Why do we need to make a distinction between incoming service providers and local service providers? Will that not create uncertainties and its own form of discrimination? Is this an insurance policy, for example against unwise anti-competitive moves by a devolved Administration? Is there any evidence that such an outcome is at all likely, given their well-known attachment to the EU single market? What is the underlying purpose of this approach?

The Minister was not able to answer my question on Amendment 68 about how marketing activity would be treated, or indeed the question from the noble Lord, Lord Purvis, on local language capability. The distinction between incoming service providers and local service providers may be part of the answer. I would welcome some simple examples that make some of this service area easier to understand. If the Minister needs notice of the questions, perhaps he would be kind enough to write to me on these points, as it is late.

--- Later in debate ---
Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Portrait Lord Stevenson of Balmacara (Lab) [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, like other speakers, I welcome the idea that this is a clarification of the language currently used in the Bill. However, like the noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Rolfe, I wonder whether what we have got is in fact any clearer, or makes us any more clear about what we are supposed to be doing with this part of the Bill.

The language is, in places, incredibly archaic and obscure. There seems to be no recognition of the digital world. Services provided through the internet are not going to be provided locally; they are not going to be provided “in a region” and there are not going to be local service providers, and yet there seems no reference to them or how they are to be treated. Even if that were not that case—even if we were not living in the virtual world—the idea that somehow a service provider has a relevant connection to a part of the United Kingdom if it has a registered office seems to ignore hundreds of years of the use of brass plates outside solicitors’ offices which provide registered offices but no services, no people, no contribution and no economic effect. Where is all this heading?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank noble Lords for the brevity of their contributions, particularly given the late hour, and I shall endeavour—they shall be pleased to hear—to match that brevity.

We think that these amendments make the test significantly clearer. The relevant concepts are unpacked in distinct subsections, and the new subsections more clearly express policy intention on how the test for indirect discrimination will function. The additional clarity ensures that businesses can operate with certainty, which is what this Bill is intended to ensure.

I have noted the requests from my noble friend Lady Neville-Rolfe—the noble Lord, Lord Purvis, repeated them several times—for details of how the service provisions will operate in things like marketing, language tests, et cetera, and for the legal definition of what “adverse market effect” means in practice. I will, of course, provide those for them in writing. With that, I commend these amendments to the Committee.

Amendment 82 agreed.
--- Later in debate ---
Moved by
83: Clause 20, page 13, line 34, leave out the second “a” and insert “an incoming”
Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment would make clear that Clause 20 is concerned with incoming service providers.
--- Later in debate ---
Moved by
85: Clause 20, page 13, line 35, after “that” insert “incoming”
Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment follows from the amendment to page 13, line 34 in my name.
--- Later in debate ---
Moved by
90: Clause 20, page 13, line 44, at end insert—
“(2A) A regulatory requirement puts an incoming service provider at a relevant disadvantage if—(a) it puts the incoming service provider at a disadvantage in relation to the provision of services in the part of the United Kingdom in which the requirement applies, and(b) it does not put, or would not put, each local service provider at that disadvantage in relation to the provision of those services in that part (at all or to the same extent).”Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment would define the concept of relevant disadvantage, introduced by the amendment to page 13, line 39 in my name.
--- Later in debate ---
Moved by
93: Clause 20, page 14, line 16, at end insert—
“(4A) For the purposes of subsections (1) to (4)—(a) an “incoming service provider” is a service provider that—(i) provides the services in the part of the United Kingdom in which the regulatory requirement applies, but(ii) does not have a relevant connection to that part;(b) a “local service provider” is a service provider that—(i) provides the services in the part of the United Kingdom in which the regulatory requirement applies,(ii) has a relevant connection to that part, and (iii) does not have a relevant connection to another part of the United Kingdom;(c) a service provider has a “relevant connection” to a part of the United Kingdom if the service provider—(i) has a registered office, place of business or residence in that part, or(ii) provides the services from that part.”Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment would define concepts used in the other amendments to Clause 20 in my name.