United Kingdom Internal Market Bill

Lord Hope of Craighead Excerpts
Committee stage & Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Wednesday 28th October 2020

(3 years, 9 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020 View all United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020 Debates Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: HL Bill 135-III Third Marshalled list for Committee - (28 Oct 2020)
Baroness Noakes Portrait Baroness Noakes (Con)
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My Lords, I would like to remind the Committee of two things about this Bill. First, the Bill is to facilitate trade between all parts of the United Kingdom, not make it harder. Secondly, businesses favour barrier-free trade. That was the very clear message that came from the consultation on the White Paper during the summer. We should be trying to minimise the possibility of barriers being put up to trade within the United Kingdom.

If we allow exclusions of goods from mutual recognition, that will inevitably lead to higher costs. This is analysed in quite considerable detail in the internal market White Paper. Costs generally end up being borne by consumers. Excluding goods can also result in businesses deciding to withdraw from certain markets, which can in turn restrict consumer choice. I know the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, is keen on consumer protection; she reminded us of that on the first day of Committee. Restricting trade tends to operate against consumer interests, so we should be very careful in trying to put amendments to the Bill that make trade more difficult. I also remind noble Lords that restricting trade is more likely to hit the devolved Administrations’ economies because of their greater dependence on exporting to the rest of the United Kingdom.

I want to comment on a couple of the amendments in this group, Amendments 7 and 8. The noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, said that Amendment 7 was a probing amendment, but by seeking to exclude imports into any part of the United Kingdom we are reducing the internal market rules to a very parochial interpretation. It seems to ignore the plain fact of commercial life, which is that there are complex supply chains and complex distribution logistics. It is of course the way we have been living in the EU; at the moment, we are quite accustomed to importing in one place and those imports being accepted throughout the rest of the community.

It also seems to me that the noble Baroness’s amendment would, in effect, impact exports between different parts of the United Kingdom. For example, if something was exported to Wales and imported to England, it would stop it then being imported into Scotland with the protection of the internal market Bill. That does not seem to make any kind of sense. It is pretty clear from the impact assessment that Wales and Scotland in particular are reliant on intermediate goods coming from other parts of the United Kingdom.

The noble Lord, Lord Rooker, spoke to Amendment 8. I did not follow what he said about pig semen because I do not think that, by any definition, pig semen is an animal feedstuff. I did have a chance to check the definition of “animal feedstuff” while he was speaking, and it is not. Perhaps we can put that to one side. We have to understand that if we try to exclude food and animal feedstuffs from the UK internal market mutual recognition rules, this will again potentially impact the devolved Administrations the most, given their import and export profiles. For example, if you look at Wales’s agri-food chain, you will see that 48% of agricultural inputs to Welsh food manufacturers come from the rest of the UK and 31% of food and drink sold in Wales comes from the rest of the UK. We should be thinking really hard about who we are likely to hurt when we put amendments such as this in the Bill, which restrict barrier-free trade.

Lord Hope of Craighead Portrait Lord Hope of Craighead (CB) [V]
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My Lords, I support Amendment 7 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, and Amendment 21 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay.

I shall start with Amendment 7. First of all, I entirely agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Noakes, that importing and exporting goods is part of the commercial life of this country. That applies across all parts of the United Kingdom, and one can well understand the point that she makes about the importance for the devolved Administrations of maintaining that system with as little interference as possible. However, the point to which Amendment 7 draws attention is a matter of real concern to the devolved Administrations. As she explained, its effect appears to be to deny them any involvement in decisions on the importation of goods from overseas, to which they might wish to take objection. Various horror stories are of course passed around as one discusses this issue, but I am not concentrating on them so much as I am on the simple lack of ability to contribute to a discussion as to whether or not these goods should be imported.

If one was talking about legislation, I suppose one would say the Sewel principle would apply and consultation would take place, but there appears to be nothing that allows for that. The effect of the way the provision is worded is that something that comes in can take the benefit of the principles and pass without any kind of control to the devolved Administrations, without their having any say. That is of real concern. This is a probing amendment, but it requires some explanation of what place, if any, the devolved Administrations have in trying to resist the importation into, and transmission across borders within, the UK of goods to which, for one reason or another, they might wish to take exception.

That covers Amendment 7. As for Amendment 21, I was attracted by what the noble Lord, Lord German, said about the dual carriageway—the parallel lines—for a particular reason, which I have not mentioned before but must be emphasised. The common frameworks are living arrangements. There is no point at which one can strictly say that a framework has come to an end, although I confess that my own amendment suggests that it could happen. These frameworks are open to subsequent discussion and revisiting as things change. For example, much of the UK emissions trading system is based on EU law and treaty arrangements that could change. If that happened, the framework would be revisited, and, no doubt, different policy decisions may need to be taken. The same is true of the hazardous substances framework.

One has to bear in mind these are two living instruments working side by side: the UK internal market and the common frameworks system. The fact that, as the Bill has it at the moment, there is no means by which they can communicate with each other, is a matter of real concern, because it affects the whole structure of how these things co-operate and will co-operate in the future, in ways we cannot yet predict. That underlines the importance of trying to find a solution to the point I drew attention to on Monday of making some arrangement whereby the decisions taken, based on common framework decisions, to legislate in the devolved Administrations are protected against the effect of the market principles, particularly the non-discrimination principle, which has very broad reach indeed.

The great value of the amendment of the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, is that it has drawn attention once again to that very real problem. It requires some response from the Minister so that we can have some idea of how he thinks these two parallel carriageways, stretching out into the future, will ever meet and co-operate with one another.

Lord Purvis of Tweed Portrait Lord Purvis of Tweed (LD)
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My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the noble and learned Lord and to agree with the thrust of his argument, which he made very well. The noble Baroness, Lady Noakes, made the valid point that the purpose of our internal UK economy is to have as few barriers as possible while recognising that we are an entity of four nations with distinct areas that can make their own policies. That is not new. The Agriculture Act 1970 had different applications within the Scottish, English and Welsh agricultural sectors. So many of the areas we are talking about within these groups predate the European Union, so the principle that we have had a different approach in many of the component nations is valid.

The Government, however, have introduced this new concept, which means, for example, that the UK’s biggest food and drink export, whisky, could now be open to a great problem because a decision made by one country, Scotland, could act against the interests of farmers in England who provide products to serve that. It is the barley question, which the Minister has referred to and on which I have asked questions before. As the noble Lord, Lord True, indicated, in summing up the debate on the previous group on Monday and correcting the noble Lord, Lord Callanan, that is an area that will be covered by a legislative framework.

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Baroness Andrews Portrait Baroness Andrews (Lab)
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My Lords, the amendments in my name in this group are for the most part identical to those of the noble Lord, Lord Fox, although in some cases they are wider in their supplementary implications. It goes without saying that I agree with everything he said—and everything that I suspect the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, is about to say—about the whole range of excessive and inappropriate delegations. Of course, my amendments follow the advice of the DPRRC; I declare an interest as a member of that committee.

I will make a few general points about what the Government are trying to do in these clauses and how they have justified them. I speak for myself but I suspect that I also speak for many members of the committee —certainly for our distinguished chair—when I say that we have reached a point of almost total exasperation with the Bill. The DPRRC was set up in 1992 to monitor and control the excesses of executive power and the temptation for Ministers and officials to try to avoid parliamentary interference and take inappropriate powers. So it is hardly new, but in recent years, we have been sorely tested— not least on the limits of our vocabulary. Indeed, the DPRRC has described these powers as “extraordinary” and “unprecedented”.

We have seen the increasing use of skeleton Bills and statutory instruments not for the delivery of policy but for the design of policy and for carrying the principles of legislation within the secondary framework. Most recently, we have seen mounting evidence of a Government that will go to endless lengths to avoid scrutiny. This Bill is in a class of its own because of the sheer volume and significance of the Henry VIII powers. Of the 12 delegated powers in the Bill, seven are Henry VIII powers, allowing Ministers to amend or repeal significant provisions of the Bill itself, as well as other primary and secondary legislation. We used to protest when only one Henry VIII power turned up in a Bill.

It sets a different tone, too, because the delegated powers memorandum, in its attempt to justify why these powers to expedite the mutual recognition principle and the non-discriminatory principle are necessary, does not even bother to try to find a convincing justification for the powers taken. In the clauses relating to my Amendments 13, 28, 39 and 47, for example, the explanations for using statutory instruments to amend Acts of Parliament cite the need for speed and flexibility to respond to unforeseen developments—the known unknowns and so on—respond to stakeholders and provide certainty. These are profoundly lazy and threadbare arguments, and Ministers and officials know that. I consider that contempt of Parliament. Secondary legislation does not guarantee speed, flexibility or certainty. Primary legislation, as we know from dealing with the pandemic, can be introduced at the speed of light and amended. Indeed, the Government have conceded in their own arguments that the Secretary of State is not required to declare that the making of regulations is required as a matter of urgency, so urgency is a false trail too.

This disingenuous use of language offered in the memorandum in regard to Clause 6(5) is a case in point. It argues that Ministers need to be able to respond swiftly to future-proof the operation of these principles so that they can be changed as and when Ministers decide that it is necessary. The DPRRC dismisses this as an attempt to completely rewrite the non-discrimination principle. When the Government argue that there is no way that they can change the definition of legitimate aims attached to the non-discrimination principles in Clause 8 other than by secondary legislation, they seem to have completely forgotten that such a thing as primary legislation exists. Indeed, in Schedule 2, for example, the assumption is that only secondary legislation is fit for purpose when it comes to making future amendments.

The powers that my amendments seek to remove are described by the DPRRC as inappropriate and ones that should be removed; the Constitution Committee endorses that. “Inappropriate” may seem rather feeble in the parliamentary lexicon; in fact, it could not be more powerful. Among other synonyms, it means unseemly, unbecoming, lacking in propriety, ill-judged and out of order. Nowhere are those and many other epithets more appropriate than what these clauses have to say about the devolution settlement. For in Clauses 3(10) and 6(7), in relation to mutual recognition and non-discrimination —the two main pillars of market access—there is the explicit instruction that, before making regulations, the Secretary of State must consult the Ministers of the devolved assemblies. The Government are required not to seek consent but merely to consult, so they

“can act without the need to introduce new primary legislation or to obtain the consent of the devolved administrations (the Minister being only under a duty to consult) even though the proper functioning of the internal market is essential to all the administrations of the UK.”

That is a direct quote from the DPRRC.

That most eloquently brings us to the fracture at the heart of the Bill, and to the reason for taking these inappropriate powers which removes them from the full attention of Parliament. It comes back to what the Government insist is the purpose of the Bill—to secure, despite the promise and the purpose of common frameworks, that the internal market will need a new regulatory structure flexible enough to meet the unforeseen demands in the future, notwithstanding that they cannot tell us what those demands are likely to be or explain how they are going to prevent lower common standards permitted by law in this Bill, or why the common frameworks are not sufficient in themselves to prevent that, or why the Bill cannot be amended in such a way as to ensure a tight fit between the common frameworks and the common purposes of the Bill. These inappropriate powers are seen as necessary to expedite what might happen in the future, notwithstanding the impact on the devolved nations or the devolved settlements, the role of Parliament, the balance of powers expressed in appropriate legislation or the integrity of the process itself.

There is a great deal at stake in this Bill, as has been said many times already in the process of the Bill. They are grave matters, and they have been drawn to the attention of this House by the two most senior scrutiny committees. I hope the Minister will find he can agree with me that these powers are offensive as well as unnecessary, and that they will be removed.

Lord Hope of Craighead Portrait Lord Hope of Craighead (CB) [V]
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My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the noble Baroness, Lady Andrews. I am not a member of the Delegated Powers Committee and never have been, so I think I can, without any embarrassment, praise the work which that committee does so often on behalf of the House and, in particular, the reports it has made in respect of the Bill we are considering today. The issue which it raises, of course, is a very serious one, and it has been very well explained in its own report and spoken to by both the noble Lord, Lord Fox, and the noble Baroness, Lady Andrews. I do not want to say very much more about it. The important point is revealed when you look at the subsection which introduces the power to make regulations in the case we are looking at, first of all in Clause 3(8). There is absolutely no qualification whatever to indicate the purpose for which that power may be exercised. It is a totally unqualified power, which may be used without any control from anybody as to the way in which the power is being exercised.

Twenty years ago, this House was looking at, among other things, the Scotland Bill. It is very interesting for the historian to compare the way in which delegated powers are conferred by that Bill with the way in which they are being conferred by this Bill. Both of them were major pieces of legislation, designed to lay the structure for the future governance of this country. On the part of the Scotland Bill, of course, it was very obvious because it was the first step toward devolution; it had to be carefully crafted, and yet it was moving into an uncertain world. The many powers to make legislation by delegated legislation are all carefully described, so that one knows exactly the purpose for which that power could be used. As the Bill went through both Houses, the reason for the power and the scope that was given to Ministers to use it was carefully scrutinised by both Houses.

We do not have that benefit in this case, in a Bill which is designed to settle the internal market—a Bill of equal importance and, perhaps I might say, equal difficulty. Nevertheless, they have in common that they are major pieces of legislation, and yet, in this case, the power we have to legislate and to scrutinise legislation is really being opened up to Ministers to deal with, without any control whatever. That is the basic flaw which runs through all of the clauses to which these amendments draw attention.

There is, of course, the point that the noble Baroness mentioned, that all that has been required with the devolved Administrations—or the Ministers in the devolved Administrations—is that they be consulted, not consent. That is not in keeping with the Sewel convention, although that is qualified by the word “normally”. I would have thought that in this case, because of the scope of the powers, consent would be appropriate here, because there is no other way of controlling what the power may be used for. That is the reason why the absence of a provision for consent is so important in these cases.

Without saying any more, I must say that I fully support the points that have already been made on these very important amendments.

Baroness Fookes Portrait The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Baroness Fookes) (Con)
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The noble Baroness, Lady Noakes, has withdrawn, so I now call the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford.

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Lord German Portrait Lord German (LD)
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My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, is detained in another part of your Lordships’ House. I will move Amendment 15 and speak to Amendments 30 and 64 in this group, which attempt to place one limitation on the extraordinary and extensive Henry VIII powers that we were talking about in the last group: namely, they require the consent of the devolved Administrations to using those powers. Amendments 15 and 30 would impose this requirement in relation to Ministers’ power to remove or, more worryingly, add to the statutory requirements that are

“within the scope of the mutual recognition principle”

and “the non-discrimination principle”, respectively. Amendment 64 would require devolved consent for any guidance issued in respect of Part 1.

I must say that I am very attracted to the amendments tabled by my noble friend Lord Fox, which would simply strike out the Henry VIII powers in Clauses 3 and 6. As your Lordships will know, these have been strongly condemned by the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee—a matter to which I will return later.

Without amendments such as these, it would be possible for the Government to strip back still further the very limited exemptions that these clauses provide for, which are far more limited than is currently the case with EU law, where the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality apply alongside far broader public policy exemptions. I remind your Lordships and the Government that they are working on the basis of principles that they repeated last month and established in October 2017—that they would move forward under

“established conventions and practices, including that the competence of the devolved institutions will not normally be adjusted without their consent”.

Those words, “without their consent”, represent a principle to which the Government have signed up. That is why the amendments of the noble Baronesses, Lady Hayter and Lady McIntosh, seek to engage with the devolved Administrations but do not require the Government to achieve their consent.

Obviously, either amendment would be preferable to the current problem, but the issue is that it would be easy for the Government to demonstrate that they had sought the consent of the devolved Administrations on a wholly unreasonable proposal, and the fact that it had not been forthcoming would have no relevance at all. Therefore, the Government could report that they had consulted the devolved Administrations and tick the box required without even attempting to address their concerns.

I return to the issue of secondary legislation; that is the source of these amendments because the powers are so sweeping and there is no restriction on, or knowledge of, what they will deal with. As noble Lords may be aware, three committees of your Lordships’ House have expressed concern about these matters. The Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee, the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee and the Constitution Committee all wrote to the Lord President of the Council, the Leader of the House of Commons, who has government responsibility for the way in which delegated powers are used.

In Jacob Rees-Mogg’s reply of 19 October, he said:

“I agree that Bills with substantial powers, though sometimes essential, should not be a tool to cover imperfect policy development. As a Government, we must have a clear direction and be able to explain to both Parliament and our constituents how we are fulfilling the promises of our manifesto. I can see that extensive use of delegated powers can hinder rather than help us in that. Therefore, I am happy to consider issuing communications to Secretaries of State on this matter, encouraging them to minimise the use of delegated powers where possible”.


I ask the Minister: has the Lord President of the Council, the Leader of the House of Commons, consulted him on the matters that he is putting before us today? If so, will he heed that warning from Jacob Rees-Mogg?

The other matter that concerns me, which my noble friend Lord Purvis talked about, is the extent to which the powers can be used in a variety of ways. I reflect on the environmental aspects, which the noble Lord, Lord Callanan, just talked about, in relation to the recycling of materials, which is one of the issues on which the Government may wish to introduce regulations. The reason for that might well be that they have a concern about the environment, such as the nature of plastic film or single-use plastics; they might want to introduce those requirements.

However, it could go the other way and make the problem worse. For example, you might stop a devolved authority banning the use of plastic spoons or using plastic film on fresh food. The Government have admitted that they want to carry through all those health and environmental considerations by saying that they are looking at the recycling of materials as something that it might touch in the future.

Therefore, it seems to me that we have grave concerns about the way changes in these areas will be implemented. If we follow the advice of Jacob Rees-Mogg, then, certainly, we would not seek these powers in this Bill at this time because they do not include the policy intent that is to be provided. In these amendments, we can ensure that the consent of the devolved Administrations is given and that we can address and seek their approval, but it would be far better if we did not have these delegated powers at all.

Lord Hope of Craighead Portrait Lord Hope of Craighead (CB) [V]
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My Lords, as the noble Lord, Lord German, just said, it would be far better if we did not have these provisions in the Bill at all, but one must assume that they may remain. That is why these amendments, particularly Amendments 15 and 30, to which I have added my name, address the provision which talks about consultation but does not mention the word “consent”.

I have two requests for the Minister; I will not elaborate further on what the noble Lord, Lord German, said in his very helpful introduction to this group. First, would he be good enough to repeat, in the context to which these amendments refer, the assurance he has already given that the Sewel convention principles will be applied without any hesitation in regard to consultation?

Secondly, will the Minister consider whether it would not be wise, in view of the importance of the clauses in which these provisions appear, to adopt the system used, he will recall, in the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 when considering the system of seeking the consent of the devolved Administrations—Assemblies, Senates and Parliaments—to the modification of EU law? He may recall that Ministers were given power to restrict the powers of the devolved Administrations to modify EU law in certain respects by delegated legislation. Provided for in Part 1 of Schedule 3 was a system whereby the Parliaments, Senate and Assembly were given an opportunity to provide consent. The wording in the Scotland provision was:

“A Minister of the Crown must not lay for approval before each House of the Parliament of the United Kingdom a draft of a statutory instrument containing”


the relevant

“regulations … unless … the Scottish Parliament has made a consent decision in relation to the laying of the draft, or … the 40 day period has ended without the Parliament having made such a decision.”


If it came to the point of there being no consent, when the Minister of the Crown laid this draft, as mentioned, before either House, he would be required to explain his decision to lay it without the consent of the Parliament.

That system was arrived at after a great deal of discussion in the 2018 Act; it is quite a useful one that might well be thought appropriate in this case to reduce the element of dismay which the devolved Administrations are feeling about how they are being treated by these provisions—all that has been provided for is consultation. They would at least have an opportunity in their legislatures to consider whether consent should be given. Of course, if they fail to give it within 40 days, ultimately the Minister can go ahead, provided he explains why he is doing so. There is no amendment to this effect, but this is an opportunity for the noble Lord to consider whether it would not be wise to soften the blow that has been felt by the devolved Administrations by adopting that system, which was so carefully worked out and eventually accepted in the 2018 Act.

Beyond that, I support everything the noble Lord, Lord German, has said in support of the amendments to which he has spoken.

Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle Portrait Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle (GP) [V]
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My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord German, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope of Craighead. I thank them both for setting out detailed consideration of this rather long list of amendments, the length reflecting the levels of concern in the Committee about this area of the Bill.

I will speak to a series of amendments in this group to which I have attached my name, Amendments 15 and 64 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay of Llandaff, and Amendments 16, 41, 48, 74 and 99 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter of Kentish Town. I apologise to your Lordships for not taking part at Second Reading. My name was down to speak, but I was caught up in the collision with the Medicines and Medical Devices Bill, which also prevented me from taking part in earlier Committee sittings.

That is not the only crucial political collision we are encountering at the moment. As a former newspaper editor, I am well aware of the problem of the media being able to focus on only one issue at a time. I sought to place an article about the environmental issues in the medicines Bill with a major news outlet, and was told “No, we’ve already run too many articles on this Bill.” We are at risk of falling into the same problem with this Bill.

I can identify at least three major areas that could in normal circumstances expect attention from the serious media. Rightfully getting top billing are the Part 5 issues that we expect to get to on the final day of this Committee’s deliberations. The second area, which would normally get massive amounts of attention, is the clauses that provide powers even greater than those of Henry VIII, as the noble Baroness, Lady Andrews, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope of Craighead, and others spoke to so powerfully earlier today. As a former journalist, I have a shorthand for that—Henry VIII on steroids. I share the liking of the noble Lord, Lord German, for the amendments that wipe those out altogether.

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Lord Young of Cookham Portrait Lord Young of Cookham (Con)
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My Lords, Amendments 39A, 47A and 52A are in my name and those of the noble Baroness, Lady Northover, and the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner of Worcester. They have the support of Cancer Research UK, the Faculty of Public Health and the British Heart Foundation along with Action on Smoking and Health and the Alcohol Health Alliance UK, for whose briefing I am grateful.

The amendments address some of the concerns expressed by the Scottish and Welsh Governments over the Bill, regarding a risk of a race to the bottom in relation to public health. They also complement amendments in earlier debates that sought to restore the flexibility that exists under the common framework for legitimate variations in approach within the component parts of the UK—a common theme that has run through our debates this week—so my amendments are another pair of braces for the belt of the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay.

The noble Lord, Lord Anderson, in a remarkable speech, mentioned public health. Public health is an essential part of this debate; Covid has finally brought home to us the importance of what was previously the Cinderella service of our healthcare system. To quote the Secretary of State for Health:

“The first responsibility of any government is the protection of its citizens, and threats to public health are among the most important of all.”


So it is critical that the provision of market access is balanced against the ability of Governments to protect the health of their citizens.

With regard to goods, the Bill describes exemptions in two places: Clause 8(3) and in the list of legitimate aims, including the protection of human, plant or animal health, public safety, along with a number of other more specific exclusions in Schedule 1. In both instances the Secretary of State can amend the core principles of the Bill, which are quite rightly enshrined in primary legislation, and he can do so by regulation. Again, that has been a consistent theme throughout our debate.

The House of Lords Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee has raised serious concerns that the power included in Part 1 to amend, repeal or otherwise modify legislation by regulation is inappropriate as drafted and should be removed from the Bill. The Marshalled List is full of amendments raising objections to these powers. My amendments focus specifically on the impact on public health.

The ability to alter these regulations matters. Take, for example, minimum unit pricing for alcohol, as currently exists in Scotland and Wales. The Government have argued that new policies similar to minimum unit pricing would be possible under the Bill because they are covered by the non-discrimination principle, so there is a pathway through which they might be justified. Minimum unit pricing might be a necessary means of achieving the legitimate aim of protecting human health. In future, though, through a simple affirmative resolution procedure the Secretary of State could modify that list of legitimate aims to remove the justification of protecting human health so that that was no longer the case. That is an insufficient safeguard for future legislation to protect our health, and the amendment would prevent that. The reach of market principles is so broad that a number of other potential policies, including regulations to restrict the availability of alcohol, attempts to raise the age of purchase for cigarettes, restrictions on children buying sugary drinks and other legitimate public health measures, could all be similarly vulnerable.

I turn briefly to Amendment 52A, which aims to expand the reach of the public health exclusions listed above. The proposals contained in the initial White Paper would have posed more potential risks for public health, but the Government have listened and have put in the protection of being a

“necessary means of achieving a legitimate aim”,

as I mentioned earlier. This is very welcome, but the protections are unevenly applied, allowing legislation that aims to protect our health and safety to be justified in some instances only. This is because the Bill contains two market access principles, non-discrimination on the one hand and mutual recognition on the other. Currently, only non-discrimination can be overridden by a policy that is shown to be necessary to pursue a legitimate aim. Mutual recognition contains no such clause. This is different from the status quo, where a general exclusion for the protection of human health against a broad range of other aims exists. It is in that respect a step backwards, a point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay. This difference is significant, as mutual recognition covers characteristics of goods such as packaging, content and labelling, all key areas of public health.

To take one example, 40 years ago, when I was a Health Minister under Margaret Thatcher, I argued for a health warning not just on cigarette packs but on individual cigarettes. If, for example, the Welsh Government legislated to do exactly that, I would be delighted to see it implemented but, because this is subject to mutual recognition, Wales would be unable to require it for cigarettes coming into Wales from other parts of the UK, even if they were originally produced overseas. A range of similar examples includes calorie labelling on alcohol, as proposed by the Department of Health and Social Care; including information about the medical officer’s low-risk guidelines, something that Scotland has expressed some interest in legislating on; improved front-of-pack warnings on cigarettes; or even policies such as restricting the amount of sugar in goods sold in Scotland. That was an example given in the Scottish Government’s legislative consent memorandum.

Finally, this could also impact on England. Let us take, for example, the current plans of the Department of Health and Social Care to consult on requiring calorie labels on alcohol products to help reduce obesity in England. Once more, if England implemented this requirement, it would not be able to enforce it on alcohol sold in England but produced, or even first imported, into other parts of the UK.

We have made great strides forward in public health, in part because the swiftest moving parts of our union have been able to lead the others. England led the way on restricting tobacco displays in shops. Scotland and Wales are ahead on policies such as minimum unit pricing. This lack of a broad public health exclusion risks this advantage being inverted and our pace being locked into the slowest moving of our constituent parts. I know that the Minister will have taken note of the concerns raised by noble Lords in this debate and that he will endeavour to meet them, but I hope that between now and Report there will be discussions with a view to finding acceptable amendments that do not prejudice the key pursuit of legitimate public health objectives.

Lord Hope of Craighead Portrait Lord Hope of Craighead (CB) [V]
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My Lords, I am in sympathy with the words just uttered by the noble Lord, Lord Young of Cookham, but I wish to speak to my own amendment, Amendment 36, and I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, for her support.

My amendment is concerned with the meaning of words and, to some extent, achieving compatibility, as far as possible, with devolution legislation. It is directed to the definition of the expression “legitimate aim” in Clause 8(6), which sets out two aims, one of which is

“(a) the protection of the life or health of humans, animals or plants”.

If the draftsman of the Bill was to look at Part 1 of Schedule 5 to the Scotland Act 1998, under heading C5 he would find similar words set out in one of the exceptions to the reserved powers; that is, exceptions which mean that the things described are within the devolved competences of the Scottish Parliament. It refers to the

“protection of animal products, plants and plant products for the purposes of protecting human, animal or plant health, animal welfare or the environment.”

My point is that what one finds in subsection (6)(a) takes part of what is found in that provision but misses out some other important words. The phrase I quoted from the Scotland Act draws a distinction between animal health and animal welfare. There is some basis for that distinction because there are things that are designed to achieve the welfare of animals that are not directly related to their state of health. So there is some force in considering the addition of “animal welfare” to the formula in that provision. It also refers to the environment, and nowadays, thinking of all the concerns we have about the environment, I would have thought one could, without damaging the purposes of the Bill, include the words “protection of the environment” within the formula of the clause.

These are drafting points. I draw them, if the Minister will forgive me, more to the attention of the Bill team and the draftsman of the Bill to see whether he can find room for including words in my amendment. It is to make sure that they cover what I take to be the broad aim of the language; it is the kind of discussion we might have had, had we been given time, around a table, discussing how those particular provisions should be framed.

I am not trying to damage the Bill or adjust it in any more significant way; I just want to see that the language used covers the aim of the provision fully and completely. It is on that basis that I brought forward this amendment.

Baroness McIntosh of Pickering Portrait Baroness McIntosh of Pickering (Con) [V]
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I am grateful for the opportunity to speak in this interesting debate on these particular amendments, many of which I support. I will limit my remarks to Amendment 37 in my name; I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Bowles of Berkhamsted, for her support in co-signing.

The purpose of Amendment 37 is to bring the definition of “legitimate aim” set out in this clause in line with the source of EU law as contained in articles 34 to 36 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. In particular, I refer to article 36 of that treaty, which states:

“The provisions of Articles 34 and 35 shall not preclude prohibitions or restrictions on imports, exports or goods in transit justified”


on the grounds I set out in my little Amendment 37. It goes on to say:

“Such prohibitions or restrictions shall not, however, constitute a means of arbitrary discrimination or a disguised restriction on trade between Member States.”


For reasons similar to those set out by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, in speaking to his Amendment 36, I think that it will be helpful to have

“public morality, public policy … the protection of national treasures possessing artistic, historic or archaeological value; or the protection of industrial and commercial property”

brought into Clause 8. This would be a drafting improvement, so I also make a plea to the drafting team in that regard.

I listened with great interest to what the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, said on adding the regulation of animal welfare. It goes to his point in a debate earlier this week on the link between this Bill and the Agriculture Bill, particularly regarding the marketing standards covered by Clause 39 of the Agriculture Bill. It would help enormously if we could have some seamless references across different Bills—in this case, the Agriculture Bill and the Bill before us this evening, the UK Internal Market Bill.

With those few remarks, I am grateful to have my noble friend consider favourably Amendment 37.