Internal Market Information System Regulations (Amendment etc.) Regulations 2021

Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Excerpts
Tuesday 29th November 2022

(1 year, 7 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
In conclusion, this instrument makes a series of essentially technical amendments to reflect the current position regarding the UK’s access to the IMI. It removes provisions that are no longer operable following the end of the implementation period and retains only those provisions necessary in respect of Northern Ireland to ensure that the UK can comply with certain obligations placed under the Northern Ireland protocol. In doing so, this instrument ensures that UK public authorities can continue to access the IMI where necessary to allow them securely, effectively and efficiently to deliver those obligations. On that basis, I commend these draft regulations to the House.
Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Portrait Lord Stevenson of Balmacara (Lab)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, I am sorry that the very interesting and, to me, quite new explanation for the IMI, and its rather interesting resonances for cultural goods and other material that needs to be notified from country to country, has not attracted a wide number of speakers. However, I will do my very best to enliven the House for a few seconds while we get to the point at which we make a decision about these important regulations.

My first question is very simple, and I was surprised that the Minister did not mention this in his introduction. Why the delay? This instrument was originally laid on 20 July 2021. It is still referred to as a 2021 regulation, although it seems to me that we are in 2022, almost 2023. There must be an explanation. It might be eluding the Minister at the moment, but I am sure that inspiration will arrive very shortly from the Box. We will wait for that to occur. It may or may not be important, but it links to what I want to say at the end. I therefore make the point now and look forward to the response.

It is very unusual for this House to have the leisure of so much time to consider regulations in any detail. Those of us who have struggled under many years of Conservative government legislation will know that we are often under pressure to read and respond to material at short notice. The idea that one has nearly 24 months to respond is one I could get used to very quickly.

Secondly, why is this being done at all? The main purpose here is to eliminate from the UK statute book things that are no longer relevant or which resonate with material relating to those who work or operate in parts of the United Kingdom other than Northern Ireland, so that the statute book is not cluttered up with that. However, as I understand it, but perhaps I am out of date, there is to be an EU Bill shortly which will do exactly the same thing. Perhaps I am reading something incorrect into these regulations, and if so, perhaps the Minister will correct me when he responds. However, this seems to be ahead of the plans of the former Secretary of State and his department. Of course, given that change, perhaps that Bill is no longer happening, but as I understand it the intention was to go through all the legislation retained after we left the EU to make sure that the statute book was uncluttered by it, yet here we have a statutory instrument doing that very job. Why is that?

Thirdly—I mention this because it raises issues relating to some of the affected material—we have not had an impact assessment and no consultation has taken place, as I understand it, on this statutory instrument. That is unusual, but not in relation to material carried forward from the exit from the EU. However, it would be helpful to those of us who have to consider these matters if we knew who precisely was affected. When he responds, can the Minister name any company or organisation that would be more profitable or even affected by the passing of this legislation? I look forward to his response.

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

My Lords, I join the noble Lord in expressing my regret that this major piece of legislation has not attracted more speakers. Nevertheless, it is quality that counts, not quantity, and I thank the noble Lord for his intervention. As I previously set out, this instrument makes a series of technical amendments to reflect the current position regarding the UK’s access to the IMI. By updating the statute book, this instrument provides clarity for public authorities, businesses and citizens about how and when data previously shared between UK, EU member states and the European Commission is now treated following the UK’s departure from the EU. As I said in my opening speech, it introduces no new obligations, costs or powers and will not change the service provided by public authorities to UK businesses and citizens under the Northern Ireland protocol.

In response to the noble Lord’s question about what businesses would be affected, the answer is none. This instrument removes references to legislation which previously facilitated IMI access. Access was necessary to enable the UK to comply with its obligations under single market legislation while we were a member state. Now that we have left the EU, this instrument updates the statute book to reflect the areas where access has already been terminated by the European Commission on the grounds that UK access is no longer required. In other words, access is no longer necessary to support compliance under the Northern Ireland protocol. Therefore, this instrument removes references containing legislative areas in respect of which the UK does not have access to the IMI, including the services directive, recognition of professional qualifications, patients’ rights relating to cross-border healthcare, posted workers, public documents and non-road mobile machinery.

Public authorities will nevertheless continue to have access to the IMI modules relating to disputes concerning mutual recognition of goods, the return of cultural goods and firearms transfers, as I outlined earlier. This will support continued communication, administrative co-operation and data-sharing between regulators in those areas. As required by the specific legislation, it continues to apply in Northern Ireland. The instrument facilitates such co-operation where required without the need to establish new secure channels of information and communication with individual EU member states and the European Commission.

In response to the noble Lord’s question about why this instrument is so late, the answer is that the UK was given a right of access to the IMI under the withdrawal agreement for a period of nine months in order to finalise any outstanding applications for professional qualification recognition under the European professional card route from general system nurses, pharmacists and physiotherapists. The UK agreed to the EU’s decision to extend the UK’s right of access to the IMI beyond the deadline, as applications were still outstanding beyond that period. The making of this instrument therefore had to be delayed so as not to remove the UK’s ability lawfully to access the IMI for this purpose. The need for temporary access has now been resolved, and we are in a position to progress the instrument. I hope that resolves the noble Lord’s query.

As I have set out, this instrument ensures that UK public authorities can continue to access the IMI where necessary to allow them securely, effectively and efficiently to deliver their obligations under the protocol, while ensuring that the UK statute book accurately reflects the changes in access to the IMI following the UK’s departure from the EU.

I hope I have resolved the noble Lord’s query, and I commend these regulations to the House.

Post Office: Horizon

Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Excerpts
Thursday 24th February 2022

(2 years, 4 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

It is a complicated picture. There are a number of different compensation streams. There are the original GLO participants who took the case to the High Court. The problem there is that that case was settled—the point that I was making earlier—although there is considerable pressure, with which I sympathise, for them to be compensated further. There is the historical shortfall scheme and then there is the compensation due to those who probably suffered more than anyone, in that they were prosecuted, found guilty and often jailed or bankrupted accordingly. So there are a number of different compensation streams, and we need to make sure that everyone receives the compensation they deserve.

Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Portrait Lord Stevenson of Balmacara (Lab)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, the Minister will be aware that we have previously raised the question of the powers of the inquiry. Obviously, the inquiry has got going, and quite significant information has already been released. My concern was—I think the Minister has answered this before, but I would like to get him to repeat it—whether the inquiry, although not being held under the Inquiries Act, has the powers to call all the evidence that it may require in order to get to the bottom of this. That includes not just Fujitsu but Ministers.

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

My understanding is that, yes, Sir Wyn has all the powers available to him. We would be happy to look at any further powers that he needs if he does not have them, but my understanding is that Ministers going back over the relevant period, officials, executives of the Post Office and Fujitsu will all be playing a part in the inquiry and giving evidence to it.

Economic Crime: Planned Government Bill

Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Excerpts
Monday 31st January 2022

(2 years, 5 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I cannot give the noble Lord a commitment about when a Bill might arrive. I also cannot give a commitment about what might be in it when it does arrive.

Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Portrait Lord Stevenson of Balmacara (Lab)
- Hansard - -

One of the key recommendations of the recent Joint Committee on the Online Safety Bill was that scams and economic crimes on the internet should be in scope of the revised Bill when it comes forward. We obviously await the Government’s response to that, but does this not give the Government an opportunity of a double win? Either Bill would do, but the issue has to be addressed.

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

There are indeed a number of positive elements to legislating on this issue. One of them is the issue highlighted by the noble Lord. However, we are again dealing with hypotheticals: something that may happen in good time. As I keep saying, we are committed to pursuing this legislation, but I am afraid I am going to sound a bit like a broken record when I say I cannot give a commitment at this stage to noble Lords on when we might be able to do it.

Market Surveillance (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2021

Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Excerpts
Thursday 8th July 2021

(3 years ago)

Grand Committee
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Portrait Lord Stevenson of Balmacara (Lab) [V]
- Hansard - -

My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for his usual comprehensive introduction. I know that when the Government speak to any business in your Lordships’ House, they always speak with one voice, and I am sure that we heard only the voice we were meant to hear. However, it was striking that quite a lot of the paragraphs he read out perhaps did not come originally from his pen or that of his department. He does not need to comment on that if he does not want to, but I felt there were messages in what he said that were intended for a wider audience than the rather small one that, perhaps unfortunately, has gathered here today.

I have a couple of questions about the Explanatory Memorandum and a couple of points to make relating to what the Minister said. Paragraph 7.10 states:

“The Government is currently undertaking a wider review of the UK product safety system, including approaches to securing compliance and the role of criminal sanctions in product safety regulation, and the scope for greater use of civil sanctions.”


There is not much detail on that—perhaps the Minister could give a sense of the timescale for that work. Given that, in a sense, it will probably overtake this SI, will it have an immediate or a medium-term effect?

Despite having looked at many SIs in my time as a Front-Bencher, including ones which stem from the original legislation, I was caught out towards the end of paragraph 7.11 by the reference to the fact that

“the SI works on a lex specialis principle”,

in other words,

“where there is a more specific provision in the sectorial legislation, this will take priority.”

That rather shades some of what the Minister was saying about trying to achieve a commonality of approach between GB and Northern Ireland. Without more detail, it is difficult to judge exactly how that will operate. Perhaps when he responds he can give us some examples of how the lex specialis principle might affect the SI. I should also be grateful to know where I might find the original legislation on that. If he does not have the information to hand, I should of course be happy to have a letter from him.

I turn to some more general points that the Minister may like to pick up on, and which I am sure my noble friend Lord Bassam will also refer to. The Minister said that this is effectively a levelling-up SI, in the sense of trying to ensure continuity and minimal change, but there is obviously an issue here about the need to establish an economic operator in Northern Ireland for compliance activities or, as he said, in the EU, if companies want to sell goods into Northern Ireland. We should not gloss over the fact that companies will be affected by that. That is a change that I do not think was anticipated—I have never seen reference to it before—but we have it before us now. It is certainly something to reflect on.

I see no references in the SI or the Explanatory Memorandum to reviewing the impact of this measure. Indeed, because it is a process that flows from the EU withdrawal Act, no review is specifically required. The Minister said that this will not have an impact on British businesses and will not affect businesses that bring products from GB to the EU through Northern Ireland, or just to Northern Ireland itself. Given the current heated situation and the concern about sausages, for example, it would be helpful to have a review. Will the Minister commit to indicating how this is playing out in practice further down the line, even if not to a formal review?

Secondly, what will the situation on the ground be like when the regulations are enforced? The Minister said that the approach is proportionate, risk-based and intelligence-led, which suggests that a fairly extensive set of procedures are in place. Assessing proportionality is not always easy; knowing what the risks are is not always possible; and “intelligence-led” suggests that this will be a joint activity involving the security services and others.

What does that mean in practice? I travel regularly between the UK and Ireland, and I have observed substantial changes in procedures and practices at the Irish ports I travel through. Of course, this is ad hominem and I am not trying to make a general point, but it is clear to me that the amount of paperwork and interrogation that takes place now compared to a few months’ ago is significant. Again, this is not going to be subject to any review, but perhaps the Minister will commit to giving us further information on how this is actually playing out in practice. I think that, following the recent Act, there will be more activity and disruption than he suggested.

On a related point, the language used in the SI and in the discussion led by the Minister has largely been about physical goods, but presumably, this also applies to electronic trade—trade through the internet—and other services delivered online. Has any particular aspect of that been brought into this? My recollection of the previous legislation is that, although it was very much about goods and not very much about services, it also impacted on electronic trade. This might be worthy of further consideration, and I would like to hear the Minister’s thoughts when he responds.

Finally, the application of the market surveillance regulation in Northern Ireland was, as the Minister said, a critical commitment and the Government support it. But of course, we are not unaware of the fact that the protocol itself is a matter of contention, and indeed, further discussions are continuing even as we speak. Is the Minister able to opine on whether he thinks this a relatively settled operation that does not require further debate or opening up in relation to the Northern Ireland protocol? If so, can he explain the thinking behind that? Clearly, it deals with the sort of goods and services that the Government said would not be interrupted because of the special status of Northern Ireland in both the UK and the EU customs area. It would be useful to know whether that is a serious issue of concern to the Government that is likely be raised again, or whether it is now settled.

Employment Rights

Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Excerpts
Thursday 10th June 2021

(3 years, 1 month ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The noble Baroness is right: we are not proposing that the HSE become part of the single enforcement body. The HSE is a large, established organisation. Given its size and scope of its functions, and the focus on high-harm incidents, incorporating it into a new body could lead to a shift in priorities away from other employment rights, but we will ensure that the HSE remains a key partner for the single enforcement body. The noble Baroness should be aware that since the start of the pandemic, HSE has carried out more than 243,000 Covid-19 spot checks and responded to more than 22,000 concerns. There are currently around 1,300 workplace spot-checks carried out per day, targeted on those industries whose workers are most likely to be vulnerable to transmission risks.

Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Portrait Lord Stevenson of Balmacara (Lab) [V]
- Hansard - -

My Lords, can the Minister confirm that the Government’s response to the recent court cases on the gig economy—on issues that concerned the minimum wage, sick pay and holiday pay entitlements—are that no further changes to employment law are considered necessary?

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

We are considering all these matters. We keep these matters under review. We are committed to protecting and enhancing workers’ rights. As I said earlier, the Uber Supreme Court judgment was clear that those who qualify as workers, under existing employment law, are entitled to rights such as the minimum wage. All gig economy businesses should ensure that they are fulfilling their legal responsibilities. I think it is important to point out that the gig economy offers individuals flexibility and it can provide opportunities for those who may not be able to work in more conventional ways. Indeed, Government research has indicated that people mostly value the flexibility that it offers—56% of respondents said that. An individual’s entitlement to rights at work is determined by their employment status, whether employee, worker or self-employed, and gig economy workers can be classed under any of these, depending on their particular employment relationship.

Agricultural Exports from Australia: Tariffs

Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Excerpts
Tuesday 8th June 2021

(3 years, 1 month ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Grimstone of Boscobel Portrait Lord Grimstone of Boscobel (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, as ever my noble friend encapsulates precisely the advantages of free trade agreements and I thank him for that.

Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Portrait Lord Stevenson of Balmacara (Lab) [V]
- Hansard - -

My Lords, this trade agreement contains an ISDS mechanism, which provides private corporations with the right to bypass the laws and courts of both parties. During the passage of the Trade Bill, the Minister confirmed government support for reforms to the ISDS through the UN Commission on International Trade Law’s proposals for a multilateral investment court. Can he update us on progress?

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel Portrait Lord Grimstone of Boscobel (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, the precise details of the UK-Australia free trade agreement are a matter for ongoing negotiations. In respect of ISDS, the UK Government consider the inclusion of ISDS provisions in FTAs on a case-by-case basis and in light of the unique UK-Australia investment relationship. We are huge investors in each other’s markets and appropriate ISDS will benefit investors on both sides.

Post Brexit: Small Service Businesses

Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Excerpts
Monday 24th May 2021

(3 years, 1 month ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

As the noble Lord is aware, having raised this a number of times, we are working closely with the music industry to help musicians adjust to the new trading relationship. Bilateral conversations have established that some touring activities are possible and, under certain conditions, without visas or work permits being required. We have created landing pages on GOV.UK to provide guidance to musicians on these areas.

Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Portrait Lord Stevenson of Balmacara (Lab) [V]
- Hansard - -

Further to the question from the noble Lord, the TCA contains no overarching agreement with the EU on short-term work relating to our creative industries and, despite what the Minister says, no bilateral or reciprocal agreements are being signed at the moment. What assessment have the Government made of the impact that this will have on our services trade, which in 2019 was worth over £534 billion?

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

As I said, we are working closely with the sector and across government to consider how we can help resolve these issues. I understand the noble Lord’s point. This has been very damaging to the creative industries. It is hard to quantify the impact at the moment. Given the pandemic, not many people are travelling anywhere, but we will monitor the situation closely.

10-point Plan: Six Months On

Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Excerpts
Wednesday 19th May 2021

(3 years, 1 month ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The noble Baroness is right to draw attention to the work of the devolved Administrations. I can tell her that we work very closely with the DAs, at both ministerial and official levels, when developing policies and measures to reduce emissions and in tracking progress against our respective targets. Regular engagement takes place through the bi-monthly net-zero ministerial group, which has been developed in the context of the review of inter- governmental relations, and the supporting director-level net-zero nations board, as well as money policy-specific fora and frequent ad hoc contacts. Separately from that, there is a DA ministerial group chaired by COP president Alok Sharma, and the offshore transmission network review looks at policy and regulatory changes across England, Scotland and Wales.

Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Portrait Lord Stevenson of Balmacara (Lab) [V]
- Hansard - -

My Lords, I was surprised that there was no mention of SMRs or AMRs in the Statement. The original plan says that

“further investment in Small Modular Reactors and Advanced Modular Reactors”

will be made, and mentions sums of £125 million and £170 million respectively. Can the Minister update us on where we are on that regarding both the spend to date and whether the rather larger sums that were due to be brought in from the private sector have actually been forthcoming? Can he also confirm that phase 2 of the SMR proposals is still due by the end of 2021? If so, could he give us a bit more clarity about the dates?

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

The noble Lord is right to draw attention to the importance of nuclear generation in the mix of fuels that we will need to take forward. I am happy to provide an update for him. I am delighted to see that the noble Lord, Lord West, is fully in agreement with this.

The PM has confirmed the Government’s commitment to advancing large, small and advanced reactors as part of our 10-point plan for the green industrial revolution. We have announced £385 million in an advanced nuclear fund to invest further in the next generation of nuclear technology, subject of course to value for money and future spending rounds. The advanced nuclear fund announced as part of the 10-point plan includes funding of up to £215 million for small modular reactors and up to £170 million for advanced modular reactors. We are also investing up to an additional £40 million in developing the regulatory frameworks, including developing, funding and siting policies for small modular reactors, to which the noble Lord referred, and supporting UK supply chains in helping to bring these technologies to market.

The Energy White Paper confirmed that generic design assessment, the first stage of the UK’s nuclear regulatory process, will be opened up to SMR technologies this spring. We are pleased to confirm that the guidance for advanced nuclear technologies to enter GDA has been published on GOV.UK. GDA entry is an open and ongoing process, with a standing invitation for advanced nuclear companies to apply when they believe that they are ready to do so.

Post Office Court of Appeal Judgment

Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Excerpts
Wednesday 28th April 2021

(3 years, 2 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Alderdice Portrait The Deputy Speaker (Lord Alderdice) (LD)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Harries of Pentregarth, has withdrawn, so I call the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson of Balmacara.

Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Portrait Lord Stevenson of Balmacara (Lab) [V]
- Hansard - -

My Lords, the Minister has confirmed that the inquiry—although, technically, I think it was originally called a review—is looking at corporate governance issues, and that is welcome. Could he answer two specific questions? Have the Government submitted any evidence already in the response to the call for evidence? If not, why not? Secondly, does Sir Wyn have the powers to subpoena information from the Government if it turns out that he requires that?

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

The Government are committed to fully cooperating with Sir Wyn’s inquiry; whatever information or access he needs will of course be provided. I am not sure whether we have submitted evidence, but I will certainly get back to the noble Lord on that. As I said, the inquiry is making swift progress and we look forward to receiving Sir Wyn’s report. However, as I said in my earlier remarks, if there are instances of any stakeholder in this area not co-operating, we will certainly not hesitate to take further action.

Industrial Strategy: Local Growth

Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Excerpts
Monday 26th April 2021

(3 years, 2 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

We will continue to work on the levelling-up agenda, building on the strength of many places. We encourage those places to consider key sectors, assets and clusters that they want to support to foster their long-term growth ambitions, building on the strong evidence base and the brilliant work done to date by many places across the country.

Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Portrait Lord Stevenson of Balmacara (Lab) [V]
- Hansard - -

My Lords, following on from that question, can I ask the Minister to set out the ways in which the innovation, productivity and wealth-creation capacity of sectors of the economy that are not the direct responsibility of BEIS, such as the creative industries, will be engaged at a local level in the delivery of the plan for growth?

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

I know that the noble Lord has been a long-term champion of the creative industries, and I agree with him. We recognise the importance of the creative sectors. In Build Back Better: Our Plan for Growth, creative industries are highlighted as one of the sectors that we expect to shape the UK’s economic future. Upgrading and creating new cultural and creative spaces represents a core element of the £4.8 billion levelling-up fund.