Monday 26 November 2018
Crown Dependencies Update
Three new customs arrangements between the UK and the Crown Dependencies (Guernsey, the Isle of Man and Jersey) were signed on 26 November 2018 in London. The texts of the arrangements are available on the www.gov.uk website and will be deposited in the Libraries of both Houses. The text of the arrangements will be scheduled to three related draft Orders in Council and laid before the House of Commons in due course. These new customs arrangements are intended to come into force when the UK and Crown Dependencies leave the EU customs union and are compatible with any agreement the UK reaches with the EU.
Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council
The Education, Youth, Culture and Sport (EYCS) Council will take place in Brussels on 26 and 27 November 2018. The UK’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the EU will represent the UK for the youth session on 26 November and culture-audiovisual and sports sessions on 27 November.
This session of the Council will begin with the partial general approach on the regulation on the European Solidarity Corps 2021-2027. This Council will then seek to adopt a resolution on the European Union Youth Strategy 2019-2027, as well as conclusions on youth work in the context of migration and refugee matters.
Also tabled for this session is a policy debate on the European Union Youth Strategy 2019-2027: from vision to implementation.
This meeting will begin with a progress report on the regulation on creative Europe 2021-2027.
The meeting will then look to adopt conclusion on the work plan for culture 2019-2022. In addition the meeting will seek to adopt conclusions on the strengthening of European content in the digital economy.
There will also be a policy debate on tackling the spread of disinformation online, looking at the challenges for the media ecosystem.
Information will be provided from the German delegation on dealing with items from colonial contexts in European collections. In addition, information will also be provided from the Danish delegation on problems concerning protection and transnational resale of tickets to cultural and sports events.
The sport session of EYCS will begin with the adoption of Council conclusions on the economic dimension of sport and its socio-economic benefits. This will be followed by a policy debate on major sporting events as drivers of innovation.
The EU member states represented in the World Anti-Doping Agency Foundation Board will present information on the Foundation Board meeting on 14 and 15 November.
There will be information from the Romanian delegation, setting out its work programmes as the incoming presidency for the first half of 2019.
The Secretary of State for Justice and I have launched a call for evidence on the implementation of reforms contained in the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007, introduced by the Government in 2014.
The Government are committed to ensuring that all enforcement agents (formerly known as bailiffs) treat debtors fairly and operate in a responsible and proportionate way. We also recognise that the enforcement of debt is necessary for both the economy and the justice system and that enforcement agents carry out a difficult role in often challenging circumstances. However, we have heard accounts of a minority of enforcement agents who use aggressive tactics and make people’s lives a misery. We are determined that such rogue practices should be stopped. To this end the Government will be actively examining the case for an independent regulator as part of the call for evidence.
The 2014 reforms aimed to provide protection to debtors from the aggressive pursuit of their debt from enforcement agents, while balancing this against the need for effective enforcement. They introduced a set of rules which detail what goods an enforcement agent can and cannot take, how and when they can enter premises and what fees they can charge. They introduced mandatory training and an enhanced court-based certification process for enforcement agents. They also provided safeguards for vulnerable people so they are able to get assistance and advice, and required enforcement agents to be trained to recognise vulnerable people.
The information gathered from our call for evidence will inform the Ministry of Justice’s second post-implementation review of these reforms.
The Government published the first post-implementation review on 2 April 2018. They found that the reforms had led to many positive changes. This included improved transparency and consistency, both in terms of the enforcement process and the fees charged by enforcement agents. The report noted, however, that some enforcement agents were still perceived to be acting aggressively and not complying with the new rules.
The paper includes questions about the complaints process following concerns raised that debtors are experiencing difficulties in making complaints about enforcement agents. We want to improve our understanding about the volume and nature of complaints about enforcement agents and how they are handled. We are also seeking views about whether the regulations around complaints sanctions need to be improved and if so how.
The paper also asks questions about the implementation of the regulations concerning: safeguards to protect vulnerable debtors; the new training and certification process for civil enforcement agents; the requirement for enforcement agents to send standardised letters to debtors; and the regulations about the recovery of commercial rent arrears.
A key part of the 2014 reforms was the introduction of a fee structure which clearly sets out what a debtor can be charged at each stage of the enforcement action. The fee structure was designed to incentivise debtors to settle their debt at the earliest stage possible. The paper includes questions about the impact of those reforms.
The Government intend to complete the review of the implementation of the 2014 reforms before making a decision about whether further reform is necessary. Any prospective policy options will be presented in a public consultation.
The call for evidence will collect evidence about the operation of both High Court Enforcement Officers and civil enforcement agents (also known as certificated enforcement agents or private bailiffs).
It will run for 12 weeks to 17 February 2019.
A copy of the call for evidence will be placed in the Libraries of the House and will be available online at www.gov.uk.
Exiting the European Union
This is a statement, for the purposes of section 13 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, that political agreement has been reached. I am of the opinion that an agreement in principle has been reached in negotiations under article 50(2) of the treaty on European Union on the substance of:
a. the arrangements for the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union, and
b. the framework for the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom after withdrawal.
A copy of the negotiated withdrawal agreement which, in my opinion, reflects the agreement in principle so far as relating to the arrangements for withdrawal, including provisions for the implementation period, has been laid before the House on Monday 26 November with the title “Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community”.
A copy of the framework for the future relationship which, in my opinion, reflects the agreement in principle so far as relating to the framework for the future relationship between the EU and the United Kingdom, has been laid before the House on Monday 26 November 2018 with the title “Political Declaration setting out the framework for the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom”.
These documents are being presented to Parliament at the earliest opportunity in order to facilitate the fullest possible scrutiny ahead of the parliamentary debate and vote on the approval of these documents.
At this stage, the withdrawal agreement represents a version of the text which has been agreed, but has not yet been formally signed. Before this formal signature takes place, the agreement must complete the European Union’s jurist-linguist translation process. During that time, minor technical corrections will be made to the text, though these changes will not affect the substance of the agreement. The laying of the withdrawal agreement before Parliament at this stage does not therefore trigger any procedures under the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010.