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House of Commons Hansard
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General Committees
28 February 2019

Delegated Legislation Committee

Draft Nutrition (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019

The Committee consisted of the following Members:

Chair: Mr Nigel Evans

† Brine, Steve (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Care)

Burden, Richard (Birmingham, Northfield) (Lab)

† Debbonaire, Thangam (Bristol West) (Lab)

† Goodwill, Mr Robert (Scarborough and Whitby) (Con)

† Hodgson, Mrs Sharon (Washington and Sunderland West) (Lab)

† Huddleston, Nigel (Mid Worcestershire) (Con)

Kendall, Liz (Leicester West) (Lab)

McKinnell, Catherine (Newcastle upon Tyne North) (Lab)

† Morris, James (Halesowen and Rowley Regis) (Con)

† Morton, Wendy (Aldridge-Brownhills) (Con)

† Norris, Alex (Nottingham North) (Lab/Co-op)

† Stephens, Chris (Glasgow South West) (SNP)

† Throup, Maggie (Erewash) (Con)

† Tomlinson, Michael (Mid Dorset and North Poole) (Con)

† Tracey, Craig (North Warwickshire) (Con)

† Warman, Matt (Boston and Skegness) (Con)

† Whitfield, Martin (East Lothian) (Lab)

Jeanne Delebarre, Committee Clerk

† attended the Committee

Thirteenth Delegated Legislation Committee

Thursday 28 February 2019

[Mr Nigel Evans in the Chair]

Draft Nutrition (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019

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I beg to move,

That the Committee has considered the draft Nutrition (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019.

It is a pleasure to see you in the Chair, Mr Evans. I hope we can get through this Committee without talk of avocado—that will seem so random in Hansard, but I enjoyed it.

The people of the United Kingdom currently benefit from world-leading standards of safety and quality for nutrition and the regulation thereof. Our intention is that those high standards be retained and built upon following our exit from the European Union. The Department of Health and Social Care has prepared this statutory instrument to ensure that those high standards are maintained and that the UK possesses a functioning body of nutrition-related legislation that will uphold consumer protection standards and continue to safeguard our public health.

The SI covers a discrete aspect of nutrition legislation that is currently governed by EU law. It includes, first, the health and nutrition claims that food manufacturers can make for the foods they produce and sell to our constituents; secondly, the vitamin and mineral substances permitted for use in the food supplements that so many of our constituents take; thirdly, the vitamins and minerals that can voluntarily be added to fortify foods, such as breakfast cereals or soft drinks; and fourthly, the content of foods for specific groups such as young children, foods that are used for special medical purposes such as by people recovering from an illness, and total diet replacement foods for weight control purposes.

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Can the Minister confirm that infant formula will be covered by the statutory instrument? How would he respond to the concern that many of us have about the fact that standards are currently set by the European Food Safety Authority, whereas other places, such as the US, have lower standards?

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I will come on to directly address the hon. Gentleman’s point about the replacement for the European Food Safety Authority; I thank him for raising that point. I mentioned foods for young children, which obviously addresses the other point that he made.

The instrument deals with an important area of legislation. Many thriving businesses operate in this space and employ many of our citizens. I reassure those citizens that our overarching aim is that businesses and other interested stakeholders seeking to submit applications, scientific dossiers, relevant files or notifications currently governed by the nutrition legislation amended by this instrument are not burdened with additional regulations or significant changes to the processes. Overall, our policy intention is to mirror the existing regulatory system and processes already in place as closely as possible, and the SI makes all the provisions necessary to do exactly that.

The amendments made by these regulations are primarily technical in nature. They include changing EU-specific references to ensure that they are effective in the UK after EU exit day, and transferring legislative functions from the European Commission to the appropriate UK authority. The amendments also ensure that all relevant EU lists, registers and annexes apply effectively from exit day, enabling continuity for businesses and maintaining the high standards already in place at EU level. Following exit day, any changes made at EU level will not apply in the UK, because clearly we will then be a third country.

One important change made by the SI is the transfer of functions from the European Food Safety Authority, which has already been referred to, to an appropriate expert committee in the UK. For nutrition and health claims, a new UK nutrition and health claims committee would assume responsibility for providing scientific advice to the four UK Administrations on any new claims made about products marketed within the UK’s borders. That committee would operate in a similar way and to similar timescales as the current EFSA process, providing further continuity to business. I am pleased to confirm to the Committee that the process for recruiting specialist members is well under way: high-calibre applications were received, interviews took place earlier this month, and the committee is ready to come into effect if required. We will announce its members shortly.

Regarding the devolved Administrations, the SI allows for the relevant Commission powers to be transferred to the Secretary of State here in England, Scottish Ministers, Welsh Ministers and, in Northern Ireland, the Department of Health in Stormont, thereby making provision for each of the Administrations to make their own legislation. In addition, if consent is provided by the devolved Administrations, the SI gives the Secretary of State the power to make legislation for the whole of the UK where that is appropriate and agreed to.

The devolved Administrations have been involved with the drafting of the regulations at every stage. I want to state on record that I am grateful for their continued collaborative approach in this area, helping to make sure that this policy continues to operate at the same high standards after our exit from the EU as it does now, as expected by Members of this House, by me and, most importantly, by the British public.

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The regulations specifically require the consent of the devolved authorities for the regulations to be made across the UK by the Secretary of State. As MP for East Lothian, may I welcome that explicit statement, which is perhaps lacking in some other instruments?

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Yes, you may.

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The Minister has not referred specifically to kava kava, a foodstuff that can have similar effects to alcohol and that was banned by the United Kingdom in 2003 because of the effects it can have on the liver. Under EU regulations, we could not ban the transit of kava kava. Once we have left the EU can we actually ban its transit? Many people are worried that these goods can be bought online and the transit of kava kava may be intercepted as it passes through the UK.

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I cannot say that I am familiar with kava kava, but because we are closely aligning in this area, everything that we have agreed to thus far would be transferred. After exit day, as I said, nothing new would be transferred, but it would then be for the body I mentioned that is being set up and members appointed to it, through accountability to me, to the Secretary of State and to this sovereign Parliament, to make any changes that it deemed were appropriate. I have a funny feeling that my right hon. Friend might return to this subject after exit day, and he would be entitled to do that. I dare say it would be one of the benefits of taking back control.

As the statutory instrument proposes no significant changes to the current regulatory regime, we estimate that there will be no significant impact on the public sector. Regarding the impact on industry, we have consulted with industry and other interested groups through our public consultation, which ran in December. Our analysis of the consultation showed that overall respondents were supportive of the proposals, but more detail was sought on how they might work in practice. We published our consultation response on Monday 25 February. We are confident that the guidance, which my Department is due to publish shortly, will provide all the additional details that respondents requested. I will ensure that, after publication, it is copied to members of the Committee, who I am sure will retain an interest in this matter after we leave Committee Room 9 today. Respondents should be reassured that our guidance is currently being tested with stakeholders to ensure that it is fit for purpose, and exposes industry and other affected parties to minimal procedural changes.

The British public and food manufacturers will not lose out in any way from the amendments contained in this statutory instrument as a result of Britain leaving the European Union. I believe it is important to stress again that the amendments will provide continuity for businesses and ensure that the exceptional standards of safety and quality for nutrition regulation already in place will continue long after our exit from the EU. I have said time and again publicly and before the Select Committee, and I will repeat again now, that there is nothing about us leaving the European Union that in our view will degrade our capability or responsibility to the British public in this area. I am not sure I can be clearer about that. I commend the regulations to the Committee.

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It is indeed a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Evans, and to be here discussing this draft amending regulation. I thank the Minister for writing to me in advance and for his summary this morning. However, I have started all of my speeches on Brexit SIs with a caveat, and I will do so again this morning. I apologise for any repetition.

We are now just 29 days away from Brexit day, 29 March, as I am sure everyone is well aware. It is deeply concerning that we are still planning for a no-deal scenario when we are so close to the deadline. I know that we have many, many more public health SIs to get through in that time, and I am worried that we simply will not have enough time to prepare properly. I hope the Government will take no deal off the table.

I thank the Minister for his letter asking for my support on the regulations. He does have my support, but as always I have some questions, and as always I know he will try to answer them. The explanatory memorandum says that there will be a low level of impact on businesses, but no impact assessment has been made. It admits that there will be some additional administrative burden on businesses, but that it will only be an extra 30 minutes of additional paperwork for applications to make health claims in both the UK and the EU. Is the Minister convinced that that is a realistic assessment? The consultation response document says:

“Some respondents raised concern that the consultation under-estimated the additional burden caused for submitting a new claim.”

Has the Minister made any assessment of that since the consultation document was published?

The consultation document was published sooner than anticipated, and I thank the Minister for that, but I am concerned about how short the consultation period was—only 10 working days. I know that we are fast approaching Brexit, but allowing such a short time for businesses, stakeholders and the public to participate in a consultation is alarming, particularly when legislation is drafted as a result. If we are going to get no-deal planning right, we need more time and expertise to look into such detailed legislation.

Throughout the consultation response paper, it is clear that respondents wanted more detail from the Government. We need more detail on risk assessments, management processes and on how mirroring EU regulation would work in practice. The devil really is in the detail and the Government have failed to provide any detail at all. Will the Minister tell us when we will have that crucial detail at our fingertips? Concerns were also raised about integrated supply chains, particularly if the UK failed to be aligned with EU lists on product labelling. Will the Minister address those concerns?

The UK has a long tradition of collaboration with the European Food Safety Authority. Does the Government have a commitment to working with EFSA in the event of a no-deal Brexit? I know the Government are in the process of establishing the UK nutrition and health claims committee, the UKNHCC—not a very catchy acronym or easy to say. What relationship will EFSA have with the UKNHCC in the event of a no-deal Brexit?

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The hon. Lady is painting a grim picture of a no-deal Brexit. Surely it is within her power to vote for the deal on 12 March and take the instruction that 61% of the people in Sunderland gave her at the referendum?

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Order. Let us not go too wide in our discussions.

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I didn’t start it.

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No, the shadow Minister did not start it.

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I think the former Prime Minister, who has a very fancy hut where he is writing his memoirs, may be the one who started it, but perhaps it goes even further back than that. I will follow your advice, Mr Evans, and not get drawn into such a fascinating debate on who started it, and what we might be asked to vote for on 12 March, because we still do not know what that will be. I will tell the right hon. Gentleman my decision when I know what we are voting for.

There has been a recruitment process for that catchily-named organisation, the UKNHCC. If somebody could come up with a way to say that, that would be helpful, seeing as we could be talking about it in the future. When will the names of the members be made public? What will their expertise be? Will they be subject to any scrutiny?

Finally, I understand that we are only half implementing the Commission delegated regulation 2016/128. Most of that regulation, which relates to foods for special medical purposes, came into force in February 2019 and will be transferred into UK law, but the part that relates to food for special medical purposes developed to satisfy the nutritional requirements of infants will not apply until 22 February 2020. As a result, the UK will not implement that part of the regulation. Can the Minister confirm whether that is the case?

Page 35 of the regulations makes no reference to infants. Is that intentional, and can the Minister elaborate on what will happen to infants who need food for special medical purposes? If the UK does not implement that law, we will have different standards from the rest of the EU. Will that gap be bridged immediately?

Any changes to the legislation must be communicated effectively and in a timely manner to the agencies affected by the SI. As I said earlier, I am concerned that the clock is ticking much quicker than we would like. I hope therefore that the Minister will work urgently to ensure that any changes are made quickly and communicated clearly. With that, and without being drawn into a whole debate on Brexit, I look forward to hearing the Minister’s response.

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It a pleasure to see you in the Chair of yet another Delegated Legislation Committee, Mr Evans. Like many of the other statutory instruments that we have considered in the last few weeks, this one looks like yet another example of entirely ill-thought-out no-deal planning legislation that gives next to no guarantees of protections in the event of no deal.

Although it is right that current lists are preserved in UK law, the falling away of the EU frameworks that we have come to rely on will mean that if the EU decides to ban or strictly regulate items, those decisions will not automatically be applied here. That worries us, as it creates different playing fields between the European Union and the UK, and could mean that a weaker regulatory regime and weaker standards develop in the UK. As I asked the Minister, if we were to implement lower standards than those of the EFSA, is there any real concern with respect to infant formula? There does not seem to be a clear plan, so perhaps he could clarify the position on infant formula.

Paragraph 7.18 of the explanatory memorandum states that a number of pieces of legislation enshrined in UK law by the European Union (Withdrawal Act) 2018 will be revoked because they

“are inappropriate to retain in their current form, and will be established in future guidance.”

That means that EU regulations—binding legislative instruments—will be transferred into “guidance” at UK level. That is gross irresponsibility and sets an incredibly dangerous precedent. Also, where is that guidance and when will it be established? Will it be ready in time for a potential no-deal scenario to replace those EU regulations and decisions immediately? How can we guarantee that the Department will not use the opportunity to water down or make substantive changes to the spirit of the EU regulations and decisions?

The mass transfer of EU Commission and EU agency regulatory functions to UK bodies is another huge concern, as the instrument does not specify who would be responsible. It gives no assurance about which UK bodies are involved, apart from “appropriate UK Committees”, “relevant authorities” or Ministers. That is a quite extraordinary transfer of responsibilities and functions, set out in paragraphs 7.24, 7.25 and 7.26 of the explanatory memorandum. What resources have been made available and what preparations are taking place for that transfer of responsibilities? It is hard to believe that any infrastructure has been put in place when there is not even any detail about exactly which bodies will take on those roles and responsibilities. Will all that be ready in the event of a no-deal Brexit? Only by some miracle perhaps.

On consultation and guidance, the explanatory memorandum states that

“A full consultation report will be published in March 2019.”

Given that the Committee is considering the draft regulations in February, what exactly is the use of that? What if the consultation response indicates grave concern about much or any part of the draft legislation? It appears to be an utterly ridiculous situation. On top of that, it is stated that guidance documents for the industry will be available only in March 2019. That would be utterly laughable were it not so serious.

Our real concern is that this is a terrible piece of legislation. It is ludicrous that the Government are forcing MPs to debate it when we have seen neither the implementation guidance nor the full consultation response. Therefore, I will be voting against the statutory instrument today.

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I am sorry to hear the hon. Member for Glasgow South West say that he will vote against the instrument. I do not think it is a terrible piece of legislation at all. It is sensible legislation that aligns us with the European Union after exit day, as is our intention.

The hon. Member for Washington and Sunderland West said that it is disturbing that we are still preparing for no deal. Well, it would be more disturbing if we were not. Bluntly, the House has an opportunity on or before 12 March to see that no deal does not happen. If it decides to decline that opportunity, it has another opportunity after 12 March to see that it does not happen. Last night’s votes in the House may have given an indication as to what that would be, but I could not possibly comment. The hon. Lady probably has the votes app on her phone as much as I do. In terms of who started this, well—

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Order. Can I say that I am finishing it?

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Maybe it is set in stone. Members can work out what I mean by that.

The hon. Lady asked lots of different questions. About the impact on business, we appreciate that there may be an additional administrative burden on companies that would have to submit claims to the UK and the EU if they wish to make the claim in both areas, but our intention is that procedures for submitting claims in the UK will closely follow those already in place for the EU. We have been in that family for some forty-plus years.

Leaving the European Union is a complex process, to put it mildly. It is not just about trade deals, reciprocal healthcare and citizens’ rights. It is about complex supply chains at every level of business, and there is a complex supply chain around nutrition regulation. It would be an act of foolishness on our part to diverge too far and we do not intend to do that. We estimate that the application paperwork should take only 30 minutes to complete, and rightly so.

In terms of future divergence with the EU, we will make sure that we continue to review the situation to make sure we stick to regulatory alignment with the EU, as deemed appropriate by the Government and ultimately by this House, which holds the Government to account. I am content, as is the Government, that the SI maintains regulatory standards and nutrition policy in a no-deal scenario, and therefore an impact assessment is not required. I have already said that businesses will have to spend a short time on administration.

We completed an equalities impact assessment. We found that the measures set out in the instrument do not have an impact on any of the protected characteristics as defined in the Equality Act 2010.

The hon. Lady asked why the consultation period was just 10 days. To be factual, it was not. It was 11 days—[Laughter.] That is #factualnews. A consultation’s duration is generally determined by the proposals it contains, and in this case we are proposing to mirror the existing regulatory regime as closely as possible, ensuring minimal disruption to business. With that in mind, we consider the consultation period to be entirely appropriate and in line with Cabinet Office consultation principles.

We received 31 responses to the consultation—a case of quality over quantity. We are pleased that they included responses from a broad spectrum of groups, including manufacturers, trade bodies, members of public and one local authority. The response was supportive of the proposals to mirror the existing regulatory framework, as I have already said. We are working with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s business insight group—now there is a catchy title—to sight the industry on proposed guidance and to obtain its feedback.

Infants are deliberately not mentioned in the SI, because the issue does not apply on exit day. Our current policy intention is to make domestic legislation that is consistent with regulation 609/2013. That includes requirements for foods for special medical purposes developed to satisfy the nutritional needs of infants and for infant and follow-on formula, which are important. The Department will issue further advice on that once the EU exit position is clarified, which clearly is yet to happen.

I was asked whether the UK will continue to be a member of EFSA after we leave the EU. I have said no. The nature of our future relationship with EFSA will be subject to negotiation with the EU, and that is not just in terms of the withdrawal agreement. The SI provides for the appropriate expert committee—I appreciate that the acronym is not ideal—to assume EFSA’s functions in a no-deal scenario, which will guarantee certainty.

The hon. Member for Glasgow South West asked what will happen in relation to products banned in the EU after exit day. As I said in my opening remarks, products that EFSA approves after exit day will be for it to approve for the remaining member states. In terms of the relationship between our new committee and EFSA, we have a long tradition of close scientific collaboration with EFSA in this country. We value it greatly and very much hope and intend that to continue in the future. If EFSA makes a decision on a product, it would be most unlikely that our new committee, whatever it is called, would not take notice of that. We want to continue close regulatory alignment in this policy area so that the public have confidence and so that, returning to my first point, businesses do not face an undue burden in getting products covered in both areas.

Public Health England is in the process of recruiting specialist members for the UKNHCC, including the chair. The recruitment was open and transparent: it was advertised on gov.uk from 8 November to new year’s eve; high-calibre applications were received and the shortlisted candidates were interviewed last week. The committee is ready to come into effect if required. I do not have the names here, but I know that recommendations for appointments to the committee have been shared with the devolved Administrations. They have confirmed that they are content with the calibre and experience of the recommended individuals. Appointment letters will be issued shortly; once accepted, they will be published. I have already said I will publish that to members of the Committee.

Finally, guidance is being developed and tested with industry to ensure that it is fit for purpose, is closely aligned and clearly communicates to business any changes in the process that would occur in a no-deal scenario. That guidance will be published shortly—certainly before exit day, which we still hope will be 29 March.

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On a point of clarity on the lack of mention of infants, I heard what the Minister said, but there is a lack of clarity on whether there will be a gap between the situation in the EU and the regulations here. Will that gap exist? Will there still be a difference? I know he is sort of saying that he cannot say what the position will be at the moment, but will he seek to ensure that there is no gap?

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Not only will I seek to ensure that there is no gap, but I will very much take that as feedback from Her Majesty’s Opposition on the regulations and ensure that it is fed through to the new committee as it is formed. I understand the concerns expressed by the hon. Lady and the Scottish National party spokesman in that regard.

Question put.

Division 1

28 February 2019

The Committee divided:

Ayes: 9
Noes: 1

Question accordingly agreed to.

View Details

Resolved,

That the Committee has considered the draft Nutrition (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019.

Committee rose.

Draft Aviation Security (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019

The Committee consisted of the following Members:

Chair: Sir Edward Leigh

Bryant, Chris (Rhondda) (Lab)

† Cowan, Ronnie (Inverclyde) (SNP)

† Donelan, Michelle (Chippenham) (Con)

† Fabricant, Michael (Lichfield) (Con)

† Foxcroft, Vicky (Lewisham, Deptford) (Lab)

† George, Ruth (High Peak) (Lab)

† Graham, Richard (Gloucester) (Con)

† Hands, Greg (Chelsea and Fulham) (Con)

† Heappey, James (Wells) (Con)

† Henderson, Gordon (Sittingbourne and Sheppey) (Con)

† Norman, Jesse (Minister of State, Department for Transport)

Rashid, Faisal (Warrington South) (Lab)

† Scully, Paul (Sutton and Cheam) (Con)

† Sheerman, Mr Barry (Huddersfield) (Lab/Co-op)

† Trevelyan, Anne-Marie (Berwick-upon-Tweed) (Con)

† Turner, Karl (Kingston upon Hull East) (Lab)

Twigg, Derek (Halton) (Lab)

Kevin Candy, Committee Clerk

† attended the Committee

Fourteenth Delegated Legislation Committee

Thursday 28 February 2019

[Sir Edward Leigh in the Chair]

Draft Aviation Security (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019

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I beg to move,

That the Committee has considered the draft Aviation Security (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Sir Edward. The draft instrument will be made under the powers conferred by the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 and will be needed if the UK leaves the European Union without a deal. As the Committee will be aware, delivering the deal negotiated with the EU remains the Government’s top priority, but of course we must make all reasonable plans to prepare for a no-deal scenario.

The draft instrument corrects seven EU instruments and makes minor changes to the Aviation Security Act 1982. The regulations contain the framework for providing security to passengers and for cargo travelling by air. They cover matters such as airport security, passenger and baggage screening, cargo screening, training and recruitment, and technical equipment standards. I will summarise the corrections that the draft instrument makes to the regulations.

Regulation 300/2008 establishes the framework for the aviation security regime within the European Union and sets out the common basic standards. The draft instrument makes changes to the scope of the retained regulation to reflect the fact that the UK will no longer be part of the EU after exit day; it does so by limiting its scope to the United Kingdom and by removing provisions that will no longer apply to the United Kingdom. The amendments also replace legislative powers exercisable by the Commission or member states with regulation-making powers exercisable by the Secretary of State, maintaining equivalent levels of scrutiny. In essence, the security screening requirements for all direct passenger flights to and from the UK will remain as they are today. That is the important thing.

Regulation 272/2009 covers screening and other matters. The types of permissible screening methods remain unchanged. References to Commission legislative procedures will be replaced by reference to domestic legislative procedures. Provisions relating to criteria for EU recognition of the equivalence of third countries’ security measures with EU aviation standards are deleted, because the concept of equivalence with the baseline standards contained in the retained EU regulations does not make sense in a UK-only context, where we apply additional measures over and above that baseline.

Regulation 1254/2009, the third regulation covered by the instrument, sets out criteria for allowing alternative, less burdensome security requirements to apply to airports or to demarcated parts of airports that deal only with flights, particularly non-commercial flights. As an example, such flights might involve light aircraft with a maximum take-off weight of less than 15,000 kg, law enforcement flights, flights for medical services, emergency or rescue services, and certain private or business aircraft flights. The draft instrument makes no changes to those criteria.

Regulation 2015/1998 makes detailed provision for the practical implementation of the measures contained in regulation 300/2008. The provisions cover access to airport security areas, airport planning, aircraft search, and passenger and baggage screening. It also covers matters such as cargo and rail security, security of supplies available in airport shops and on board aircraft, as well as recruitment and staff vetting procedures, training requirements and specifications of security equipment. All those elements are essential to aviation security. The instrument retains the provisions, subject to the necessary amendments to remove specific references to the EU.

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I beg the Minister’s forgiveness for coming in slightly late; I was asking a question in the House. Can he reassure me that the regulations will simply move across to the UK so that we will have all the protections that we have under EU regulations?

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Yes, I can confirm that, in line with the European Union (Withdrawal) Act, the purpose of the instrument is precisely to lift and shift regulations so that there is no substantive change between the position before we left the EU and the position afterwards. If I may, I will continue my speech.

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Will the Minister allow me to pursue him a little further on that? Some of us are becoming foot soldiers in the SI regiment and turn up here regularly to do our duty by scrutinising these SIs. Can he assure me that the Government are treating them all the same? Is this SI the same as all the others? Sometimes, when they are about something I care about and am really concerned about—I chair the Parliamentary Advisory Council on Transport Safety—I wonder whether they are a real opportunity to improve the regulations rather than just to take them as they are. Is there no scope for improvement?

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Let me say two things. First, as the hon. Gentleman will be aware, this is a very complex area and the draft regulations cover a wide range of subjects, including—I have listed some of them—airport security areas, planning, aircraft search, passenger baggage screening and many others. Secondly, we are not in a position to—indeed, we have made an undertaking to Parliament that we will not—change the substantive provisions, even where improvements are possible for policy reasons that are widely accepted across Parliament. That is because this is a lift-and-shift exercise. It should remain open to Parliament to scrutinise, through the normal mechanisms, any further legislation that changes Government policy.

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Surely the whole point of Brexit is that Parliament will be free to make changes to and improve legislation in due course, once we are out of the European Union. Until we are out of the European Union, we are rather bound by Brussels diktat.

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That is one way of putting it. I would say this: the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 and this process with SIs establish a baseline against which a future autonomous British Government can make decisions.

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Will the Minister give way?

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No, let me finish my point. In many cases, the standards we choose will be higher—potentially significantly higher, as in some respects they are in the areas of airport security and aircraft security—than the EU regulations have been hitherto.

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I appreciate the Minister allowing my interventions. He and I work on many things together very harmoniously. May I say to him that those European diktats have kept my constituents and his safe for very many years? When we went into the European Union, many things, including baggage handling—preventing people getting illicit substances on planes, perhaps even including things that could destroy an aeroplane—were very casual indeed. We have a security system that has kept us safe for a very long time. Is that in danger? SIs about sharing data and information have been introduced in parallel with this SI. Those two things go together. Will the Minister assure the Committee that they will not be endangered at all?

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We are wandering somewhat away from the SI before this Committee, but I am thoroughly enjoying what might be referred to as Thursday morning theatrics from both sides of the Committee. As the hon. Gentleman knows, the Civil Aviation Authority has for many years been a trend setter, a path setter and a standards setter across the EU. Much of the benefit of the European Aviation Safety Agency has come from its taking those standards and promulgating them more widely. There has been genuine benefit on both sides. We have benefited from the promulgation of CAA standards across Europe, and we have benefited from the scrutiny and feedback that those standards have received from EU countries, and vice versa.

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Will the Minister give way?

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I will take one more intervention before proceeding, from my beloved and hon. Friend the Member for Gloucester.

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As a former airline manager, I take some interest in these issues. The Minister is absolutely right that the CAA has been an important global figure in setting standards; in fact, its staff are seconded to EASA at the moment, and I believe that that will continue. Page 3 of the explanatory memorandum refers to deficiencies in regulation 300/2008 and goes on to explain, helpfully, that substantive changes are needed to address inoperabilities on incoming air cargo because we will not be part of the ACC3 secure cargo regime. That is clarified later by the statement that

“UK-ACC3, RA3, or KC3 designations will be issued to all carriers”.

In simple terms, can the Minister confirm that the objective is to ensure that we do not create any barriers to international trade, and that carriers that bring cargo into the UK will be able to do so exactly as before, without any barriers?

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As I said, as far as possible we are aiming to replicate the existing arrangements. With his laser-like eye for detail, my hon. Friend identifies an important area. The regime will have to change a little as a result of Brexit, as I will set out.

One key area of regulation 2015/1998 is the EU inbound cargo regime. The EU operates a regime known as ACC3, which stands for air cargo or mail carrier operating into the European Union from a third-country airport. That is precisely the area targeted by my hon. Friend. In essence, it is a requirement for air carriers carrying cargo into the EU from a non-EU country to hold security designations that confirm that they are screening cargo to the required standards and that a secure supply chain exists from the origin of the cargo to its point of entry into the EU.

Responsibility for administering the system, and for granting designations, is currently shared between member states. If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, it will no longer be part of that system, but it is critical that we maintain our inbound cargo security protections. The effect of the draft instrument is to retain the requirement that carriers must hold a security designation in order to fly cargo into the UK from third countries, and to apply that in a UK-only context.

The new system of UK ACC3 designations will be managed by the Civil Aviation Authority and the Department for Transport. To ensure a seamless transition on exit day, new UK designations will be issued to all carriers flying into the UK that currently hold EU designations. On expiry, carriers and screening entities will need to apply directly to the UK for new designations, which will be granted using largely the same criteria as in the existing system, to minimise any additional burden on industry.

Regulation 2019/103 makes amendments to regulation 2015/1998 that are already incorporated. It also contains measures that apply only after exit day, and are therefore not retained. The only provision in the regulation that is retained relates solely to the date on which the un-retained measures apply. As such, the provision is by itself meaningless, and the draft instrument therefore revokes it.

Regulation 72/2010 covers the requirements for Commission inspections of EU airports and national authorities that will no longer be applicable. The draft instrument revokes that regulation. The draft instrument also amends the Aviation Security Act 1982 to remove references relating to Commission inspections and Commission inspectors.

Finally, Commission decision C (2015) 8005 is a restricted, confidential instrument that provides additional but security-sensitive details on the aviation security requirements contained in the regulations. For example, it sets the technical standards for aviation security equipment, such as the materials and quantities, and details the methods and percentages of various screening requirements. The decision will form part of retained EU law; however, because it is security-sensitive and not published before exit day, it is not required to be published on or after exit day.

As an unpublished instrument, before and after exit, the decision cannot be scrutinised as the subject matter of legislation by Parliament. As such, the draft instrument cannot make any amendments to it. As the decision contains defects if it is not amended, the draft instrument revokes the decision. However, in order to retain the important aviation security rules contained in the decision, the requirements previously contained in it will be made the subject of a direction, which will be given by the Secretary of State under powers contained in the 1982 Act.

The direction will form part of the single consolidated direction that sets out our domestic aviation security requirements that apply on top of EU legislation. The content of the new direction will be disseminated to the same UK entities as those that currently see the EU decision.

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On the revocation item, has the Minister heard that the United Nations organisation that looks after the technology of air worldwide, the International Civil Aviation Organization, is very concerned about that part of it? Has he had a conversation with ICAO and with the CAA on that point?

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I can confirm that my officials have regular and continuing conversations with both the ICAO and the CAA, and they have considered the correct approach in some depth. However, if the hon. Gentleman or the ICAO, through a different channel, want to write to express further concerns, they are welcome to do so.

The draft instrument ensures that in the event of a no-deal exit from the EU, there will be a legislative framework for aviation security that will continue to keep passengers, aviation infrastructure and cargo safe and secure. I commend the instrument to the Committee.

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It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Sir Edward. I do not intend to detain the Committee long.

As we have heard, the instrument relates to aviation security. Among other things, it corrects deficiencies in the existing regulations and makes some corrections, which the Minister has explained, to the Aviation Security Act 1982, which it amends to remove all provisions relating to Commission inspections. The Commission currently carries out regular inspections of member states’ airports and appropriate authorities, identifying deficiencies in the security regime, occasionally making recommendations for improvement, and, I understand, in extreme cases imposing sanctions where it is deemed necessary. After we leave the European Union, the inspections will not be carried out in the current form. The Secretary of State and the CAA will have authority to continue to carry out the very important inspections of airports to ensure compliance with aviation security.

The instrument also makes amendments to the retained version of regulation 300/2008, the framework regulation that sets out minimum security requirements applying at EU airports. The amendment limits its scope to the UK, removes provisions that will no longer apply to the UK, and replaces legislative powers exercisable by the Commission or member states with regulatory powers exercisable by the Secretary of State. For all of the reasons that the Minister has outlined, the instrument is entirely sensible and we support it.

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I will make only some brief remarks. This piece of delegated legislation—this statutory instrument—worries me a great deal because we are talking about the most sensitive area of security. We have only to look back at the ghastly tragedy of the twin towers in the United States to know what can happen. On a much more mundane level, we still do not know who flew drones over Gatwick Airport, destroying the holidays of many of our constituents. Perhaps it does not matter if one lives in Lichfield or if drones ruin someone’s holiday.

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Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

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I will not give way to the hon. Gentleman. He is the one who pits the bogeyperson of Europe against a security system that has secured the safety and security of his constituents as well as mine and yours, Sir Edward, for many years. [Interruption.] I will give way.

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I am grateful for the hon. Gentleman’s courtesy in giving way, given that he mentioned Lichfield. Many people from Lichfield travel abroad, probably more than in his constituency. I remind him that since the situation with the drones, the Department for Transport has deployed technology from the UK and Israel to identify drones, so action has been taken, and none of it had anything to do with the EU.

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Order. We are straying very wide of the mark. Mr Sheerman, you are a very experienced parliamentarian and I rely on you to bring experience and calm to the Committee. Please do not wind up Mr Fabricant.

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Sir Edward, I did not intend to wind anyone up; I wanted to emphasise that something going wrong with aviation security is a sensitive matter for all our constituents—such as when a plane falls out of the air or, heaven forbid, a terrorist puts a bomb on an aircraft. All of that has happened. It is an extremely vulnerable part of our everyday lives that we take for granted whenever we jump on a plane.

The international framework of regulation—not just that in Europe—has delivered aviation security. Certainly, the co-operation we have had across the European Union has done so. Right on our borders are countries whose aviation regulation is not what we would want it to be. We need look no further than Russia and its high rate of air accidents to see that some very dangerous countries in terms of regulation are just outside our borders.

That is why I am taking the draft instrument very seriously. I do not want a historian looking at how our Parliament handled our withdrawal from Europe to say that a Committee chaired by Sir Edward including good Members of Parliament did not scrutinise the legislation carefully enough, and that some months or years later something went dreadfully wrong because of the way we were co-operating across Europe on security. People are talking all the time about how we are withdrawing, in parallel, from other very sensitive arrangements for the sharing of security information about possible terrorists using air transport to commit their wicked deeds. It is a time of great sensitivity, and a time that causes me great concern.

I have an old-fashioned boyhood love of aviation. When I was younger, I wanted to know whether I could travel on any plane that was going out of service. I have been very lucky, as chair of the advisory council, to have flown several time on Concorde, for example. I am a bit of an aviation anorak, so I know a little about it. I say to the Minister that I am not being theatrical. I know he got that from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who says that I specialise in synthetic passion. The fact is that I do feel passionately about this issue.

I worry that with so many of these SIs, we all think, “Oh gosh, we started at 11.30. Look—it’s nearly 11.55. We’ve been here for almost 25 minutes. Shouldn’t we be getting on with the rest of our business?” I do not think that the scrutiny in this sort of Committee is good enough. That is why, when I come to such Committees, I intervene on the Minister and try to say something sensible. I still believe that we should give further consideration to such instruments.

I think this is the third such Committee that the Minister and I have been on together—I am sure that he will remember. It is awkward when Ministers get an awkward squad person on such a Committee, and I do not like intervening on him. He is a good Minister, and on road safety we work like a well-oiled team—I say that in a non-alcoholic sense. We have a lot in common in wanting to save our constituents from harm. That is the whole point of the regulation.

I will give the Committee a parallel—the hon. Member for Lichfield might agree on this. Until we went into the European Union, our rivers and seas were filthy and polluted. Our constituents swam through sewage. We do not want to go back to those days.

I can see you look a little tense, Sir Edward, so I will end my remarks by appealing to the Committee to think about what I have said, and to join me in asking for further consideration.

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If there are no other interventions, I will close by asking colleagues on both sides of the Committee to ignore the remarks made by the hon. Member for Huddersfield about my being a good Minister—a threat to my reputation that I will frankly struggle to overcome. I wish him well in his continuing efforts to say positive and sensible things about airport and aviation security, and I commend the instrument to the Committee.

Question put.

Division 1

28 February 2019

The Committee divided:

Ayes: 9
Noes: 1

Question accordingly agreed to.

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Resolved,

That the Committee has considered the draft Aviation Security (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019.

Committee rose.