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Written Statements

Volume 656: debated on Wednesday 13 March 2019

Written Statements

Wednesday 13 March 2019

Treasury

Spring Statement 2019

Today I have delivered the spring statement to the House of Commons. This written ministerial statement provides more detail on some of the announcements in the spring statement, and sets out details of other forthcoming Government policies.

Public spending

Public value framework—later this year we will conduct a spending review that will focus on public value outcomes. Today, the Government will publish a revised version of the public value framework along with accompanying guidance on how to use it most effectively. The revised framework reflects the learning from our public value pilot programme.

National leadership centre—the new national leadership centre, which will support senior leaders from across public services in England, will welcome its first cohort in September. The Government have committed £21 million to the centre.

Infrastructure

Today I can also make the following announcements that will help to deliver the physical and digital infrastructure the UK needs:

Borderlands growth deal—up to £260 million for this innovative deal to strengthen the deep ties that bind these communities within the United Kingdom. On top of the £102 million announced recently for the Carlisle southern link road from the housing infrastructure fund, this means up to £362 million of UK Government investment into the borderlands area.

Transforming cities fund—£60 million of investment in 10 cities across England, from the fund announced at Budget 2017. This will fund 30 new schemes such as bus station upgrades, new cycle lanes and road improvements, supporting the wider programmes being delivered by city regions as part of the industrial strategy. The 10 cities were selected for the competitive fund in September 2018, and are as follows:

Derby and Nottingham

£7.2 million

Southampton

£5.7 million

Leicester

£7.8 million

North East CA

£10 million

Portsmouth

£4 million

Norwich

£6.1 million

Sheffield City Region

£4.2 million

Plymouth

£7.6 million

West Yorkshire CA

£2.2 million

Stoke-on-Trent

£5.6 million

Local full fibre networks: wave 3 allocations—£53 million of funding, for nine local areas who have successfully bid since Budget, from the third wave of the local full fibre networks challenge fund—enabling next-generation full fibre connections to key public buildings, and nearby homes and businesses. The locations of the nine local areas are as follows:

Colchester

£3.5 million

Rutland

£2 million

Isle of Wight

£0.8 million

Shetland Islands

£2 million

Norfolk

£8 million

South Essex

£4.5 million

North Wales

£8 million

Stoke-on-Trent

£9.2 million

Northern Ireland

£15 million

Toton development vehicle—Sir John Peace will oversee the development of proposals for a new delivery vehicle at Toton, which will include considering the case for a development corporation.

Apprenticeship levy—Budget 2018 announced that the co-investment rate will be halved from 10% to 5%, and the amount employers can transfer to their supply chains would increase to 25%. These changes will now take effect from April 2019.

In the coming months, the Government will publish:

Planning for future high streets—a consultation exploring potential changes to help local areas make better use of planning tools to support their local high streets, including through compulsory purchase orders, local development orders, and other innovative planning measures.

Future of mobility: urban strategy—a publication setting out the Government’s approach to putting the UK at the forefront of mobility, and responding to the significant changes taking place in transport technology—such as the growth in electric vehicles, the development of self-driving vehicles and advances in data and internet connectivity.

Living standards

National living wage (NLW)—the Government can confirm the Low Pay Commission’s remit for 2019, and later this year we will set a new remit beyond 2020. We have today published the terms of reference for Professor Arindrajit Dube’s review of the latest international evidence on minimum wages. This review will report to HM Treasury and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. As these terms set out, Professor Dube will engage closely with the Low Pay Commission, drawing on its expertise and deep knowledge of the UK’s labour market.

Openness and competitiveness

It is vital that the UK remains an open and competitive place to do business. To support this ambition, today I can announce:

Financial services legislation—following consultation later this year, the Government will legislate as necessary to ensure that in the immediate period after we leave the EU, the UK can maintain world-leading financial services regulatory standards, remain open to international markets, and realise new trading opportunities.

Future financial services regulatory framework— ahead of the summer, the Government will set out their approach to consulting on how to ensure our financial services regulatory framework adapts to our new constitutional position outside the European Union. This includes the need to ensure financial stability is delivered through an effective regulatory framework, with the responsiveness necessary for a dynamic and open financial services sector and an appropriate level of democratic accountability.

Access to finance and EU exit—the Government stand ready to deliver their commitment in all circumstances to provide additional funding to the British Business Bank for venture and growth capital, as we leave the European Union and our relationship with the European investment fund changes.

Scientists and researchers—from autumn 2019, PhD-level occupations will be exempt from the tier 2 (general) cap, and at the same time the Government will update the immigration rules on 180-day absences so that researchers conducting fieldwork overseas are not penalised if they apply to settle in the UK.

New UK export finance (UKEF) general export facility—UKEF will introduce a new general export facility to provide more flexible short-term support to UK exporters. UKEF will make the new product available over the coming months and will publish further details once they become available.

Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) research on the impacts of regulation on competition—the CMA is announcing today that, subject to an orderly exit from the European Union and therefore resources, it will carry out a review to assess how regulation affects competition in the UK business environment.

Today the Government will publish:

Offshore oil and gas decommissioning industry—a call for evidence, as announced at Budget 2018, seeking to identify what more should be done to strengthen Scotland and the rest of the UK’s position as a global hub for safe, environmentally-friendly decommissioning that meets the Oil and Gas Authority’s ambitious cost reduction targets.

In the coming months, the Government will publish:

International education strategy—a strategy, to be launched by the Departments for Education and for International Trade, which will help to strengthen our position at the forefront of global education.

International research and innovation strategy—a strategy setting out the Government’s ambition to ensure the UK retains its place as a global partner of choice for science and innovation collaboration. As a first step in implementing this, the Government have launched an independent review to assess and make recommendations on our future frameworks for international collaboration.

UKEF consultation on changes to foreign content rules—a consultation on proposed changes to the rules in relation to foreign content in export transactions where UKEF support is provided.

Science and technology

Today, I am allocating over £200 million in cutting-edge infrastructure to support our world-leading scientists, innovators and industry. These investments, which underpin the Government’s ambition to raise economy-wide investment in R&D to 2.4% of GDP by 2027 and drive progress against the grand challenges, such as healthy ageing and the AI and data revolution, include:

Photonics—allocating £81 million to a national extreme photonics application centre in Oxfordshire. This centre will help researchers and industry better understand the composition of new materials and how they behave in different conditions.

Bioinformatics—investing £45 million in a critical upgrade to data storage cloud computing infrastructure at the European Bioinformatics Institute in Cambridgeshire, to support researchers using big data to drive genetic research.

Supercomputers: Archer funding—allocating £79 million to a new UK supercomputer (ARCHER 2) which will replace the current national high-performance computing platform (ARCHER), providing researchers with a fivefold increase in computing capacity.

Joint European Torus (JET) funding (fusion)—setting aside up to £60 million to confirm funding is guaranteed for the facility over 2019-20.

Housing

At autumn Budget 2017, the Government set out a comprehensive package of new policies, including at least £44 billion of financial support over a five-year period, to raise housing supply by the end of this Parliament to its highest level since 1970 and put us on track to reach 300,000 a year on average. To move us towards that target, today the Government can announce further progress on planning reform, as set out in more detail in the accompanying written ministerial statement laid by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government. In the coming months, the Government will:

Independent report on build-out rates—introduce additional planning guidance to support housing diversification on large sites. Sir Oliver Letwin concluded that greater differentiation in the types and tenures of housing delivered on large sites would increase build-out rates.

Response to consultation on planning reform—introduce a package of reforms including allowing greater change of use between premises, and a new permitted development right to allow upwards extension of existing buildings to create new homes.

Accelerated planning Green Paper—publish a Green Paper setting out proposals on how greater capacity and capability, performance management and procedural improvements can accelerate the end-to-end planning process.

Clean growth

The Government are determined that we will be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we found it. The UK leads the world in tackling climate change and delivering clean growth, preserving the planet for future generations. In the coming months the Government will set out further detail on the following:

Review on the economics of biodiversity—a new global review, led by Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta, to assess the economic value of biodiversity and to identify actions that will simultaneously enhance biodiversity and deliver economic prosperity. The review will report in 2020, ahead of the 15th meeting of the conference of the parties to the convention on biodiversity in Beijing in October that year.

Future homes standard—a future homes standard, to be introduced by 2025, future-proofing new build homes with low-carbon heating and world-leading levels of energy efficiency. The new standard will build on the Prime Minister’s industrial strategy grand challenge mission to at least halve the energy use of new buildings by 2030.

Greening the gas grid—accelerating the decarbonisation of our gas supplies by increasing the proportion of green gas in the grid. To meet our climate targets, we need to reduce our dependence on burning natural gas to heat our homes. The Government will consult on the appropriate mechanism to deliver this commitment later this year.

In the coming months, the Government will publish:

Biodiversity and conservation in overseas territories—a call for evidence inviting creative ideas from stakeholders on how the Government can safeguard the biodiversity found in the overseas territories.

Red diesel: response to call for evidence—a summary of responses to the May 2018 call for evidence on red diesel and air quality.

Public finances

Debt management report 2019-20 and NS&I financing remit 2019-20—today, the Government publish the financing remit for 2019-20, which sets out the planned financing that will be raised by the Debt Management Office through issuing gilts and via NS&I’s retail financing products.

Retail prices index

House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee report on the retail prices index (RPI)—the Economic Affairs Committee made several recommendations both to the Government and the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA). The Government are considering the report, and the complex issues it raises. The Government are discussing the relevant issues with the UKSA and will respond to the Committee’s report in April.

Tax avoidance, evasion and non-compliance

Since 2010, the Government have secured and protected over £200 billion of tax that would otherwise have gone unpaid, introduced over 100 measures to reduce avoidance, evasion and other forms of non-compliance, and continued to support taxpayers to get their tax right. Today the Government will publish:

“Tackling tax avoidance, evasion and other forms of non-compliance”—a policy paper setting out the Government’s achievements.

Offshore tax compliance strategy: “No Safe Havens 2019” —a policy paper setting out the direction for HMRC’s updated strategy for offshore tax compliance, bringing together the Government’s response to all forms of offshore non-compliance. This reflects the substantial progress that the UK has made since the last strategy was published in 2014 and complements the paper on avoidance and evasion activity to date.

In the coming months the Government will publish:

Preventing abuse of the R&D tax relief for small or medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)—a consultation on the measure announced at Budget 2018, as part of the package on tax avoidance. This consultation will focus on how the measure will be applied, to minimise any impact on genuine businesses.

Insurance premium tax operational review—a call for evidence on where improvements can be made to ensure that insurance premium tax operates fairly and efficiently.

VAT administration in the Isle of Man—HM Treasury’s findings and recommendations to ensure the right VAT continues to be paid and collected in the Isle of Man. Following the Paradise papers allegations, the Isle of Man Government invited HM Treasury to review its VAT administration processes for the importation of aircraft and yachts.

Maintaining the tax system

Making tax digital (MTD)—mandatory digital record keeping for VAT for businesses over the VAT threshold (with turnover over £85,000) comes into force from 1 April. This is an important first step in this modernisation of the tax system to which the Government remain committed. The Government can confirm a light touch approach to penalties in the first year of implementation. Where businesses are doing their best to comply, no filing or record keeping penalties will be issued. The focus will be on supporting businesses to transition and the Government will therefore not be mandating MTD for any new taxes or businesses in 2020.

Today the Government will publish:

Structures and buildings allowance—draft legislation, published for comment, on introducing a new, permanent allowance for investments in non-residential structures and buildings to create a more competitive tax regime for businesses—as announced at Budget 2018. The Government intend to lay this legislation early this summer.

Aggregates levy review—a discussion paper launching a review of the aggregates levy, including the terms of reference, information on timing and scope of the review as well as membership of an expert working group.

In the coming months the Government will publish:

Offshore receipts in respect of intangible property—draft regulations to ensure the provisions apply as intended, and draft guidance relating to the practical application of the measure.

Hybrid and other mismatches—draft regulations to update the definition of regulatory capital instruments that are entitled to an exemption within the hybrid mismatch rules.

General anti-abuse rule (GAAR) amendments—a technical note alongside draft legislation on minor procedural and technical changes to the GAAR legislation to ensure that it works as intended.

National insurance contributions (NICs) employment allowance draft regulations—a document inviting technical comments on the draft regulations implementing the reform, as announced at Budget 2018, of the NICs employment allowance to restrict it to businesses with an employer NICs bill below £100,000.

Child trust funds (CTF): consultation on maturing CTFs—draft regulations to ensure that CTF accounts can retain their tax-free status after maturity.

VAT simplification and the public sector—a policy paper exploring a potential reform to VAT refund rules for central Government, with the aim of reducing administrative burdens and improving public sector productivity.

VAT partial exemption and capital goods scheme: simplification—a call for evidence on potential simplification and improvement of the VAT partial exemption regime and the capital goods scheme—ensuring they are as simple and efficient for taxpayers as possible. This follows on from the recommendations of the Office of Tax Simplification, which has looked in detail at our VAT system and possible areas for improvement.

Worldwide harmonised light vehicles test procedure (WLTP) and vehicle taxes—a Government response following the review into the impact of the WLTP on vehicle excise duty and company car tax.

Consultation on the use of diesel by private pleasure craft—a consultation seeking evidence on the likely impact of the Government’s proposal to require diesel-powered private pleasure craft to only use full duty paid heavy oil (white diesel) for propulsion, replacing the existing system where private pleasure craft use marked gas oil (red diesel) but pay the white diesel rate of fuel duty.

Review of time limits—a report, as required by section 95 of Finance Act 2019, comparing the time limits for the recovery of lost tax involving an offshore matter, with other time limits, including those provided for by schedules 11 and 12 to the Finance (No. 2) Act 2017. In the report the Government will set out the rationale for the charge on disguised remuneration (DR) loans legislated in Finance (No. 2) Act 2017 and its impacts. The report will be laid by 30 March 2019.

Social investment tax relief (SITR)—a call for evidence on the use of the SITR scheme to date, including why it has been used less than anticipated and what impact it has had on access to finance for social enterprises.

Enterprise investment scheme (EIS) approved funds guidelines—draft guidelines for comment alongside draft legislation. The document will contain guidelines stating HMRC’s proposed policy and practice for approving funds. The legislation will include powers for HMRC to set appropriate conditions and approve funds.

CGT private residence relief—a consultation on the changes announced at Budget 2018 to lettings relief and the final period exemption, which extend private residence relief in capital gains tax.

We will also publish summaries of responses to the following documents, launched at recent fiscal events:

Structures and buildings allowance—a technical note on the introduction of this allowance.

“Protecting your taxes in insolvency”—a consultation launched in February 2019, following the announcement at Budget 2018 to make HMRC a secondary preferential creditor for certain tax debts paid by employees and customers on the insolvency of a business.

“Corporate Capital Loss Restriction”—a consultation on a change announced at autumn Budget 2018 to restrict, from 1 April 2020, the amount of carried-forward capital losses a company can offset to no more than 50% of the chargeable gains arising in a later accounting period.

“Stamp Taxes on Shares Consideration Rules”—a consultation on aligning the consideration rules of stamp duty and stamp duty reserve tax and introducing a general market value rule for transfers between connected persons.

“Digital Services Tax”—a consultation on the detailed design and implementation of the digital services tax that will take effect from 1 April 2020.

“Amendments to tax returns”—a call for evidence on simplifying the process of amending a tax return.

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Housing, Communities and Local Government

Planning: Build-out Rates and Permitted Development

At autumn Budget 2017 the Government announced an independent review, chaired by Sir Oliver Letwin, to examine the significant gap between housing completions and the amount of land allocated or permissioned, and make to recommendations for closing it. I sincerely thank Sir Oliver and his panel for their hard work over the 12 months that followed.

Sir Oliver’s draft analysis, published in June 2018, took an in-depth look at the rate of housing delivery on a number of large sites in high pressure areas around the country. He concluded that the binding constraint on house building rates once implementable planning permission had been granted was the “absorption rate”—meaning that homes are built at the rate at which house builders believe they can be sold at their target prices. Importantly, the review found no evidence that speculative land banking is part of the business model for major house builders. I note that there has been widespread acceptance of Sir Oliver’s analysis across the sector and a consensus has emerged that it is the market absorption rate that determines the rate at which developers build out large sites.

Sir Oliver’s final report, published alongside autumn Budget last year, concluded that greater differentiation in the types, tenures and design of housing delivered on large sites would increase the market absorption rates of new homes.

I welcome Sir Oliver’s support for greater emphasis on housing diversification within the planning system. The revised national planning policy framework has already embedded a requirement for a greater mix of housing; it explicitly requires a mix of size, type and tenure of housing that reflects the diverse needs of local communities. My Department is also committed to improving the design of new development. The purpose of the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission is to tackle the challenge of poor-quality design and build of homes and places, and I look forward to its final report later this year. My Department also has a number of funding programmes specifically designed to support a more diversified housing market, such as the home building fund.

As confirmed in the spring statement, my Department will shortly publish additional planning guidance on housing diversification—to further encourage large sites to support a diverse range of housing needs, and help them build out more quickly.

I note Sir Oliver’s recommendations that authorities should further capture land value uplift by insisting on specific levels of greater housing diversification—and also note that many in the housing building industry are sceptical of this approach. I agree with the principle that the costs of increased housing diversification should be funded through reductions in residual land values. The Government are committed to improving the effectiveness of the existing mechanisms of land value capture, making them more certain and transparent for all developments. My focus is on evolving the existing system of developer contributions to make them more transparent, efficient and accountable and my Department is gathering evidence to explore the case for further reform.

I will keep the need for further interventions to support housing diversification and faster build out, including amendments to primary legislation, under review. My Department will also work closely with Homes England to identify suitable sites and will look for opportunities to support local authorities to further diversify their large sites. Once again, I am very grateful to Sir Oliver and his panel for their important analysis and recommendations, and for their hard work over the course of the review.

My priority now is to ensure faster decision making within the planning system. My Department will publish an accelerated planning Green Paper later this year that will discuss how greater capacity and capability, performance management and procedural improvements can accelerate the end-to-end planning process. This paper will also draw on the Rosewell review, which made recommendations to reduce the time taken to conclude planning appeal inquiries, while maintaining the quality of decisions. I will also consider the case for further reforms to the compulsory purchase regime, in line with our manifesto commitment.

Permitted development rights

The consultation, “Planning Reform: Supporting the high street and increasing the delivery of new homes” closed on 14 January 2019. As confirmed in the spring statement it is our intention to bring forward a range of reforms. To support the high street we intend to introduce additional flexibilities for businesses. This will be to amend the shops use class to ensure it captures current and future retail models, which will include clarification on the ability of (A) use classes to diversify and incorporate ancillary uses without undermining the amenity of the area, to introduce a new permitted development right to allow shops (A1), financial and professional services (A2), hot food takeaways (A5), betting shops, payday loan shops and launderettes to change use to an office (B1) and to allow hot food takeaways (A5) to change to residential use (C3). Additionally, to give businesses sufficient time to test the market with innovative business ideas we will extend the existing right that allows the temporary change of use of buildings from two to three years and enable more community uses to take advantage of this temporary right, enabling such premises to more easily locate on the high street. I will also shortly publish “Better Planning for High Streets”. This will set out tools to support local planning authorities in reshaping their high streets to create prosperous communities, particularly through the use of compulsory purchase, local development orders and other innovative tools.

We will take forward a permitted development right to extend upwards certain existing buildings in commercial and residential use to deliver additional homes, engaging with interested parties on design and technical details. We would want any right to deliver new homes to respect the design of the existing streetscape, while ensuring that the amenity of neighbours is considered. We will also make permanent the time-limited right to build larger single storey rear extensions to dwelling houses and to introduce a proportionate fee. I do not intend to extend the time-limited right for change of use from storage to residential. This right will lapse on 10 June 2019. Alongside this I intend to review permitted development rights for conversion of buildings to residential use in respect of the quality standard of homes delivered. We will continue to consider the design of a permitted development right to allow commercial buildings to be demolished and replaced with homes. We will also develop a “future homes standard” for all new homes through a consultation in 2019 with a view, subject to consultation, to introducing the standard by 2025.

Finally, we intend to remove the permitted development right and associated advertising deemed consent in respect of new telephone kiosks, reflecting that mobile technology has changed the way people access telephone services since the right was introduced in 1985; amend the existing right to install off-street electric vehicle charging points to allow for taller charging upstands to address advances in rapid charging technology; and will look to bring forward a draft listed building consent order which will grant a general listed building consent for works to listed waterway structures owned, controlled or managed by the Canal and River Trust.

I intend to implement an immediate package of permitted development right measures in the spring, with the more complex matters, including on upward extensions, covered in a further package of regulations in the autumn.

[HCWS1408]

International Trade

Leaving the European Union: Temporary Tariff Regime

The Government wish to inform the House about plans to implement a temporary tariff regime in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal on 29 March 2019. The Government will bring forward the necessary secondary legislation in the light of the votes in Parliament this week.

The temporary tariff would apply equally to all countries where the UK does not have a trade agreement or other preferential agreement in place. In the event of no deal, this would include the EU.

The temporary tariff will apply for up to 12 months. At the end of the temporary period, the Government will introduce a long-term tariff regime. This will be developed over the course of the coming months following a full public consultation process.

The Government faced a choice:

We could maintain our current external tariff regime and apply it to the EU, imposing new tariffs on EU imports and driving up prices for consumers and disrupting business supply chains.

We could maintain the open trade that we have with the EU, but we would then have to extend this to the rest of the world. This would minimise disruption to EU trade but would fully open the UK to competition from other countries.

The Government do not believe either of these options on its own is the right approach. Instead, the temporary tariff would take a balanced approach to support the UK economy as a whole. It would maintain open trade on the majority of UK imports, to support consumers and business supply chains, but retain necessary tariff protection for particular sectors of the UK economy.

Under the temporary tariff, 87% of total imports to the UK by value would be eligible for tariff-free access.

The Government recognise the importance of retaining necessary tariff protection for some sectors of the UK economy. Therefore, tariffs would apply on 13% of total UK imports:

in some agricultural sectors which have been historically protected from non-EU producers through high EU tariffs. Producers in these sectors would face significant adjustment costs should these be immediately liberalised. Therefore, for beef, sheep meat, poultry, pigmeat, butter and some cheeses a mixture of tariffs and quotas will be used, with the aim of being broadly neutral in their impact on production and consumption patterns.

in sectors where tariffs help provide support for UK producers against unfair trading practices. This includes products such as certain ceramics, fertiliser and refinery products.

a set of goods, including bananas, raw cane sugar, and certain kinds of fish, where preferential access to the UK market is important for developing countries.

a number of finished vehicles will retain their tariff in order to support this sector and in the light of global market conditions.

Information on specific tariff rates that would apply under the temporary tariff has been made available through the Government website.

In developing the temporary tariff, the Government have given regard to the five principles set out in the Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Act 2018:

the interests of consumers in the UK;

the interests of producers in the UK;

the desire to maintain and promote external trade of the UK;

the desire to maintain and promote productivity in the UK;

the extent to which goods are subject to competition.

Throughout the temporary period, the Government would also consider exceptional changes where clear evidence is provided by stakeholders against the criteria set out in the Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Act 2018 and would provide a mechanism to hear business and consumer feedback.

This statement should be read in conjunction with the written ministerial statement laid in parallel on the Northern Ireland border.

[HCWS1405]

Northern Ireland

Leaving the European Union: Northern Ireland Border

The unique social, political and economic circumstances of Northern Ireland must be reflected in any arrangements that apply in a no-deal scenario.

This Government are committed to the Belfast agreement and to doing everything in our power to ensure no return to a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

Today we are confirming a strictly unilateral, temporary approach to checks, processes and tariffs in Northern Ireland. This would apply if the UK leaves the EU without a deal on 29 March.

The UK Government would not introduce any new checks or controls on goods at the land border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, including no customs requirements for nearly all goods.

The UK temporary import tariff announced today would therefore not apply to goods crossing from Ireland into Northern Ireland.

We would only apply a small number of measures strictly necessary to comply with international legal obligations, protect the biosecurity of the island of Ireland, or to avoid the highest risks to Northern Ireland businesses—but these measures would not require checks at the border.

Because these are unilateral measures, they only mitigate the impacts from exit that are within the UK Government’s control. These measures do not set out the position in respect of tariffs or processes to be applied to goods moving from Northern Ireland to Ireland.

We recognise that Northern Ireland’s businesses will have concerns about the impact that this approach would have on their competitiveness. That is why we remain determined to secure a deal and an orderly exit from the EU.

A negotiated settlement is the only means of sustainably guaranteeing no hard border and protecting businesses in Northern Ireland. This is why we are, first and foremost, still committed to leaving the EU with a deal. In a no-deal scenario, the UK Government are committed to entering into discussions urgently with the European Commission and the Irish Government to jointly agree long-term measures to avoid a hard border.

We also recognise that there are challenges and risks for maintaining control of our borders, monitoring the flow of goods into the UK, and the challenge posed by organised criminals seeking to exploit any new system. That is why we are clear that this approach will only be strictly temporary.

The specific changes proposed are set out below:

Compliance with international legal obligations

To fulfil essential international obligations, there would be new requirements for importers and exporters to declare trade with the EU on a very limited set of goods.

These are the only new processes which would be introduced in order to meet the UK’s international legal obligations. There are no other products that would require new checks or processes.

Specifically:

Electronic notifications would be required for trade in dangerous chemicals, ozone depleting substances and F-gases;

Belfast International airport would be the designated point of entry for endangered species and rough diamonds entering Northern Ireland;

Dual-use or torture goods would require a licence for exports to the EU.

Protecting the biosecurity of the island of Ireland

To protect human, animal, and plant health, animals and animal products from countries outside the EU would need to enter Northern Ireland through a border inspection post and regulated plant material from outside the EU would require certification and risk-based checks at trader premises.

High-risk plant material entering Northern Ireland from the EU would require electronic pre-notification, replacing the current EU plant passport scheme.

Avoiding the highest risks to Northern Ireland businesses

To prevent unfair treatment of Northern Ireland businesses, goods arriving from Ireland would still be subject to the appropriate VAT and excise duty as today and the UK Government would continue to collect these taxes on Irish goods in future. VAT registered businesses would continue to account for VAT on their normal VAT returns.

Small businesses trading across the border, not currently VAT registered, would be able to report VAT online periodically, without any new processes at the border.

Irish businesses sending parcels to Northern Ireland would need to register with HMRC in order to ensure VAT was paid on these goods—but anyone in Northern Ireland receiving a gift sent from Ireland would not pay VAT.

As in Great Britain, businesses currently registered on the EU excise system would register on a UK equivalent.

These measures would not require checks at the land border.

Dependent on the outcome of the votes this week, we may then bring forward a package of secondary legislation to implement these arrangements which Parliament must approve for these temporary arrangements to come into force.

[HCWS1406]