Tuesday 29 September 2020
Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee Meeting
The withdrawal agreement Joint Committee met on 28 September 2020 in Brussels, with delegations attending in person and by video conference.
The meeting was co-chaired by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and the vice-president of the European Commission, Maroš Šefčovič. The meeting was also attended by representatives of the Northern Ireland Executive and EU member states.
The Committee undertook a stocktake of Specialised Committee activity since the second meeting in June and was updated on implementation of the withdrawal agreement more generally, including the Northern Ireland protocol.
The UK reiterated the importance of commitment by both sides to upholding obligations under the withdrawal agreement and protecting the Belfast (Good Friday) agreement in all respects.
The UK underlined the need for timely and proper implementation of citizens’ rights commitments by the EU and member states. The UK reiterated its commitment to supporting EU citizens in the UK and UK nationals in the EU.
The UK reiterated that the measures set out in the United Kingdom Internal Market Bill are designed to create a “safety net” to ensure the communities of Northern Ireland are protected. The UK was clear that those measures would not be withdrawn.
The UK affirmed its commitment to ongoing constructive engagement with the EU through further Joint Committee meetings and making progress on all issues.
Online Right to Rent Checks
The Right to Rent Scheme was launched to ensure only those lawfully in the country can access the private rental sector, and to tackle unscrupulous landlords who exploit vulnerable migrants, sometimes in very poor conditions. Right to rent checks are straightforward and apply equally to everyone seeking accommodation in the private rental sector, including British citizens. In April, the Court of Appeal ruling confirmed the Right to Rent Scheme to be lawful. Following this judgment, we committed to work with landlords and letting agents to make it easier for lawful residents to demonstrate their right to rent, and to strengthen the support we provide to landlords when complying with the requirements of the Right to Rent Scheme.
As my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary (Priti Patel) said in this House, we have accepted the important findings in the Windrush Lessons Learned Review, including those in relation to the compliant environment. Urgent and extensive work is taking place across the Home Office, including a full evaluation of the Right to Rent Scheme. In parallel, we are working on improvements to the scheme.
In November, the Home Office will be launching a new online right to rent checking service. This service builds on the successful introduction of the online checking services, for employers conducting right to work checks, holders of a biometric residence permit and those granted status under the EU settlement scheme.
We have worked closely with landlords and letting agents in designing the service, but we need to change right to rent legislation to enable them to rely on the new online service to discharge their legal responsibilities under the scheme.
Today, I have laid before Parliament the Immigration (Residential Accommodation) (Prescribed Requirements and Codes of Practice) (Amendment) Order 2020.
Landlords will be able to undertake a right to rent check in real time for non-EEA citizens with a valid biometric resident permit or card, or an EEA citizen with status granted under the EU settlement scheme. In addition, the order makes sure that landlords will be able to undertake online checks on those whose leave will be granted under the new points-based system.
The online service makes it simpler for landlords to carry out the checks and protects them. It allows checks to be carried out by video call, and landlords will not need to see documents as the right to rent information is provided in real time directly from Home Office systems.
The service works on the basis of the individual first viewing their own Home Office profile. They may then share this information with a landlord if they wish, by providing the landlord with a “share code”, which can be used to access the prospective tenant’s record. This authorisation represents an important safeguard and means landlords will only be able to view an individual’s right to rent information, and no other unrelated personal information.
Landlords will be able to undertake either the online check or the existing document-based check; online checks will, therefore, be a voluntary option while migrants and landlords develop familiarity with the new service and take-up becomes more widespread. EEA citizens will continue to be able to demonstrate their entitlement to rent to landlords by showing a valid passport or national ID card until 30 June 2021.
The Immigration (Residential Accommodation) (Prescribed Requirements and Codes of Practice) (Amendment) Order 2020 also makes a number of other important changes to improve the operation of the scheme for landlords and tenants and to simplify the presentation of the list of prescribed documents.
It amends the document list for non-visa national visitors from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the USA who enter the UK using an ePassport gate.
The order enables new documents issued to third-country-national family members granted status under the EU settlement scheme to be accepted by landlords and letting agents as evidence of a right to rent.
It also amends the list of documents that are deemed acceptable under the existing manual “right to rent” check to include a short UK birth and adoption certificate as well as the long versions of these documents, making it easier for British citizens who do not hold a passport to demonstrate their right to rent.
Finally, the order amends and updates the existing statutory code of practice to reflect these important changes which will improve the operation of the Right to Rent Scheme. A draft of the revised code of practice has also been laid before Parliament.
International Maritime Instruments: Ambulatory Reference Amendments
I am making this statement to fulfil obligations relating to the implementation of amendments to internationally agreed merchant shipping requirements into UK domestic law. These requirements will be implemented into UK law by way of ambulatory reference provisions in secondary legislation. The ambulatory reference provisions give direct effect in the UK to these amendments and, in advance of those amendments taking effect in the UK, the Secretary of State has agreed to publish them by way of a parliamentary statement to both Houses of Parliament.
This statement relates specifically to amendments agreed in the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to the international convention for the prevention of pollution from ships, 1973 (MARPOL) and the international code for the construction and equipment of ships carrying dangerous chemicals in bulk (IBC Code).
IMO resolution MEPC.314(74) amends regulations 1 and 10 of annex V to MARPOL (which relates to the prevention of pollution by garbage from ships) to allow the use of electronic record keeping. The requirements for the format and content of a ship’s record books under annex V are unchanged but operators may now choose whether these records are made and kept in electronic or hard copy form. The amendment to regulation 10 is implemented by updating the reference to regulation 10.3 of annex V in regulation 12(2)(a) of the Merchant Shipping (Prevention of Pollution by Garbage from Ships) Regulations 2020 (S.I. No. 2020/621). This is achieved by way of the ambulatory reference provision in regulation 4 of those regulations. The amendment to regulation 1 (definition of “electronic record book”) applies by virtue of the reference to it in regulation 10. The amendments come into force on 1 October 2020.
IMO resolution MEPC.315(74) amends regulations 1 and 13, and appendices 4 and 6 of annex II to MARPOL. The amendments insert requirements in relation to high viscosity products which, in certain specified areas, will require a cargo tank prewash at the port of unloading until the tank is empty, the residue of which must be discharged to a port reception facility. The amendments to regulations 13 and appendix 4 are implemented by updating the respective references to these provisions in regulations 24(2)(d) and 28(2) of the Merchant Shipping (Prevention of Pollution from Noxious Liquid Substances in Bulk) Regulations 2018 (S.I. No. 2018/68) (the NLS
regulations) pursuant to the ambulatory reference provision in regulation 4 of those regulations. The amendments to regulation 1 (definition of “persistent floater”) and to appendix 6 apply by virtue of the references to them in regulation 13 (paragraph 7). The amendments come into force on 1 January 2021.
IMO resolutions MSC.460(101) and MEPC.318(74) amend chapters 1, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 and 21 of the international code for the construction and equipment of ships carrying dangerous chemicals in bulk (the IBC code). Chapters 17 and 18 of the IBC code are referenced in regulations 3(1) and 24(8) of the NLS regulations and these references are updated pursuant to the ambulatory reference provision in regulation 4 of the regulations. As a result, ships carrying dangerous chemicals or noxious liquid substances in bulk will need to amend the list of products that they may carry and will require new certificates of fitness and noxious liquid substances certificates. The amendments come into force on 1 January 2021.
The amendments referred to in this statement will be published, with explanatory information, in a marine guidance note and will be available on www.gov.uk.
Work and Pensions
Office for Nuclear Regulation: Annual Report and Accounts 2019-2020
My noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (The Baroness Stedman-Scott) has made the following written statement.
Later today I will lay before this House the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) Annual Report and Accounts 2019-2020. These documents will also be published on the ONR website.
I can confirm, in accordance with Schedule 7, Section 25(3) of the Energy Act 2013, that there have been no exclusions to the published documents on the grounds of national security.