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Administrative Burdens on Businesses

Volume 690: debated on Wednesday 3 March 2021

What steps the Government are taking to help reduce the administrative burden for businesses involved with the movement of goods into Northern Ireland since the UK’s departure from the EU. (912613)

In my engagements with businesses, I have heard directly about the importance of ensuring that processes are streamlined to the maximum extent, and we are working with businesses to ensure that we are delivering on that. More than £200 million has been put into the trader support service, the movement assistance scheme and the UK trader scheme to support those businesses. The newly established digital assistance scheme, when fully operational, will provide a simplified digital process for the certification and verification of goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. We will continue to address issues that arise, and that will be part of the subject of my written ministerial statement later today.

Businesses also need stability and legal certainty. In the past few days, we have seen the Northern Ireland Agriculture Minister stress that he may unilaterally breach commitments under the protocol. Can the Secretary of State give an assurance that the UK Government, as a sovereign party to the withdrawal agreement, will, in the last resort if necessary, ensure ongoing legal compliance and that any changes to the protocol are agreed with the European Union?

As I outlined earlier, I can confirm that our intention is that no charging regime is required for agrifoods, and my written ministerial statement will confirm that later today. At all times we will be focused on ensuring that we are acting in a fully legal manner and delivering for people in Northern Ireland.