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Draft Conformity Assessment (Mutual Recognition Agreements) (Construction Products) (Amendment) Regulations 2021

Debated on Monday 8 November 2021

The Committee consisted of the following Members:

Chair: Mr Philip Hollobone

† Amesbury, Mike (Weaver Vale) (Lab)

† Anderson, Stuart (Wolverhampton South West) (Con)

Byrne, Liam (Birmingham, Hodge Hill) (Lab)

Carden, Dan (Liverpool, Walton) (Lab)

† Champion, Sarah (Rotherham) (Lab)

† Djanogly, Mr Jonathan (Huntingdon) (Con)

† Duddridge, James (Rochford and Southend East) (Con)

† Gideon, Jo (Stoke-on-Trent Central) (Con)

† Greenwood, Lilian (Nottingham South) (Lab)

† Gullis, Jonathan (Stoke-on-Trent North) (Con)

† Latham, Mrs Pauline (Mid Derbyshire) (Con)

† Mann, Scott (Lord Commissioner of Her Majesty's Treasury)

† Pincher, Christopher (Minister for Housing)

Russell-Moyle, Lloyd (Brighton, Kemptown) (Lab/Co-op)

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

† Tracey, Craig (North Warwickshire) (Con)

† Young, Jacob (Redcar) (Con)

Jonathan Finlay, Stella-Maria Gabriel, Committee Clerks

† attended the Committee

Second Delegated Legislation Committee

Monday 8 November 2021

[Mr Philip Hollobone in the Chair]

Draft Conformity Assessment (Mutual Recognition Agreements) (Construction Products) (Amendment) Regulations 2021

I am required by Mr Speaker to read out the following advice: I remind Members that they are expected to wear face coverings and to maintain distancing as far as possible, in line with Government guidance and that of the House of Commons Commission. Please give each other and members of staff space when seated and when entering and leaving the room. I remind Members that they are asked by the House to have a covid lateral flow test twice a week if coming on to the parliamentary estate. That may be done at the testing centre on the estate or at home. Members should send their speaking notes by email to hansardnotes@parliament.uk. Similarly, officials in the Public Gallery should communicate electronically with Ministers.

I beg to move,

That the Committee has considered the draft Conformity Assessment (Mutual Recognition Agreements) (Construction Products) (Amendment) Regulations 2021.

Welcome to the Chair, Mr Hollobone. It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship. The draft regulations make a simple amendment to the Conformity Assessment (Mutual Recognition Agreements) and Weights and Measures (Intoxicating Liquor) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 in order to cite the construction products regulations as a specified regulation within that legislation.

Let me begin by providing some context and background to the draft regulations. The European Union’s construction products regulation of 2011 became retained law and formed part of the UK’s legal system under the withdrawal agreement. The Construction Products (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019, as amended by the Construction Products (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020, amended the 2011 regulation to ensure that the provisions would have practical application in Great Britain, introducing provisions such as the UKCA —UK conformity assessed—mark and UK designated standards. That regime, the UK CPR, came into force on 1 January 2021.

The UK CPR specifies which conformity assessment bodies are recognised to carry out conformity assessment procedures for construction products covered by UK designated standards. Currently, conformity assessment bodies, known as UK approved bodies, must be located in the United Kingdom. On 1 April this year, the United Kingdom-Canada trade continuity agreement came into force. That incorporated the EU-Canada comprehensive economic and trade agreement—CETA—and the protocol on conformity assessment. Under the protocol, the United Kingdom is required, among other things, to recognise or to accept a conformity assessment procedure or result issued by a mutual recognition agreement body.

Under the trade agreement, Canadian conformity assessment bodies are able to assess construction products against United Kingdom designated standards, and vice versa. The 2021 regulations provide for the UK to recognise and accept a conformity assessment procedure or result issued by a Canadian conformity assessment body for the specified regulations.

The UK CPR is not yet included as a specified regulation in the 2021 regulations, which came into force on 19 June this year. Including the UK CPR as a specified regulation will enact the provisions of the UK-Canada trade continuity agreement. That will mean that, should a Canadian conformity assessment body seek accreditation to assess construction products against our designated standards, the Canadian-assessed product can be recognised on the market in the United Kingdom.

The effect of making this amendment can be considered in two parts. First, the draft regulations ensure that, pursuant to the UK-Canada trade continuity agreement, we recognise and accept a conformity assessment procedure or result issued by a Canadian conformity assessment body that has carried out the assessment of a construction product against UK CPR requirements. The effect of that is that a conformity assessment procedure undertaken by a Canadian conformity assessment body against our designated standards will be treated as if it were performed by a United Kingdom approved body, enabling Canadian-assessed UKCA-marked products to be placed on the market in Great Britain.

Secondly, the draft regulations enable the Secretary of State to assign an identification number and include in any register a Canadian conformity assessment body carrying out an assessment in relation to our CPR, and to include a Canadian accreditation body in a register of those bodies. As a result, manufacturers will easily be able to find and use a Canadian-based CAB that is accredited to undertake conformity assessment procedures against our designated standards prior to export to the United Kingdom.

The draft regulations are necessary to ensure that we remove a technical barrier to trade between our two countries and meet our obligations in the trade continuity agreement, which has already come into force. It is a small and technical measure, and I trust that it will not be a barrier to agreement in this Committee.

Members will be delighted to know that the regulations can be debated until 7.30 pm.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship once again, Mr Hollobone. I am grateful to the Minister for outlining the use of this statutory instrument, which is a technical amendment to the 2021 regulations on mutual recognition agreements. Conformity assessment ensures that what comes to market in Great Britain complies with regulations and meets specified expectations. The organisations that provide conformity assessments, testing, inspection and certification are called conformity assessment bodies, as the Minister outlined. Building on the 2021 conformity assessment regulations that were introduced earlier this year, this statutory instrument amends regulations to recognise conformity assessments for construction products issued by a Canadian conformity assessment body, providing a continuation of the arrangements that exist between the European Union and Canada, and ensuring that we comply with the UK-Canada trade continuity agreement.

I have a couple of questions for the Minister. The statutory instrument is not contentious—Her Majesty’s Official Opposition support this technical amendment—but I would be interested in his comments on its interplay with the Building Safety Bill, which will obviously improve standards. Things that have been happening across the globe—with shipping, and undoubtedly with Brexit as well—have had a significant impact on the cost of construction products. If the Minister does not have an immediate answer, I would welcome written assessment of the impact on building safety remediation, and the cost.

I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman for his support for these very simple and straightforward draft regulations. He asks a specific question about the interplay between the draft regulations and the Building Safety Bill. By way of parenthesis, I remind the Committee that the Government are spending a significant amount of taxpayers’ money on the remediation of high-rise buildings and buildings that are in scope that need to have dangerous cladding removed from them. The Bill will also introduce a building safety regulator and a national construction products regulator. It is for the national construction products regulator to ensure that the sorts of goods that may be used in the construction of buildings are properly assessed, and that materials and products that are of critical use meet a higher and defined standard. Through the Bill, those standards will be defined. Working with the national regulator, once it is in place, we will be able to properly police the regime.

We will, of course, want to ensure that any assessment of goods that are introduced to Great Britain from foreign places meets those high standards. That is one of the reasons why the mechanism of accreditation is being put in place—so that bodies, in this case in Canada, understand our assessment requirements. It will ensure that those bodies are also properly assessed and signed off by the Canadian assessment organisation, the name of which momentarily escapes me. If I do not remember it by the time I have completed my remarks, I will write to the hon. Gentleman to confirm it.

By having the draft regulations in place, we will properly accredit those organisations abroad that can assess our regulations, and they will be required to assess our regulations to the standards that we have set—including those set by the national construction products regulator. I hope that that answers the hon. Gentleman’s questions, and I commend the draft regulations to the Committee.

Question put and agreed to.

Committee rose.