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Border Controls

Volume 705: debated on Wednesday 15 December 2021

My noble Friend, the Minister of State in the Cabinet Office, the right hon. Lord Frost, has today made the following ministerial statement:

On 14 September, the Government announced a revised timetable for the final stages of the introduction of controls on incoming goods. These controls relate primarily to customs, sanitary and phytosanitary —SPS—controls, and safety and security declarations. The first phase of these new controls is implemented on 1 January 2022.

Implementing these arrangements for goods moving from the island of Ireland, whether from Ireland or from Northern Ireland, is particularly complex. This is because there are specific treaty and legislative commitments to “unfettered access” for goods from Northern Ireland, because there are currently “standstill” arrangements in place for operating the Northern Ireland protocol, and because negotiations on the protocol itself are still under way and will not be definitively completed by 1 January.

Given this wider uncertainty and complexity, and the undesirability of bringing in new changes while the protocol arrangements themselves remain unsettled and while diversion of trade is already occurring, the Government have decided that the right thing is to extend, on a temporary basis, the current arrangements for moving goods from the island of Ireland to Great Britain for as long as discussions on the protocol are ongoing.

This means that goods moving from the island of Ireland directly to Great Britain will continue to do so on the basis of the arrangements that apply currently, until further notice; and will not, for now, be affected by the changes being introduced on 1 January for all other inbound goods.

The Government believe that this pragmatic act of good will can help to maintain space for continued negotiations on the protocol. It also ensures that traders in both Ireland and Northern Ireland are not faced with further uncertainty while the protocol arrangements themselves are still under discussion.

This will be given effect through legislation by 1 January 2022 and the Government will continue to work with the devolved Administrations and interested stakeholders.

These arrangements are temporary and we will continue to keep them under review as negotiations on the protocol continue. We will ensure traders have sufficient time to adapt to any future changes.

The border operating model will be updated to reflect this and a copy will be placed in the Library of both Houses.