This statement is made in accordance with section 10(11) of the United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020. The United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020 (Exclusions from Market Access Principles: Single-Use Plastics) Regulations 2022 create an exclusion from the market access principles in Part 1 of the UKIM Act for legislation so far as it prohibits or restricts the supply of single-use plastic straws, drink stirrers, stemmed cotton buds, plates, cutlery, chopsticks, balloon sticks and expanded and extruded polystyrene food and drinks containers, including cups.
This exclusion was requested by the Scottish Government through the resources and waste common framework, in line with the process for considering UKIM Act exclusions in common framework areas1. Under the Act, the Secretary of State is required to seek consent from the Scottish Ministers, the Welsh Ministers and the Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland. If that consent is not given within one month, the regulations may be made without consent.
Welsh Ministers and Scottish Ministers have consented to the making of these regulations and consent has been sought from the Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland. As this legislation is of a cross-cutting nature, the consent request requires referral to the Northern Ireland Executive as per Northern Ireland’s ministerial code. This has not been possible because of the ongoing absence of a First and Deputy First Minister in Northern Ireland, meaning the Executive cannot meet. My officials have, however, continued to engage at official level with the relevant Northern Ireland Departments in the development of this legislation and there has been engagement with the Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Edwin Poots MLA, and the Minister for the Economy, Gordon Lyons MLA, who have raised no objections to the approach.
In line with section 10(7) of the UKIM Act, I have considered the importance of facilitating the access to the market within Great Britain of qualifying Northern Ireland goods. The supply of the items covered by this exclusion is banned in Scotland, and the UK Government and the Welsh Government have consulted on banning the supply of these items in England and in Wales in so far as it is not already banned there. The relevant EU directive (Article 5 of the Single-Use Plastic Directive) under Annex II of the NI protocol, once implemented in Northern Ireland, will have equivalent effect to the proposed and existing legislation in Scotland, England and Wales. As such, I do not consider there is a need to make additional or separate provision to maintain access to the market within Great Britain for these single-use plastic items.
I therefore intend to proceed with making the United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020 (Exclusions from Market Access Principles: Single-Use Plastics) Regulations 2022. I welcome the commitments and shared ambition across the UK to continue to work together to reduce plastic waste and tackle plastic pollution across the UK.