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General Committees

Debated on Monday 7 November 2022

Delegated Legislation Committee

Draft Nationality and Borders Act 2022 (Consequential Amendments) (No. 2) Regulations 2022

The Committee consisted of the following Members:

Chair: Judith Cummins

† Afolami, Bim (Hitchin and Harpenden) (Con)

† Bailey, Shaun (West Bromwich West) (Con)

Bradshaw, Mr Ben (Exeter) (Lab)

† Bridgen, Andrew (North West Leicestershire) (Con)

De Cordova, Marsha (Battersea) (Lab)

† Dinenage, Dame Caroline (Gosport) (Con)

† Dines, Miss Sarah (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department)

† Elmore, Chris (Ogmore) (Lab)

† Hamilton, Mrs Paulette (Birmingham, Erdington) (Lab)

† Howell, John (Henley) (Con)

† Kinnock, Stephen (Aberavon) (Lab)

McDonald, Stuart C. (Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East) (SNP)

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

† Mayhew, Jerome (Broadland) (Con)

Mumby-Croft, Holly (Scunthorpe) (Con)

Osamor, Kate (Edmonton) (Lab/Co-op)

† Smith, Henry (Crawley) (Con)

Abi Samuels, Committee Clerk

† attended the Committee

Second Delegated Legislation Committee

Monday 7 November 2022

[Judith Cummins in the Chair]

Draft Nationality and Borders Act 2022 (Consequential Amendments) (No. 2) Regulations 2022

I beg to move,

That the Committee has considered the draft Nationality and Borders Act 2022 (Consequential Amendments) (No. 2) Regulations 2022.

It is a pleasure to appear under your chairmanship, Ms Cummins.

The draft regulations were laid before the House on 13 October 2022. Maintaining our national security and keeping the public safe is a top priority for the Government. That is why deprivation of citizenship where it is conducive to the public good is reserved for those who pose a threat to the United Kingdom or whose conduct involves very high harm. When passing deprivation measures in the Nationality and Borders Act 2022, the House agreed that in cases where the Secretary of State intends to make a deprivation order on the ground that it is conducive to the public good without prior notification, an application must be made to the Special Immigration Appeals Commission, which will consider the Secretary of State’s reasons for not giving notice.

To implement that process, we must first amend the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Procedure) Rules 2003, which are made and amended by the Lord Chancellor, but to create the necessary power to amend those rules we must first amend the Special Immigration Appeals Commission Act 1997, which is the purpose of this technical instrument. Today, we take a significant step towards implementing the safeguards that the House has agreed to. I therefore commend the regulations to the Committee.

It is a real pleasure to serve under your chairship today, Ms Cummins.

Powers to deprive someone of their British citizenship in certain circumstances were initially introduced in section 40 of the British Nationality Act 1981. Those powers were subject to a requirement that the Home Secretary provide written notice to anyone subject to a deprivation of citizenship order. In recent years, some high-profile legal challenges have been brought against the Government by people who were deprived of their citizenship without having received the requisite notice.

During parliamentary consideration of the Nationality and Borders Bill, Ministers explained that under existing law written notice had to be sent to a person’s last known address, and in some cases it might not be possible to reach them at that address, including in cases where the individual in question was known by the Home Secretary to be abroad in a war zone. On that basis, the Government argued that there should be exceptions to the requirement to give notice. Section 10 of the Nationality and Borders Act provides for such exceptions to be made, primarily based on security concerns.

The Opposition were not convinced by all of the Government’s arguments and worked in the other place with colleagues on a cross-party basis to secure important safeguarding amendments, the first of which established a far more restricted range of circumstances in which notice could be withheld. The original clause would have allowed the Secretary of State to withhold notice whenever that appeared to be in the public interest. Amendments removed the subjective element and provided that notice may be withheld only if the Secretary of State does not have an address for service, or if she reasonably considers it necessary on one of four exceptional grounds.

The second amendment was about judicial oversight. If the Secretary of State wishes to withhold notice, she must apply to a superior court of record, the Special Immigration Appeals Commission, in advance or within seven days. The SIAC, applying judicial review principles, will examine her reasons and decide whether or not her assessment is obviously flawed. The same test is applied to the making of terrorism prevention and investigation measures under the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Act 2011. If she does not succeed on her first attempt or on a subsequent application, which must be based on a material change of circumstances or further evidence, the Secretary of State must either give notice in the normal way or revoke the deprivation order altogether.

Thirdly, decisions must be reviewed regularly. The Secretary of State must consider three times a year for two years whether the reasons for non-notification remain valid. If, after the sixth review, she still resists notification, she must make a further application to the SIAC, which will once again give independent scrutiny to her decision.

As mentioned, the second of the safeguards is the reason we are here today, and we welcome the specifics of the instrument. The Act also stipulates, in schedule 2, that the Secretary of State should apply to the SIAC when making an order to deprive someone of their citizenship without notice. The commission may then determine whether the Secretary of State’s reasons for not providing notice are valid. If the commission determines that the reasoning is obviously flawed, the Secretary of State may appeal that determination to the appropriate appeal court.

What the draft regulations do is enable the Lord Chancellor to make rules setting out details of how the process should work. The rules will need to be approved by Parliament before coming into force—a process that we think is vital. Governments have had the ability to revoke British citizenship in certain cases for decades now, so the concept is not new, but the specific measures introduced through the Nationality and Borders Act give the Secretary of State significant new powers. I am sure the Minister agrees that those powers should never be used lightly; their use should be the last resort, where there is no alternative, and there should be safeguards to ensure that the system is fair and subject to independent oversight. The regulations are the first step toward establishing mechanisms for that.

The Minister will be aware that some people have voiced concern about the proposed role of the SIAC, given the secrecy of its proceedings. Protecting sensitive material on security grounds is of course crucial. I have two questions for the Minister. First, what reassurances can she give that the new rules will strike the right balance between safeguarding national security and an individual’s right to appeal? Secondly, setting up the new process and establishing rules for how it should operate may take some time; can she indicate how long it might take and when the new system might be up and running?

I am pleased by the welcome for the measures. They were carefully thought out and have been considered by both Houses now.

To set out the historical context, which is always interesting, the powers have existed for over 100 years. It is only right that we modernise and make sure that the powers are subject to rigorous scrutiny. There are safeguards of course, and lots of checks and balances along the way.

The hon. Gentleman spoke about secret decision making, and I want to be clear that there is to be no secret decision making in deprivation cases. Appeals against deprivation of citizenship are heard by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission where there is reliance on sensitive material that could harm the public or individuals if it were revealed in open court. However, appellants are appointed special security-cleared lawyers for the task, so their interests are appropriately represented. The process is robust, as we would all expect. The changes made by the regulations strike just the right balance to protect the security of the nation and the rights of those going through this process.

On the question of timing, I will write to the hon. Member for Aberavon to say when the measures will be introduced. As usual, we are grateful for the co-operation to protect national security that we have received from the Opposition.

Question put and agreed to.

Committee rose.

Draft Merchant Shipping (Control of Harmful Anti-Fouling Systems on Ships) Order 2022

The Committee consisted of the following Members:

Chair: Mrs Sheryll Murray

Abbott, Ms Diane (Hackney North and Stoke Newington) (Lab)

† Cryer, John (Leyton and Wanstead) (Lab)

† Elphicke, Mrs Natalie (Dover) (Con)

† Fletcher, Colleen (Coventry North East) (Lab)

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

† Hayes, Sir John (South Holland and The Deepings) (Con)

† Holden, Mr Richard (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport)

† Kane, Mike (Wythenshawe and Sale East) (Lab)

Kniveton, Kate (Burton) (Con)

† Mahmood, Mr Khalid (Birmingham, Perry Barr) (Lab)

† Milling, Amanda (Cannock Chase) (Con)

† Mullan, Dr Kieran (Crewe and Nantwich) (Con)

Rimmer, Ms Marie (St Helens South and Whiston) (Lab)

† Saxby, Selaine (North Devon) (Con)

† Villiers, Theresa (Chipping Barnet) (Con)

† Whittome, Nadia (Nottingham East) (Lab)

† Young, Jacob (Redcar) (Con)

Liam Laurence Smyth, Committee Clerk

† attended the Committee

First Delegated Legislation Committee

Monday 7 November 2022

[Mrs Sheryll Murray in the Chair]

Draft Merchant Shipping (Control of Harmful Anti-Fouling Systems on Ships) Order 2022

I beg to move,

That the Committee has considered the draft Merchant Shipping (Control of Harmful Anti-Fouling Systems on Ships) Order 2022.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mrs Murray, in my first statutory instrument debate. The purpose of this order is to give the Government the powers that we need to implement in UK law amendments to the International Maritime Organisation’s 2001 convention on the control of harmful anti-fouling systems on ships, which I shall now refer to as the convention. The order relies on powers under section 128(1)(e) of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995. The draft order was laid before the House on 17 October this year. If approved, the powers in the order will be used to make a new statutory instrument next year to implement the convention amendments. The order will also allow the convention to be entirely re-implementable in regulations should that be necessary.

Before continuing, I would like to give a small amount of background about what the Government have done regarding the convention and to outline the Government’s reasons for wanting to implement amendments to it. In doing so, I remind hon. Members that our purpose here today is to discuss the use of this order as a mechanism to provide the powers for implementation of the amendments to the convention, rather than to discuss the detail and implementation of the convention itself.

The convention entered into force internationally on 17 September 2008, and the UK acceded to it in 2010. It aims to protect the marine environment and human health from the adverse effects of anti-fouling systems used by ships. An anti-fouling system is a coating, paint or surface treatment used by a ship to control or prevent the attachment of unwanted organisms to the ship’s hull. The convention addresses the harmful impacts of anti-fouling systems by prohibiting the use of certain substances in those systems. In 2021, the IMO adopted amendments to the convention to prohibit the use of a new compound in anti-fouling systems, and those will come into force on 1 January 2023.

As the convention took effect 14 years ago, hon. Members may ask why we are now seeking powers to implement amendments to it. The reason is that the convention was implemented in the UK through a combination of a European Community regulation and the Merchant Shipping (Anti-Fouling Systems) Regulations 2009, but both instruments derive from EU powers and now comprise EU retained law. Consequently, implementing the convention amendments through the instruments would now require primary legislation. Therefore, to implement the amendments more efficiently in UK law, we will need to introduce an Order in Council to provide the powers required for this purpose.

The Government consider implementation of the convention amendments in UK law an important step to ensure that the United Kingdom continues to comply with its international obligations and that our waters continue to be protected from the use of prohibited substances in the anti-fouling systems of visiting ships. The convention and its subsequent amendments were negotiated at the IMO by representatives of the Government, the shipping industry, and environmental interest groups. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency played an active role in negotiations at the IMO throughout the development of the convention and its amendments.

The Government’s proposals for implementing the amendments to the convention by way of a new statutory instrument will be the subject of public consultation. The MCA will refine its proposals on the basis of any comments received. The amendments to the convention cannot be efficiently implemented into UK law unless the Government have the powers to do so. The draft order provides those powers.

I will provide some information about the power we are relying on to make the draft instrument and, in turn, to implement the amendments to the convention. Section 128(1)(e) of the 1995 Act provides that His Majesty may by Order in Council make such provision as he considers appropriate for the purpose of implementing any international agreement that has been ratified by the United Kingdom and relates to the prevention, reduction or control of pollution of the sea or other waters by matter from ships.

The draft order will authorise the making of regulations by the Secretary of State to give effect to the convention, including amendments to it. Section 128 only allows for an order to be made in respect of a convention that has been ratified by the United Kingdom, which has acceded to the convention. To ensure that the United Kingdom can fulfil its international obligations, the amendments to the convention must be implemented. To ensure that the United Kingdom’s domestic law implements its international obligations, the Government intend that the United Kingdom will submit the draft order to the Privy Council. That will ensure that the regulations can be made.

I have highlighted the importance of the Order in Council so that we can implement the amendments to this important convention for the environmental protection of our seas and waterways. The draft order is intended to ensure that the Government have the powers to implement the convention amendments into domestic law. It is fully supported by the UK Government. I therefore propose that the order be approved. It will enable the United Kingdom to play its part in protecting the biodiversity of our oceans and seas.

It is a pleasure, as always, to serve under your chairmanship, Mrs Murray. I had a few nice, dulcet things to say about the right hon. Member for Gainsborough (Sir Edward Leigh), but we do not have him in the Chair, so thank you for stepping into the breach; it is good of you.

I welcome the Minister to his place. North West Durham is a beautiful part of the world, and I know Lanchester well. I am sure Members agree that in his first outing at an SI Committee, the Minister has done extraordinarily well. I am also sure that we all came into politics to discuss statutory instruments about barnacles on boats. I might have to take some anti-fouling measures myself; I will check my deodorant, because the Minister is about the fourth or fifth on my watch as shadow spokesperson for aviation and maritime. I wish him well in his time in office.

That is enough of the niceties. The implementation of the convention will protect United Kingdom waters from harmful effects occurring from the use of prohibited substances, not just on UK ships but on non-UK ships visiting our waters. We will be supporting the draft order, as it is vital to take every step within our power to reduce the leaching of toxins into water.

There are two major and interlinked environmental challenges in the marine industry: reducing emissions, and preventing the transfer of invasive species through biofouling. The formation of barnacles and other unwanted attachments, such as molluscs and algae, increase the consumption of fuel and slow ships down. In order to address that, ships’ hulls are coated with anti-fouling paints. Historically, coatings such as lime and arsenic were used to coat the hulls, but advances in chemistry enabled that problem to be resolved in a modern and effective way using metallic compounds.

Bulk carriers, tankers and general cargo ships can spend long periods in ports being loaded and unloaded. Some might also be prevented from berthing for long periods by neap tides. In such cases, shallow water and temperate environments can lead to accelerated fouling. Many shipowners must deal with those challenging operations on a regular basis. Only today, there was an interesting article in The Times about the sequestration of Russian yachts and the need to keep them moving to stop their deterioration.

Many ships have unpredictable trading patterns and must find cargoes where they can. That can mean that after operating in an area such as the north Atlantic with a coating chosen for that environment, the ship is switched to tropical zones and operation in different climates. The lower the predictability in operations, the higher the risk for fouling on the ship’s hull, potentially leading to increased fuel consumption and higher environmental impact.

Coatings are usually developed for specific operating conditions, meaning that their anti-fouling performance is highly problematic. Any changes to the expected operating conditions mean that the coating will not perform as expected. The main factors that increase the probability of fouling are unfavourable conditions such as location and duration during long idling periods. Modern coatings have also been proven to leach into water, and the results have been devastating for marine ecosystems.

As people have tried to do the right thing by coating ships to prevent the formation of barnacles and the attachment of other undesirables, and thereby reduce fuel burn, the issue has recurred with the newer metallic compounds. Those compounds have been proven to cause sex changes in whelks and deformation in oysters, and they may have entered the food chain.

This issue has a huge effect on the environment and on those who reside in our seas, particularly turtles, whales and larger fish, as well as whatever is attaching to ships. Whatever we do in our seas will ultimately have an effect on the food chain, as my hon. Friend said, and on those who inhabit that environment. Perhaps the Government will come back with something more concrete on the environment and the seas.

Pope Francis reminded us in “Laudato Si’” that we are leaving an enormous pile of filth on this planet, so anything that we can do to reduce that filth and to ensure that it does not leach into the food chain of marine life is extraordinarily important. My hon. Friend is right to intervene to make that point.

With your indulgence, Mrs Murray, I want to identify the problem of industrial fishing, which you will know a great deal about. It has precisely the same effect on the ecosystem that the hon. Gentleman talked about, and particularly on smaller sea creatures of the kind he mentioned. That is an aside, but it is relevant, given what we are discussing. I know that you will want to bring us back to the subject in hand.

Absolutely. I think the shadow Minister would like to stick to the confines of the draft statutory instrument.

Indeed I would, Mrs Murray. The right hon. Member for South Holland and The Deepings is right that marine life is important, and the draft order is part of that. The Minister knows of the marine biology problems along the coastline of North West Durham, although we do not know what the issue is just yet.

A team at the University of Oldenburg’s Institute of Chemistry and Biology of the Marine Environment conducted a study on the matter, which was published in February 2021. The group is continuing its research, having found that most of the plastic particles in water samples taken from the German Bight—an area of the North sea that encompasses some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes—originate from binders used in marine paints. The hypothesis is that ships literally leave a kind of skid mark in the water, and that as a source of microplastics, it is of a significance similar to that of tyre wear particles from cars on land. I am sure that that will cross the Minister’s desk as part of his new portfolio with responsibility for roads.

Of all plastic entering the ocean, 94% ends up on the seabed, where it will take centuries to degrade. In the process, it will release chemicals, microplastics and nano-plastics, all of which are harmful for marine life and for the ecosystem balance. With that in mind, will the Minister apprise me of which, if any, of the anti-fouling coatings are proven not to leach microplastics into the sea? We do not want to replace one pollutant with another.

I notice that no consultation was done on this draft statutory instrument, but we broadly support its intention. However, we do not want to find ourselves here again in 20 years debating the leaching of microplastics into our waters.

I thank hon. Members for their contributions. I will address a couple of issues directly and will certainly write to the hon. Member for Wythenshawe and Sale East about the points that he raised. I will also put them to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, which will look at the measures.

The hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr made an important point. As the Durham miners put it, “The past we inherit, the future we build”. I am sure that we all, on both sides of the Committee, want to build proper regulations for international waters to address the issues he has raised.

With that, I thank the Committee for its consideration of the draft order, which is intended to ensure that the Government have the powers to implement the convention and its amendments into domestic law, thereby protecting the UK’s marine environment and fulfilling the UK’s international obligations.

Question put and agreed to.

Committee rose.

Draft Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading Scheme (Amendment) (No. 3) Order 2022

The Committee consisted of the following Members:

Chair: Stewart Hosie

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

† Baillie, Siobhan (Stroud) (Con)

† Brennan, Kevin (Cardiff West) (Lab)

† Brown, Alan (Kilmarnock and Loudoun) (SNP)

† Bruce, Fiona (Congleton) (Con)

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

Foy, Mary Kelly (City of Durham) (Lab)

† Hudson, Dr Neil (Penrith and The Border) (Con)

† Jarvis, Dan (Barnsley Central) (Lab)

Johnston, David (Wantage) (Con)

† Morden, Jessica (Newport East) (Lab)

† Richardson, Angela (Guildford) (Con)

† Stevenson, Jane (Wolverhampton North East) (Con)

† Stuart, Graham (Minister for Climate)

† Swayne, Sir Desmond (New Forest West) (Con)

† Syms, Sir Robert (Poole) (Con)

† Whitehead, Dr Alan (Southampton, Test) (Lab)

Anna Kennedy-O’Brien, Committee Clerk

† attended the Committee

Third Delegated Legislation Committee

Monday 7 November 2022

[Stewart Hosie in the Chair]

Draft Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading Scheme (Amendment) (No. 3) Order 2022

I beg to move,

That the Committee has considered the draft Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading Scheme (Amendment) (No. 3) Order 2022.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Hosie.

The UK emissions trading scheme, the UK ETS, was established under the Climate Change Act 2008 by the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading Scheme Order 2020 as a UK-wide greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme to encourage cost-effective emissions reductions, contributing to the UK’s emissions reduction targets and net zero goal. The scheme replaced the UK’s participation in the European Union ETS, and the 2020 order applied existing rules on the monitoring, reporting and verification of emissions, with modifications to ensure that they work for the UK ETS. The purpose of this order is to amend the 2020 order to enable the inclusion of flights from Great Britain to Switzerland within the scope of the UK ETS.

The UK ETS currently covers domestic flights, flights from the UK to the European economic area, and flights between the UK and Gibraltar.

I thank the Minister for giving way. When did the Government realise there was an omission and a lack of agreement with Switzerland? Are there other countries that the UK should have agreements with that have dropped off since we left the EU?

That is an excellent question. We seek to find the right partners and optimise the system going forward. We always keep that under review. If I have further information, when suitably refreshed I will happily share it with the hon. Gentleman.

I am indeed; I will be delighted to do so.

Since our departure from the European Union, flights between the UK and Switzerland are not covered in either the UK or the Swiss emissions trading systems, creating a gap in ETS coverage. The Government consulted on the policy in this draft instrument between May and July 2019 as part of a consultation called “The future of UK carbon pricing”. In the 2020 Government response to the consultation, we committed to include UK-to-Switzerland flights in the scope of the UK ETS if an agreement could be reached with Switzerland. The agreement has been reached, and Switzerland has amended the relevant domestic legislation to ensure that flights from Switzerland to the UK are included in the Swiss ETS from 2023. This instrument amends the 2020 order to include flights from Great Britain to Switzerland in the scope of the UK ETS for the start of the 2023 scheme year.

In 2019, UK-to-Switzerland flights amounted to approximately a quarter of a megatonne of CO2—less than 0.2% of the UK ETS cap for the 2023 scheme year. The policy intent is to include flights from across the UK to Switzerland in the scope of the UK ETS. As the Northern Ireland Assembly was not able to consider affirmative legislation at the time this instrument began the legislative process, this legislation only brings GB to Switzerland flights within scope of the UK ETS.

I am grateful to the Minister for giving way on that point. It is ironic that we have been able to reach agreement with Switzerland, but not with Northern Ireland. Leaving that aside, can he enlighten the Committee on how many flights will be covered by the scheme? I do not know whether there are flights from Northern Ireland to Switzerland, but what impact might the order have? I apologise if the shadow Minister was going to ask the same question.

It is a most excellent question. When the hon. Member for Southampton, Test asks it later, I am sure I will be able to give a definitive answer, but it is a pretty small percentage. I look forward to sharing the exact percentage with the Committee.

Once the Northern Ireland Assembly is functioning, equivalent legislation will be proposed to the Assembly as soon as possible to ensure that all flights between the UK and Switzerland are covered.

In conclusion, the SI will close a gap in the coverage of the UK ETS, fulfilling the commitment set out in the Government response to the consultation on “The future of UK carbon pricing” and upholding the agreement with Switzerland. On that basis, I commend the order to the Committee.

This statutory instrument does something fairly simple, which should have been done quite a long time ago. It regularises the arrangements relating to the 2020 UK ETS system with Switzerland, which, being a member of the single market but not of either the European economic area or the EU, fell outside both provisions when the UK ETS was set up. It may have been possible to spot that at the time, and it has taken rather a long time to fill that gap, but it will now be filled.

What that means, if we agree on this afternoon’s SI, is that, while stating, in principle, that all flights from the UK are international flights—because we are no longer in the EU—the UK will have a parallel system to that of the EU. The EU ETS supplies both-end emissions arrangements to all members of the EU, and those of the EEA, which are, of course, Iceland, Norway and Lichtenstein. I think that that is a partial answer to the question from the hon. Member for Kilmarnock and Loudoun, in that we now have a fairly seamless arrangement, as far as all of Europe and the EEA is concerned, regarding two-ended emissions-trading arrangements for flights throughout Europe in general.

That is except for one flight—the six-days-a-week flight between Belfast and Geneva—which is uniquely not covered by that arrangement. Therefore, it is not quite right to say, as the explanatory memorandum suggests, that there was a gap that has been filled by this measure; there was a gap, and it is now smaller, but it is still a gap. I am sure that those people who do take that flight from Belfast to Geneva, and/or back again, will be discomfited to know that they are the new exception.

I am a little concerned about that gap, because the explanatory memorandum to this SI states that:

“Further legislation will be brought forward in relation to Northern Ireland to Switzerland flights when feasible.”

Is the Minister saying that it is not feasible because the Northern Ireland Assembly is not in operation, and, therefore, it will become feasible when the Assembly returns? Alternatively, is he saying, “It’s not feasible because we haven’t got time to do it at the moment”?

As we know, we are regularly legislating. Indeed, the Minister and I were talking this morning about seven pieces of secondary legislation coming forward regarding the energy price support mechanisms. All of those have two pieces of legislation each—an SI for England, Scotland and Wales, and a parallel SI of the same nature for Northern Ireland. The argument for that is precisely because there is no Assembly in Northern Ireland, so we have to do it ourselves in the UK Parliament. I would have thought that that was perfectly straightforward and could have easily been done under these circumstances, so that people flying from Belfast to Geneva would feel much happier about how their flights are dealt with as far as offsetting and carbon trading are concerned.

Can the Minister tell us what is meant by “feasible” under these circumstances, and whether he intends to speedily introduce an SI that regularises the position? By the way, that would help considerably with allocating the payments for emissions, which will take place between flights to Switzerland generally and may have to be further amended when the Belfast-Geneva flight is brought into the process, so an administrative good could be done in the fairly short term if legislation, which I imagine would be as brief as the draft order we are considering, were to be introduced.

The Minister might also briefly comment on the fact that the UK will now have a system of two-ended ETS flight arrangements across the whole of the European economic area. The UK is now in a position parallel to that of the EU, which makes a distinction between flights that are effectively regarded as domestic for the purposes of emissions trading and international flights, which are governed by the UN carbon offsetting reduction scheme for international aviation, known as CORSIA. The scheme does not impose an emissions cap, but simply requires any aviation emissions above the level in 2019 to be offset.

However, the EU proposes to go further than that. Indeed, the European Parliament recently voted to extend the EU ETS from intra-EU flights—that is, within the European economic area—to all departing flights, subject to an adjustment to reclaim the cost of offset unit purchase for the same flights under CORSIA, which is the arrangement for international flights at the moment. That needs to be agreed by the European Commission, but it is well under way.

The UK has never defined the relationship between CORSIA and the UK emissions trading scheme as far as aviation is concerned. Now that our playing set is complete, is it the Minister’s intention not only to define the relationship with CORSIA, but to undertake the same sort of arrangement for international flights outside the EEA that the EU is looking at, in order to create a much better system of international flights outside the European economic area?

I am sure the Minister now has inspiration for all my questions and will be able to give us a full account of how these things are to proceed, but I would be particularly grateful to hear about the progress with the poor, sad missing Belfast-to-Geneva flight that I know we are all concerned about.

I am grateful to the shadow Minister for answering the question that I put to the Minister. I assume that is correct, and that the Minister can confirm officially that just that one flight, which takes place six times a week between Northern Ireland and Switzerland, is absent from the provisions of the statutory instrument.

I have two other brief questions, which I hope the Minister will be able to answer. In paragraph 12.3 of the explanatory memorandum, the Government indicate that they did not prepare an impact assessment for the SI because

“it is not a regulatory provision.”

Can the Minister explain in what sense the SI is not a regulatory provision, and what that means?

In lieu of providing an impact assessment, the Government signpost Members to the document, “Analytical Annex to Developing the UK Emissions Trading Scheme (UK ETS)”, published in March 2022. That annex does not add very much to what is provided today, but the annex to chapter 5, which deals with aviation, says that the Government propose to

“permit verifiers of aviation activities to conduct remote site visits, provided that an appropriate risk assessment has been carried out and any precautionary conditions have been met.”

Does the statutory instrument we are considering today have any impact on that proposal? Who would be the verifiers of aviation activities referred to in the annex to chapter 5?

I thank hon. Members for their valuable contributions to the debate, and I am grateful for the broad support—so enthusiastic, so driven, so loud—for the proposals.

In answer to the various questions that have come up, I should mention that flights between the UK and Switzerland fell out of scope of ETS coverage following the UK’s withdrawal, although those flights were previously covered by the EU ETS following the EU-Swiss linking agreement, which came into force in 2020. We are looking to restore coverage of that gap. The majority of international flights departing the UK are covered by the carbon offsetting and reduction scheme for international aviation—CORSIA—and the UK continues to play a leading role in the work of the International Civil Aviation Organisation, negotiating for ambitious global action to tackle international aviation emissions, including protecting and strengthening CORSIA.

In 2019, flights from Northern Ireland to Switzerland made up just 76—my maths is functional, if that, but six flights a week would appear to amount to rather more than that—or 0.28% of the total 26,813 flights from the UK to Switzerland. That represented 1,081 tonnes of carbon dioxide, 0.39% of the total 277,814 tonnes. The impact of not including those flights is therefore small, but not negligible. As such, we aim to include those flights in the ETS as soon as possible.

As to why we cannot currently do so, legislation for the UK ETS is made under the Climate Change Act 2008. The powers are devolved, and therefore exercisable only by the Secretary of State for England and by the respective devolved Administrations for the other nations of the UK. Where all agree, joint legislation can be made for the whole of the UK by the Privy Council. The heart of the matter is that under the terms of that Act, scheme expansion requires an affirmative instrument. The Northern Ireland Assembly has not been able to debate and approve instruments, so it is not currently possible to make legislation that extends to Northern Ireland. The draft order has already been approved by the Scottish Parliament and by the Senedd. If approved by both Houses of Parliament, the order will be submitted to the Privy Council to be made covering Great Britain. Therefore, it is a function of the legislation.

I understand that point; presumably, if an affirmative instrument is required, Ministers cannot make that legislation in the absence of the Assembly’s meeting. However, if I heard the Minister correctly, he said that there were 76 flights in 2019, whereas the shadow Minister, my hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Test, said that the actual figure is a return flight six times a week. My maths is not bad—I got a grade A O-level back in the day—and that is a lot more than 76. Will the Minister clarify that point and write to the Committee with the actual figure and, if there is a disparity, the true level of emissions?

I am sure every member of the Committee will be waiting to hear that, and I am happy to write to confirm it. As it is, it is a relatively small number of flights, given the overall number that go from the UK.

My checking process was probably not as accurate as the entire civil service was able to muster, but it looks to be the case that there is one direct flight between Belfast and Switzerland, and a number of flights that stop in other places. If we believe Skyscanner, that is where the six flights a week come from. But I stand to be corrected; there may be flights that I have missed out that come under that umbrella, and it may be that some of the stopping flights are included.

I have agreed to write with further information, notwithstanding the ability that any of us has to check Skyscanner, and I am happy to do so. However, it was 76 flights in total in 2019, so we are talking about a pretty small issue.

On CORSIA, which I know Members will be keen to hear more about, the UK Government, led by the Department for Transport, consulted on implementing CORSIA in 2021, including six high-level options for how CORSIA could interact with the UK ETS on flights in the scope of both schemes. We are carefully considering the approach to CORSIA implementation and will consult further in due course, seeking to have all legislation for CORSIA in force by 2024.

The UK ETS is regarded in legislation as a fiscal measure, not a regulation. We published an analytical annex with the initial Government response in August 2022. That examined the impact of applying the UK ETS to UK-to-Switzerland flights, so I think that only direct flights are affected. I congratulate the hon. Member for Cardiff West: it is hard to be more arcane than his hon. Friend the shadow Minister, or to have a more detailed grasp or inspection of the factors behind legislation, but on this occasion I think he has achieved it, and I know that he will be pleased to continue the discussion even further.

To save me making another speech—of course, I could—I will just intervene on the Minister. Unusually for him, because he is always very thorough, he has left one loose end, which is my question about who the verifiers will be. I am perfectly happy for him to tie up that loose end later by writing to the Committee, in order that we can have that question answered and we can have properly and thoroughly scrutinised this particular fiscal measure.

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his question. I am sure that, like me, when he was a small boy he was terribly excited when he received a letter addressed to him. I know that other members of the Committee will have a similar childish excitement when they get my letter, in which I will answer that point too, because the verifiers need to be identified properly and effectively.

With no further ado, and with what I can see is the great expectation of the Chair, I commend the draft order to the Committee.

Committee rose.