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Postal Packets (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2023

Volume 831: debated on Wednesday 19 July 2023

Considered in Grand Committee

Moved by

That the Grand Committee do consider the Postal Packets (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2023.

Relevant document: 46th Report from the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee (special attention drawn to the instrument)

My Lords, this statutory instrument will provide United Kingdom authorities with powers in relation to postal packets—parcels—moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. It does nothing more or less than that. It does not itself put in place the wider Windsor Framework arrangements.

These powers are part of delivering what we promised for consumers and businesses in Northern Ireland. They are necessary to ensure that we can implement the Windsor Framework and remove the burdensome regime that the old Northern Ireland protocol would ultimately have required. I am aware of some misunderstanding about what the Windsor Framework requires in respect of parcel movements, so I will attempt to address that also in my opening remarks.

Had it been fully implemented, the Northern Ireland protocol would have required international customs processes for all parcel movements from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. On the new arrangements, it is worth dealing up front with some of the issues where there has perhaps been a misunderstanding about what will be required in future under the Windsor Framework. In short, I would like to provide some reassurances to noble Lords in that regard.

First, someone in Great Britain sending a parcel to their friends and family in Northern Ireland will not need to engage with any customs processes under the Windsor Framework. Nothing will change for those movements, compared with today. Similarly, Northern Ireland recipients of parcels sent by their friends and family in Great Britain will not need to engage with any customs processes. For example, a grandson in Liverpool sending a package to his grandmother in Belfast will not need to do anything new to send the package and his grandmother will not need to do anything new to receive it.

British businesses in Great Britain selling to Northern Ireland consumers will not need to complete customs declarations, international or otherwise, and Northern Ireland consumers buying from sellers in Great Britain, including via online shopping, will not need to engage with any customs processes. They will buy from the seller in Great Britain and receive their goods without doing anything new.

I emphasise that this means the Windsor Framework explicitly removes one of the most onerous requirements on goods being sold to Northern Ireland consumers and, of course, on goods being sent to friends and families. There will be no routine checks or controls applied to parcels, with interventions only on the basis of a risk-based, intelligence-led approach. This means that the overwhelming majority of parcels will not be subject to checks.

I turn to parcels sent from a business in Great Britain to a Northern Ireland business. These will be treated the same as equivalent freight movements: they can be moved through the new green lane where eligible when it is introduced from October 2024. As with freight movements, the green lane will ensure that eligible goods will no longer require international customs processes. They will instead require only the provision of routine commercial information. Movements via the red lane, including goods destined for the EU, will be subject to the customs processes required by the EU, as noble Lords would expect.

The Prime Minister negotiated the Windsor Framework to ensure that consumers and businesses in Northern Ireland—and, indeed, British businesses selling into Northern Ireland—could benefit by protecting internal trade within the UK. The Government need to ensure that the powers of HMRC and Border Force are sufficient to allow them to monitor the rules for movements of parcels and that, where certain requirements are in place, they can be enforced.

The Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee’s report suggested that we clarify the rationale for bringing the instrument into force on 31 August. There is a limited range of prohibited or restricted goods that the UK Government accept are required to comply with EU customs rules today—for example, certain drug precursor chemicals or products derived from or associated with endangered species covered by CITES. HMRC and Border Force cannot currently enforce these requirements, which is why this statutory instrument is needed now rather than in a year. The same powers will be used in respect of the new parcels arrangements that will come into force through the Windsor Framework arrangements for parcels from 30 September 2024. This is so that we are able to determine that parcels destined for the EU can be detected and ensure that they follow the requirements of the red lane.

The committee’s report also noted that arguments had been submitted to it that these regulations would contravene the principle of unfettered access within the UK by introducing a customs border. A submission by the Democratic Unionist Party argues that they would be contrary to the Good Friday agreement.

The Government recognise that there are a range of views on the Windsor Framework. Our view as the Government—as the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland have made clear—is that the arrangements support and protect the Good Friday or Belfast agreement in all its parts. They protect the integrity of the European Union’s single market and Northern Ireland’s place in the United Kingdom’s internal market. These regulations are discrete and relate solely to powers available to HMRC and Border Force. That said, I hope I have provided some reassurance about what the Windsor Framework does and does not require, and therefore what the powers granted by the regulations will be used to monitor and enforce.

The report also notes the absence of a public consultation. It is the Government’s view that a public consultation on an SI of such limited scope is unnecessary. The instrument implements requirements under the Windsor Framework that have been discussed extensively. The Treasury and HMRC continue to engage with a wide range of businesses and sectors, and indeed with fast parcel operators, on both this SI and the wider Windsor Framework.

In summary, the parcel arrangements set out under the Windsor Framework are a significant improvement when compared with the requirements under the old Northern Ireland protocol. But as well as comparing them with what the protocol would have required, it is vital to understand how little will change compared with the status quo for the vast majority of Northern Ireland parcel recipients and those in Great Britain sending goods to them. This statutory instrument is not a barrier but an enabler to the agreement that we have negotiated. I therefore beg to move.

My Lords, I thank the Minister for outlining the purposes of the regulations before us. As noble Lords probably know, just the other day this was a matter of some heated debate in a Delegated Legislation Committee in the other place, and was subject to a vote in that House yesterday evening. Some consternation was expressed in the other place about the manner in which the Government had removed Members from that committee and replaced them with those who would vote these regulations through, but that is a matter for another day and it can be followed by reading Hansard on those committee proceedings.

The Minister said probably the most significant thing at the very end of her speech: these regulations facilitate the Windsor Framework. A lot of the debate is about the benefits of the Windsor Framework compared with the protocol as originally agreed, but the regulations before us are not about implementing the Windsor Framework; they are purely about creating the border for parcels between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. After that, we come on to the Windsor Framework, which is all about the EU law in which it decided, after discussions, to reduce the requirements that would normally be in place to move parcels into the EU for Northern Ireland.

But that is not what is before this Committee. Before this Committee is purely the creation of the parcels border. Whatever the EU then decides to do, whether by agreement or unilaterally, is facilitated by that border. It is our job as parliamentarians to examine the actual regulations before us, not necessarily today, although we can comment on them. The Windsor Framework proposals, which are in EU legislation, are separate, but I will reference them and no doubt they will be referenced by other speakers in this Committee.

The regulations treat Northern Ireland as if it is a foreign country for the purposes of moving parcels. They put in place another piece of the jigsaw of the Irish Sea border. They do not ameliorate or remove it; this is a new creation that is not here at present. Their effect is to separate Northern Ireland from the rest of the United Kingdom in the sense of placing it outside the same single market as Great Britain for postal purposes.

They amend the Postal Services Act 2000 and the Postal Packets (Revenue and Customs) Regulations 2011, so that movements from Great Britain to Northern Ireland cease to be unfettered within the same single market and become fettered by a customs barrier that effectively divides them into two single markets. As a consequence of the legislation before the Committee, postal packages destined for Northern Ireland from Great Britain have to be placed in the same group as packages destined for foreign countries. The definition of “export” is changed to include movements from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. Reference to the United Kingdom has to be removed so that the only references in play are Great Britain and Northern Ireland, with the UK single postal market terminated.

It is very important to differentiate what will happen in future as a result of what the EU law happens to be—remember, it will be EU law that determines what happens as far as the Windsor Framework is concerned—from the changes to law secured by these regulations. Having presented these changes as being about the Windsor Framework rather than what the regulations actually do, I think it is important to point out the constitutional implications. Parliament is not passing EU legislation whereby the EU unilaterally says that it will not press home its rights in relation to private parcels. In these regulations, the Government are proposing a border against which the EU has the right to press its full rights, or less than its full rights. At present, under the Windsor Framework, the EU has determined that it will not press its full rights in relation to parcels, but if it ever has a change of heart there will be nothing in this legislation, or any UK legislation, that will provide any kind of safeguard, because we have created a border between Great Britain and Northern Ireland for these purposes.

The EU has made it clear that it reserves the right to withdraw at any time from the trusted trader scheme, which means we would be left with the full impact of these regulations dividing our country. We have to take it that in the future the EU will decide not to implement its full rights as far as the moving of parcels is concerned. But in the past we have seen decisions taken unilaterally by the EU—for instance, in relation to its proposal to prevent vaccines being moved into Northern Ireland—so this is not unprecedented or unimaginable; it could happen. If it decides to withdraw from the trusted trader scheme, by default we end up in a situation in which the full panoply of EU rules applies to all movements of parcels—that is in the Windsor Framework.

These regulations create a border and facilitate the imposition of EU laws on Northern Ireland. If anyone has any doubt about that, look at the EU question and answer guidance on the Windsor Framework, which makes it very clear that the EU can at any time withdraw support from the trusted trader scheme, with the effect that all goods movements between Great Britain and Northern Ireland will be subject to the so-called red lane. It has to be said that the EU question and answer documents and associated papers go into much more detail and have proved much more accurate than what the Government put out in relation to these matters.

We are going to be totally reliant on EU law and, even as it stands, that is unacceptable. Why should businesses sending to other businesses within the United Kingdom be subject to full EU customs procedures and checks? We are conceding our rights as a nation for the future. Whether Northern Ireland consumers and businesses experience the full disruption of the border is entirely dependent on the attitude of the EU, which can change the legislation that currently moderates its approach to the border if it withdraws its support in the relevant articles of the legislation I referred to earlier.

The constitutional implications are stark, and they contradict what the Prime Minister said about the removal of any sense of a border in the Irish Sea. How can it possibly be claimed that that is true? He claimed that it would be as easy to move goods from Birmingham to Belfast as from Birmingham to the Isle of Wight. Again, that is simply not true, even within the terms of the current proposals of the Windsor Framework, because business-to-business movements are clearly subject to full custom checks and goods do not move in the same way as in the rest of the United Kingdom.

It would be good if we had a straightforward analysis and explanation rather than this continual attempt to pretend that everything is fine and nobody will notice. That is simply not the case. The DUP quite reasonably set tests that were based word for word on utterances and statements made by various Prime Ministers since the protocol was introduced. One of them was to remove the Irish Sea border, but here we have in this legislation, which is part of the Windsor Framework that is claimed to meet our tests, the building of a border in the Irish Sea for the purposes of these movements.

For those reasons we oppose this statutory instrument, and we will continue to press the Government to restore Northern Ireland’s full rights as part of the United Kingdom and the rights of all citizens of Northern Ireland to equal citizenship in this United Kingdom.

There are other matters that could be raised. The 46th report of the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee asks a number of very detailed questions about why it is thought that these regulations are so urgent when they will not be implemented until autumn 2024. It is incumbent on the Government to set out in detail today their answers to the committee’s important questions.

It is not the first time that the Government have sought to rush through secondary legislation in relation to these types of matters. We had it with the so-called Stormont brake, on which the committee was not even able to do its business properly because the time was so constrained, and yet there was no particular urgency on that either. What is the urgency to introduce this today? Why have the Government not responded to the important questions set out in the scrutiny committee’s 46th report?

My Lords, I declare my interest as a member of the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee, which has looked at this statutory instrument in some detail. As the Minister said, we had several questions and we are still seeking clarification. I am also a member of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland Sub-Committee.

I support the Windsor Framework and appreciate that this statutory instrument addresses business-to-business customs checks. For the wholeness of this debate, it is important that we in Northern Ireland can avail ourselves of our unique opportunities, being a member of the UK internal market and able to access the EU single market. There are major economic opportunities there, and the people of Northern Ireland should see them fully utilised and realised in order to underpin our economy.

Recently, I saw some interesting figures about economies within the UK. Northern Ireland was quite far down the scale, but it came up to about number 2 earlier this year. A contributory factor was us in Northern Ireland being able to avail ourselves of both markets.

Although I support this statutory instrument, I have several questions. The noble Lord, Lord Dodds, referred to the burdens being placed on business. We members of your Lordships’ committee on the protocol and the Windsor Framework have just completed our report, which will be published next week. We looked at labelling. Will the parcels have to indicate that they are not for the EU and therefore not going through a certain lane? There are potential burdens and expenses there for businesses in Britain, and that has to be explored. What discussions have taken place with potential businesses? What information is available to them about requirements and practical arrangements?

My queries about the statutory instrument relate to the process of compiling it—the very issues raised by our standing committee on statutory instruments. I have several questions concerning three points. The measures that allow powers in relation to existing requirements, as opposed to those deriving from the Windsor Framework, have not been well explained. Why is this the case? Will a better explanation be provided for businesses? The noble Baroness referred to existing requirements in her concluding remarks about the dates for this to come into force, but what are those existing arrangements? The noble Lord, Lord Dodds, referred to this.

Why do the powers to enforce those arrangements not currently exist? Why are they needed, and what do the “appropriate powers”, which are now being taken, mean in practice? As a consequence of representations made by our committee, a revised Explanatory Memorandum was laid on 6 July and referred to “restricted goods” and better managing “any risks of smuggling”. Can the Minister provide further clarification and elucidation of this?

On the details of this coming into force, which the Minister referred to at the end, I note that the statutory instrument says that it will come into force on 31 August 2023. But others suggest that the arrangements will not come into force until September 2024, so why the urgency in scrutiny before parliamentary recess? What powers are being introduced that have effect before 30 September 2024 and why are they needed now? Do these relate to the existing arrangements and requirements?

Why was there no consultation with businesses, either in Britain or Northern Ireland? Why not consult on how the changes will be implemented? If it will affect only a small sector, would it not have been prudent to have a consultation? Why the lack of an impact assessment? Some who made comments to our committee raised the lack of an impact assessment. From memory, I believe that the Road Haulage Association, which will be directly involved in a lot of this, indicated that.

The regulations introduce quite specific changes in relation to customs procedures. What will the impact be and how will the changes ushered in by the regulations be funded and resourced in terms of staff? Will additional funds be provided for them? It is important that, in all this, additional challenges and burdens are not placed on businesses; and that any such challenges or burdens are mitigated to allow businesses to avail themselves of the good opportunities that I believe they can avail themselves of through access to the UK internal market and the EU single market. I do not think that things should be placed here in a punitive way.

I realise that I have asked certain questions. I look forward to the Minister’s answers.

The approach taken to this statutory instrument, both in this House and when it was introduced earlier this week in another place, has very much been one of, “No worries, there’s nothing to see here”. As with a car crash at the side of the road, we have been directed that there is nothing really to worry us. Indeed, in another place, the Minister tried to give an assurance that this is

“a very, very small SI”.—[Official Report, Commons, Second Delegated Legislation Committee, 17/7/23; col. 16.]

When this instrument was introduced in the other place, reference was made on four occasions to the fact that no change is being made, or words to that effect. That phrase has been echoed today by the Minister here, yet I suggest that significant changes are being made. For example, as has been mentioned, for the first time ever, parcels moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland will be put in a separate category and categorised alongside parcels from a foreign third country. For the first time ever, the UK market is being divided between the rest of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, but we are told that there is no change. For the first time ever, parcels going from Great Britain to Northern Ireland will be categorised and defined in the same way as exports and imports but, again, we are told that no change is being made. These are not simply changes in processes that could be dropped at the whim of any Minister. These are being put in place directly in the law of the land via legislation.

Similarly, let us look at the wording of the regulations. The Explanatory Note makes reference to the fact that part of the purpose of the regulations is

“to make provision to apply such enactments relating to customs and excise as are for the time being in force to goods contained in postal packets sent from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, and to ensure that duties and other charges payable in connection with such postal packets are recoverable by the postal operator concerned”.

They will give directly a power to impose customs duties and a financial burden, albeit one that will supposedly be reimbursed, yet we are told that there is no real change here.

In their boast, the Government also tell us that this SI is an improvement on the protocol. In some ways it is, although we should always remember who brought about the protocol in the first place. The remarkable extent to which the Government are distancing themselves from the protocol that they negotiated is unusual in and of itself but the great boast of the Government—reiterated in both Houses—is that an individual sending a parcel to a friend or family member in Northern Ireland can do so without having to fill in customs declarations. They say we should be grateful that a granny in Liverpool is able to send something to her grandchild in Belfast. However, we should also remember that that is on the basis, as has been particularly referenced in EU legislation recently, of an exemption. The opportunity for the granny to do this is at the grace and favour of the European Union. There is a clear diminution of sovereignty yet we are told that, like grateful natives, we ought to be suitably delighted that this has been given to us.

Similarly, it has been indicated that if a business is sending a package to an individual consumer there will no customs declarations required, but I seek some information from the Minister. For a business to do that, will it have to be part of a trusted trader scheme? Also, because it is put on the same basis as freight, presumably any business-to-business supply could be only where that business is part of the trusted trader scheme.

Leaving aside the general concerns that we have with that, some movements—particularly if we talk about something that is to be moved in a parcel—may be very infrequent between two businesses in different parts of the United Kingdom. Many businesses will come to the conclusion that going through the bureaucracy of having to join a trusted trader scheme for an occasional movement of goods to Northern Ireland is simply not worth it. What we are likely to see, which is also part of the purpose of what has been put in place, is diversion of trade. People and businesses will simply seek to source from outside the United Kingdom.

It has also been indicated in another House that the new powers to be given to HMRC and Border Force are to stop illicit goods—a very accurate but misleading term—moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. Let us remember that we are talking about giving powers to Border Force for movements entirely within the United Kingdom—from one part of it to another. When one talks of illicit goods, it conjures up a mental image of drug packages or another form of something illegal. But the powers already exist to stop movements of those goods, so when we talk about illicit goods we are really talking about goods that contravene what the EU says. This is not for something entering the single market but within the internal UK market.

I note that the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee has mentioned the question, which has not been answered particularly satisfactorily, of why, despite the fact that provisions are due to take place in 2024, these regulations are effectively being brought in now. When pressed on that in another place, the Minister gave two examples. One was: what if hazardous substances were being moved about? If hazardous substances were being moved by parcel, that should be a concern if it was moving from Glasgow to London, let alone coming into Northern Ireland. I am not quite sure why a provision needs to be put in place for that.

The other example given in another place was the risk of blood diamonds being moved. I have not had a recent conversation with my local postman. I am not altogether sure that they would tell me that they are burdened each day with blood diamonds moving from Sierra Leone or Liberia through Great Britain—because it would have to be there—and then on to Northern Ireland, with the risk of them moving into the EU. But supposedly, that is the excuse as to why these additional powers need to be given. Again, we are told there are no real changes.

Finally, in another place there was a subject of much controversy. This statutory instrument is so innocuous that the Government took the unprecedented step of removing five of their own MPs from the committee that was scrutinising it. One of the MPs said that whenever he indicated any level of scepticism towards it, he was first asked whether he would be happy enough to remove himself from the committee. When he said that he was not, he was then told, “Perhaps you want to take a week off—have a week’s holiday”. I think that MP missed a trick because, if they had held out with the Whips, perhaps the soon to be vacant post at the Ministry of Defence could have been lobbed in their direction as a reward for not being on the committee.

That is against the background that we should all be relaxed, as there is no real change. Rather than that argument, there is an equally strong argument that it changes everything for our sovereignty or is the first step towards that. I simply say to the Government that we are opposed to this statutory instrument, but it is high time that they, instead of doubling down and pretending with spin that everything is perfect, actually face the realities and make the changes that need to take place to restore the internal market of the United Kingdom. Once those changes are properly made and the union is restored, we can begin to see proper progress in Northern Ireland.

My Lords, in as short a time as a few months, noble Lords will realise just how serious these regulations are. It will be the first of many statutory instruments that result from the Windsor Framework or, indirectly or directly, from the European Union’s attitude to it. As we all know if we read the Windsor Framework, and what the Government and the EU said, they are very different. Even on these postal packets regulations, it is very different.

A number of noble Lords referred to what the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee said about why there is a rush—why the hurry? Why the Government want to rush this through is very straightforward. They know that, as time goes on and there is more detail, scrutiny and need to work with this in, for example, sub-post offices across the country or through customs officials, we will see that this is not right. It is not going to work. They want to get it through.

It has been mentioned, so I do not want to go into what happened in more detail. I sat through the committee on this SI in the other place, and it is absolutely shocking that our Government have so little confidence in their own Members that they had to remove five of them because they knew that they would not get their support. That was because those Members had read it. They had read it and listened, and they knew what they needed to do, because what the Government had decided was not right or good for the people of Northern Ireland and certainly not for the union.

These regulations are, without doubt, changing the status of Northern Ireland such that it is being treated as a foreign country and a foreign part of the administration of the United Kingdom. For some people, that is fine. Some people do not really care about Northern Ireland. Let us face it: there are an awful lot of Members, not necessarily in this House but in Parliament generally, who probably think, “Oh, Northern Ireland—what a nuisance. If only we could forget about it”. This is precisely what many people who do not care about Northern Ireland want to see happening—this dividing, this moving, this drip, drip, drip taking Northern Ireland further and further from the rest of the United Kingdom.

Imagine a young person coming to this country as a student, sending a parcel. The Government are saying that it will not be very different, but we know that the European Union will eventually decide whether even individual parcels from person to person will need authorisation from somewhere. That is not for the person at the moment, but someone in the sub-post office will have to get the authorisation and that is going to cost money. Who is going to pay for that? There are business-to-business costs from that. More and more costs mean more businesses in Great Britain being clear that they will not bother sending things to Northern Ireland. This is happening already and is going to happen even more.

Imagine a young student coming over here to England and deciding to send a parcel to their grandfather. They will be told that they are sending it to a foreign country. That is quite outrageous. The instrument has the same instruction for Regulations 5, 6, 9, 15, 20 and 21, namely to insert

“and all GB-NI postal packets”

after “foreign postal packets”. It is quite outrageous that people in Northern Ireland who have given so much loyalty to this country—so many people died during world wars—are now being repaid by this glibness around how they are treated.

Many of my colleagues from Northern Ireland, from all parties, have put down lots of questions. I find it shameful that, every time, we get waffly answers that do not tell the truth. The Government skim around the issue. They will not answer in black and white because they know that answering in black and white tells us the truth. When I asked a Written Question some weeks ago about parcels to Northern Ireland, the Minister—the noble Baroness, Lady Penn—answered me very clearly. She said:

“The Windsor Framework safeguards parcel movements and maintains business as usual for Northern Ireland consumers, removing any need for international customs processes”.

That is typically deceptive—we can use that word here—because it is not saying that the Government have removed customs. Contrary to what is claimed, they have not done so. They have further embedded the Irish Sea customs border because they have removed international customs processes. That is almost inaccurate as well because, in the 2023 regulations, trade from GB to NI is now to be treated as the equivalent of exporting to a foreign country. Therefore, how can the customs declaration required even for goods that are not at risk of entering the EU be described as anything other than the international customs process?

I could go on for a long time but I appreciate that that will make no difference as the Government have decided to ram this through. However, I have three questions for the Minister; I would appreciate it if she could answer them specifically. First, can she confirm that the legal reality via the regulations is that Northern Ireland will be treated in the same category as a foreign country? Secondly, can she confirm that goods moving from GB to Northern Ireland will be treated as exports leaving GB and imports arriving in Northern Ireland, in the same way that foreign exports and imports are treated? One has only to read the regulations to see that that is obvious so, thirdly, how can the Government argue with any semblance of credibility that they have removed the Irish Sea border?

My Lords, I thank the Minister for outlining these regulations as she and the Government desire to present them. As we look closer at them, and upon further investigation, we know that the reality for people living in Northern Ireland will be quite different.

What does the Minister think Northern Ireland’s constitutional position is? Is it a part of the United Kingdom or not? In reality, all the Government are doing through this statutory instrument, these regulations, is strengthening opposition to the Windsor Framework within the unionist population in Northern Ireland because people are seeing the unfolding of the reality. The reality is that the Windsor Framework was sold by the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on spin, not reality.

These regulations directly contradict what the Prime Minister stated when introducing the Windsor Framework on 27 February, namely that it

“removes any sense of a border in the Irish Sea”.

That is a very clear statement. So, does it? In reality, the framework deepens the border in the Irish Sea rather than removing it and does so without there being any redeeming upside in the regulations, which the Government claim exist and existed in the Stormont brake SI.

The regulations have been the subject of a critical report from the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee, which called attention to them on the grounds of there being no consultation or impact assessment. It also highlighted the Government’s refusal to answer key questions about the regulations, which creates the clear impression that they are hiding something.

The fact that the Government seek to hide the true implications of these regulations is reflected in the answers that they provided to the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee. Specifically, they claim that the impact of the regulations is modest and that they just need to be able to give HMRC and the border agency powers to detain and seize illicit movements. In an effort to change the subject, they go on to talk about the introduction of a “green lane” for packages on 1 October. Specifically, they say that their purpose is to secure the integrity of the Windsor Framework by

“ensuring that Border Force and HMRC have powers to detain, inspect, and seize goods moved illicitly in parcels from GB to NI”.

It is interesting that, when the committee in the other place discussed this, attention was drawn to the Minister’s reply that she was concerned about “hazardous” substances, “invasive species” and other things mentioned in the Explanatory Memorandum being transferred by post from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. However, would the Minister not be concerned about them being transferred in parcels from London to Scotland or to Wales? If the regulations are all about protecting markets, why are the Government singling out Northern Ireland?

It sounds reasonable that provision should be made so that the requisite authorities can detain illicit movements, for example of drugs, in parcels but, through the deployment of “illicit”, these words conceal the fact that what is in view is not the movement of drugs and the like but, rather, any goods movements across the border created by these regulations that is in violation of them—movements that are perfectly legal today and just part of what being in the same single market means. Therefore, rather than restoring Northern Ireland’s place in the United Kingdom single market, these regulations give effect to the additional sense in which Northern Ireland is placed outside the single market, which is increasingly becoming a Great Britain single market.

The simple effect of these regulations is to build in the Irish Sea a border that currently does not exist, in relation to which full customs requirements can be made. The consequences of this include packets going from Great Britain to Northern Ireland having to be put in the same category as foreign packages. That is why I asked this question: where does the Minister see Northern Ireland? Is it a foreign country, a third country, or is it a full constituent part of the United Kingdom, equal to every other part? The definition of “exporting” is being changed to include movements from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, replacing references to “the United Kingdom” with “Great Britain”. On the question about what the Minister thinks, empty words and rhetoric will not be sufficient because this is reality. These regulations—the statutory instrument—are reality.

The Minister and the Government mentioned the Belfast agreement—I have no doubt that others will before this debate is finished—and how it is so important to protect it. It constitutes international law. At the heart of the agreement is the following statement:

“acknowledge that while a substantial section of the people in Northern Ireland share the legitimate wish of a majority of the people of the island of Ireland for a united Ireland, the present wish of a majority of the people of Northern Ireland, freely exercised and legitimate, is to maintain the Union and, accordingly, that Northern Ireland’s status as part of the United Kingdom reflects and relies upon that wish; and that it would be wrong to make any change in the status of Northern Ireland save with the consent of a majority of its people”.

I believe that the Postal Packets (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2023 plainly change the status of Northern Ireland such that it is to be treated as foreign with respect to the rest of the United Kingdom for some custom purposes. That is totally wrong and is deeply offensive to the people of Northern Ireland who, as the noble Baroness, Lady Hoey, mentioned a few moments ago, sacrificed so much——many of them gave their lives—to remain part of this great, cherished United Kingdom.

My Lords, I rise to speak briefly about another milestone in what I see as the postal service’s disaster this week. I listened very carefully to what noble Lords said about the parcel service, or lack of, between Britain and Northern Ireland, but the other disaster is what many people call the most widespread injustice in British legal history, which is the Horizon IT inquiry. Will we have post offices at all in the future and will they operate properly? It is a very serious issue. The chair of the inquiry, Sir Wyn Williams, published his first interim report on 17 July, which is well documented in the Guardian today. I will give a few highlights of this long-running matter, which has been going on for 20 to 30 years. There are comments that Post Office staff were grouping the suspected postmasters, most of whom have been demonstrated to be innocent, by the colour of their skin. I find it quite extraordinary that this can happen in this century—this was in 2011.

My Lords, the Division Bell is ringing, so let us suspend proceedings for eight minutes. Scamper off, rush back, and we will carry on.

Sitting suspended for a Division in the House.

I shall be quick, my Lords, because we have been at this for some time.

I was just saying that the Post Office has been continuing to prosecute innocent people. Suddenly, it has found 4,767 new documents, which will of course have to go into the inquiry, delaying it further. I suggest that it is not co-operating at all fully with the inquiry. Nevertheless, its chief executive got a bonus of £455,000 last year, so he must be all right. Fifty executives also got bonuses relating to the inquiry. I ask the Minister this, very gently: can the Government finally get a grip of this organisation? Most importantly, will they read the start of Wyn Williams’s report, which was published yesterday and says that the compensation schemes are running late? It also states:

“Under the legislation now in force all payments of compensation … must be made by 7 August 2024. My current view is that this will not be achieved”.

That is a terrible reflection on Ministers over the years—it is not just the present lot but many other people—but I hope that the Minister can give us some comfort that, once and for all, the Government will get a grip of this horrible project.

My Lords, it will spare the blushes of the noble Lords, Lord Dodds and Lord Weir, for them not yet to be in their places to hear me say that I agree with everything that they said. The debate that we have had, while more respectful and with more decorum than the extraordinary scenes in the committee of the House of Commons on Monday, does not undermine the seriousness of the measures that we are being asked to approve. “Yes Minister” could probably have had an episode on how to bring forward regulations with considerable impact and long-term consequences, but with an innocuous title, by taking powers very early, before they are necessary, without consulting those who have to implement them and without giving any data on their likely impact and, as a security measure, removing members of a committee which is asked to approve the regulations because you know that they will be significantly concerned about them.

I hope that this is not a trend. As the Minister said, this is not about implementing the Windsor Framework, but I hope that it does not start a precedent for how the Windsor Framework will be implemented. We were told, notwithstanding noble Lords’ concerns in a debate that we had on the Windsor Framework and the view of the noble Baroness, Lady Ritchie, on the wider issue with the framework, that it was starting a new chapter. I hoped that that new chapter would be about transparency, openness, consultation, trying to build consensus, notwithstanding how difficult it would be, and bringing people with the Government on implementation, but this is in stark contrast to the way forward.

Stephen Farry MP intervened on the Minister on Monday calling for support for the business community in GB trading with Northern Ireland. I reiterate that call. It is necessary to carry on the support that is being provided to businesses to overcome some of the difficulties in the Government’s initial protocol so that they can overcome the difficulties that they will face with the implementation of the Windsor Framework. The Road Haulage Association said very clearly that this measure will bring new burdens on business and add to bureaucracy. That is not unfettering. The noble Lord, Lord Dodds, was absolutely correct: this is fettering internal UK trade.

The Minister in the House of Commons said that this SI was the result of “a hard compromise”. That language was not used by the Minister here. It is, to some extent, more honest to say that it results from a hard compromise but when the Government have made that compromise, they then have to own it and act honestly and openly.

Let me give one example of where there is still confusion. I commend the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee’s report. I hope the Minister will have clear responses to its strong recommendations and concerns. They were not made lightly, as the noble Baroness, Lady Ritchie, indicated, but followed proper consideration from a balanced perspective. That should be taken into consideration.

The Government used the example of a granny in GB sending a birthday parcel to her granddaughter in Northern Ireland. That would not be affected by this SI, but if the granny used online purchasing from a company that then used another company to dispatch the parcel to the granddaughter, it would be covered by the SI. We do not live in the 19th century as far as how people send parcels. The Government need to be clear about the estimated number of parcels that are likely to fall under each of the lanes, the percentage that will now be opened for checks and the likely impact on the businesses that would be dispatching and receiving them. The Minister in the House of Commons said that the Government could provide only estimates at this stage, and there is no impact assessment, as there should have been.

On a previous occasion in Committee the noble Lord, Lord Dodds, raised the issue of measures. The Minister said that this is not about implementing the framework agreement but, conveniently, it is about implementing it in order to get out of having an impact assessment. The Government have said that an impact assessment is not needed because, as the Minister said, this is so limited in scope. When it affects all parcels being sent from GB to NI, it is not limited in scope; and when the definition of those will now have to be inserted after “foreign postal packets”, that is not limited in scope either. When will the Government provide the detailed information about the impact of all that is likely to be covered by these regulations?

Furthermore, will all those parcels deemed to go into the red lane be checked? The Minister in the House of Commons indicated that only a small proportion—5%—of parcels will be checked. That is not unfettered, but what will the process for the red lane be and who will decide on the rules and whether parcels will be checked? I understand that it will be the EU. A foreign power will be making determinations of whether internal UK postal services will be checked, under the authority of that foreign power. Can the Minister just clarify when in our nation’s history this has ever happened?

The Minister in the House of Commons also said that businesses were waiting to be informed about how they will operate this, but the Government have not consulted them, so what process is under way now to inform businesses of the considerable likely burdens and bureaucracies that the Road Haulage Association has highlighted? Where is a definitive list of those goods that will be singled out for differential treatment—goods going from Birmingham to Belfast, compared to those going from Exeter to Edinburgh? When will a business know about the differential treatment for what a sender wishes to dispatch?

How will parcels that are sent for onward delivery be covered? If a parcel is sent for an intermediary—a manufacturer, for example—from Exeter to Edinburgh and then from Edinburgh to Belfast, what lanes will be used for that purpose? How many businesses and packages do the Government estimate will have to be covered overall?

The lack of an impact assessment is very significant, and I hope that the Government will think again on future measures. As the noble Baroness, Lady Ritchie, indicated—I agree strongly with her on this—without consultation or preparation, why are the Government seeking to have these powers now, in the absence of proper consideration for when they are going to be operable? Unfortunately, the Government are not making improvements on the current situation, because the current situation is under the grace period. The Government are indicating that we are in a better position than we would have been if we had implemented the protocol, but they have told us time and time again that they would not fully implement the protocol because of the mechanisms and infrastructure that needed to be put in place. What is the Government’s position now, and is this the final implementation of regulations when it comes to post? One estimate is that 75% of parcels will have to go through the red lane, because they will not be able to be defined definitively as going through the green lane, so what is the Government’s position?

I will also ask about a connected issue: what about the goods in the parcels? Because this covers business to business, they will not always be direct-to-consumer deliveries. It will often be business-to-business trade, which will then enter the Northern Ireland market. If that is the case, the Government are saying that, by December next year, they will all have to be separately marked with the UKNI conformity assessment marking. This has been delayed three times because it has been clear to absolutely everybody, apart from the Government until they announced a delay, that it was not workable. But the Government say that there are no longer any delays and that any good entering the Northern Ireland market for retail in that market will have to have a UKNI mark on it. At the same time, businesses are going to have to operate two lanes; they will have to decide on its end result.

Regardless of anyone’s position on the framework and of the deeply held views about Northern Ireland’s position within our union, this is no way to make legislation for a significant part of our union. I hope that the Government respond positively to the serious conclusions of the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee, and I hope that the way they conducted these regulations is not repeated.

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Purvis, is correct to emphasise what the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee observed about timing and the lack of consultation and impact assessment; of course, that is important, and I am sure that the Minister will want to respond to it fully. The reason it is so important is not just because it is our job to ask those questions, which we ask frequently; it is because, particularly in the matters before us today—as we heard, issues of Northern Ireland’s place within the union have been raised, as a consequence of the sense that this is being rushed or is not being done adequately—it is beholden on the Government to make an extra effort to make sure that this is done in a way that is beyond reproach, as far as Ministers are able.

These regulations implement part of the Windsor Framework, which we support. The Minister knows this, and we have been clear about it. We think it is a far better solution than that which was arrived at previously with the Northern Ireland protocol. It is also better than the approach that the Government sought to take with the protocol Bill, which we spent many weeks discussing earlier this year. Brexit brought us to this place. A solution needed to be found, and there was always going to be this kind of unsatisfactory compromise on Northern Ireland. This was raised before the vote took place. As we all know and have repeatedly said, Northern Ireland voted to remain and a solution needed to be found. I am afraid that this is probably the least worst option that we can land on at the moment.

Consumer-to-consumer parcels and business-to-consumer parcels will not be subject to regulations, and business-to-business goods intended to remain in the UK will use the green lane, while other goods will be subject to declarations and checks. We know that life will not be that simple and that there will be complications—in the real world, things will not always work as anticipated—and there will have to be some recognition of that as we go forward. The questions raised by the noble Lord, Lord Purvis, will have to be answered—if not today, then in the execution of this. That is life, and that is how we will have to approach this. But, having come to the point of securing an agreement, which was approved by the other place by 515 votes to 29, it is incumbent on the Government to make good on what they agreed.

My noble friend Lady Ritchie spoke of the opportunities for Northern Ireland from its unique position, and she asked important questions about the advice and support for businesses that will have to navigate these new arrangements. Is HMRC adequately prepared and resourced to make this work, and can the Minister explain how the green lane will be policed? The noble Lord, Lord Purvis, described the EU as a foreign power, which it is, but it has our consent and agreement. This is the arrangement that we have come to with our negotiating partners. There were other options: the Northern Ireland protocol was the one that was settled on by Boris Johnson and the noble Lord, Lord Frost. We all agreed that it was unsatisfactory —no one seemed particularly happy with that outcome—and here we have moved on to something that is an improvement.

I completely accept what our friends the noble Lords, Lord McCrea and Lord Dodds, had to say. I understand the challenge, but I find myself searching for an alternative viable solution. I know that one could have been that we all stayed in the customs union or the single market, but that is not the position of any of the main political parties and I believe it is not the position of the DUP. The noble Lord, Lord Dodds, may correct me if I am wrong about that—here he comes now.

I thank the noble Baroness for giving way. On alternatives, I refer her to the report by our Select Committee on the protocol, on which I have the honour to serve along with the noble Baroness, Lady Ritchie. In July last year, it said—I do not have the precise reference, but I can supply it—that, in relation to parcels, the solution was to continue as with the grace period, and that there should be no fettering of parcel deliveries between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The cross-party Select Committee did suggest a very good solution—one that, unfortunately, the Government decided not to run with.

I read that report and I commend the noble Lord for bringing it to our attention, but we cannot arrive at a solution unilaterally, as the United Kingdom. Whatever solution we arrive at must be agreed with our negotiating partners. I was not part of that negotiation but, from what Ministers have indicated, it would seem they were not able, at this point, to settle on that with the European Union. We can regret that, but it is the reality of where we are. We are surely in the business of dealing with reality as we find it, not as we would wish it to be.

It really ought to be a priority for the Government to rebuild trust. I would urge far more candour and a franker approach when we discuss these issues, and not to do anything which would give the impression that we are somehow trying to steamroller these things through. Can the Minister explain exactly what a business would have to do to become part of the trusted trader scheme, so we are clear about exactly what we are asking businesses to do? We completely understand the dissatisfaction that some have with the framework but there is, at the moment, no other viable alternative solution.

I am not going to comment on the mismanagement of the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments and the debate that took place in the other place. I read Hansard and found the way it was conducted extraordinary, but that is not for me to manage. This is clearly not business as usual; it is different and unique. There have always been differences, which were previously brought to the fore regarding animals and other things, but it is obvious that some contributors this afternoon feel there is somehow a threat to their constitutional position, and we cannot be relaxed about that. We have to recognise that and take it seriously. I disagree; I am British and if I moved to Belfast I would still be equally as British. I might have to fill in some forms if I wanted to receive goods from a business in GB to my business. I could live with that without a threat to my Britishness, but is it not for me to tell other noble Lords how they should feel about it, and they are quite right to bring those points to the attention of the Committee.

I could not agree more strongly with those who said that what we need is a frank and open discussion, and perhaps a change of tone and being a little more relaxed as a Government about all this. I know we have had some torrid debates on these issues in recent years and that the protocol was a disaster. Things have happened and things were said; promises were made, but they should not have been because they were broken knowingly and very quickly. We have damaged our international reputation as a good partner to negotiate with and I regret that very much but, with a change of attitude from the Government, and a more respectful approach to colleagues in Northern Ireland and to this House, we could move forward in a much more positive way.

My Lords, I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Chapman, on the approach that this Government should, and want to, take to implementing the provisions in the Windsor Framework. The noble Baroness described it as the least worst option for Northern Ireland; the Government describe it as the best option. In reality, there is not a gap between them, because it does restore the smooth flow of trade and protect Northern Ireland’s place in the union. It also delivers a robust framework for solving future issues, as we know they will come up.

The framework delivers by enabling smooth trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, resolving the problems that were undermining Northern Ireland’s place in our union and fixing the democratic deficit which has seen Northern Ireland have no say in its laws. It is worth responding at the outset that while we may disagree on the Windsor Framework in this Committee, it is important to be clear that with regard to the approach taken by the Government in the framework and the accusation that it reflects the fact that the Government do not care about Northern Ireland, the opposite is true. The effort put into negotiating for Northern Ireland by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister, and many others across government, is because we care deeply about Northern Ireland and its place in our union.

To provide an answer and reassurance to the noble Lord, Lord McCrea, Northern Ireland is a full part of the United Kingdom in every sense, and we negotiated the Windsor Framework to protect the UK’s internal market and trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. We are confident that the framework does this. We reject the claim that the Windsor Framework changes Northern Ireland’s status within the UK.

Nevertheless, while I acknowledge the range of views on the framework in this debate, I encourage noble Lords to recognise the nature of what this statutory instrument provides. It is solely about the powers available to HMRC and Border Force to ensure the improvements in respect of parcels that we have secured through the Windsor Framework are delivered. Focusing on what this SI does provides, in part, some of the answers to the questions put forward to the Committee today. Noble Lords are right that the provisions relating to parcels will come into force at the end of September 2024 and that there is more work to be done in implementing those provisions. That work will be taken forward by the Government, HMRC and the Treasury, working with businesses in Great Britain and Northern Ireland and having discussions with them.

The Minister was describing the work and who would actually be involved in it. Can she provide the Committee with a little more detail about the type of work? Maybe she could elucidate that.

I was going to come later to ongoing co-operation with businesses in Northern Ireland and Great Britain, in terms of implementing the provisions when it comes to parcels. For example, we are working through in detail with the couriers and the people who take a lot of this traffic on how we can make it as seamless as possible. If I have anything further to add in my speech, I will do so later.

In respect of the point from the noble Lord, Lord Dodds, on this statutory instrument being about creating a border between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, as I said just now and in my opening speech, this instrument does not put in place the Windsor Framework arrangements. The noble Lord is right that that has already happened, but we disagree that the Windsor Framework or these regulations separate Northern Ireland from Great Britain in the way that he describes. The regulations do not treat movements from Great Britain to Northern Ireland as exports or movements from one country to another; they make some powers that are available in respect of international movements available in respect of movements from GB to NI. However, it is not the case that they treat them the same as parcel movements that are international or exports.

As the noble Baroness, Lady Chapman, said, these arrangements are unique. The Windsor Framework is a bespoke set of arrangements. If you move a parcel internationally, such as to your grandmother in France rather than in Northern Ireland, you and she would need to make customs declarations and possibly pay tariffs; that is not the case for the arrangements for GB to NI. Similarly, if you buy from an international retailer, the package goes through customs when it enters the UK; as I set out, that is not the case for GB to NI orders from internet sellers to individuals.

Does the Minister accept, however, that the reason for what she has set out is in EU law, and that nobody in Northern Ireland is elected and nobody in the EU is accountable to anyone in Northern Ireland—indeed, in the United Kingdom—for those laws? If those laws change—for example, if the EU changes, tweaks or modifies them—that is what will apply. So the Minister cannot give any guarantee or assurance that the position she is outlining will continue to pertain and apply because no Government, nor this Parliament, will have any power in that respect.

The Windsor Framework is a bilateral agreement. To the noble Lord’s point, there are detailed governance arrangements around the Windsor Framework. Either side can raise issues through those mechanisms. It is not the case that the EU could just impose new requirements without consultation. Of course, the Stormont brake will be available to the Northern Ireland Assembly, when it is sitting.

With regards to the lack of an impact assessment, that point takes me back to what this statutory instrument itself does. It does not impose any requirements on businesses; it is solely about the powers for HMRC and Border Force. The Government are dealing with the resources available to those agencies in the normal way. I cannot remember who asked about this—it was the noble Baroness, Lady Ritchie of Downpatrick, I think—but we will of course ensure that resources are available, in particular to HMRC, to ensure that these agencies can engage with businesses in order to ensure that the process is as smooth as possible.

I understand the Minister’s point with regards to the powers for HMRC under these regulations, but it assumes that HMRC will not then use those powers to ask businesses to carry out certain procedures. If that is the case, there will be an impact on businesses. Secondly, my reading of Regulation 3 is that, for the first time, a postal packet going from GB to Northern Ireland will now be categorised alongside a foreign postal packet. That is what the regulation says.

Again, that takes me back to what these regulations do versus the wider process around how parcels will move under the Windsor Framework. These powers do not and cannot do anything to impose anything on businesses.

I come to a few of the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Purvis, about understanding and beginning to quantify how the new process will work. It is not possible to give precise numbers on volumes of parcels and how they will fall into the different lanes, because volumes are not consistent year on year. However, based on estimates and commercial information provided by the parcel industry, we understand that about 5% of parcels are sent from business to business, with 90% moving from businesses to consumers and 5% from individuals to individuals. Based on those figures, for 95% of movements no difference will be felt in how customs operate now, under the easement that we have to the protocol. Compared to the protocol itself, they will face significantly fewer burdens.

There will be no routine checks or controls applied to consignments, with interventions made only on a risk-based, intelligence-led approach. This is decided by HMRC and Border Force. We expect a very small proportion of parcels to be checked or opened, only when there is reason to suspect circumvention of the rules.

The 5% of business-to-business goods will be treated the same, as if they were moving in freight. They can access the UK internal market scheme and the green lane, and they will benefit from radically reduced checks and data requirements compared to those under the protocol. Businesses can apply to HMRC to become a trusted trader and access the green lane. It is a simple process. Tens of thousands of traders are already in the scheme, and the Windsor Framework extends eligibility to it further. New arrangements under the framework are being phased in over nearly two and a half years. We will continue to use that time to undertake extensive engagement with stakeholders, including businesses in Northern Ireland and Great Britain, trader support services and parcel operators, to provide support and ensure that everyone is ready.

As part of that work, will the Government look at the extra cost to business? There will definitely be an extra cost to businesses in GB that want to send to Northern Ireland, whether they go through the green or the red lane. Those costs will eventually end up with consumers in Northern Ireland. Do the Government agree?

The whole purpose of the Windsor Framework is to reduce any extra costs and burdens from moving from business to business in Northern Ireland. We need to put this in the context of the figures that I gave earlier about personal packages and business-to-consumer packages which, on some estimates, account for around 95% of parcel movements from GB to NI. The aim of our ongoing engagement with parcel operators, in both GB and NI, is to make sure that this process is as easy and seamless as possible for those that rely on existing information and data, where that is possible.

Several noble Lords also raised the question of timing. As I said, provisions under the Windsor Framework are being brought in over two and a half years and will come into effect on 30 September 2024. As I said in opening, although the majority of Northern Ireland protocol requirements on parcels were not implemented as the Government sought to renegotiate arrangements, we accepted that certain categories of goods moved in parcels, as in freight, should require customs declarations to ensure that both their entry to Northern Ireland and possible onward movement to the EU were notified to HMRC.

These requirements related only to a specific list of prohibited and restricted goods that includes, for example, certain drug precursor chemicals, endangered animals, et cetera, covered under CITES. The powers we are taking now will allow those requirements to be monitored and enforced from now, and those same powers will be used in respect of the new parcels arrangements that come into effect on 30 September 2024.

In respect of those broader requirements, the Government need to work now to build the capabilities of HMRC and Border Force to ensure that the existing requirements, as I have just explained, can be enforced and that the new legal requirements of the Windsor Framework are not circumvented in future. The instrument before the Grand Committee today will ensure that HMRC and Border Force have the power to seize, detain or inspect goods sent from GB to NI, to verify that they are compliant with the rules.

I am sorry to the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley; I understand the importance of the issue he raised, but it goes beyond the scope of our debate today. I have endeavoured to answer all the other questions that noble Lords put. I will look carefully at the debate we have had to see if I should add anything further via writing.

I think the note to finish on is that this Government, as we implement the Windsor Framework—and we absolutely think it is the best deal for Northern Ireland—know that we need to have the confidence of the people of Northern Ireland in how we approach this. That means working collaboratively with all those involved and affected by the rules under the framework as we bring it in.

The Question is that the Grand Committee has considered this instrument. As many as are of that opinion will say “Content”; to the contrary “Not content”.

Sitting suspended.

My Lords, it would be very helpful if Members could stay close by. We are just seeking advice on how to proceed, as this is quite an unusual situation.

We have now considered this instrument. It has not been agreed to, and therefore will go to the Chamber as usual.

Motion negatived.