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House of Commons Hansard
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General Committees
28 October 2019

Delegated Legislation Committee

Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments (Civil and Family) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019

The Committee consisted of the following Members:

Chair: Ian Paisley

† Aldous, Peter (Waveney) (Con)

† Cartlidge, James (South Suffolk) (Con)

† Glindon, Mary (North Tyneside) (Lab)

† Harris, Rebecca (Lord Commissioner of Her Majesty's Treasury)

Hoey, Kate (Vauxhall) (Lab)

Little Pengelly, Emma (Belfast South) (DUP)

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

Mahmood, Shabana (Birmingham, Ladywood) (Lab)

† Murray, Mrs Sheryll (South East Cornwall) (Con)

† O'Brien, Neil (Harborough) (Con)

† Philp, Chris (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice)

† Qureshi, Yasmin (Bolton South East) (Lab)

† Robinson, Mary (Cheadle) (Con)

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

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

† Vickers, Martin (Cleethorpes) (Con)

† Western, Matt (Warwick and Leamington) (Lab)

Yohanna Sallberg, Committee Clerk

† attended the Committee

First Delegated Legislation Committee

Monday 28 October 2019

[Ian Paisley in the Chair]

Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments (Civil and Family) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019

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I beg to move,

That the Committee has considered the Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments (Civil and Family) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 (S.I., 2019, No. 1338).

It is a great pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Paisley. The statutory instrument forms part of the Government’s ongoing work to ensure that there are functioning domestic laws in the event that the UK leaves the European Union without a deal on cross-border co-operation on civil and commercial and family law. The instrument makes amendments to the Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019, which for brevity I will refer to as the civil regulations, and to the Jurisdiction and Judgments (Family) (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019, which I will refer to as the family regulations.

Those two instruments are part of the Government’s main no-deal Brexit statutory instruments, dealing with the EU’s judicial co-operation framework in civil and family matters. Today’s instrument corrects two minor technical defects in those instruments and clarifies the interaction of international conventions and domestic law post Brexit. We are therefore debating some extremely technical regulations, which correct minor technical points in the SIs that were passed earlier this year.

The civil regulations revoke Brussels Ia, which is the main EU regulation dealing with jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in cross-border civil and commercial matters. In its place, domestic private international laws will apply to cross-border cases involving parties from EU member states. However, to ensure that certain employees are not disadvantaged by that change, the civil regulations transpose special protective jurisdiction rules for employment cases from Brussels Ia into UK domestic law, delivering on the Government’s pledge that no rights will be diminished as we leave the European Union. We will transpose the existing body of EU law directly into UK law, so that people’s rights remain exactly the same the day after exit as the day before.

An error has been identified in the way that the civil regulations transpose that rule. The Government’s no-deal exit policy intention is, as I explained, to replicate as closely as possible the Brussels Ia employment jurisdiction rules, modified only as is necessary to make them work in the UK. However, in relation to one of the grounds of the special jurisdiction rules, the rule has been inadvertently altered to cover employees without a habitual place of work in any one part of the UK, rather than employees without a habitual place of work in any one country, as was the case in Brussels Ia.

I do not know whether Members have a marked-up copy of the SI, but they will see that we add extra words to the original SI to make the provision precisely the same as in the current regulations under Brussels Ia. Today’s instrument addresses the issue by amending the civil regulations in the way that I just described to ensure that the rules are correctly transposed into domestic law, modified only as necessary to make them work in the UK context. It does not represent any reduction in the protection available to employees; it simply properly replicates the existing EU rules to ensure that there is no change as we move from Brussels Ia to UK law in the event of a no-deal exit. If there is a deal, the regulations will not take effect.

The family regulations, passed earlier this year, revoke Brussels IIa, which is the main EU regulation dealing with jurisdiction and recognition and enforcement of judgments in parental responsibility cases, and in maintenance cases. In their place, the UK will move principally to the 1996 Hague convention on cross-border parental responsibility matters involving parties from the EU members states, and the 2007 Hague convention on the cross-border recognition and enforcement of maintenance involving parties from the EU members states as well. In the event of a no-deal Brexit—again, this applies only in a no-deal eventuality—it is our intention to rejoin Hague 2007 and Hague 2005 in our own right, and indeed, we have already made provision for that. If there are no applicable Hague convention rules, the family regulations make provision for the rules that will apply. In the case of maintenance jurisdiction, they are largely the rules as they existed prior to the relevant EU rules taking effect.

Two minor errors have been identified in the way that the family regulations amended domestic legislation to reinstate pre-EU jurisdiction rules. The first is the reference to the carrying through of actions “for adherence and aliment”. That is a Scottish provision that was abolished in Scottish law in 1984, so clearly, we cannot refer back to that. We are essentially deleting the reference. Again, I have a mark-up that illustrates where the deletion occurs.

Hon. Members might ask why we in Westminster are discussing family laws, which are ordinarily devolved. The Ministry of Justice has corresponded with its counterparts in Scotland and Northern Ireland to get their permission to deal with this matter here. I have a letter from Ash Denham of the Scottish Government, dated 18 October—just a few days ago—and one from Peter May, the lead civil servant in Northern Ireland, dated 12 August, signalling that they are content for us to deal with the matter via a statutory instrument in Westminster, even though it would ordinarily be devolved. We have checked to make sure that everybody in the devolved Administrations is happy.

The instrument addresses the problem that I referred to by deleting the reference to actions for adherence and ailment. The second error has the unintended effect that, following Brexit, if there were no deal, certain applicants seeking maintenance, which is referred to as ailment in Scotland, would be disadvantaged, in the sense that if they were bringing an action for ailment only and the party was in a different country, they would not be able to bring the action in Scotland but would have to bring it in another country. That would clearly inconvenience and disadvantage the applicant, so the correction enables those proceedings to be brought in Scotland, as was previously the case.

The Government recognise that the precise effect of some provisions in the family regulations is potentially open to argument. Some family law practitioners have expressed concerns about a lack of clarity and certainty as to the application of the saving and transitional provisions in the family regulations to ensure that cases that started under Brussels IIa, or the maintenance regulations before exit, continue under those same regulations after exit. The concern is about whether it is clear enough that those provisions apply to intra-UK maintenance jurisdictions, as was the Government’s intention.

Stakeholders have also highlighted a potential lack of clarity as to the post-exit relationship between domestic jurisdiction rules in parental responsibility and maintenance matters and the relevant Hague convention rules. The final part of the statutory instrument addresses those areas of uncertainty through amendments to the family regulations. Again, I have a marked-up here that I am happy to share with hon. Members afterwards. Those amendments put it beyond doubt that the saving and transitional provisions apply to intra-UK maintenance matters and that the relevant Hague convention rules take precedence over domestic jurisdiction in cases that properly fall under the relevant Hague conventions.

I hope that is a relatively clear and concise description of the technical changes, but I am happy to answer any queries that hon. Members may have. I commend the instrument to the Committee.

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It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Paisley. I thank the Minister for outlining the proposed changes. The fact is that we would not be in this mess if the Government had anticipated and made allowances for those rules.

As a current European Union member state, the United Kingdom applies the Brussels I regulation to legal disputes of a civil or commercial nature. That set of rules has made proceedings much easier, be they domestic or disputes in other European Union countries. The current system creates an affordable and effective process for the recognition and enforcement of intra-European Union judgments. Small traders or consumers can easily take their cases to their domestic courts using local lawyers, and the domestic judgment is then recognised across the whole of the European Union. That is a considerable and useful advantage to many people of limited means.

Big companies can fight litigations, but small businesses, employers and those fighting family dispute matters will have to go to different courts to exercise their rights, which will make things much more complicated for them. We believe that the Government should have anticipated those matters and put in place a mechanism to deal with them. The Opposition will abstain in a vote on the provisions because we believe that the Government have not done enough to protect people’s rights—the provisions have been introduced at the last minute, but they are not good enough.

The Government should have worked much harder to anticipate and deal with this matter to ensure that people’s civil rights are protected, be they for employees against employers, in family disputes or in small-business and commercial disputes. The Government are introducing legislation at the last minute to avoid the inevitable chaos of exiting the EU without a deal. Essentially, the Government should have anticipated this and done more to protect workers’ rights and the rights of the individual, to make life easier for everyone. On that basis, we will abstain.

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I have very little to say. For any legal purists watching from Scotland, I think the action referred to is actually aliment, not ailment. Other than that, what the Minister said made sense; the provisions correct two particular problems with the earlier regulations and on that basis, I do not object. I share the shadow Minister’s concerns about the fact that these changes need to be made—we should try to get the regulations right the first time around—but it is better that we do it now than not at all.

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Minister, do you wish to make any further comments or are you happy for me to put the Question?

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Put it!

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I think I detect enthusiasm for the Question to be put.

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Thank you, Minister.

Question put and agreed to.

Committee rose.

Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme (Revocation) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019

The Committee consisted of the following Members:

Chair: James Gray

† Blunt, Crispin (Reigate) (Con)

† Djanogly, Mr Jonathan (Huntingdon) (Con)

Eagle, Ms Angela (Wallasey) (Lab)

† Grant, Mrs Helen (Maidstone and The Weald) (Con)

† Jones, Mr Marcus (Nuneaton) (Con)

Lammy, Mr David (Tottenham) (Lab)

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

† McMorrin, Anna (Cardiff North) (Lab)

† O'Brien, Neil (Harborough) (Con)

† Philp, Chris (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice)

† Qureshi, Yasmin (Bolton South East) (Lab)

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

† Scully, Paul (Sutton and Cheam) (Con)

† Stevens, Jo (Cardiff Central) (Lab)

† Thewliss, Alison (Glasgow Central) (SNP)

† Thomas, Derek (St Ives) (Con)

† Western, Matt (Warwick and Leamington) (Lab)

Laura-Jane Tiley, Committee Clerk

† attended the Committee

Fourth Delegated Legislation Committee

Monday 28 October 2019

[James Gray in the Chair]

Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme (Revocation) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019

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I beg to move that the Committee has considered the rights, equality and citizenship programme, revocation, EU regulations 2019.

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Order. I am sorry to correct the Minister—he should have said “EU exit” regulations 2019.

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I beg your pardon, Mr Gray. In that case, let me be clear. I beg to move,

That the Committee has considered the Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme (Revocation) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 (S.I. 2019, No. 1339).

It is a great pleasure to serve under your extremely vigilant and precise chairmanship.

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Touché.

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Indeed. This statutory instrument forms part of the Government’s preparations in the event of a no-deal Brexit. In the event of a deal, the regulations will not come into force. The Rights, Equalities and Citizenship Programme (Revocation) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 are an important part of our work to ensure that the statute book remains operational in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The instrument provides stability to UK recipients of European Union funds received under the REC programme, ensuring that, in the event of a no-deal exit, they will continue to receive that funding, as guaranteed by Her Majesty’s Treasury.

The instrument was made under section 8(1) of, and paragraph 21 of schedule 7 to, the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, which permit regulations to be made to prevent, remedy or mitigate deficiencies in retained EU law. If Parliament approves the withdrawal agreement, which includes an implementation period, and passes the necessary legislation to implement that agreement—the two not being quite the same thing—the Government would defer the coming into force of this instrument until the end of any implementation period.

This statutory instrument addresses deficiencies that arise in retained EU law and puts in place transitional arrangements that may be needed following our departure without a withdrawal agreement. It revokes Regulation (EU) No. 1381/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 establishing a rights, equality and citizenship programme for the period 2014 to 2020, as retained in domestic law under the 2018 Act.

It may be worth briefly outlining the existing EU rules. This instrument revokes an EU regulation that established a rights, equality and citizenship programme for that six-year period of 2014 to 2020. The REC fund supports activity under nine objectives, including promoting the effective implementation of the principle of non-discrimination on the grounds of sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation, and to respect the principle of non-discrimination on the grounds provided for in article 21 of the charter of fundamental rights. The regulation being revoked put in place internal EU conditions, methods and procedures for EU funding to be provided under the programme. As the regulation generally deals with internal EU mechanisms, on exit it will become redundant and serve no purpose as retained EU law under section 3 of the withdrawal Act. The instrument therefore revokes the regulation. The European Commission manages the programme budget and administration of funding granted under the programme.

Revoking the regulation does not affect the validity, for the purposes of EU law, of grants awarded under the REC programme, in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The UK will leave the EU budget after Brexit, meaning that UK organisations will no longer receive future funding for projects under EU programmes, including this one, without further action. Therefore, in line with the terms of the Her Majesty’s Government guarantee in relation to EU-funded programmes given in 2016 and extended in July 2018, the instrument contains transitional provisions that will enable the Secretary of State to provide financial assistance to UK participants of the REC programme if the European Commission ceases to provide funding.

This instrument ensures that none of the programme’s participants loses out financially in the event of a no-deal exit. It gives the Secretary of State the power to provide funding for UK participants who are successful in being granted an award before Brexit, so that they can get the rest of their funding for the remaining period of the programme, and makes provision for UK organisations to participate as a third country for applications made after exit day but before the end of 2020. It will help to maintain the access of UK applications to the competitive grant programme, to ensure that UK organisations continue to benefit, but of course those applications will then be funded by the UK Government rather than by the European Union.

We have published an impact assessment and, because this provision applies to the whole United Kingdom, we have consulted, as would be expected, the devolved Administrations to ensure that they are comfortable with this Parliament here in Westminster legislating for the whole United Kingdom. I have letters in my hand from David Stirling, the head of the Northern Ireland civil service, dated 25 July this year; from Jane Hutt, the relevant Minister in the Welsh Government, dated 28 August; and from Ash Denham, the Minister for Community Safety in the Scottish Government, dated 2 October. All three indicate that they are happy for us to legislate in the way we are now doing.

There are currently 17 UK participants in receipt of funding under the programme. Importantly, this statutory instrument will ensure that they continue to benefit from that funding and, indeed, that any future applicants awarded funding after an exit day but before the end of December 2020 will receive the funding too. I commend the instrument to the Committee.

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It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Gray. I thank the Minister for outlining the purpose of this particular provision. He set out what the fund does and the important work it has carried out in the last number of years and that it will continue to carry out.

During an earlier Statutory Instrument Committee, I told the Minister that I wanted clarification on a number of questions. We are concerned about regulation 4, which states that

“the Secretary of State may grant and provide financial assistance”.

Regulation 4(2) states:

“Financial assistance may be provided in such form and on such terms as the Secretary of State considers appropriate.”

The wording of those two sentences suggests an element of discretion and that the Secretary of State or Minister may not follow this through properly. For example, if somebody has already been awarded money and has received only some of it, the question is whether they will be entitled to the rest of it, or whether that will be reliant on the fact that the Secretary of State “may” grant it, as opposed to “should” grant it, if certain criteria are fulfilled.

We have a number of other questions. If we exit without a deal, what happens if A has applied for a grant but has not yet received a decision? Would that mean that that application had finished? Alternatively, if the EU decided to agree to the application, who would pay that funding? Will the European Union still be allowed to consider applications that have not taken place once the exit has been done? As we know, the fund runs until 2020. If someone makes an application after we exit without a deal, will the European Union have the power to look at it, and, if it grants funding, is it the Government or the European Union that would pay?

If B applies after exit without a deal but before December 2020, are they still allowed to apply? If we exit with a deal, during the transition period will funding that has not yet been granted be paid by the European Union or by our Government, and who will pay for applications that are under consideration or have been successful? Will the payment be guaranteed, because regulation 4(1) states that the Secretary of State “may” rather than “will” grant? Finally, will the Minister confirm that the Government guarantee to award funding to programmes within the scheme?

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I will not oppose the regulations because, as the Minister has said, there have been communications with the Scottish Government on this issue. The Minister may have been guilty of a slight exaggeration when he said that Ash Denham was happy to support the measures. In August, in her letter to the Convener of the Justice Committee, she said:

“It is our unwelcome responsibility to ensure that devolved law continues to function on and after EU withdrawal.”

The rights, equality and citizenship programme aims to contribute to the further development of equality and the rights of people, the charter of fundamental rights and freedoms, and international human rights conventions. The REC programme has two funded projects in Scotland, one of which is still active. The improving justice in child contact project, for children affected by domestic violence, is a 24-month project run by the University of Edinburgh, with a final report due in January 2021 after the project ends in October 2020. It is good to hear that the Government will still fund that very important project in the event of no deal. The “Prepare for Leaving Care: A Child Protection System that Works for Professionals and Young People” project, which was run by the University of Strathclyde in my constituency, completed its final report in January 2019.

It is good to hear that, as part of the Treasury guarantee, the regulations require that the UK Government administer payments to Scotland for live projects in the event of a no-deal Brexit. That highlights the important and fundamental projects for children and young people that have been funded through the project. Will the Minister guarantee that similar projects will also be funded by the Government once we leave the EU?

I question whether those projects will get the same funding as they do currently and whether the Scottish Government will get an equivalent amount of money to fund similar projects to continue the initiatives. Justice in child contact and leaving care are two hugely important issues and we should not lose those kinds of projects, which are incredibly important to Scotland and I am sure that we are learning how useful they could be for the rest of the UK.

We welcome the UK Government’s agreement to guarantee the funding in the event of no deal, but we maintain that the best way to avoid no deal is for them to do the right thing by taking the risk of no deal off the table once and for all. In the long run, leaving the EU will be hugely damaging to our children and young people and all those who benefit from these kinds of programmes.

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I will respond briefly to some of the questions that were posed, starting with the most recent. On what would happen after December 2020 and the end of the guarantee period, that would be a matter for the Parliament of the day to determine. Of course, outside the European Union, it would be entirely up to Parliament to decide how best to spend money. That may well include programmes such as those mentioned, and there will no doubt be robust debate on that when the time comes for decisions on how much to devolve and how much to spend centrally. We can look forward to a debate on that on another day.

The hon. Member for Glasgow Central referred briefly to her views on the undesirability of no deal. The best way to avoid that is of course to vote for the sensible deal that has been negotiated. [Interruption.] I do not want to get drawn into that debate, of which we have probably all heard quite enough.

The shadow Minister, the hon. Member for Bolton South East, raised a number of questions that I will go through one by one—not quite in the same order, but I will cover all her points. She asked about a transition period if we are successful in agreeing a withdrawal agreement. During a transition period—which is currently, by coincidence, contemplated to run until 31 December 2020, if we get the withdrawal agreement passed—the statutory instrument will not apply and everything will continue as it currently is. The UK will make financial payments—the £39 billion, or now perhaps only £33 billion—to the European Union, and we will continue to participate in all these programmes in precisely the normal way. Essentially, very little will change if we are successful in passing the withdrawal agreement.

I turn to the no-deal scenario, which is the circumstance that the statutory instrument contemplates. The shadow Minister asked, “After a no-deal exit, who pays the money—the UK Government or the European Union?” The regulations take account of the fact that the European Union might choose to pay, but I suppose, if we are honest, that is rather unlikely, so essentially it will be the UK Government making the payments, and Her Majesty’s Treasury has offered that guarantee as a matter of policy.

The shadow Minister queried the use of the word “may”, which occurs two or three times in the statutory instrument, particularly in regulations 4(1) and 4(2). The instrument provides the power to make the payments. The policy intention is that any payment that would otherwise have been made by the EU will be made. That is expressed in the form of the Treasury guarantee, which was made most recently in July 2018. Just to be clear, this is enabling legislation: it confers the power; it does not confer the compulsion. The policy intent was announced in that Treasury guarantee dating from July 2018, to which there has been no subsequent change.

The shadow Minister asked about two or three very specific sets of circumstances. If the award was granted prior to the no-deal exit date but not all the money has been spent, the guarantee would simply make the remainder of the payments that have not yet been paid, up until the end of the project. There are a number of live projects, including projects run by the University of Edinburgh, the University of Belfast and Cardiff Metropolitan University, so the money is being spread around all four corners of the kingdom.

In the case of projects that were applied for prior to exit date but had not been decided on the date of exit, I am advised that the application would have to be withdrawn and remade as a third-country application. That would also apply to any new application made after exit date but before 31 December 2020. If any such application—either a renewed one that had lapsed and was remade or a completely fresh one—were granted by the European Commission as a third-country application, it would be part of the guarantee as well, provided that the recipient was a UK recipient; obviously, we would not fund programmes run by a Spanish university or an Italian university. Any application granted after exit but before the end of December 2020 would form part of the guarantee we have been discussing.

I hope the Committee agrees that this is a comprehensive set of guarantees that ensure these worthy projects have certainty of funding until the end of the current European Union budgetary period. I know there is a vote coming in the main Chamber, so I will not detail the Committee any longer, other than to thank Members for attending and, in particular, to thank officials from the Ministry of Justice, who worked extremely hard to draft these complicated regulations. Let me put on the record my thanks to them for the hard work they have put in over the past few months—indeed, over the past three years. I commend the regulations to the Committee.

Question put and agreed to.

Committee rose.

Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (Amendment) (Northern Ireland) (EU Exit) (No. 2) Regulations 2019

The Committee consisted of the following Members:

Chair: Steve McCabe

† Bottomley, Sir Peter (Worthing West) (Con)

† Costa, Alberto (South Leicestershire) (Con)

† Coyle, Neil (Bermondsey and Old Southwark) (Lab)

† Daby, Janet (Lewisham East) (Lab)

† Drew, Dr David (Stroud) (Lab/Co-op)

† Eustice, George (Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

Gaffney, Hugh (Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill) (Lab)

† Huddleston, Nigel (Mid Worcestershire) (Con)

† Killen, Ged (Rutherglen and Hamilton West) (Lab/Co-op)

† Lewer, Andrew (Northampton South) (Con)

† McGinn, Conor (St Helens North) (Lab)

† Offord, Dr Matthew (Hendon) (Con)

† Selous, Andrew (South West Bedfordshire) (Con)

† Smith, Nick (Blaenau Gwent) (Lab)

† Thomson, Ross (Aberdeen South) (Con)

† Whittingdale, Mr John (Maldon) (Con)

Yasin, Mohammad (Bedford) (Lab)

Ian Bradshaw, Committee Clerk

† attended the Committee

Fifth Delegated Legislation Committee

Monday 28 October 2019

[Steve McCabe in the Chair]

Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (Amendment) (Northern Ireland) (EU Exit) (No. 2) Regulations 2019

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I beg to move,

That the Committee has considered the Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (Amendment) (Northern Ireland) (EU Exit) (No. 2) Regulations 2019 (S.I., 2019, No. 1313).

This statutory instrument was due to be made under negative resolution, but was transferred to be made affirmative to ensure that it was on the statute books before our planned EU exit on 31 October 2019. The SI is made under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 which, as hon. Members know, retains EU-derived legislation in UK law, and corrects deficiencies in EU-derived legislation arising from the UK leaving the European Union.

The instrument relates only to Northern Ireland and concerns devolved areas of policy normally dealt with by the devolved Administration. The Government’s preference is that the regulations be made and scrutinised by the devolved institutions in Belfast, remaining absolutely committed to the restoration of devolved government in Northern Ireland, but in the current circumstances we have decided to process this and other Northern Ireland regulations through Parliament, working closely with the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland.

This SI is prepared on the basis of leaving the EU without an agreement, although the Government’s intention remains for an agreement to be in place when we leave. Should an agreement involve a transition period, the SI will not take effect for that period, although it may be needed thereafter.

The SI will make minor amendments to Northern Ireland domestic legislation. In some cases, it corrects minor errors in previous SIs, but predominantly it concerns final changes to make retained EU law relating to various biosecurity regulations operable. First, it makes changes to the Eggs and Chicks Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2010. The SI amends those regulations to ensure operability following the UK’s exit from the EU by omitting redundant EU requirements, namely, specific offences of not marking eggs or not marking eggs correctly for delivery between member states. Those specific provisions would no longer be relevant since we would no longer be a member state.

Secondly, the SI makes minor technical amendments to the Importation of Animal Pathogens Order (Northern Ireland) 1999 in relation to a reference to and a definition of “another member state”. Since we will not be a member state, that reference must be changed.

Thirdly, the SI amends the Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (Amendment) (Northern Ireland) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 to insert a corrected reference to the community marketing rules offences in the Marketing of Fresh Horticulture Produce Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2010. The amendment in the original EU exit SI provides transitional arrangements for fresh horticultural products placed on the market after EU exit day to ensure that fruit and vegetable marketing labels allowed under EU law will continue to be permitted in the UK during a transitional period of 21 months after exit. The labelling requirements set out in article 7 of Commission implementing regulation 543/2011, however, should have referred to regulation 15 rather than regulation 17, and that is corrected by this instrument.

Fourthly, the instrument makes an operability amendment to the Marketing of Vegetable Plant Material Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1995.

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If the Prime Minister’s deal is agreed, will eggs, for example, still have to be labelled as decided by the European Union?

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During the implementation period, they would. In an implementation period under the provisions of the withdrawal agreement Bill, there are saving provisions for that EU law during the implementation period. As for what comes thereafter, they would be superseded by the future agreement put together during the implementation period.

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I thank the Minister for giving way. My sense is that the eggs will still have to be labelled as decided by the EU after the implementation period. Is that not correct?

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I think the hon. Gentleman is mixing up several things. If we were selling eggs into the European Union, they would probably require certain labelling to comply with its laws for people serving that market. The provisions we are talking about are much narrower, referring to a specific type of marking that one EU member states makes on its eggs when selling to another member state. We would no longer be a member state, so those specific, narrow provisions would no longer be relevant, since we had ceased to be a member state.

The fourth instrument to be amended is, as I said, the Marketing of Vegetable Plant Material Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1995. This SI will amend those regulations by making a substitution of “United Kingdom” at regulation 4A, in place of the “European Union”.

Fifthly, the SI amends the Plant Health (Wood and Bark) Order (Northern Ireland) 2006 by removing references to the European Union and omitting EU decision references that are not operable outside the EU, and references to EU decisions. Those references would no longer be needed, since they will have been replaced by the UK common list.

The SI amends the Plant Health Order (Northern Ireland) 2018 to omit definitions of decision (EU) 2018/1503 relating to the organism Aromia bungii. That EU decision was originally added to the order after the first Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (Amendment) (Northern Ireland) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 were made. It is now included in the UK common list, so it is no longer required and this SI removes it.

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Presumably, we are talking about the red-necked longhorn beetle, which affects Prunus trees in China?

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I have been shown a picture, and—my hon. Friend knows a great deal about this—it looks like a beetle.

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Good catch!

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Finally, this SI amends the Invasive Alien Species (Enforcement and Permitting) Order (Northern Ireland) 2019 to ensure parity with retained EU law, omitting the definition of “Union list” throughout the order and, where appropriate, replacing that term with “list of species of special concern”. That list is defined in the amendments to reflect that the list is derived from the EU’s list of invasive alien species. Similar amendments have been made to the UK Invasive Alien Species (Enforcement and Permitting) Order 2019.

The amendments made to Northern Ireland domestic regulations in this SI maintain the integrity of the Northern Ireland statute book, ensuring legal certainty as we approach our exit from the EU, and ensuring that we maintain standards and protections across the UK. I therefore commend the regulations to the Committee.

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It is a delight to serve under your chairmanship, Mr McCabe. This is the second of the three statutory instruments that we must consider today and the only one not about the CMO, the common organisation of agricultural markets, about which some of us have become quite knowledgeable.

Were the Northern Ireland Assembly sitting, would this SI have come before this Committee, or is it here entirely because—the Minister seems to nod, but he can answer when he sums up—the Assembly is not sitting? Will the Assembly recapture this responsibility as and when it does sit again? It is important that we know what we are doing here. Most of what we do relates to wider UK responsibilities, even though agriculture is a devolved function.

Scottish National party Members have made it clear in Delegated Legislation Committees that they do not necessarily agree with some of the ways in which these measures are debated. Sadly, we have no representative from the Democratic Unionist party with us. The hon. Member for Upper Bann (David Simpson) came to the earlier Committee—and we sent him away. It would be interesting to know his party’s position on these changes.

I have a number of reasonably detailed questions for the Minister. The regulations amend two Northern Ireland statutory rules and four Northern Ireland orders, and we have eight headings of regulatory change identified, but it is not at all clear which changes apply to which headings and how they fit in with existing Northern Ireland regulations. It would be useful to know exactly what we are dealing with; otherwise we may have to come back again, to amend the amendments to the amendments, as we have done in the past. It would be useful at least to know what we are amending and why. As I said, there are eight different pieces of regulatory change to two statutory rules and four orders. Where do they all fit?

These are important regulations dealing with pathogens and seeds and plant propagating material, which have quite an impact on Northern Ireland. The obvious question is, to what extent will this be affected by the Prime Minister’s withdrawal agreement? Materials of those types could be transported, whether deliberately or accidentally, so who is responsible for ensuring that we allow the proper trade to take place but that someone deals with risk material? Of course, there are arrangements now, but those are within the EU, and we are dealing now with a completely new situation. With a border in the Irish sea, how will that trade be policed and these regulations enforced? Which organisation will take that on and who will hold that organisation to account?

It would be interesting to know why the transitional period is 21 months. In the earlier Committee, on wine, the period was nine months. We seem to be getting a differentiated picture on transitionary arrangements. How was that term arrived at? Who will oversee the transitionary arrangements to ensure they are being adhered to? What will occur if, for any reason, there is slippage,? Will we have to revisit the regulations, or is there a degree of flexibility in the arrangements?

These regulations are more straightforward than those considered by the earlier Committee, perhaps because they relate directly to one part of the United Kingdom—an important part of the United Kingdom. As always, the explanatory memorandum says:

“There is no significant impact on business, charities or voluntary bodies.”

One presumes that there will be some impact because of the nature of the changes to be introduced. I wonder what analysis the Government have undertaken. Again, no regulatory impact assessment has been undertaken, but someone somewhere must understand that there will be some impact. It would be useful to know what consultation has been undertaken.

I was in Northern Ireland a year ago talking to DAERA officials. I felt sympathy for them: they are having to pass all political decisions up the line, which is presumably why we are here today discussing this instrument, so that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs takes that responsibility. Again, however, that will not help the officials with the day-to-day administration of some quite complex regulation, even though, as I have said, it is a bit more transparent than some things we dealt with earlier and, no doubt, than what we shall deal with later when we reach our third Delegated Legislation Committee of the day.

It would be interesting at least to know from the Minister who—given that there is no Assembly or Executive—is discussing the impact of the measures. I do not know that much about the egg trade in Northern Ireland, but I know a bit about the poultry trade and the importance of chicken meat through Moy Park, which is a major exporter. I wonder who, within Northern Ireland, has had the opportunity to express their views on the sorts of changes that are taking place, and to make sure that the Government are aware of some of the implications, particularly given the currency of the Prime Minister’s withdrawal agreement. Has the matter really been worked through?

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One organisation that has spoken clearly and vociferously on the matter is the Ulster Farmers Union, which has asked for much more clarity about the new relationship between Northern Ireland and Great Britain in relation to the provisions set out in the withdrawal agreement. It has been equally clear that a no-deal Brexit would be catastrophic for farming across the UK, but particularly in Northern Ireland.

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I have met Mr Ferguson on a number of occasions and he has made that very point to me. I wonder whether the Minister can tell us of an organisation that one would expect to be consulted and conferred with, and that would have to be listened to. It would be interesting to know, given the lack of an Assembly and Executive, who the UK Government have talked to about some pretty important elements that need to be clear before we nod the measure through.

Northern Ireland is different from Wales and Scotland, which have their own Administrations and devolved responsibilities. Northern Ireland has not, so effectively we are acting on behalf of that part of the United Kingdom. We therefore have to make sure that the measure is right. I hope that the Minister can allay any fears, because there is another statutory instrument to be considered tomorrow morning. It will probably be a bit more controversial than the one before us now, but we will again be acting on behalf of the Northern Ireland Assembly—or will we not? I go back to my original point. If the Assembly had been in place, would we not have debated the measures, given that it would have had the responsibility of seeing them through? It is important to know those things and have them explained on the record, at least.

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I shall be brief. It is 30 years since I was appointed Minister of Agriculture in Northern Ireland, when the Ministry was the Department of Agriculture for Northern Ireland, or DANI. It has now changed its name so that it is not quite an anagram of DEFRA.

I hope that I shall be forgiven for taking an interest in the beetle that was, I think, discovered only once, in a pallet about 11 years ago, in this country, but which caused some damage in Italy. My point, which I make almost interrogatively, is that if people spot that beetle, which has a red collar—I am sure it is beautiful to its mother—they should, in Great Britain, alert TreeAlert. In Ireland they should alert TreeCheck, the all-Ireland organisation, which I hope will continue as we leave the EU.

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I shall try to address as many of the issues raised as possible.

On the first point made by the hon. Member for Stroud (Dr Drew), if the Northern Ireland Assembly were sitting and we had an Administration in Northern Ireland, this statutory instrument would not be needed. The devolved Administrations have been taking forward their own regulations in devolved areas, and therefore they would have been dealing with these statutory instruments themselves. When an Administration is formed in Northern Ireland, which we hope will happen soon, they will take on that role again.

In the event of a Brexit, if the Administration wanted to make additional changes we might need to remove or change the statutory instrument, allowing them to fill that gap. Although nobody wants to step across the devolved settlement, it is important that Northern Ireland has a functioning statute book, so in the absence of an Administration we have taken this step to legislate on their behalf.

On our consultation in Northern Ireland, we have worked closely with officials in DAERA. The shadow Minister will have to ask the Democratic Unionist party where it stands on the matter, but my understanding is that it wants to have a functioning statute book for day one of exit.

The hon. Gentleman asked a specific point about the two categories of regulation. In my opening comments I gave a long list of orders and statutory instruments that were being changed by this instrument. The simple answer is that an SR is an order made in the devolved Administration in Northern Ireland; they tend to be business-as-usual regulations and we have changed some of them through this instrument, where necessary. The references to SIs tend to be about the SIs that we made earlier in the Brexit process, under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, which we are now changing. The SIs tend to be changes to Westminster legislation and the SRs are for Northern Ireland.

The hon. Gentleman asked whether the latest new deal that the Prime Minister has brought back has any implications for the SI, and he mentioned checks at the Northern Ireland border. He will be aware that that has no relevance to this SI, which is a no-deal SI. This SI would be necessary in the event that we leave the European Union without a withdrawal agreement, so it does not envisage any of the checks that he mentioned.

The hon. Gentleman asked a question about the transition period in some areas. As we have discussed, other SIs have a grace period of nine months but here we are applying a period of 21 months. The reason for longer transitions in some areas tends to relate to labelling requirements; this is specifically a labelling provision, so a longer period is needed. When these regulations were originally drafted, 21 months would have taken us to the end of December 2020. It was felt that for some of the marketing provisions, where there are labelling implications, it was appropriate to have a longer transition. In other areas, where it is simply a grace period, we have applied our continuity approach, which is that there should be no change for a minimum of six months but change thereafter is easier to contemplate.

The hon. Gentleman asked what consultation had taken place. As I said, we have discussed these issues in detail with officials in DAERA. Indeed, they have been supporting me today on this matter. Despite the numerous different political complexions in different parts of the UK, we have the advantage of a one civil service approach. I know that DAERA officials have engaged with the Ulster Farmers Union closely and that they have raised no concerns about these particular regulations.

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I accept that point on these specific measures, but will the Minister tell us whether he has been to Northern Ireland to meet and hear from the Ulster Farmers Union directly? Has he discussed these measures with representatives of the political parties? Given the all-Ireland nature of agriculture, has he discussed the consequences of a no-deal Brexit with his counterpart in Dublin?

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As the hon. Gentleman might know, this is my second time in this post. I have been engaged in the last few weeks with taking care of issues such as this and with preparing for the prospect of a no-deal exit. The last time I was doing this role, I visited Northern Ireland on several occasions and had numerous meetings with the Ulster Farmers Union to discuss its concerns. I am sure that my predecessor, my right hon. Friend the Member for Scarborough and Whitby (Mr Goodwill), did the same. Yes, the UK Government have engaged with representatives of the Ulster farming community.

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When the Ulster Farmers Union, which I admire, is spoken of, I always try to speak for the Northern Ireland Agricultural Producers’ Association—the family farmers, of whom there are many more but on smaller pastures of land. NIAPA deserves attention.

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I defer to my hon. Friend, who, as a former Minister, has great experience on these matters.

I conclude by mentioning, as my hon. Friend pointed out, the red-necked longhorn beetle. It is a distinctive, narrow beetle, with long antlers and a red neck, unsurprisingly. He is absolutely right that it is native across south-eastern and oriental areas. It has several common names, but “red-necked longhorn” is the most used here. It was first detected in Europe in 2008, when three adults were intercepted. It is a major threat, which is why we must be ever vigilant with this invasive species, as we should be with all other invasive species. I hope that I have been able to address some of the concerns raised by hon. Members, and that they will therefore feel fit to approve the regulations.

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Before I put the question, I should perhaps point out that none of our DUP colleagues were appointed to the Committee, which is why none were here.

Question put and agreed to.

Committee rose.

Common Agricultural Policy (Market Measures, Notifications and Direct Payments) (Miscellaneous Amendments) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019

The Committee consisted of the following Members:

Chair: Mr Adrian Bailey

Beckett, Margaret (Derby South) (Lab)

† Bradley, Ben (Mansfield) (Con)

Brock, Deidre (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP)

† Crabb, Stephen (Preseli Pembrokeshire) (Con)

† Cunningham, Mr Jim (Coventry South) (Lab)

† Debbonaire, Thangam (Bristol West) (Lab)

† Drew, Dr David (Stroud) (Lab/Co-op)

† Eustice, George (Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

Jones, Susan Elan (Clwyd South) (Lab)

† Morris, James (Halesowen and Rowley Regis) (Con)

† Peacock, Stephanie (Barnsley East) (Lab)

† Penrose, John (Weston-super-Mare) (Con)

† Rowley, Lee (North East Derbyshire) (Con)

Simpson, David (Upper Bann) (DUP)

† Stevenson, John (Carlisle) (Con)

† Tracey, Craig (North Warwickshire) (Con)

† Wragg, Mr William (Hazel Grove) (Con)

Dominic Stockbridge, Committee Clerk

† attended the Committee

Seventh Delegated Legislation Committee

Monday 28 October 2019

[Mr Adrian Bailey in the Chair]

Common Agricultural Policy (Market Measures, Notifications and Direct Payments) (Miscellaneous Amendments) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019

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I beg to move,

That the Committee has considered the Common Agricultural Policy (Market Measures, Notifications and Direct Payments) (Miscellaneous Amendments) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 (S.I., 2019, No. 1344).

Earlier today, we had a break from regulations on the common organisation of the markets—the CMO—and debated something else. The shadow Minister said in our first debate today that he liked the CMO so much that he had volunteered for the Committee on it; perhaps his Whips were concerned about his welfare and were trying to give him a break. We are now back to his favourite subject.

The statutory instrument amends provisions of retained EU legislation relating to the CMO that fall within devolved competence to ensure their smooth transition to a domestic regime, specifically by making amendments in the areas of the fruit and vegetables aid scheme and of production and price reporting. It also amends a domestic regulation relating to the EU common agricultural policy financial discipline mechanism.

Let me first address the provisions that concern producer organisations in the fruit and vegetable sector. Once they have been recognised as a PO, producers in the fruit and vegetable sector can apply for match funding under the fruit and vegetables aid scheme for certain activities that they carry out, with the aim of increasing their production and making them stronger in the marketplace. The instrument makes operable the core terms and conditions of the aid scheme, including—among other things—the activities that can be funded under the scheme, the amount of funding that can be claimed and the requirements that producer organisations must meet. It ensures that functions relating to the operation of the aid scheme can continue to be exercised by the appropriate authorities in the UK—either the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs or the devolved Administrations.

The instrument also amends provisions on producer organisations in the fruit and vegetable sector in EU regulation 543/2011 to allow a programme established under that regulation to continue for the lifetime of that programme. It further makes amendments to EU regulation 2017/1185 to ensure that DEFRA and the devolved Administrations can continue to obtain certain production and price data from economic operators, as they do currently. The information is used for market management purposes; after exit day, DEFRA and the devolved Administrations intend to maintain its collection and use in the UK. They intend to review the operation of mechanisms for managing the data across the UK after EU exit, and may introduce further agreed amendments to the legislation based on the outcome of that review.

The instrument makes an amendment to an EU exit statutory instrument that the House approved earlier this year in the area of the financial discipline mechanism. It inserts a provision that makes it clear that sums deducted from 2018 direct payments for the purposes of the EU crisis reserve and other pillar 1 spending, but not used, will be paid back to farmers in the usual way following EU exit.

This instrument was laid before the House on 14 October. Like many other EU exit SIs laid close to 31 October, it was tabled under the made affirmative procedure to ensure that it would be in force on exit day. I trust that I have made clear to hon. Members why the amendments that it makes are necessary and appropriate. I commend the regulations to the Committee.

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I am delighted to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Bailey, and delighted that yet again we are talking about CMOs—only for the second time tonight. We did have a break in the Committee in between.

I am intrigued why the same explanatory memorandum has been used for these regulations and for those that we considered earlier, the Common Organisation of the Markets in Agricultural Products (Producer Organisations and Wine) (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019. Given that the memorandum is the same, I do not understand why we could not have conflated the two statutory instruments. I know that they relate to different market sectors, but unless I am wrong, the present instrument refers to wine as well as other sectors, although it is more all-embracing. I meant to ask that question in our earlier debate, but it slipped my mind.

The point that I really want to raise is about the mechanism for charging. Paragraph 3.3 of the explanatory memorandum states:

“Defra has decided not to issue this instrument free of charge to all known recipients of SI 2019/828 as, given the nature of the correcting provisions in this instrument and the proportion that they represent of the whole instrument, it would be disproportionate to apply the free issue procedure to SI 2019/828.”

If it is not being offered free, what is the charging mechanism and who is paying? Presumably we are talking about producer organisations, as in the previous SI, but it would be interesting to know a little more about what the mechanism involves. Will it be fundamentally different if we leave the EU, or will it be a similar funding arrangement?

We are back to our old friend the common organisation of the markets. Will the Minister say more about direct payments, which are in the title of the regulations? What exactly will be, or could be, owed to farmers if and when we leave the EU? Presumably the money will come out of pillar 1, but what will happen to those who are owed money under pillar 2? Will they be subject to a different statutory instrument or a completely different regime? It would be useful to know exactly what the procedures are for compensating those farmers, owners or producers with what they will be owed if we change the status of the arrangements that they are subject to.

Finally, the explanatory memorandum gives the usual list of consultees—we get used to reading the same thing in explanatory memorandums, because they look very similar. The statutory instrument is pretty all-embracing. It applies to the devolved Administrations, does it not?

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indicated assent.

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It would be interesting to know what specific consultations have taken place with Scotland and Wales, or even with Northern Ireland, given that there is no one to consult with, as we know from our debate on the Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (Amendment) (Northern Ireland) (EU Exit) (No. 2) Regulations 2019. That is why those regulations were made: because the UK Government have had to take on the responsibility of the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive, which are not in existence at the moment.

I have no specific or overall concerns about the regulations, so the Minister will be pleased to hear that we will not vote against them. However, no doubt it would be of public interest to get some clarity on what is being paid to whom, and to ensure that nobody loses out—particularly as the regulations imply that people will be making contributions towards their involvement as producer organisations.

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I hope that I can deal with the shadow Minister’s concerns. Paragraph 3.3 of the explanatory memorandum relates to the free issue of hard copies of the instrument. The reason for our approach is that the regulations do not make policy changes; as we have discussed many times, they simply make minor changes to make existing policy operable. We will not be giving out free hard copies of the SI, but obviously it is available to anybody who wants to see it.

Why do we have one explanatory memorandum but two statutory instruments? The regulations that we considered earlier relate exclusively to reserved matters, whereas the present regulations are about devolved matters, so we needed two statutory instruments. However, they both address generally the same topic, so we chose to cover them in a single explanatory memorandum.

The shadow Minister asked how the direct payments process works. As always with the CAP, some of the matters involved are complicated. The financial discipline mechanism, as it is called in EU terminology, applies only to pillar 1. Under that mechanism, each year the European Union top-slices the pillar 1 budget, which normally goes out in the basic payment scheme. It typically takes about 1.5% of the budget and holds it in the crisis reserve; should there be a major market disruption in dairy or something else during the year, that top-sliced crisis reserve will fund interventions in the market such as buying up skimmed milk powder.

Under the SI, the money top-sliced in the last scheme year will be reimbursed to farmers the next year if it is unused. If there is no crisis against which the money needs to be used, it goes back into the pot for the following year. That is how the EU system works; we are simply putting it beyond doubt that if there is unused money in the crisis reserve, we will add it as a top-up to next year’s BPS payment, even though we will be outside the European Union.

Finally, the shadow Minister asked whether the devolved Administrations had been involved. I can confirm that they absolutely have. The regulations relate to matters of devolved competence. We have had discussions with the Administrations; although we are legislating UK-wide, it is with their consent.

I hope that I have been able to address the shadow Minister’s points. I welcome the fact that he does not intend to press the regulations to a vote.

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I wonder how many more CMO SIs we will have.

Question put and agreed to.

Committee rose.

Common Organisation of the Markets in Agricultural Products (Producer organisations and Wine) (Amendment Etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019

The Committee consisted of the following Members:

Chair: Sir Roger Gale

† Baldwin, Harriett (West Worcestershire) (Con)

† Caulfield, Maria (Lewes) (Con)

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

† Debbonaire, Thangam (Bristol West) (Lab)

† Dent Coad, Emma (Kensington) (Lab)

† Drew, Dr David (Stroud) (Lab/Co-op)

† Duguid, David (Banff and Buchan) (Con)

† Eustice, George (Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

† Fellows, Marion (Motherwell and Wishaw) (SNP)

† Goodwill, Mr Robert (Scarborough and Whitby) (Con)

Hayes, Helen (Dulwich and West Norwood) (Lab)

† Ross, Douglas (Moray) (Con)

Sheerman, Mr Barry (Huddersfield) (Lab/Co-op)

Simpson, David (Upper Bann) (DUP)

† Stewart, Iain (Milton Keynes South) (Con)

† Swire, Sir Hugo (East Devon) (Con)

Warburton, David (Somerton and Frome) (Con)

Ben Street, Committee Clerk

† attended the Committee

Second Delegated Legislation Committee

Monday 28 October 2019

[Sir Roger Gale in the Chair]

Common Organisation of the Markets in Agricultural Products (Producer Organisations and Wine) (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019

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I beg to move,

That the Committee has considered the Common Organisation of the Markets in Agricultural Products (Producer Organisations and Wine) (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 (S.I. 2019, No. 1343).

This instrument is part of a series of statutory instruments amending retained EU legislation relating to the common organisation of the markets—the CMO —to make it operable. I promised the shadow Minister that there were more delights to come relating to the CMO. The instrument specifically concerns producer co-operation; producer organisations in the fruit and vegetable sector; special provisions for the import of wine; and protected denominations of origin and protected geographical indications—PDOs and PGIs—for wine. These amendments are in the reserved areas of regulation of anti-competitive practices and agreements, international relations, import and export controls, and intellectual property.

The instrument also revokes implementing Acts adopted by the Commission setting out its decisions concerning the protection of PDOs, PGIs and traditional terms for wine. Those implementing Acts will not be needed after exit, as the effect of those decisions—that is, what appears in the PDO and PGI register—is all that is required to ensure continuity, and that will be in place.

I turn first to the provisions concerning producer organisations and producer co-operation. Once recognised as a producer organisation, producers in the fruit and vegetable sector can apply for match funding under the fruit and vegetable aid scheme for certain activities that they carry out, with the aim of increasing their production and making them stronger in the marketplace. The aid scheme currently allows a PO to take members from across the EU and receive aid in respect of all its producer members, no matter where in the EU those members are based. Once we leave the EU, the aid scheme will become a domestic scheme, and although it will still be possible for members to be based outside the UK, aid will no longer be paid in respect of land located outside the UK. The instrument also removes redundant provisions on transnational co-operation concerning POs in other sectors.

The instrument also ensures that functions relating to the recognition of producer organisations in the fruit and vegetable sector can continue to be exercised by the Secretary of State after exit, and it amends provisions relating to producer organisations in the fruit and vegetable sector in EU regulation 543/2011 to allow a programme established under that regulation to continue for the lifetime of the programme.

I turn to the provisions concerning wine. EU regulation 1308/2013—the basic CMO regulation—requires wines imported into the EU from a third country to be covered by a certificate, with a few exceptions. To avoid any risk of disruption to wine supplies, the instrument contains a time-limited transitional arrangement of nine months, which will allow wine imported from the EU to enter the UK accompanied by other forms of documentation that provide evidence of the alcohol content and details of the amount of wine in the consignment, provided that the Secretary of State considers the wine to meet UK marketing standards.

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Should legislation for an election go through this evening or tomorrow, this may well be my last performance, so it would be remiss of me not to try to get my name into Hansard to show I am still alive. When the Minister talks about wine, does that include fortified wine?

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My understanding is that the instrument concerns all wines—all those things defined as wine, including fortified wine—coming from the European Union. I am sure my officials will update me before the end of the debate if I am incorrect. As usual, my right hon. Friend asks a perceptive question.

We are willing to accept documentation covering existing EU schemes, which will allow the UK to import wine from the EU without the specified wine import certification. UK enforcement officials will carry out checks based on existing commercial and excise-related documentation.

These changes are necessary to ensure that we can still import wine from the EU in the event that those imports do not yet meet the new UK import documentation requirements after we leave. The regulations allow for a grace period, giving importers and overseas producers time to adjust.

The regulations also make operable the legal framework for the protection and cancellation of PDOs, PGIs and traditional terms for wine in the UK. Currently, the European Commission publicises its decisions on those matters by adopting implementing Acts. After exit, the Secretary of State will simply publish such information in line with our domestic practice.

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Some apple growers in my constituency make a beautiful drink called applesecco, but they were told they cannot use that designation because of current legislation. Will that remain the case after we leave the European Union?

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My hon. Friend’s part of Worcestershire is home to many producers of cider and other products. This instrument relates to the import of wine from the European Union and does not affect at all the terms that might be used by UK producers. There is a separate issue: in the event of a no-deal Brexit, although we are offering a unilateral nine-month grace period to enable supply chains—in common with many other areas—to continue normally, the EU has not yet indicated that it will reciprocate what we are doing here.

This instrument was made and laid before Parliament on 14 October. Like many such EU exit instruments laid close to 31 October, it was laid under the made affirmative procedure to ensure its being in force on exit day. I trust that I have made it clear to hon. Members why the changes made by the regulations are necessary and appropriate. I therefore commend the regulations to the Committee.

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I am delighted to serve under your chairmanship, Sir Roger, and delighted to have this latest CMO debate. I was getting withdrawal symptoms. In fact, I had to demand of the Whip that I was put on the Committee, such is my need to discuss the common organisation of markets at least two or three times a week.

Where do the regulations fit in the great panoply of debates we are having on CMOs? The Government say we cannot consolidate such legislation, but we seem to be having the same debate, perhaps on a different sector, time after time. It would be interesting to know why some of these debates could not have been put together, at least for the benefit of those struggling to understand these different sectors.

I will not rehearse the arguments we have had time after time, but I have some specific questions for the Minister. How was the nine-month time limit arrived at? That seems a peculiar, arbitrary figure. Why not a year or six months?

The regulations are on imports of wine, so we are not looking at the impact on exports. However, we are an exporter of wine, and clearly if we take particular lines of action with regard to imports, we can expect those EU nations to which we export to look at what we do and take retaliatory action. What impact assessment has been undertaken on the export of British wine? There is a growing market for British wine, which is now well known and, indeed, well loved in certain parts of the world.

It is intriguing that the “Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food” appears in the explanatory notes. It is nice to look back sometimes. I thought we had killed the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, but the Minister has obviously reincarnated it—even though the explanatory notes say he is in DEFRA.

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Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

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I give way to the former Minister.

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The hon. Gentleman referred, I think inadvertently, to British wine, but “British wine” is generally used to describe a product made from imported grape juice, which would not be protected in this way. I think he probably meant to refer to English wine—or even Welsh or Scottish wine, if there is such a thing—which would be protected.

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I stand corrected. I was just using that nomenclature, but, given the way we are all going, we may have to get used to being very definite in how we refer to things—English, Scottish, Welsh, Northern Irish or whatever form it takes. The point is that there must be some impact on our potential exports, because we are changing the rules somewhat, and the length of time is quite intriguing.

Page 13 of the instrument refers to how organisations can sign up to a scheme. I am intrigued: is this a new process, or are we carrying it across from the EU? If it is a new process, who will arbitrate to ensure that shareholdings are appropriately held and that organisations are transparent in what they apply for? There is quite a rigorous and—dare I say it?—robust application scheme, so it would be interesting to know whether we are initiating it or carrying it across—as it has been, or as it could have been—given that our status with the EU is at best uncertain.

Page 16 is the most difficult page because it is full of acronyms, and I do not quite understand what it tells me. Regulation 6(16), for example, relates to TPOs, APOs and TAPOs, and we are bringing in different definitions of how those organisations will be referred to. Page 16 has left me in the dark as much as any of our debates on CMOs, of which we have had many. I would be interested to know how the Minister sees it. I understand this will be the law, but if someone were to ask for my advice on what it really means, I would not be quite sure what to say. Will the Minister say more about what we are replacing, how we are replacing it and what we are replacing it with?

In its own way, this is a very minor piece of legislation, but the issue is how it fits together. This is an amendment, so it would be interesting to know why we have to discuss the subject again, unless the EU has moved forward in this area—that is quite possible. It would be useful to know why the Government think we now have it right and will not be discussing it again. Much as I would love to discuss the CMO for the next few days, it is important that we get this on the record and get it right, and that we understand that it is right, and that people whose livelihoods will be affected can know what the regime will look like and can react accordingly.

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I start by answering this question of where the draft regulations fit within the wide panoply—as the hon. Member for Stroud described it—of CMO regulations. The CMO is a highly complex body of law, as he and any of us in such Committees have discovered. It is a big jigsaw, but I assure him that it all fits together neatly, once we bring together all the different SIs.

For a number of reasons, we have had to do the SIs in different stages: sometimes because certain matters are reserved and others devolved, so at times two SIs must cover broadly similar areas; in other instances because different provisions within the CMO have not all been dealt with at the same time; and sometimes there have been time issues, when certain matters have been unresolved or still subject to discussion and so left until later in the process. The reason we are discussing this again, although we have discussed the CMO many times, is that these regulations fall into that last category.

There was discussion with the devolved Administrations earlier this year on exactly which matters were reserved and which devolved. These are the matters we have decided and agreed are reserved, which is why we made this instrument[Official Report, 30 October 2019, Vol. 667, c. 2MC.]. Later today, a separate SI will deal with some of the devolved issues in a similar space—

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I’ll be there.

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The hon. Gentleman, who was corrected by my right hon. Friend the Member for Scarborough and Whitby, made an important point about the export of English wine, as well as Welsh and other such wines. They are increasingly successful overseas, and the growing export market for English sparkling wine in particular has been a big success story. However, as I said in my opening remarks, organic certification recognition and other regimes are one of a number of areas where the European Union is maintaining the position that it will not discuss such matters until after we have left on 1 November. Inevitably, therefore, in the short term there would be an air gap in such areas, but all of them—including ensuring that we expedite the recognition of certification documents for English wine entering the EU market—are on a list of priorities that we will seek to progress as quickly as possible.

The shadow Minister raised the issue of page 13, annex 8, which is simply about the anti-avoidance criteria. Those are in a fairly generic form that has been used previously. He also mentioned page 16 and, on reading that page, the document seems to me to be largely about interpretation of EU documents. However, to answer his direct question, in all these SIs we are moving functions currently exercised by the European Commission to be exercised instead by—since these are all reserved areas—the Secretary of State.

I hope that I have managed to address some of the particular issues raised by the shadow Minister—

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I accept what the Minister has said. Clearly this is a specialist area, but no specialist wine producers were included in the consultation. Will he assure me that he has talked to the industry about the impact of some of the changes? I dare say that will include retailers, who will presumably be interested to know how they will get their French, Spanish and Italian wines.

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I can assure the hon. Gentleman that we have had extensive discussions with the UK hospitality industry and its trade body—which we meet weekly—and more widely with agrifood stakeholder groups, which we have also met. As we progressed our plans for a potential no-deal Brexit, they have been fully engaged. At one point, they had been concerned that we might not have a transitional period of nine months. We gave some consideration to whether we should, in the first instance, offer that unilaterally to the European Union or whether we should seek mutual reciprocation.

In the event, in this and virtually every other area, the Government took the view that we should adopt a continuity approach for at least six months. In this instance—I know the hon. Gentleman asks about this a lot—we felt that a nine-month transition was consistent with what we said about giving six months of continuity, when not much would change at all, while recognising that bottles need to be labelled in a particular way. To give people the extra time, we chose to go for nine months in this particular instance.

I assure the hon. Gentleman that we have consulted widely with the industry, which is reassured that we are offering this grace period on wine. On that basis, I hope the Committee will support this statutory instrument.

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rose—

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I am not clear whether the spokesman for the Scottish National party wishes to defend the virtue of Welsh wine—I take it you do.

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As these are largely technical regulatory amendments required to continue the current regulatory regime, we will abstain. However, may I point out that there is no better deal for the agricultural community in Scotland than the uninhibited European market that already gives access to more than 500 million consumers, some of whom may indeed enjoy Scottish wine?

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The hon. Lady makes a point slightly outside the scope of the instrument, which is clearly preparation for a no-deal Brexit, should we have to do that, although none of us wants it. The best way to ensure that we protect the interests of the food and agriculture sectors is to get behind the new deal put together by the Prime Minister.

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All sorts of things in the Committees I chair are on the margins of order, but we have learned to live with that.

Question put and agreed to.

Committee rose.