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Departmental Update

Volume 736: debated on Thursday 20 July 2023

I am pleased to provide the House with the following updates from the Department for Business and Trade today.

United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020 (Services Exclusions) Regulations 2023 in accordance with section 18(10) of the United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020

This statement is made in accordance with section 18(10)[1] of the United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020 (“the UKIM Act”). The United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020 (Services Exclusions) Regulations 2023 (“the regulations”) amend the list of services contained in schedule 2 to that Act to which the market access principles in part 2 of the UKIM Act do not apply.

The changes to the services exclusions under schedule 2 are being made following a public consultation held in February to May 2021. In line with section 18(8) of the UKIM Act, consent of the Scottish Ministers, the Welsh Ministers, and the Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland to the making of the regulations has been sought. If that consent is not given within one month of the request, the regulations may be made without that consent, in accordance with section 18(9).

One month has passed and I have not received consent from all the devolved Administrations, although Welsh Ministers have consented to the making of these regulations. These regulations are important to ensuring that the scope of application of the market access principles in part 2 of the UKIM Act better reflects how services are currently regulated across the UK. I therefore intend to proceed with making the United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020 (Services Exclusions) Regulations 2023. My officials have worked closely with their counterparts in the devolved Administrations throughout this process.

[1] Regulation 18(10) states that “if regulations are made in reliance on subsection (9), the Secretary of State must publish a statement explaining why the Secretary of State decided to make the regulations without the consent of the authority or authorities concerned.”

Canada trade negotiations update

The sixth round of UK-Canada free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations began on 26 June and concluded on 30 June. Similar to previous rounds, this was conducted in a hybrid fashion with some UK officials travelling to Ottawa for negotiations and others attending virtually.

Technical discussions were held across 26 policy areas over 78 separate sessions. They included detailed discussions on treaty text.

Both parties built on the momentum from agreeing in principle UK accession to the comprehensive and progressive agreement for trans-Pacific partnership in March 2023. The negotiations continue to reflect our shared ambition to secure progressive deal which strengthens our existing trading relationship, already worth over £24.8 billion in the year to Q3 2022.

The Government remain clear that any deal we sign will be in the best interests of the British people and the United Kingdom economy. We will not compromise on our high environmental, public health, animal welfare and food standards, and we will maintain our right to regulate in the public interest. We are also clear that during these negotiations, the national health service and the services it provides are not on the table.

The Government will continue to keep Parliament updated as these negotiations progress.

Contingencies Fund advance

The Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill will reform the operations of Companies House by setting out new objectives for the Registrar of Companies, including additional powers to query and amend the register where it is suspected that there is fraud or error, as well as scope to proactively share intelligence on criminal activity across Government to combat economic crime. These provisions will help Companies House do more to tackle criminals, terrorists and corruption, strengthening the UK’s reputation as a place where legitimate business can thrive, whilst driving dirty money out of the country.

The legislation enables further investigation and enforcement activity to be undertaken against corporate entities. In readiness for this responsibility we propose to ensure we have the right staff and systems in place to deliver the registrar’s new powers.

Parliamentary approval for additional resource of £1,100,000 and capital of £1,781,000 for this new service will be sought in a supplementary estimate for the Department for Business and Trade. Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £2,881,000 will be met by repayable cash advances from the Contingencies Fund.