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Written Statements

Volume 744: debated on Monday 22 January 2024

Written Statements

Monday 22 January 2024

Business and Trade

Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Act 2023: June to December 2023 Report

The Secretary of State for Business and Trade has, today, laid before Parliament a report outlining the progress made in reforming and revoking retained EU law.

The report fulfils our obligations under section 17 of the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Act 2023 —the REUL Act. This requires the Secretary of State to report to Parliament at six-monthly intervals until June 2026.

Through this process, the Government have taken back control of the UK’s laws and have a road map to repeal or reform more than half of all the stock of regulations that were inherited from the European Union.

The REUL Act removed the special status of REUL at the end of 31 December 2023, and REUL which had not yet been revoked became “assimilated law”. EU principles of interpretation no longer apply to these laws. This removed the principle of EU law supremacy in the UK legal system for the first time since 1972. In total, more than 2,000 pieces of REUL have already been revoked or reformed. The Financial Services and Markets Act 2023 and the Procurement Act 2023 will together revoke hundreds more pieces of REUL.

The report sets out the considerable progress the Government have made since the REUL Bill received Royal Assent in June 2023. Twenty-six statutory instruments have been laid using powers under the REUL Act and other domestic legislation. Many of these instruments revoke redundant EU legislation or make significant legislative reforms, and the powers in the Act have already been used to remove over 100 pieces of REUL from the statute book by SI. Important specific reforms that have already been delivered include changes to employment law by reducing record-keeping requirements around working time regulations and simplifying the calculation of holiday pay entitlement. These changes will cut bureaucracy and could save industry up to £1 billion a year. In addition, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs was able to reform REUL relating to the marketing and production of wine, which will strengthen the wine industry’s potential for growth and innovation. These reforms come alongside a number of important transport reforms, including to airport slot allocations, merchant shipping and aviation statistics.

But this is only the start. After 40 years living under EU laws, the Government road map includes a further 500 revocations and reforms of REUL in 2024, and we are on track to have repealed or reformed 3,424 regulations inherited from the EU by June 2026. Laws which are not earmarked for reform by 2026 are either already suited to the UK or are necessary to uphold our international obligations in treaties.

The report provides details of Departments’ ambitious plans for REUL reforms in 2024. These include policy areas such as product safety, clinical trials, carbon capture and metrology. These future reforms will support British businesses to innovate and grow the economy.

Today the Government have also updated the REUL dashboard, available on It now tracks 6,757 pieces of retained EU law—now known as assimilated law—concentrated over 400 unique policy areas.

The REUL Act is a key part of the Government’s smarter regulation programme, enabling Departments to deliver regulatory reform, reduce regulatory burdens and costs on UK businesses and consumers, and ensure regulations are fit for the UK economy. By regulating in accordance with our smarter regulation principles, the Government will ensure that regulation is deployed only where necessary, and its design and use is both proportionate and future-proof.

Alongside reforms to the stock of regulations, the Government’s new better regulation framework will put downward pressure on the flow of new regulation; encourage alternatives as far as possible; and allow for a full consideration of wider impacts, such as effects on competition and innovation. Significant progress is being made to ensure the wider landscape of regulators works for the UK.

The Government will be taking forward the plan to extend the regulators’ growth duty to Ofcom, Ofgem and Ofwat, with effect from 6 April 2024, subject to parliamentary approval of the necessary secondary legislation. The Department for Business and Trade’s call for evidence on the regulatory landscape invited views from businesses, consumers and regulators to establish areas that are working well and where regulators could improve, and a statement updating Parliament on its findings will be made in due course.

Next steps

The Government are committed to lightening the regulatory burden on businesses to help to spur economic growth. The second parliamentary report will be published in six months, to continue to keep Parliament updated.


Culture, Media and Sport

BBC Royal Charter: Mid-term Review

The BBC is a unique cultural institution which has provided the model for public service broadcasting across the world. It has been informing, educating and entertaining millions every day, both in the UK and globally, for over 100 years.

Today, having moved into the second half of the BBC’s current 11 year royal charter, I am publishing the mid-term review. This evaluates the effectiveness of the governance and regulatory arrangements introduced by the charter in 2017.

The Government published the terms of reference for the review in May 2022. Following a period of targeted stakeholder engagement and consultation with the BBC, Ofcom and devolved Administrations, we are today publishing our findings with a series of recommendations to deliver better outcomes for audiences. Priority areas considered in the review, and significant recommendations in those areas, include:

Editorial standards and impartiality: If the BBC is to maintain the trust of its audiences it needs to be impartial. While the BBC strives to do this, it can do more. The BBC needs to be more transparent to audiences about how it is delivering its commitment to continuous, long-term improvement on impartiality. We are extending Ofcom’s regulation to elements of the BBC’s online public service material. This reflects that audiences increasingly consume content online and expect the same standards across the BBC’s different services, a change that will also enable Ofcom to better hold the BBC to greater account across its digital services.

Complaints: The feedback of licence fee payers through the complaints system, including concerns about the impartiality of BBC content, is invaluable in helping the BBC deliver its role. Following constructive conversations with the BBC, the mid-term review introduces major reforms that will provide greater external and independent scrutiny of the BBC’s complaints handling. The board will be given a new, legally-binding responsibility in the framework agreement to actively oversee the BBC executive’s handling of complaints. Pre-broadcast editorial policy and post-broadcast complaints resolution will be separated, with the role responsible for leading complaints handling now reporting directly to the director general. The BBC board sub-committee responsible for ensuring that the BBC complies with its complaints framework, the editorial guidelines and standards committee, chaired by a non-executive director, will be given greater powers to scrutinise and challenge how the BBC executive responds to complaints. These reforms will give licence fee payers greater confidence that their complaints have been handled fairly, and that their views have been heard. We also recommend that Ofcom improves the transparency of its decision-making when the BBC has found a breach of its own editorial standards. If the breach is within Ofcom’s regulatory jurisdiction, Ofcom should publicly and clearly record this breach. If it decides not to open a formal investigation into the content against the broadcasting code, Ofcom should clearly explain its rationale in its online bulletin.

Competition and market impact: There must be higher standards of BBC engagement and transparency with competitors. This will ensure that BBC’s competitors are better able to understand the BBC’s plans, and therefore to provide more valuable feedback to the BBC, and where necessary Ofcom, before it makes changes to its services.

The recommendations are for the BBC and Ofcom to take forward. The Government expect timely implementation of these recommendations. A number of the recommendations require changes to the framework agreement which will be published as soon as possible.

The mid-term review has also helped identify early on some of the other key issues that need to be considered at charter review, which we will conclude by 2027. The Government will, on an ongoing basis, continue to focus on the BBC’s impartiality. At the next charter review we will review the effectiveness of the BBC’s social media guidelines; assess whether BBC First remains the right complaints model to enable the BBC to best serve all audiences; and examine the BBC’s role in the wider market, including its distinctiveness and how the regulatory framework may need to evolve to reflect shifts in technology and consumer behaviour.

A copy of the report will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.


Energy Security and Net Zero

Local Industrial Decarbonisation Plans and Industrial Energy Transformation Fund

My noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Lord Callanan) has today made the following statement:

I am pleased to inform the House that two announcements will be made today regarding Government support for industrial decarbonisation: winners of the local industrial plans (LIDP) competition, and publication of guidance documents for phase 3 of the industrial energy transformation fund.

Dispersed industrial sites account for approximately half of the UK’s industrial emissions. In the 2021 net zero strategy, the Government committed to explore opportunities for faster decarbonisation of dispersed sites in the 2020s, including funding for mini-cluster industrial decarbonisation plans to develop shared infrastructure and integrated decarbonisation solutions in local areas.

To fulfil this commitment, the Government, in partnership with Innovate UK (IUK), have today announced the 12 winners of the local industrial decarbonisation plans (LIDP) competition, worth up to £6 million. This supports collaborative working between groups of industrial manufacturers and other businesses to start their journey towards a low-carbon future.

The competition provides grant funding to support place-based industrial decarbonisation plans, driving benefits from collaborative partnerships across industries and sectors as they develop plans for the introduction of low-emission technologies. The programme of work will last until March 2025.

The projects which have been offered grants—subject to contract—are:

Bradford Manufacturing Futures—Up to £726,729

DECODE Corby—Up to £453,590

Decarbonising Dalton Industrial Estate—Up to £129,063

Decarbonising the Midlands Aerospace Cluster (DMAC)—Up to £444,739

Decarbonising the Port of Poole Maritime Industrial Cluster—Up to £184,487

Industrial Decarbonisation for Northern Ireland—Up to £595,905

Making A Better Tomorrow: Decarbonisation of Stakehill Industrial Estate in Atom Valley—Up to £612,376

NEW-ID (North East Wales Industrial Decarbonisation)—Up to £711,784

Shoreham Port Industrial Cluster: Local Industrial Decarbonisation Plan—Up to £226,803

The Solent Cluster: Local Industrial Decarbonisation Plan—Up to £757,601

West of England Industrial Cluster Local Industrial Decarbon-isation Plan—Up to £607,571

ZCOP I-RMAP: Zero Carbon Oxford Partnership Industrial Roadmap and Action Plan—Up to £265,032.

Companies across England, Wales and Northern Ireland can also benefit from the support offered through the industrial energy transformation fund (IETF). The IETF provides grant funding towards the costs of studies and deployment projects that reduce the energy consumption and emissions produced by industrial sites, including sites in dispersed locations. Phase 3 of the IETF will allocate up to £185 million in 2024. Today we are publishing the guidance documents ahead of the spring 2024 application window which will open on 29 January and close on 19 April.


Health and Social Care


I wish to update the House on an increase in measles cases across England and the actions that the Government and health system are taking to control the disease’s spread.

The current measles outbreak

Following an increase in measles cases across England, the UK Health Security Agency raised its incident response level to a national standard incident on 8 January 2024. There are three categories of incident: routine, standard and enhanced.

In 2023, there was an increase in confirmed measles cases, on which the UKHSA publishes statistics monthly. As of 18 January 2024, there have been 216 confirmed cases in the west midlands since 1 October 2023. NHS figures show that more than 3.4 million children under the age of 16 are unprotected and at risk of catching this serious and completely preventable disease. In response to this and the slow decline in measles, mumps and rubella vaccine uptake, the NHS carried out catch-up efforts in 2023, contacting parents and carers of unvaccinated children aged five and younger. This resulted in a 10% increase in MMR vaccine uptake compared with the previous year.

Measles is a highly infectious illness that can easily be spread between unvaccinated people. Complications from measles can be potentially life changing and include blindness, deafness and swelling of the brain, or encephalitis.

Analysis shows that one infected child in a classroom can infect up to nine other unvaccinated children, making it one of the most infectious diseases worldwide, and more infectious than covid-19. One in five children with measles will need to be admitted to a hospital for treatment—which could put additional pressure on the NHS.

Measles is not just a childhood disease and can be serious at any age. If caught during pregnancy, it can be very serious, causing stillbirth, miscarriage and low birth weight.

Actions under way to protect the public

Measles is a vaccine-preventable disease, with long-lasting immunity provided through the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine. Ninety-five per cent of the population must be vaccinated to provide sufficient population immunity. In some parts of the country, vaccination levels are below this threshold, allowing measles to spread rapidly through communities.

Data shows that the MMR vaccine is safe and very effective. After two doses:

around 99% of people will be protected against measles and rubella

around 88% of people will be protected against mumps

Two doses of the safe and effective MMR vaccine are needed for maximum life-long protection, with the first dose given around the child’s first birthday and the second dose given at around three years and four months old. However, anyone can catch up at any age on any missed doses. It is never too late to protect yourself, and everyone eligible for the MMR vaccination who has not yet taken up the offer should get vaccinated.

To support increasing the uptake of the MMR vaccine, NHS England announced on Friday 19 January a catch-up campaign from February for missed MMR vaccines, as part of a major new drive to protect children from becoming seriously unwell as measles continues to rise across the country. The campaign:

Will be targeted at parents and carers of unvaccinated and partially vaccinated children aged six to 11, encouraging them to make an appointment with their child’s GP practice for their missed MMR vaccine.

Builds on the work already done to contact parents of children aged nought to five for vaccination—a campaign which saw a 10% increase in the number of MMR vaccinations compared with the previous year, with two million texts, emails and letters sent to parents between September 2022 and February 2023.

Will target places with low uptake of the vaccine. Initial priority areas are London and the west midlands, with the NHS acting quickly to contact almost 1 million more people, including parents and carers of those aged six to 18, and young people aged 18 to 25, to invite them to catch up on their missed MMR vaccinations.

People who are unvaccinated can get catch-up jabs at MMR pop-ups in schools and other convenient places, including GP surgeries, asylum hotels and libraries.

GPs, teachers, and trusted community leaders are encouraging groups less likely to get their jab to come forward. NHS England, UKHSA and local health partners are also working together to deliver immunisation programmes tailored to the needs of under-vaccinated communities. For example, in the west midlands, MMR pop-up clinics are running in outbreak settings, and whole-school vaccination campaigns will be run in areas with the highest number of at-risk individuals. GP practices are also being supported to improve MMR uptake through convenient, tailored appointments and proactive conversations with concerned parents.

Longer-term actions

The recently published NHS vaccine strategy builds on the success of the NHS’s world-leading covid-19 vaccine programme, when local teams found innovative ways to reach people during the pandemic. It reflects views sought from a wide range of stakeholders and delivery partners, including the public, those who work in our health services, community and charity leaders, and colleagues in local government. This strategy will maximise convenience, with more vaccination services at locations that the public can easily access, such as libraries, leisure centres, social clubs or sports grounds, family hubs, support services and places of worship, or at local cultural and community events; with flexible opening hours; and with booking options.

Parents and carers can find out more about the different vaccines their child should have and when by visiting and searching for “NHS vaccinations and when to have them”.

It is vitally important that everyone takes up the vaccinations they are entitled to. The MMR vaccine is highly effective, safe and the best way to prevent the spread of measles and to protect children from becoming seriously unwell from the disease.