My Lords, in Committee, a number of noble Lords brought forward amendments to require the Government to analyse and report on the impacts on the efficiency of the UK haulage industry of any permit scheme that might be introduced, and to report on the Government’s intentions, expectations and achievements with regard to future arrangements with the EU. While we have been clear that we are seeking continued liberalised access to the EU, I recognise the concern of any impact of a limited scheme on the haulage industry. I gave an undertaking to the Committee that we would publish details of any permit scheme as soon as they were available. I also undertook to consider how best to review the impacts of any permit scheme, should one be required.
The new clause proposed by the Government requires the Secretary of State to lay an annual report assessing the effects of any restrictions on the haulage industry. We already issue permits to UK hauliers to travel to some non-EU countries where we have agreements that require permits. This amendment would be triggered only where the UK has struck an agreement with at least one country that is a member of the EU that requires a permit scheme, and where there is a limit on the number of permits available for hauliers travelling to EU member states.
The amendment also sets out the length of the reporting interval. If an assessment of the effect of a permit scheme is to be of value to Parliament and to the industry, sufficient time must pass to enable the effect to be assessed and evidence to be gathered to inform that assessment. Setting the timing of the obligation to report for the first time as one year on from any regulations coming into force will ensure that the actual effect of the regulations is properly assessed. The Government believe that the amendment they have laid imposes a proportionate obligation to assess and report, while addressing the concerns that were raised in Committee. I beg to move.