I thank the Minister for her introduction and explanation of these amendments concerning the devolved Administrations. I listened carefully and I have one or two queries. It would be helpful if she could clarify the source and inspiration behind the amendments, bearing in mind that they were not tabled for Committee and so their impact was not debated. Will she outline the problem that her department seems to have stumbled across and to which these amendments are the solution? They seem to point to inconsistencies in the Bill between devolved competences and Clause 37(1)(b), on regulatory provision, that I need to grasp. Has the Minister’s department run into problems during dialogue on the Bill with one or other of the devolved Administrations? She did not seem to suggest that.
The Minister’s letter dated 19 October concerning the government amendments stated that the Secretary of State will be able to make regulations with the consent of the relevant Administrations, leaving aside for this purpose the requirement merely to consult on the fees or guidance. I remain unconvinced about how the involvement implied under consent will lead to more effective implementation of the Bill. On the contrary, there is concern that these amendments could result in unwarranted duplication of legislation and bureaucracy, at best, and regulatory divergence and differences at worst. It is regrettable that this group of amendments has been tabled so late in the process and that the House has not had more time to consider the matter. Will the Minister explain why she concluded that these provisions are necessary, bearing in mind that this is a reserved matter, as she said, and that there does not seem to be any policy differences between the UK Government and the devolved Administrations? Does she share the concern that the authorities will have to duplicate the canopy of administration when they may not have the required expertise in dealing with ivory or the trade in endangered species? Can she assure the House that these amendments will not lead to a delay in implementing the Bill or in commencing regulations or to it being implemented on different dates in different parts of the UK?