Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Environment and Wildlife (Legislative Functions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 - Motion to Approve

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 8:07 pm on 12th February 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord Gardiner of Kimble Lord Gardiner of Kimble The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 8:07 pm, 12th February 2019

My Lords, the instrument before your Lordships makes technical amendments to maintain the effectiveness and continuity of retained direct EU legislation that would otherwise be left partially inoperable, so that the law as today will continue to function properly following exit. There are no policy changes made by this instrument.

The purpose of these regulations, in line with the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, is to provide for public authorities in the UK to exercise a series of legislative functions currently conferred by EU legislation on the European Commission. In each case, the legislative function was conferred on the EU Commission so that it can interrogate the technical details of a specific EU regime and adapt them to changes without the frequent need to refer back to the EU Council and EU Parliament. These powers are clearly defined and strictly limited to technical and administrative matters. They are not the kind of matter for which we would generally, in the domestic context, require primary legislation. Rather, they would be suitable to be dealt with by secondary legislation or administratively.

Examples of these functions include specifying the forms to be used, amending technical annexes to reflect advances in scientific and technical knowledge, and updating annexes to reflect requirements under international agreements. We need the UK authorities to be able to continue to update such technical details for ongoing domestic purposes to ensure that the legislation can keep pace with change, including technological developments and our international commitments, without the need for primary legislation every time a change in such matters is required.

Parliaments and Assemblies in the UK have, until now, had little input into how these powers are exercised. In each case, these regulations set out the procedure for the exercise of these legislative functions in future. With two minor exceptions, the powers will be exercised through secondary legislation that will be subject to the scrutiny of our Parliaments.

This SI makes a number of adjustments. These represent no changes in policy, nor will they have any impact on businesses or the public.

Regulation 2 confers functions under the EU regulation on persistent organic pollutants, or POPs. These include a power to amend POPs waste concentration limits for the purpose of adapting to scientific and technical progress, and to ban, restrict or modify the use of POPs in accordance with international agreements.

Regulations 3 and 6 confer functions under the EU regulations on illegal timber and timber products. These include a power to recognise licensing schemes in partner countries to form the basis of licensing, and to amend the list of timber products to which the licensing scheme applies.

Regulation 4 confers functions under the EU regulation establishing a European pollutant release and transfer register. These include a power to take measures to initiate reporting on releases of relevant pollutants from diffuse sources where no data exists, and to adopt guidelines for the monitoring and reporting of emissions.

Regulation 5 confers functions under the EU regulation on transfrontier shipments of waste. These include a power to establish and amend technical and organisational requirements for the practical implementation of electronic data interchange for the submission of documents and information.

Regulation 7 confers functions under the EU regulation on the Nagoya protocol on access to genetic resources and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits. These include a power to establish and amend procedures for monitoring user compliance and for recognising best practice.

Regulation 8 confers functions under the EU regulation on mercury. These include a power to specify the forms to be used for export and import restrictions, and to set out technical requirements for the environmentally sound interim storage of mercury, mercury compounds and mixtures of mercury.

Regulation 9 confers one legislative function contained in an EU directive relating to industrial emissions. The power relates to determining best available techniques for preventing or minimising emissions from activities covered by the directive.

Regulations 10 and 11 confer functions under the EU regulations governing the use of leghold traps and the import of pelts and goods. These include a power to grant derogations from the ban on the import of pelts and other products, and to determine the appropriate forms for certification of imported goods incorporating pelts of listed species.

Regulation 12 confers functions under the EU regulation implementing CITES. These include a power to establish restrictions on the introduction into the UK of listed species, and to provide for derogations from certain provisions.

As I have explained, in future we will exercise these powers through laying statutory instruments before Parliament. However, I draw your Lordships’ attention to the two minor cases where administrative procedures will be used, rather than secondary legislation. These relate to POPs and leghold traps. In the first case, the administrative function being conferred concerns the determination of the format for the provision of information by the competent authority; in the second, it concerns the publication of model forms for use by importers.

In addition, the regulations also amend the retained direct EU legislation in the context of the provisions conferring these legislative functions where that is necessary to make it function properly after exit. An example of such an amendment is changing references from “Community legislation” to “retained EU law”.

These regulations extend and apply to the whole of the UK and deal with both reserved and devolved matters. In the case of reserved matters, the legislative function is conferred on the Secretary of State to exercise on behalf of the whole of the UK. We have consulted extensively with the devolved Administrations on legislative functions that relate to devolved matters and, where appropriate, they have consented to our proceeding by means of these regulations. Where matters are devolved, functions are conferred on the Secretary of State and Ministers for the devolved Administrations. The default position is that each Administration will be able to exercise a function separately. However, where devolved Administrations consent on a case-by-case basis, the Secretary of State will be able to exercise functions on their behalf.

The amendments in these regulations ensure that UK law will continue to operate smoothly. They are the minimum required to achieve their objective and make no changes in substantive policy content. To the extent that they affect devolved matters, the devolved Administrations have given their consent to both the policy and wording of the regulations. I beg to move.