European Qualifications (Health and Social Care Professions) (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018 - Motion to Approve

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 1:00 pm on 7th March 2019.

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Photo of Lord Warner Lord Warner Labour 1:00 pm, 7th March 2019

My Lords, it is a positive delight to follow the noble Lord, Lord Deben, as I have done on a number of occasions in the past few months in debates on other SIs which have been considered in Grand Committee. The one thing I would say about the noble Lord is that he has been masterly in the consistent way in which he has expressed himself. I do not altogether share his high assessment of previous Conservative Governments on costings, but we will let that one pass.

I do not intend to go into the content of these SIs; I am saving my firepower for the last lot, on which I have quite a lot to say. However, when you look at this lot and the second lot of SIs—which presumably come out of the same department—you see a strange discontinuity between the level of the impact assessments and assessments of risk in this set compared with the second set, on which I will say some complimentary things about the MHRA and what it has done to set out some of the risk assessment. That is lacking in this set of SIs. It will be interesting to know why, coming out of the same stable, these two racehorses have been saddled up in a totally different way.

I will pursue with the Minister some of the issues around process and the status of these SIs in the number of different scenarios which we can foresee, given that we are only 22 days away from the current statutory exit date. We can have as many warm words from the Dispatch Box as you like about there not being a no-deal exit. The truth of the matter is that the legislation on the statute book—at the insistence of the Government, and indeed the Prime Minister—says that it should be on 29 March.

My concerns and questions for the Minister therefore relate to a number of aspects which may change that —we do not know whether they will; a lot of things will turn on what happens next week. For example, we still do not know whether there will be an extension or a deal, or what type of deal there will be. If there is an extension of the Article 50 process, we cannot be sure what impact it will have on the implementation or transition period—whatever you want to call it.

First, what is the status of these SIs in a number of different circumstances? We know that the Government are committing to review these SIs after two years. However, as I understand it, there is no sunset clause in any of these SIs, so we have to take the Government’s word for it that there will be a review in two years’ time. But what happens on 30 March if we exit the EU with no deal? I assume there is an expectation that all these SIs, including the ones we are discussing today, will be brought into effect. I further assume that, somehow or other, the government machine, or agencies acting on its behalf, will issue guidance to all the affected people about what they are expected to do. Can the Minister clarify whether the guidance on those SIs will in fact be issued before 29 March to all the interested parties who will be affected, in particular on the specific SIs we are discussing today?

Secondly, what happens if Article 50 is extended? I will not go into the possibilities, but let us say it is extended beyond 29 March. What happens to these SIs? Is their introduction extended? Do they not come into operation until any new date when there may be an exit day? There could still be an exit day with no deal; because you have extended Article 50, it does not follow that there is a deal. What then is the status of these SIs in the set of circumstances where there is an extension of the Article 50 process to a new exit date?

Thirdly, let us assume that there is some kind of deal, whether the Prime Minister’s deal or something else. Presumably, these SIs lapse. Is that correct, or do they stay on the statute book, given that Parliament will have passed them? How do we explain to the outside world whether it is supposed to take notice of these SIs or whether the status quo continues—which seems to be the Government’s policy for the period of transition or implementation? What is the status of these SIs in those circumstances? How will the Government communicate their status with the wider world if there is in fact a deal? We, and the world outside, need a bit of clarity about what happens to these SIs in some of the foreseeable and possible scenarios, even if there is no no-deal exit on 29 March.