Licensing of Operators and International Road Haulage (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 - Motion to Approve

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:10 pm on 18th March 2019.

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Photo of Baroness Sugg Baroness Sugg Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport) 4:10 pm, 18th March 2019

My Lords, these draft regulations will be made under the powers conferred by the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 and will be needed if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. They amend regulation 1071/2009, which sets the requirements and procedures for transport operator licensing, and regulation 1072/2009, which regulates access to the international freight market. This SI makes minimal changes to those regulations and consequential amendments to domestic legislation to ensure that road haulage markets continue to operate effectively.

Regulation 1071/2009 provides a framework for the licensing of transport operators—both haulage and bus and coach operators—in member states of the EU and ensures minimum standards across the EU. Operators are licensed by national authorities. In Great Britain, this is the traffic commissioners; in Northern Ireland, it is the Department for Infrastructure. Operators need to comply with four criteria in order to be considered fit and proper persons to hold an operator’s licence. These criteria are: having a stable establishment; being of good repute; having a sufficient level of financial standing; and possessing the required professional competence.

Regulation 1072/2009 sets out the rules and procedures for accessing the international road haulage market. It allows appropriately licensed hauliers from EU member states to operate in other member states and provides for enforcement mechanisms to regulate and control this access.

The withdrawal Act will retain regulations 1071/2009 and 1072/2009 in their entirety on exit day. The draft instrument we are considering makes the changes necessary so that these regulations continue to function correctly, and it is essential to ensure that the regulatory regime in place after exit continues to operate.

The regulations will ensure that the requirements of regulation 1071/2009 continue to be applicable to UK hauliers and public service operators—both those operating in the UK and those operating overseas. They will also ensure the continued operation of regulation 1072/2009, which provides that hauliers from the 27 EU member states will continue to be admitted to the UK provided they have a valid operator’s licence, issued by the country in which they are established, showing that they meet the requirements that I outlined earlier.

The regulations require hauliers to hold a UK licence for the Community after their current Community licence expires. This is a new document and will look very similar to the current EU Community licence, which hauliers already hold when operating in the EU. The criteria for this will be the same as for the Community licence.

The European Commission has already published legislation that would govern UK operators’ access to the EU for nine months after Brexit. This is based on the principle of reciprocity, and this SI allows us to offer a reciprocal level of access to EU hauliers. The regulations might also help in future negotiations. They demonstrate that the UK is committed to maintaining high standards in the freight industry that meet the EU baseline. They also allow for the UK to adjust levels of market access to EU hauliers in order to reciprocate whatever is agreed in the negotiations.

The access rules in regulation 1072/2009 also include provisions to allow hauliers to practise cabotage—jobs entirely in another member state. Currently, three domestic jobs in a seven-day period are permitted for EU hauliers as part of their return trip once they have completed a job in another member state. Previously the power to suspend cabotage provisions if they disrupted the domestic market was subject to the approval of the European Commission. These regulations transfer this power to the Secretary of State so that we have the ability to suspend cabotage for non-UK hauliers if reciprocal arrangements are not offered to UK hauliers in the EU.

The regulations also modify the Goods Vehicle (Licensing of Operators) Act 1995. Section 2 of the Act makes it an offence for a person to use a goods vehicle except under an operator’s licence. However, for very practical reasons, the provision exempts holders of Community licences issued by member states from this requirement. This means that EU hauliers are able to operate in Great Britain without having to apply for an operator’s licence. An equivalent provision is made in Northern Ireland legislation. The SI also allows us to exempt operating licences using secondary legislation in future.

The regulations provide for the continuation of the road haulage and passenger transport licensing system. They also allow for EU member state hauliers to continue to operate in the UK, ensuring that supply chains continue to function effectively. I beg to move.