The draft Carriage of Explosives (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020

Executive Committee Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 6:00 pm on 14th December 2020.

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Photo of Naomi Long Naomi Long Alliance 6:00 pm, 14th December 2020

I beg to move

That the draft Carriage of Explosives (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 be approved.

Photo of Roy Beggs Roy Beggs UUP

The Business Committee has agreed that there will be no time limit on this debate. I invite the Minister to open the debate on the motion.

Photo of Naomi Long Naomi Long Alliance

This draft rule is made under the powers conferred by the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. It addresses deficiencies in Northern Ireland domestic legislation which implement EU laws that have arisen as a result of the withdrawal of the UK from the European Union. The rule also makes provision in consequence of the 2018 Act and restates domestic law in a clearer and more accessible way. It makes necessary amendments to the Carriage of Explosives Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2010 to ensure that there continues to be a functioning legislative and regulatory regime for the carriage of dangerous goods in Northern Ireland.

In this case, the regime covers the transport of class 1 dangerous goods, explosives, explosive substances and articles by road and rail. The regime for the transport of dangerous goods in the UK and Northern Ireland is derived from the United Nations subcommittee of experts on the transport of dangerous goods. The UK is a signatory to the European agreement concerning the international carriage of dangerous goods by road, known as ADR, and to the equivalent for rail, the regulation concerning the international carriage of dangerous goods by rail, known as RID.

The United Kingdom is committed to the ongoing implementation of those requirements. ADR and RID do not automatically have legal force and were implemented in the EU by the dangerous goods directive. In Northern Ireland, the Carriage of Explosives Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2010 implement the dangerous goods directive for class 1 dangerous goods and, by consequence, implement the requirements of ADR and RID. The dangerous goods directive is not one of the specified EU regulations in annex 2 to the Northern Ireland protocol, and it will not continue to extend to Northern Ireland after the transition period.

The draft rule is, therefore, required in order to correct Northern Ireland legislation that is for the carriage of class 1 dangerous goods and that would otherwise cease to function properly at the end of the transition period. The amendments make sure that the 2010 regulations will continue to function as before by ensuring that the regulatory framework for the carriage of explosives by road and rail will remain in place on implementation period (IP) completion day.

The amendments that are made by the rule will revise references that are predicated on the UK being a member state of the EU, retain the power for the Department of Justice to grant authorisations, apply existing derogations that are approved prior to the protocol completion day and issue new exceptions.

The rule is subject to the draft affirmative procedure, as the function of the EU is now exercisable by a public authority in the UK, namely the Department of Justice, which falls within paragraph 1(2) of schedule 7 to the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. The draft rule provides that the Department of Justice may issue new exceptions from the requirements and prohibitions of the carriage of dangerous goods by road and rail. Formerly, it was the European Commission that authorised new derogations from the dangerous goods directive. Northern Ireland, as well as the rest of the UK, will continue to work to the same requirements and standards in the carriage of dangerous goods underpinned by the ADR and RID agreements. The requirements for those involved in the carriage of class 1 goods by road or rail in Northern Ireland are not being changed by the draft rule.

I thank the Justice Committee for its careful consideration of the draft rule. It is with that support that I bring the rule before Members and commend it to the House.

Photo of Paul Givan Paul Givan DUP 6:15 pm, 14th December 2020

I am pleased to speak briefly on the motion on behalf of the Committee. The statutory rule that is before us, as the Minister indicated, ensures that the Carriage of Explosives Regulations 2010 will continue to operate at the end of the transition period for the United Kingdom's exit from the European Union by ensuring that the regulatory framework for the carriage of class 1 goods will remain in place. The 2010 regulations implemented the EU's dangerous goods directive, so far as it concerned class 1 goods and, by consequence, implemented the requirements of the international carriage of dangerous goods by road and the international carriage of dangerous goods by rail, which is part of the convention of the international carriage by rail and to which the UK is a signatory.

The dangerous goods directive is not listed in annex 2 to the Northern Ireland protocol so will not extend to Northern Ireland at the end of the transition period. Instead, the United Kingdom is committed to the ongoing implementation of the requirements of ADR and RID, which predate EU membership and the dangerous goods directive. The rule does not change the requirements for those involved in the carriage of explosives by road and rail in Northern Ireland.

(Mr Speaker in the Chair)

The Committee first considered the proposals for the rule on 5 November and agreed to request some clarification of whether it was anticipated that there would be any remaining gaps in the carriage of dangerous goods at the end of the transition period. In its response, the Department clarified that it has responsibility for class 1 goods only. The proposed SR will ensure that regulations continue to function as before, with no gaps being identified.

The Department also advised that the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI), which is an agency of the Department for the Economy, is responsible for the remaining classes of dangerous goods legislation. The HSENI proposes to make a similar EU exit SR for classes 2 to 9 that, subject to completion, should ensure that there are no gaps in the regulatory framework for the carriage of dangerous goods.

Having considered the additional information provided by the Department at its meeting on 26 November, the Committee agreed that it was content with the proposal to make the rule. The statutory rule was subsequently considered at the meeting on 10 December. The Committee noted that in her report on the rule, the Examiner of Statutory Rules had highlighted a minor drafting error that the Department of Justice had undertaken to rectify. The Examiner was otherwise content with the technical aspects of the rule, and the Committee agreed on 10 December to recommend that the statutory rule be affirmed by the Assembly. Therefore, I support the motion on behalf of the Committee for Justice.

Photo of Emma Rogan Emma Rogan Sinn Féin

The purpose of the rule is to correct legislation that would otherwise cease to function properly at the end of the Brexit transition period. The proposed rule will ensure that the Carriage of Explosives Regulations 2010 will continue to operate as before by ensuring that the regulatory framework for the carriage of class I goods will remain in place. The regulations relate to health and safety protocols for the transportation of dangerous goods. Therefore, it is only right that those involved in such transportations are offered the same protections post-Brexit to allow the safe and secure transport of dangerous goods. Given that dangerous goods are not listed in the Irish protocol, as well as the need to ensure the continued alignment with the technical regulations at the end of the Brexit transition period, my party will be supporting the statutory rule.

Photo of Naomi Long Naomi Long Alliance

I thank Members for their consideration of the draft rule. In particular, I thank the Chair, Paul Givan, and Committee member, Emma Rogan, for their comments.

The rule is being made to address deficiencies in Northern Ireland domestic legislation that implements EU law and which have arisen as a result of the UK's withdrawal from the European Union and thus to ensure that the Carriage of Explosives Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2010 continue to function appropriately in Northern Ireland at the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020. The proposed draft rule is essential to ensure that we continue to have an effective regulatory framework for the carriage of dangerous and class 1 goods by road and rail following the end of the transition period.

There are no implications for the cross-border transport of class 1 goods. The same international agreements for the carriage of dangerous goods by road and rail will continue to apply on both sides of the border in Ireland. The regulations are essential for the foreign transport of class I dangerous goods. They reassure our trading partners that exports of dangerous goods from the UK will be transported safely in accordance with the international carriage of dangerous goods by rail, by road and the UN model regulations and, thus, they ease the passage of those goods.

The requirements for those involved in the carriage of dangerous goods and class 1 goods by road and rail in Northern Ireland are not being changed by the draft rule. Therefore, I hope that the Assembly will join me in supporting the regulations. I commend the draft rule to the Assembly.

Question put and agreed to. Resolved:

That the draft Carriage of Explosives (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 be approved.

I ask Members to take their ease for a moment or two.