“and setting out the number of permits requested, granted and refused”.
This amendment would require the Secretary of State to report on the number of permits requested, granted and refused.
The Committee will be pleased to know that this is the last amendment I have tabled to this part of the Bill.
The amendment looks at the way the permit system is operating, how it is working—or perhaps not working—and providing the data necessary for Parliament to carry out its scrutiny function. It is a simple amendment that asks Ministers to set out
“the number of permits requested, granted and refused”,
so that there can be real understanding of why permits are refused, and of the level of refusal, should that situation occur. It would also be useful for the industry to get a detailed understanding of processes that the Government operate over their permit arrangements, hopefully leading to a reduction in the number of permits refused in the future. This is not only an informative amendment, but again, one that deals with gathering simple data. I am sure we are looking at only a small number of permits that will be refused, but I believe that this is a sensible amendment, which will help with the scrutiny function over how well the Bill operates in the future.
“to consider how best to review the impacts of any permit scheme, should one be required.” —[Official Report, House of Lords,
We have been clear that we are seeking continued liberalised access to the EU. However, I recognise that there is some concern about the impact of any limited scheme on the haulage industry. If a report is required under clause 9, the Government would naturally plan for this to include the number of permits requested, granted or refused, and I can give the hon. Lady that assurance. Accordingly, I do not believe that the amendment requires the Secretary of State to do anything that he would not expect to do in any case. For that reason, the amendment is unnecessary and I ask the hon. Lady to consider withdrawing it.
Will the Minister reflect on how he communicates how the refusal system is working? While I take on board what he has said, clearly there is concern that if there are refusals, greater understanding is needed around that, and whether that is due to the limitation on the number of permits provided—a concern I raised earlier—or to applicants not complying with the permit scheme’s requirements.
We are talking about circumstances in which a report is required. If so—and that may not be the case—the Government would plan for this to include the number of permits requested, granted or refused. Inevitably, that then becomes a matter for official discussion, scrutiny and further consideration. Of course, it is also a matter that can be raised and debated in Parliament. The hon. Lady should feel some reassurance on that front.