Clause 28 - Consequential amendments to do with this Part

Tobacco and Vapes Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:25 am on 14 May 2024.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Gary Streeter Gary Streeter Conservative, South West Devon

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Schedules 2 to 4.

Clauses 29 to 32 stand part.

Clause 79 stand part.

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship today, Sir Gary.

Clause 28 refers to the consequential amendments to do with part 1. The clause states which schedule contains which consequential amendments applicable to England and Wales. Consequential amendments revise existing legislation to ensure the law works effectively following the introduction of the Bill. This is a standard, supplementary clause that ensures the measures in part 1 of the Bill for England and Wales function as intended.

Consequential amendments that come into force two months after the Bill is passed are included in schedule 2, which amends several pieces of legislation including the Children and Young Persons Act 1933, the Children and Young Persons (Protection from Tobacco) Act 1991, the Health Act 2006, the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, the Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions Act 2008, the Children and Families Act 2014 and the Public Health (Wales) Act 2017.

Consequential amendments that come into force six months after the Bill is passed are included in schedule 3, which amends the Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions Act 2008 and the Children and Families Act 2014.

Consequential amendments that come into force on 1 January 2027 are included in schedule 4, which amends several pieces of legislation including the Children and Young Persons Act 1933, the Protection of Children (Tobacco) Act 1986, Children and Young Persons (Protection from Tobacco) Act 1991, the Police Reform Act 2002, the Courts Act 2003, the Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions Act 2008, the Health Act 2009, the Tobacco and Primary Medical Services (Scotland) Act 2010, the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 and the Children and Families Act 2014.

Schedules 2, 3 and 4 help the Bill to function effectively within the existing legislative framework and ensure that measures in the existing legislation work as intended following the Bill’s introduction.

Clause 29 provides the Secretary of State with a power to make regulations that are consequential on part 1 of the Bill. Those regulations may amend, repeal or revoke any legislation passed before the Bill or later in the same Session of Parliament as the Bill or an Act or Measure of Senedd Cymru passed before this Bill. Regulations may amend primary legislation as well as secondary legislation.

During the development of the Bill, every effort has been made to identify and make provision for any required amendments to primary legislation. However, as the Bill brings together legislation made over the last century there is a small likelihood that further consequential amendments may be required to enable the Bill to function effectively. It is therefore prudent that the Government should have the power to make such changes via secondary legislation. Any regulations amending primary legislation will be subject to the affirmative procedure in line with guidance from the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee.

I now move on to transitional and transitory provisions to do with part 1, which are relevant to England and Wales. Clause 30 provides that the programme of enforcement under clauses 20 and 21 should apply to existing tobacco and vape restrictions in the period before the new tobacco and vape measures come into force. That ensures that the programme of enforcement in the Bill continues to apply to offences despite different provisions coming into effect at different dates. In practice, that means that in the six months following Royal Assent, the programme of enforcement applies to the current restrictions on the sale of nicotine products to under-18s.

In the period following Royal Assent, before 1 January 2027, the programme of enforcement applies to the current age of sale restrictions for tobacco, breaches of the sale of unpackaged cigarettes and breaches of the requirements for age of sale notices. Trading standards is currently obliged to consider its programme of enforcement each year, and this clause replaces that obligation. The clause is important to the functioning of the Bill, as it will ensure that effective enforcement regimes are in place for the time between Royal Assent and the commencement of provisions in the Bill.

Clause 31 provides that the fixed penalty notice regime in the Bill should apply to breaches of existing tobacco and vape age of sale restrictions in the period before the new tobacco and vape age of sale restrictions come into force. That will ensure that trading standards has additional tools available to take swift and proportionate enforcement action on under-age sales without delay. Some enforcement provisions in the Bill come into force before the offences that they relate to, and clause 32 therefore provides general transitional provisions so that enforcement is aligned with the coming into force dates of different measures.

Finally, I come to the commencement of the Bill. Clause 79 provides the commencement dates for different clauses and parts of the Bill across the United Kingdom. The clause helps the measures in the Bill to function effectively. I commend clause 28, schedules 2, 3 and 4 and clauses 29, 30, 31, 32 and 79 to the Committee.

Photo of Preet Kaur Gill Preet Kaur Gill Shadow Minister (Primary Care and Public Health)

Clauses 28 to 32 deal with transitional arrangements after the Bill is passed and before some of its new regulations come into effect to make consequential amendments to previous Acts of Parliament that will be replaced by the new measures in this Bill. I have looked through the schedules and consequential amendments, and I am satisfied that they tie in with the measures in the Bill that we have discussed.

However, I will raise a few concerns, as the schedules relate to the commencement of various clauses of the Bill. For example, the loophole in existing legislation on the free distribution of vapes to under-18s that we discussed should be closed urgently, yet the Government have specified that that should commence only within six months of the Bill’s being passed. Can the Minister explain why she is not taking swifter action? It has already been two and a half years since we proposed changes to the law on this and that the Government take that up. Who is the Minister worried about inconveniencing by introducing the regulations quickly, apart from those who would seek to addict children to vapes? I fail to see what legitimate business could risk being disrupted by going faster here, given that clause 9 specifies that it applies

“in the course of business”,

so it would not necessarily impact the use of vapes as nicotine replacement therapies.

There is also a general point to make about timing. If we soon have a general election, the short campaign will rob us of six weeks of the normal course of business and many of the provisions in the Bill, including the consequential amendments on previous Acts of Parliament, will take effect within two months of the Bill’s passing. No doubt the civil service will ably do its job for the most part in preparing relevant authorities and retailers for the commencement of some of the new powers, but what can the Minister do to reassure me that a plan is already in place for the programme of work that needs to happen so that the transition is as smooth as possible?

Clauses 30 and 31 make it clear that local trading standards may conduct programmes of enforcement and issue fixed penalty notices for the breach of existing tobacco age of sale legislation until the new progressive rise in the age of sale comes into effect in 2027. I see nothing to argue with here, and likewise I have no issue with the transitional provisions detailed in clause 32.

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

Let me respond to the point about the delay in coming into force. We seek to provide the right balance between giving retailers sufficient time to implement the measures and bringing the Bill into force as quickly as possible.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 28 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedules 2 to 4 agreed to.

Clauses 29 to 32 ordered to stand part of the Bill.