Commentary on provisions of Bill
Part 1: Haulage
14 The EU legal framework in relation to the international carriage of goods within the EU, by way of road haulage, is based on qualitative requirements which hauliers must meet in order to obtain a Community Licence. Assuming these are met, a Community Licence enables hauliers established in a Member State to carry goods internationally within the EU. Road haulage to or through non-EU countries operates, for the most part, under bilateral arrangements.
● Currently, a Community Licence for the international carriage of goods within the EU is issued by a traffic commissioner in Great Britain to any person who has been granted a Standard International Operator’s Licence on application, or by the Department for the Environment in Northern Ireland.
● The provisions in the Bill provide for the Secretary of State to make regulations prohibiting the use of goods vehicle registered in the United Kingdom on an international journey specified in the regulations without an international road transport permit, providing that an international agreement to which the UK is a party provides for a permit to be carried on the specified international journey. Where the outcome of negotiations with the EU mean that existing Community Licence arrangements will no longer apply after the UK’s exit from the EU, the Bill provides the Secretary of State with the powers to set up and enforce any alternative arrangements that may be agreed internationally, enabling the continued movement of goods to and from the EU by UK hauliers.
15 The Bill enables the Secretary of State to make regulations setting out the administrative procedure in respect of the grant of permits for specified international journeys, including the number of permits available, the application process, the criteria to be taken into account, and the procedures for varying, renewing or cancelling permits. The Bill also enables the Secretary of State to put in place an appeals process in relation to the variation or cancellation of permits, and to charge fees for the application for, issue of, and variation of, a permit.
16 The Bill includes provisions for enforcement, allowing an examiner to inspect and copy a permit, in order to determine whether a vehicle is being used in keeping with the regulations made under clause 1(1) or the permit requirements, and to detain a vehicle for that purpose. It also enables an examiner to prohibit the removal of a vehicle from the UK if it is breaching the regulations made under clause 1(1) or the relevant permit requirements, and creates criminal offences to aid in the enforcement of those regulations.
Clause 1: International road transport permits
17 Clause 1 provides for the Secretary of State to make regulations to prohibit the use of a goods vehicle registered in the UK on international journeys unless an international road transport permit is carried on the vehicle and all the conditions of that permit are complied with.
18 Subsection (2) allows for a permit to take various forms, as the Secretary of State considers appropriate.
19 Subsection (3) specifies that this prohibition can apply to specific journeys or vehicles.
20 Subsection (4) defines "relevant international agreement" as an agreement relating to a country outside the UK other than Ireland, to which the UK is a party and which relates to the transport of goods by road to, in or through a country outside the UK. In relation to Ireland, a relevant international agreement is an agreement to which the UK is a party, which relates to the transport of goods by road to, in or through Ireland and which the Secretary of State has certified as an agreement to which the Government of Ireland consents. The decision in relation to whether or not to certify that the Government of Ireland consents is for the Secretary of State. If the Secretary of State certifies that an international agreement is one to which the Government of Ireland consents in circumstances where there has been no such consent, he will be acting ultra vires. The Bill caters for scenarios arising as a result of international agreements which are bilateral, such as agreements between the UK and Ireland, and multi-lateral, such as UK-EU agreements.
Clause 2: Number and allocation of permits etc
21 Clause 2 provides that the Secretary of State may set out in regulations:
● how the number of permits for specific international journeys is determined in accordance with international agreements (paragraph (1)(a) and how the number of those permits available for classes of applicants will be determined by the Secretary of State (paragraphs (1)(b));
● the criteria or methods to be applied by the Secretary of State deciding whether to grant a permit (paragraph (1)(c)). These methods may include random selection, when used with other criteria or methods, or first come, first served;
● that the Secretary of State may grant a permit subject to conditions and set out the consequences of failing to comply with those conditions (paragraphs (2) (a) and (b);
● provisions dealing with the duration, variation, renewal or cancellation of permits (paragraph (2) (c);
● the procedures for making applications and the information to be provided with such applications (paragraph (2) (d)); and
● the procedure for varying, renewing or cancelling a permit, and applying conditions to a permits’ use (paragraph (2) (d)).
Clause 3: Temporary exemptions
22 Clause 3 provides for the Secretary of State to authorise in regulations temporary exemptions from the requirement to carry a permit for UK goods vehicles (under clause 1(1)) in an emergency or to enable some other special need to be dealt with.
23 Subsection (2) provides that the regulations may allow for temporary exemptions to take effect by giving written notice to the operator of the goods vehicle or by publishing a notice specifying the description of goods vehicles to which the temporary exemption applies.
24 Subsection (3) states that the regulations must specify the vehicle or class of vehicles to which the exemption relates and the journeys which are covered by the exemption.
Clause 4: Appeals
25 Clause 4 provides for the Secretary of State to make regulations enabling appeals to be made to a court or tribunal against:
· a decision to cancel or vary a permit; or
· a decision as to the conditions under which a permit is granted.
Clause 5: Fees
26 Clause 5 provides for the Secretary of State to make regulations to set the fees payable for the application, variation or renewal of a permit and for the issuing of a permit if the application is successful.
Clause 6: Production of permits and inspection of vehicles
27 Clause 6 provides enforcement powers to examiners when it appears that a vehicle is being used on a relevant journey. These powers are:
a. to require the driver to produce any international road transport permit carried on the vehicle for inspection and copying (paragraph (2)(a));
b. to inspect the vehicle to determine whether a permit is required and that a vehicle is being used in line with the conditions on the permit (paragraph (2)(b); and
c. to detain the vehicle to carry out these checks (subsection (3)).
28 Subsection (4) requires an examiner using the powers under this clause to produce his or her authority to act as an examiner on request.
29 Subsection (5) defines "relevant journey" meaning that these powers are only exercisable if the vehicle is travelling abroad on a journey that requires a permit (under clause 1(1), or if the vehicle will conduct a journey requiring a permit while not in the UK (under paragraph (1)(b) to this clause).
Clause 7: Prohibition notices
30 Clause 7 allows an examiner to prohibit, by written notice, a vehicle on a relevant journey from leaving the UK if the relevant permits are not carried on the vehicle as required in regulations (and subsection (2) permits this in relation to journeys which technically begin outside of the UK).
31 Subsections (3) to (7) contain safeguards regulating the examiner’s power to prohibit a vehicle from leaving the UK. A written notice prohibiting a vehicle from leaving the UK must be given to the driver (paragraphs (4)), setting out the country to which the prohibition relates (paragraph 5(a)), the circumstances in which the prohibition is imposed(paragraph (5)(b)), the purose for which the prohibition applies or that it applies absolutely (paragraph (5)(c) and the period for which the prohibition is in place (paragraph (5)(d)). The notice takes effect when it is given to the driver of the vehicle, and the examiner must remove the prohibition immediately if it becomes apparent either that a permit is not required for the international journey or that a permit was carried on the vehicle. The examiner must also give notice, as soon as practicable, to the operator of the vehicle if the driver is not the operator.
Clause 8: Offences: breach of regulations etc.
32 Subsections (1) and (4) make it a summary offence for an operator to breach the prohibition imposed by regulations made under clause 1(1); or to remove, or cause or permit the removal of, a goods vehicle from UK in breach of a prohibition notice imposed under clause 7. The maximum penalty on summary conviction is a level 4 fine, currently up to £2,500.
33 Subsections (2) and (3) make it a summary offence for the driver of a goods vehicle to refuse, without reasonable excuse, to produce a permit when required by examiner under clause 6; or to willfully obstruct an examiner in carrying out functions under clause 6. The maximum penalty on summary conviction is a level 3 fine, currently up to £1,000.
Clause 9: Reporting
34 Clause 9 places an obligation on the Secretary of State to lay a report before Parliament annually, assessing the effect on the UK haulage industry of any restrictions which apply to a permit scheme agreed with one or more EU Member States. These reports will be required where an international agreement requires the introduction of a permit scheme and the number of permits available to UK hauliers is limited.
Clause 10: Interpretation
35 Clause 10 defines some of the terms used throughout Part 1 of the Bill. For the purpose of this Bill, an examiner means an examiner appointed for Great Britain under section 66A of the Road Traffic Act 1988 or for Northern Ireland under Article 74 of the Road Traffic (Northern Ireland) Order 1995.
Clause 11: Licensing of operators in Great Britain
36 Clause 11 inserts new clause 3A into the Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Act 1995 (the "1995 Act") to allow the Secretary of State to grant a temporary exemption to an operator established outside the United Kingdom from the requirement to hold an operator’s licence in an emergency or to allow some other special need to be dealt with. In effect, this allows exemptions from permits for foreign vehicles in the same way as Clause 4 does for UK vehicles.
37 Subsections (2) to (3) of new clause 3A enable a temporary exemption to be granted by a notice in writing to the operator or by publishing a notice specifying the class of operators to which the temporary exemption applies. The notice must specify the vehicle or class of vehicles and the transport operation to which the exemption applies.
38 Subsection (3) of clause 11 amends section 4 of the 1995 Act in order to clarify that the power for the traffic commissioner to grant an exemption from carrying an operator’s licence may be granted by publishing a notice.
39 Subsection (4) updates the list of offences that must be notified to a traffic commissioner on application for an operator’s licence, replacing offences under the International Road Haulage Permits Act 1975 with offence in this Bill.
Clause 12: Licensing of operators in Northern Ireland
40 Clause 12 amends the legislation of Northern Ireland, in similar ways to the amendment to Great Britain legislation in clause 11. The clause inserts a new clause 2A into the Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Act (Northern Ireland) 2010 (the "2010 Act") to allow the Department to grant a temporary exemption to an operator established outside the United Kingdom from the requirement to hold an operator’s licence in an emergency or to allow some other special need to be dealt with. In effect, this allows exemptions from permits for foreign vehicles in the same way as clause 4 does for UK vehicles.
41 Subsections (2) to (4) of the inserted clause 2A enable a temporary exemption to be granted by a notice in writing to the operator or by publishing a notice specifying the class of operators to which the temporary exemption applies. The notice must specify the vehicle or class of vehicles and the transport operation to which the exemption applies.
39 Subsection (3) of clause 12 amends section 4 of the 2010 Act in order to clarify that the power for the Department to grant an exemption from carrying an operator’s licence may be granted by publishing a notice.
Part 2: Trailer Registration
42 The UK’s ratification of the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic ("the 1968 Convention") will ensure that, after exit day, UK drivers will continue to be able to drive in all EU countries. A consequence of ratification is that unregistered trailers could be turned away at the borders of other countries who have ratified the 1968 Convention. Therefore, for operational reasons, a trailer registration scheme needs to be implemented.
43 The Bill, therefore, enables the Secretary of State to introduce a trailer registration scheme. The powers under the Bill will enable: the registration of trailers (including issuing documents and administering the scheme); the issuing of registration marks (more commonly known as registration numbers); fees to be charged for providing these services; and rules to be introduced regarding the carrying of registration documents and the formatting and placement of registration plates. Offences (summary only) may also be created by regulations.
Clause 13: Trailer registration
44 Clause 13 enables the Secretary of State, through regulations, to institute and maintain a register of trailers. These regulations may provide for compulsory or voluntary registration and additional provisions that may be required or relevant to operating the register (under subsection (2)). In particular, regulations may be made in relation to the form and contents of the register, the registration process and the transfer, surrender or destruction of registration documents. Further relevant provisions may also be made. This clause also requires that the Secretary of State collate comprehensive data on the number and nature of trailer-related road accidents in a report; this report must also include a recommendation regarding the introduction of compulsory registration of all trailers weighing more than 750kg.This clause defines a trailer as anything on wheels which is intended or adapted to be pulled by a motor vehicle.
Clause 14: Inspections and information
45 This clause enables regulations to be made relating to the inspection of trailers and documents. The regulations may make provision about any of the matters relating to inspections itemised in this clause, including notifications, certificates, appeals and the authorisation of inspectors. Regulations may also require individuals to provide information or things to the Secretary of State in relation to any regulations made under clause 13 (paragraph (1)(b)). This clause also provides that the report the Secretary of State is required to produce by clause 13 (paragraph (2A)) must also contain a recommendation regarding the necessity or not of introducing a periodic testing scheme for all trailers weighing over 750kg. If a recommendation to introduce periodic testing is made in this report, clause 2B will allow the Secretary of State to do so through regulations.
Clause 15: Registration marks and registration plates
46 Clause 15 allows the Secretary of State to make provision for the assignment of registration marks (more commonly known as registration numbers) to trailers when registering a trailer. The regulations may allow for registration marks be reassigned or withdrawn (subsection (2)).
47 Regulations made under this clause may prohibit a person from keeping or using a registered trailer unless a registration plate, bearing the trailer’s registration mark, is fixed to the trailer (subsection (3)). The regulations may set out the technical specifications of registration plates and marks (size, shape, etc) (subsection (4)).
Clause 16: Marking of trailers
48 Regulations made under this clause would allow for the marking of the body of a trailer with an identifying number. The regulations may specify by whom such marks may be made, the form of a mark, the manner and position in which it may be made and may require information about such marks to be provided to the Secretary of State.
Clause 17: Fees
49 The Secretary of State may, through this clause, specify fees to be paid to the Secretary of State for services and documents relating to the registration of trailers. The regulations may provide that such services, etc, are not carried out until the specified fee is paid and paragraph (2)(b) sets out how such fees may be repaid by the Secretary of State when appropriate.
Clause 18: Offences
50 Clause 18 allows the Secretary of State through regulations to create a range of offences associated with the trailer registration scheme, including keeping or using an unregistered or incorrectly registered trailer on a road. The offences may also relate to the breach of a specified provision of any regulations made under Part 2, the improper display of registration marks, expired registration documents, the provision of false or misleading information and/or documents and the obstructing of inspections. Any such offences would be non-imprisonable and punishable with a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.
51 Persons may be required, by regulations, to provide information about the identity of a person alleged to have committed an offence created under the specified sub-clauses of clause 18. Regulations may provide for it to be an offence to fail to do so. The regulations may also allow for any admissions so provided to be admitted in court as evidence.
Clause 19: Records
52 Regulations made under this clause may allow for any records held by the Secretary of State in connection with functions exercised by the Secretary of State under Part 2 of this Bill to be admissible in legal proceedings as evidence of the facts stated within them, subject to authentication and any other conditions specified in regulations.
Clause 20: Supplementary and interpretation
53 The application of regulations made under this Part to trailers may be limited, according to the trailer’s description, circumstances, the keeper and/or user, or in any other way.
54 Clause 20 defines several of the key terms used throughout Part 2 of the Bill and sets out the criteria for determining whether a trailer is "incorrectly registered".
Part 3: General
Clause 21: Consultation
55 Clause 21 requires that prior to making regulations under Part 1 or Part 2 of the Bill the Secretary of State must consult such persons as the Secretary of State thinks fit. This consultation may take place wholly or partly prior to the passing of the Haulage Permits and Trailer Registration Act.
Clause 22: Consequential amendments
56 Clause 21 requires that the Secretary of State must consult before making regulations under the Act. The consultation must be with such persons as the Secretary of State thinks fit and can be satisfied by a consultation that takes place wholly or partly before the Act is passed.
Clause 23: Regulations
57 This section is self-explanatory.
Clause 24: Extent
58 This section is self-explanatory.
Clause 25: Commencement and transitional provision.
59 This section is self-explanatory.
Clause 26: Short Title
60 This section is self-explanatory.
Amendments relating to Part 1
61 Paragraph 1 repeals the International Road Haulage Permits Act 1975.
62 Paragraphs 2 to 4 make consequential amendments to existing definitions of "international road haulage permits" in primary legislation to include permits issued under this Bill.
63 Paragraphs 2 and 4 amend Article 174 of the Road Traffic (Northern Ireland) Order 1981 (paragraph 2), section 192 (1) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 (paragraph 3) and section 58 of the Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Act (Northern Ireland) 2010 (paragraph 4).
Amendments relating to Part 2
64 Paragraph 5 amends the Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994. Section 22(2) of this Act allows the Secretary of State to extend registration regulations to a limited category of trailers. This power will become redundant when the Bill is passed as the power is encompassed by the powers in this Bill. As such, the powers are repealed.
65 The Vehicles (Crime) Act 2001 is amended to extend the regime for regulating the supply of vehicle registration plates to also regulate the supply of trailer registration plates. To effectively enforce this regime, existing offences in relation to the supply of vehicle registration plates will either be amended or replicated to take the supply of trailer registration plates into account.