2.These Agreements add a political framework to existing (EU-Canada CETA) and future (Australia and New Zealand) free trade agreements with the European Union. The Committee asked the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) whether these agreements would risk diminishing the UK’s trading relationships, after the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, with these countries in any way. The FCO replied:
“The UK has, as an EU Member State, advocated closer cooperation between the EU and these three key allies, and the UK will continue to support a strong Europe. The UK Government has also committed to seeking continuity in its current trade and investment relationships including those covered by EU free trade agreements such as CETA, whilst both Australia and New Zealand have made very strong commitments at Prime Ministerial level that they wish to have ambitious and comprehensive deals with the UK, in addition to deals with the EU. Given the global nature of supply chains, it is in the UK’s interest that comprehensive trade agreements, which uphold the rules based system, exist not just between the UK and its partners but also between other global partners”.
3.These Regulations aim to improve the existing licensing regime governing the UK’s offshore petroleum industry, by clearly identifying information produced by the industry that needs to be retained, and setting out for how long the information needs to be kept, and by whom. The UK’s offshore petroleum industry produces geological information, rock samples and other types of data in the course of its exploration, drilling and production activities. This information is valuable to the wider industry as it can be used to support future development of both oil and gas resources and potential alternative uses of offshore industry infrastructure or installations, such as Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage. While current offshore petroleum licences contain some requirements to retain information, the licences do not cover all relevant parts of the industry. These Regulations are intended to address this better. According to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Regulations will ensure that relevant information and samples are not lost when offshore petroleum licences are terminated or transferred to another party. The Oil and Gas Authority, the industry regulator, believes that the measures are needed to meet the Government’s commitment to generate up to £140 billion of additional revenue from the UK’s offshore industry.
4.This Order responds to serious child safeguarding concerns that have been raised by diplomatic missions and organisations which process intercountry adoption applications about adoptions of children from Ethiopia. The evidence shows a pattern of cases of unethical practice and procedural irregularities within the Ethiopian system. This includes private orphanages receiving payments for child placement decisions and false claims in relation to children being available for adoption. There is also a lack of certainty around the legal guarantees in the Ethiopian adoption process. The Department for Education (DfE) says that the Ethiopian Government has failed to provide satisfactory reassurances or guarantees that future adoptions will be carried out in line with international standards. The Order will suspend intercountry adoptions from Ethiopia. The statutory suspension will apply, for the time being, to all adoption cases, unless the relevant authority in the UK is satisfied that a case should be treated as an exception. The DfE will keep the suspension under review through regular contact with the UK’s diplomatic mission in Ethiopia and international partners.