8.Current data protection laws set out a requirement for “data controllers” (individuals and organisations that handle people’s personal data) to provide information, and pay a charge, to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), unless a relevant exemption applies. This instrument extends the exemptions to include: members of the House of Lords; elected representatives (including members of the House of Commons, members of the National Assembly for Wales, members of the Scottish Parliament, members of the Northern Ireland Assembly, UK wide local authority councillors and police and crime commissioners) in connection with the discharge of their respective functions; and candidates (prospective and validly nominated) seeking to become elected representatives. Of the total responses to the Government’s consultation, 29% supported a new exemption for these groups, 15% of respondents did not agree with the proposed exemption, 24% responded they did not know and 32% did not answer the question. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport explains, however, that the Government “has decided to proceed with implementing the new exemption, noting the support from respondents for those who take up public office roles, some of which do not receive substantive remuneration, which is in line with its intention to remove perceived or actual barriers to those roles where appropriate.” The Regulations come into force on 1 April 2019.
9.A “protection measure” is a court order which imposes restrictions on an individual who has caused a threat to, and on whom obligations have been imposed in respect of, another individual: for example, an order for a stalker to keep away from the protected person. In a ‘no-deal’ situation, these Regulations would provide that courts in England, Wales and Northern Ireland would continue to recognise and enforce measures ordered in another EU State without further procedure. However, the Regulations would repeal the legislation that allows UK courts to issue equivalent certificates because EU courts would not be obliged to enforce them. The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) states that the repeal is intended to ensure that protected persons would not be misled about the effectiveness of such a UK order if they go abroad. MoJ also states that actual use of these protection measures is minimal. The Committee recommended that, as a Proposed Negative, the instrument should be upgraded to an affirmative instrument because these Regulations would create an uneven playing field, where there was a potential cost to UK taxpayers from the courts and police enforcing EU-issued protection orders but no corresponding benefit to UK citizens. We welcome the decision of the MoJ to accept that recommendation so that the House may consider the principle.
10.Changes made by this Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules (HC 1779) include, as the result of a recent judgment, extending the protection offered to victims of domestic abuse to include partners of refugees who have not yet gained indefinite leave to remain, a reduction in the Tier 5 Youth Mobility quota for Australians ( to maintain reciprocity with visas issued to UK citizens) and the introduction of a one year “cooling off period” between visas for religious and charity workers, so that this route cannot be abused to establish residence. This instrument also implements the new seasonal workers scheme announced by the Government on 6 September 2018. This was announced as a nationwide pilot to bring 2,500 non-EU migrant workers to pick produce on UK fruit and vegetable farms. The first workers should be available from 1 April 2019. The selected scheme operators will play a key role in ensuring that suitable workers are selected for the pilot, reach the designated place of employment, and leave the UK at the end of their visa.
11.This instrument makes changes to different areas of consumer protection law to ensure that it can operate effectively after a possible ‘no deal’ withdrawal of the UK from the EU. While the amendments largely replace obsolete cross-references to EU law, two changes appear to be more relevant. First, the instrument makes changes to the protection of consumers from payment surcharges. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) explains that at present, traders are prohibited from charging consumers in the European Economic Area more than the direct cost borne by the trader for the use of a given means of payment, such as a credit card, and from making additional charges to consumers for the use of specific payment mechanisms. BEIS says that after EU exit, these protections against payment surcharges for UK consumers will apply only where a payment service provider is located in the UK. UK users of non-UK payment services may experience less protection, depending on the national rules applicable in the country of the payment services provider. Secondly, the Regulations amend EU-derived legislation on alternative dispute resolution (ADR). At present, participation in ADR is compulsory for businesses in some regulated sectors, such as finance and energy, and voluntary for other businesses, but all traders must signpost consumers to certified ADR providers and inform consumers whether they would use them should a dispute arise. Under separate legislation, an Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) platform is available as a case management tool that allows consumers across the EU to make a complaint against an online trader, and all online traders are required to link to the ODR platform on their websites. BEIS says that the ADR requirements will continue to apply to UK businesses and consumers in the UK market, while the requirement to provide cross-border dispute resolution will be removed. The instrument also revokes the regulations on the ODR platform, as this platform will no longer be available to UK consumers and traders after EU exit.
13 There are three levels of charge for data controllers, payable annually: micro organisations (including individuals), charities and small occupational pension schemes, who pay £40, small and medium organisations, who pay £60 and large organisations, who pay £2,900. A £5 discount applies for payment by direct debit.
14 Written Statement , Session 2017-19.
15 ADR aims to settle disputes between a consumer and a business more quickly and cheaply, for example through mediators or ombudsmen, than using the courts.