32.These Regulations make changes to the operation of the business rates retention scheme. Since 2013-14, under the retention scheme, local authorities have kept 50% of locally raised business rates. Since 2017-18, the Government have, in each year, created “pilot” areas in which local authorities have been allowed to keep a higher percentage of locally raised business rates. For 2019-20, the Government are creating further “pilot” areas in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, East Sussex, Hertfordshire, Lancashire, Leicester and Leicestershire, London, Norfolk, Northamptonshire, North and West Yorkshire, North of Tyne, Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent, Solent, Somerset, West Sussex, and Worcestershire, in which authorities will be allowed to keep 75%, instead of 50%, of local business rates income. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) states that by means of the pilot programme, the Government will have been able to test changes to the rates retention scheme, including giving authorities greater control over their local business rates, before they roll out changes to the business rates retention scheme more generally. We obtained additional information from MHCLG which we are publishing at Appendix 2. MHCLG has said that findings from the 2017-18 pilot scheme have been published on the Local Government Association website: we note that there were mixed views among the participating authorities, who expressed both an appetite for the pilot scheme to “push a little further” as well as “dissatisfaction with the way in which grants had been rolled in from many authorities”. The Regulations make additional changes including: providing for the basis on which, in future, the Government will distribute to local authorities any surplus on the “levy account”; making changes to the administration of the rates retention scheme to ensure that authorities are properly compensated for the loss of income arising from changes made to the rates liability of small businesses; and ensuring that the principal payments made to the Council of the Isles of Scilly under the Local Government Finance Act 1988 reflect Local Government Finance Reports approved by Parliament.
33.An existing EU Directive (as implemented in Great Britain (GB)) established a common regime for licensing and certifying train drivers in EU Member States. It harmonises the regulatory regimes of different Member States, enabling train drivers to move more freely between Member States and employers. After exit day, the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), as the independent regulator for rail safety in GB, will continue to issue ORR-only “train driving licences” and the Department for Infrastructure in Northern Ireland (DfI NI) will issue “Northern Ireland train driving licences.” As a result, a distinction will made between ORR and DfI NI licences, and those “European train driving licences” issued in the European Economic Area. Northern Ireland (NI) train driving licences will be recognised indefinitely in GB. European train driving licences issued before exit day will be recognised in GB for up to two years after exit day. After the two-year transitional period, any train drivers working in GB who have previously used a European licence will need to apply to the ORR or the DfI NI for a train driving licence. The EU has stated that it will not recognise UK-issued train driving licences or certificates post-exit (that is, those issued by the ORR or DfI NI). The Government advise stakeholders, including railway undertakings and persons, to apply to any EU Member State national safety authority for a new train driving licence and certificate before exit day.
34.In this Report, the Sub-Committee has considered a proposed negative instrument — Railways (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2019 — relating to railways in NI and has recommended it should be upgraded to the affirmative resolution procedure (see paragraphs 4-6).
35.This instrument has been re-laid by the Department. The Sub-Committee published an information paragraph on this instrument in its 15th Report.
12 Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the certification of train drivers operating locomotives and trains on the railway system in the European Union.
13 Train Driving Licences and Certificates Regulations 2010 ().
14 15th Report, Session 2017-19 ().