8.On 1 November 2018, the Secretary of State for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) announced the decision “… to implement, subject to Parliamentary approval, the locally-led proposal to replace the existing five councils across Buckinghamshire—the two tier structure of Buckinghamshire County Council and the district councils of Aylesbury Vale, Chiltern, South Bucks and Wycombe–by one new single unitary district council … ”. In the Explanatory Memorandum MHCLG notes that the Order gives effect to Buckinghamshire County Council’s proposal for the establishment of a single tier of local government for Buckinghamshire. The existing district areas are to be abolished as local government areas and all five councils in Buckinghamshire are to be wound up and dissolved. They will be replaced by a single unitary council called Buckinghamshire Council which, from 1 April 2020, will be the sole local authority for the local government area of Buckinghamshire. Additional arrangements, including preparing for the transition to the new Council, are also set out in the Order.
9.MHCLG notes that, in making their proposal, Buckinghamshire County Council estimated savings of £18.2 million per annum and that:
“The benefits of the single unitary proposal are anticipated to be: enhanced social care and safeguarding services through closer connection with related services such as housing, leisure and benefits; improved strategic decision making in such areas as housing, planning and transport; improvements to local partnership working with other public sector bodies; establishment of nineteen community boards, each with a community hub, enabling local councillors to take decisions on issues such as funding for community groups and local roads maintenance; and providing a single point of contact.”
10.MHCLG notes that “It is expected that there will be job losses as duplicated roles are removed, and in the short term there will be costs associated with implementation”. MHCLG refers to earlier Regulations which paved the way for this Order.
11.The purpose of these Regulations, laid by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) on behalf of the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) in Northern Ireland, is to ensure that Northern Ireland legislation relating to the controls and standards for trade in live animals, products of animal origin, germplasm, animal by-products and bees, and the non-commercial movement of pets can continue to operate effectively after the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. The Sub-Committee considered the Regulations when they were laid initially as a proposed negative instrument under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. At the time, the Sub-Committee recommended an upgrade to the affirmative procedure, concluding that the House may wish to debate the potential impact of a ‘no deal’ scenario and of additional administrative requirements and potential costs for the commercial movement of animals and animal-related products and the non-commercial movement of pets in the unique circumstances in Northern Ireland. The Department has now laid the instrument under the urgent ‘made affirmative’ procedure to ensure that it can come into force by exit day, which, at the time of making the instrument, was 12 April. Under this procedure the instrument cannot remain in force unless it is approved by Parliament within 28 days, beginning with the day on which the instrument was made. We asked DAERA why, given the importance of the instrument, the Regulations had not been laid earlier following the Sub-Committee’s report in January. DAERA told us that the introduction of the Regulations “was kept under careful review pending completion of the UK Government’s position on future [Northern Ireland] trade arrangements and its discussion with the European Commission on the package of measures required to secure agreement on third country status”. DAERA says that such an agreement has now been secured.
12.The purpose of this instrument is to ensure that Northern Ireland law which implements current EU protections against organisms which are harmful to plants or plant products remains effective after the UK leaves the EU. The instrument complements Regulations which introduced equivalent provisions for England, and on which the Sub-Committee reported. Under the new arrangements, current EU plant passports are replaced with a UK plant passport regime to facilitate the monitoring of plant material moving within the UK. Plants and plant products that currently require an EU plant passport and are imported into Northern Ireland from the EU and Switzerland after exit will need to be pre-notified and accompanied by a plant health certificate issued by the country of export. The relevant UK plant health authority will carry out documentary and identity checks to ensure traceability of the material. Plants and plant products which currently do not require an EU plant passport will not be subject to these checks, on the understanding that biosecurity risks will not change immediately on exit. Imports of high-risk plant and plant products from third countries into Northern Ireland which have travelled through the EU before entering the UK without having been checked at an EU border will require documentary, identity and physical checks at authorised premises in Northern Ireland. The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) expects the additional plant health requirements to affect some 67 businesses. The instrument also introduces a new criminal offence to ensure that failures to comply with restrictions in relation to plant health emergencies, such as compliance with demarcation areas, can be enforced. DAERA explains that the instrument has been laid under the urgent ‘made affirmative’ procedure to ensure that it comes into force by exit day, which, at the time of making the instrument, was 12 April. Under this procedure, the instruments cannot remain in force unless it is approved by Parliament within 28 days, beginning with the day on which the instrument was made.
13.According to the Department for Transport (DfT), these three sets of Regulations ensure that the legislative framework for rail safety can operate effectively if the UK leaves the EU without a withdrawal agreement. The Department says that the intention is to preserve the status quo, including in relation to requirements and procedures for obtaining safety certificates and authorisations in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, with one set of the Regulations specifically maintaining the train operator and train driver licensing regime in Northern Ireland. The Sub-Committee previously considered the Regulations when they were laid as proposed negative instruments, and recommended they be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure because of the potential impact of the proposed changes on cross-border rail operations, especially in relation to Northern Ireland. DfT accepted the Sub-Committee’s recommendation and has laid the instruments under the urgent ‘made affirmative’ procedure to ensure that the Regulations can come into force by exit day, which, at the time of making the instruments, was 12 April. Under this procedure the instruments cannot remain in force unless they are approved by Parliament within 28 days, beginning with the day on which the instrument was made.
14.We note that Regulation (EU) 2019/503 was adopted by the Council of Ministers on 22 March 2019, which will ensure that if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, mutual recognition of key certificates and licences will continue in cross-border areas in France and Ireland for a nine-month transition period after exit. DfT told us that “[it remains] confident about concluding negotiations to put in place long term agreements either before the end of the Transition Period, or before the end of the 9-month period provided for by the Regulation, so that these mutually-beneficial cross-border services continue”.
1 Written Ministerial Statement, 10 November 2018, .
2 Explanatory Memorandum (EM), para 2.1; and Buckinghamshire Council, Modernising Local Government in Buckinghamshire (September 2016): [accessed 1 May 2019].
3 EM, para 2.1. The EM also notes that “For these purposes ‘local authority’ does not include a parish council”.
4 EM, para 12.2; and Buckinghamshire Council, Strategic Options Appraisal: Reorganising Local Government in Buckinghamshire (September 2016): [accessed 1 May 2019].
5 EM, para 7.4.
7 EM, para 3.1. “The Buckinghamshire (Structural Changes) (Modification of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007) Regulations 2019 (SI 2019/332) were made on 21 February 2019 and came in to force on 22 February 2019. They modify provisions relating to local authority structural and boundary change in the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 (“the 2007 Act”) as they apply to councils in Buckinghamshire, and so paved the way for this Order”.
8 , Session 2017–19 (HL Paper 264).
9 HM Government, Press release: UK listed status application approved to assure animal and animal product movements in a no-deal Brexit (10 April 2019): [accessed 1 May 2019].
10 , Session 2017–19 (HL Paper 268).
11 , Session 2017–19 (HL Paper 305).