Thirty Eighth Report Contents

Instruments relating to COVID-19


Draft Airports Slot Allocation (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2021

2.An airport ‘slot’ is a permission to use all necessary airport infrastructure to operate an aircraft at a specified date and time for take-off or landing, and is a valuable commercial asset to an airline. Slot administration normally operates a “use-it-or-lose-it” rule, which gives an airline that has used its slots at least 80% of the time in the winter or summer season an entitlement to the same slots in the upcoming equivalent season.

3.However, in March 2020, in response to the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak on the aviation industry, the EU Commission waived this rule under Regulation 95/93 for the summer 2020 season. Due to the continued decline of passenger numbers, in October 2020, the EU Commission extended the waiver to cover the winter season, which will run until 27 March 2021. In the interim the Transition Period will end, so this instrument will enable the Transport Secretary to consider a further extension to the existing slot waiver, if evidence shows this is warranted.

Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (England) (Amendment) (No. 28) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/1424)

4.This instrument amends the International Travel Regulations2 to add new exemptions to the requirement to self-isolate for 14 days after arriving from listed countries for persons engaged in television production, accredited journalists, performing arts professionals and senior business directors (when negotiating contracts for goods and services that will bring significant benefits to the UK: defined as worth 50 jobs or more than £100 million). The exemption for elite sportspersons is also amended to allow new signings to enter a club’s “bubble” and be exempt from self-isolation when they are participating in elite competitions or training for them.

Public Services

Parish and Community Meetings (Coronavirus) (Polls) (Amendment) (England) Rules 2020 (SI 2020/1355)

5.This instrument ensures that any parish poll3 which is scheduled to be held before 6 May 2021 will instead take place between 6 May and 11 June 2021. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) explains that this brings parish polls broadly into line with other types of local poll which were postponed to 6 May 2021 by an earlier instrument4 as part of the Government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. MHCLG says that the earlier legislation intended to cover all local polling activity but, because the legislation was delivered at pace, parish polls were “inadvertently omitted from the provision”. The omission did not come to light until October 2020.

Town and Country Planning (Local Planning, Development Management Procedure, Listed Buildings etc.) (England) (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/1398)

6.This instrument extends a number of temporary measures which were introduced by earlier instruments5 to help planning authorities deal with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and which would otherwise expire at the end of this year. For example, the instrument extends until the end of 31 December 2021 the temporary suspension of the requirement on local planning authorities, the Mayor of London and mayoral combined authorities to make certain documents in relation to local planning and spatial development strategies physically available for inspection and to provide hard copies on request. The documents must, instead, be made available for inspection online during this period.

7.The instrument makes similar changes in relation to development management and listed building consent: the temporary suspension of the requirement for local planning authorities, the Secretary of State, an inspector dealing with an application or appeal, or applicants or appellants for development requiring an Environmental Impact Assessment to provide a physical address in the locality where documents can be inspected or copies obtained is extended until 31 December 2021. Relevant documents must be made available on a website instead. In addition, the temporary suspension in relation to publicity (that is site notices, the sending of notices to individuals and local newspaper notices) is extended until 30 June 2021 where it is not possible to comply with the usual requirements to publicise information. Instead, alternative methods, such as social media or publication on a website, may be used.

8.According to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), the extensions are necessary as the effects of the pandemic continue to make the physical inspection of documents difficult. MHCLG says that the Local Government Association’s Planning Advisory Service and the Planning Officers’ Society support the extensions and have not heard of any issues or concerns about the current measures.

Vaccine Damage Payments (Specified Disease) Order 2020 (SI 2020/1411)

9.The Vaccine Damage Payment scheme was created over 40 years ago, under the Vaccine Damage Payment Act 1979 (“the Act”). It provides for a one-off, tax-free, lump sum payment of £120,000 to help individuals who are disabled as a result of a serious adverse reaction to a vaccine. (That sum has been increased on five occasions, from an original £10,000.) The Act is primarily focused on diseases preventable through vaccination that are part of the routine childhood immunisation programmes. It applies to a range of diseases including diphtheria, measles, whooping cough, polio, German measles and tetanus; over the years, more diseases – such as mumps and meningitis C – have been added to the list and swine flu was added for the period October 2009 to August 2010 (see paragraph 7.2 of the Explanatory Memorandum). This instrument extends it to COVID-19 vaccines. Usually only those under 18 at the time of receiving a vaccine can claim, but the age criterion has previously been disapplied for some diseases, such as polio, where a large portion of the vaccines are administered to adults.6 Because COVID-19 requires a mass vaccination programme, this instrument also disapplies the age qualification. Payment under the scheme does not prejudice a claimant’s right also to pursue litigation if they so choose.

National Health Service (General Medical Services Contracts and Personal Medical Services Agreements) (Amendment) (No. 3) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/1415)

10.These Regulations make a permanent change to require GPs surgeries in England to record patient ethnicity data where provided (or, where the patient or his or her representative choose not to disclose, to record that this is the case) . They follow up and expand on earlier guidance: `Implementing phase 3 of the NHS response to the COVID-19 pandemic’ in which National Health England set out eight urgent actions for the sector, including “…ensure datasets are complete and timely, to underpin an understanding of and response to inequalities. All NHS organisations should proactively review and ensure the completeness of patient ethnicity data by no later than 31 December, with general practice prioritising those groups at significant risk of COVID-19 from 1 September”. The objective is to improve screening and diagnosis for more vulnerable groups.

2 Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (England) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/568).

3 A parish poll allows for a ballot of local government electors in the parish to be called on any question arising at a parish meeting.

4 Local Government and Police and Crime Commissioner (Coronavirus) (Postponement of Elections and Referendums) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/395).

5 Town and Country Planning (Spatial Development Strategy) (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/765) and Town and Country Planning (Local Planning) (England) (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/731).

6 See DHSC, Press Release: Government to add COVID-19 to Vaccine Damage Payments Scheme - GOV.UK on 3 December 2020: [accessed 16 December 2020] for other examples.

© Parliamentary copyright 2020