84.Home detention curfew (HDC) is a discretionary power, exercised by prison governors on behalf of the Secretary of State. Subject to a risk assessment, prisoners who meet the eligibility requirements may be released on licence before their automatic release date, usually with an electronic tag. Before they can be released on HDC prisoners must serve a minimum of one quarter of their sentence (subject to a minimum of 28 days in custody) and certain groups of offenders are excluded including terrorists, sex offenders and anyone serving a sentence of more than four years. This draft Order does not alter the eligibility criteria in any way but extends the maximum period of release on licence on HDC from 135 days (four and a half months) to 180 days (six months). The Ministry of Justice states that the extension would provide earlier resettlement opportunities for low risk offenders while also helping to reduce the pressures on the prison population.
85.The immigration health charge is payable by non-European Economic Area nationals who enter the UK for more than six months, subject to certain exemptions listed in Schedule 2 of the Immigration (Health Charge) Order 2015 (“the Principal Order”). Those who pay the immigration health charge can access NHS services for free (apart from any standard charges UK residents must also pay, such as for prescriptions and dental treatment in England). This Committee has seen a number of iterations of this policy and each time questioned why visitors were paying less than the estimated cost of the treatment that they received. We are therefore pleased to note that this Order increases the amount of the charge so that it should now cover the full cost of use. The charge will increase to £470 for students, dependants of a student, and Youth Mobility Scheme applicants, and to £624 for adults.
86.The Impact Assessment notes that this Order represents a change in policy which is estimated to provide the NHS with approximately £200 million per year additional income. However, that calculation was made before the coronavirus lockdown was announced, and the House may also recall that regulations laid earlier this year waived the normal charges for overseas visitors using NHS services in England if they were seeking diagnosis or treatment for coronavirus.
87.This instrument corrects two previous EU Exit Statutory Instruments and makes consequential amendments to related rail legislation so that they refer to the correct set of technical standards that will apply in the UK at the end of the Implementation Period. The amended suite of regulations provides the Secretary of State for Transport with the power to publish UK rail technical standards to ensure the UK has sufficient flexibility to keep pace with or diverge from EU rail technical standards after the end of the transition period. It also enables a system of recognition, so that where the UK and EU technical standards remain aligned, the UK will continue to recognise vehicles, systems and rail products with EU certification carried out against the EU technical standards. Importantly, this system allows for Northern Ireland to stay more aligned with the EU’s rail technical standards for the purpose of protecting cross-border services with the Republic of Ireland.
22 See also SIs 400 and 401 on page 21 of this report that relate to the temporary release of prisoners during the Covid 19 pandemic.
23 Our most recent report on the matter was on the Draft Immigration (Health Charge) (Amendment) Order 2018 in the of Sub-Committee A, Session 2017-19 (HL Paper 210).
24 National Health Service (Charges to Overseas Visitors) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/59) see paragraph in , Session 2019-21 (HL Paper 13).