First Report Contents

Instruments of interest

Draft Ecodesign for Energy-Related Products and Energy Information Regulations 2021

13.These draft Regulations propose new ecodesign and energy labelling requirements for certain energy-related products that are placed on the market in Great Britain (GB). This includes an update to existing ecodesign requirements to increase the minimum energy performance and resource efficiency standards for household washing machines/washer-dryers, dishwashers and refrigerators as well as electronic displays; new ecodesign requirements which, for the first time, set minimum energy performance and resource efficiency standards for welding equipment and commercial refrigerators; and new energy labelling requirements for commercial refrigerators.

14.The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) says that the proposals mirror EU regulations which the UK supported while a Member State and which continue to apply in Northern Ireland (NI) under the NI Protocol. According to BEIS, the changes protect the GB market from the risk of ‘dumping’ of less efficient products which do not meet the standards that apply in the EU/NI, and ensure that suppliers do not need to have two separate product lines for GB and the EU/NI respectively.

15.The Department also says that the changes avoid suppliers having to undertake two separate conformity assessments for their products. From 1 January 2022, the EU’s CE conformity mark will no longer be recognised in GB and manufacturers will have to declare the conformity of their products with the relevant GB legislation instead and use the new UKCA conformity mark. BEIS says that this instrument ensures that the testing of relevant products in GB will be done using the same test standards as in the EU/NI, removing “a significant cost burden” for manufacturers.

Draft Immigration (Collection, Use and Retention of Biometric Information and Related Amendments) Regulations 2021

16.This draft affirmative instrument provides that the immigration services can take photographs (facial images) of foreign nationals who claim asylum, arrive at the border undocumented, are detained or granted bail under immigration powers, or are subject to removal and deportation. Photographs may also be taken of the dependants of individuals in these categories. The Regulations extend the period of retention for fingerprints from 10 to 15 years from either the date they are taken or from date of the person’s latest application. Biometric immigration documents may be in physical or digital form; these Regulations state that, where they differ, the information on the digital version takes precedence. The Regulations also enable access to the digital biometric immigration document to be cancelled where the holder’s leave has been varied, cancelled or invalidated.

17.The Home Office states that these Regulations build on the Statement of Intent that was provided to Parliament during the passage of the Immigration Act 2014,9 and are intended to support the development of a border and immigration system that is digital by default for all applicants.

Draft Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Act 2007 (Extension of Duration of Non-Jury Trial Provisions) Order 2021

18.This instrument provides for a seventh two-year extension of the provision that temporarily allows trial without jury for certain cases in Northern Ireland. Current provision will run out on 31 July 2021. The use of such courts is dependent on the Director of Public Prosecutions in Northern Ireland issuing a certificate stating that certain conditions, set out in the Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Act 2007, are met, such as potential prejudice or witness intimidation. Concerns expressed in relation to previous renewal instruments have led to greater public consultation and to regular independent review of the operation of these provisions. Use of the provision remains low: the Explanatory Memorandum states that there were 14 non-jury trial cases in the Crown Court in 2019 (out of a total of 1,295). The Northern Ireland Office advises, however, that due to the recent increase in violence and paramilitary and sectarian intimidation, the option of trial without jury should remain available to the courts. Whilst acknowledging the reasons for trial without jury, we have concerns about their potential impact on trust in the judicial system and expect this option to be used only sparingly.

Draft Payment and Electronic Money Institution Insolvency Regulations 2021

19.This instrument proposes a new special administration regime for payment and electronic money institutions (pSAR). According to HM Treasury (HMT), the new regime will give insolvency practitioners an “expanded toolkit”, enabling them to keep an insolvent institution operational, with the aim of ensuring continuity for consumers and prioritising the return of their funds. The pSAR will be based on the existing Special Administration Regime for Investment Banks. HMT says while the use of cards, mobile phones and electronic wallets to make transactions has increased over recent years, the current insolvency process for payment and electronic money institutions is “suboptimal” for consumers, with some recent administration cases having taken years to resolve and customers having been left without access to their money for prolonged periods and having received reduced funds. The instrument also proposes to provide the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) with specific powers to intervene and protect consumers in the event of an insolvency of a payment or electronic money institution, as it does for other FCA supervised firms. Separate regulations will be brought forward later this year to implement a set of rules for the new pSAR.

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