Immigration Bill (UK Brexit)

The Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill (a Brexit Bill) was introduced in the House of Commons today (5 March 2020). This Blog does not focus on immigration or social security policy or law, and this post will be the only one on this matter.

The purpose of the Bill is to end free movement of persons in UK law and make nationals from the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland, and their family members, subject to UK immigration control.

The Government’s intention is at the end of the transition period, 31 December 2020, citizens of the EU, the EEA EFTA states of Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein, and of Switzerland, and their family members, will require permission to enter and remain in the UK under the Immigration Act 1971.

The Bill protects the immigration status of Irish citizens once free movement ends.

It also contains provision for the Government (and/or, where appropriate, a devolved authority) to amend retained direct EU legislation relating to the social security co-ordination regime, which is retained in UK law by the EUWA 2018.

The Bill was first introduced in the Commons in the previous Parliament where, in the 2017-2019 session, it reached Report stage after completing a Public Bill Committee. The Bill fell when Parliament was prorogued before the December 2019 General Election. I posted about it at the time.

There have been no substantial changes to the content of the Bill since it was previously considered in the last Parliament. The only changes made are minor drafting clarifications in places, and updates to the list of retained EU law to be repealed to avoid duplication of changes already made through the Immigration, Nationality and Asylum (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 (2019/745) which come into force on 31 December 2020.

The Government has legislated to protect resident EEA citizens and their family members through the EUWAA 2020, which protects the residence rights of EEA citizens and their family members who are resident in the UK by the end of the transition period.

The Government fully opened the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) to all EEA citizens and their family members on 30 March 2019. The Scheme is set out in the Immigration Rules to enable EEA citizens and their family members to apply for UK immigration status, so their current rights continue, and their status is clear when the new global points-based immigration system begins.

The Immigration (Citizens’ Rights Appeals) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020 made under the EUWAA 2020, provide individuals who apply under the EUSS or for an EUSS family permit or travel permit, after 31 January 2020, with a right of appeal against decisions affecting their entitlement to enter and remain in the UK under the EUSS, and against decisions in relation to applications for EUSS family permits or travel permits.

Those individuals who have a right to apply under the EUSS will have until 30 June 2021 to do so, provided they arrived in the UK by the end of 2020.

This period of six months between the end of the transition period (31 December 2020) and 30 June 2021 is referred to as ‘the grace period’ and is a requirement of Articles 18(1)(b) and 18(2) of the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement (and equivalent provisions in the EEA EFTA and Swiss citizens’ rights agreements). Statutory instruments to be made under the powers in the EUWAA 2020 will protect EEA citizens and their family members’ existing rights of residence, entry and exit until then. These savings will also extend to those with pending applications to the scheme and those with unresolved appeals.

The Government will also bring forward a statutory instrument to ensure individuals who are in the UK as frontier workers by the end of the transition period can continue working from January 2021 onwards. Frontier workers are individuals who are resident outside the UK, but employed or self-employed in the UK.

Further information may be obtained from these Bill Explanatory Notes – here.

Medicines and Medical Devices Bill (UK Brexit)

The (Brexit) Medicines and Medical Devices Bill 2019-20 was announced in the Queen’s Speech on 19 December 2019. The second reading is taking place today.

A large proportion of the legal framework for medicines and medical devices in the UK derives from EU Directives and has been implemented into domestic legislation through section 2(2) of the European Communities Act 1972 (ECA). This enables EU Directives to be transposed into UK law through secondary legislation and has been used to create a body of regulations that include the:

• Human Medicines Regulations 2012

• Medicines for Human Use (Clinical Trials) Regulations 2004

• Veterinary Medicines Regulations 2013

• Medical Devices Regulations 2002.

At the end of the Transition Period, the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 (see the Brexit Law List in subscribers’ systems) will have preserved these frameworks as “retained EU Law”. Since the ECA is now no longer available (due to the Act that implemented the Withdrawal Agreement), there is no other ‘general power’ for updating these regulations from 1st January 2021, except through the introduction of new primary legislation.

The Medicines and Medical Devices Bill seeks to address this regulatory gap through introducing regulation-making, delegated powers covering the fields of

* human medicines,

* clinical trials of human medicines,

* veterinary medicines, and

* medical devices.

Its purpose is to enable the existing regulatory frameworks to be updated at the end of the Transition Period.

The Bill has been drawn to create ‘targeted’ delegated powers which can only be exercised in relation to a restricted number of matters. The Government states in the Explanatory Notes to the Bill that it intends to use these powers to keep the existing regulatory frameworks updated, while also consolidating the enforcement regime for medical devices. In addition, the Bill will provide the Secretary of State with the ability to impose civil sanctions – as an alternative to criminal prosecution – for breaches of the medical device regime.

Further details are set out in this Commons Briefing – here.

UK-US Free Trade Agreement (UK)

The UK government has this morning set out its long awaited objectives for its proposed trade agreement with the United States.

The policy paper is here.

The objectives are set out on pages 9 to 12.

Of relevance to this Blog are the following objectives – to

• remove and prevent trade-restrictive measures in goods markets, while upholding the safety and quality of products on the UK market,

• seek arrangements to make it easier for UK manufacturers to have their products tested against US rules in the UK before export,

• promote the use of international standards, to further facilitate trade between the parties,

• uphold the UK’s high levels of public, animal, and plant health, including food safety,

• enhance access for UK agri-food goods to the US market by seeking commitments to improve the timeliness and transparency of US approval processes for UK goods,

• improve trade flows by ensuring a transparent, predictable, and stable regulatory framework to give con dence and stability to UK exporting businesses and investors,

• secure commitments to key provisions such as public consultation, use of regulatory
impact assessment, retrospective review, and transparency, as well as regulatory co-operation.