Imports from EU to GB: Business Preparation Debate

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Department: Cabinet Office

Imports from EU to GB: Business Preparation

Earl of Kinnoull Excerpts
Thursday 16th September 2021

(1 month, 1 week ago)

Lords Chamber

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Cabinet Office

Asked by

Earl of Kinnoull Portrait The Earl of Kinnoull
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To ask the Minister of State at the Cabinet Office (Lord Frost) what steps Her Majesty’s Government are taking to prepare businesses for the introduction of new checks and controls on imports into Great Britain from the European Union on 1 October 2021 and 1 January 2022.

Lord Frost Portrait The Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Lord Frost) (Con)
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My Lords, on 14 September I announced a pragmatic new timetable for introducing certain controls for goods imported from the EU to the UK to give businesses more time to adjust. These controls will be introduced in two stages, on 1 January and 1 July. The Government continue to support all businesses trading with the EU in all sectors, including by putting in place additional staffing, comprehensive guidance for businesses and funding infrastructure to ease border processes.

Earl of Kinnoull Portrait The Earl of Kinnoull (CB)
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In February 2020, the Government indicated that full border controls on EU imports would commence on 1 January 2021. In June 2020, the Government announced that many controls would instead be phased in, with mixed deadlines, from April to July 2021. In March 2021, the Government delayed the introduction of this mix of controls further, with phases from October 2021 to March 2022. Earlier this week, just three weeks before the first part of the mix was due to be implemented, the Government announced yet another delay, with phases from January to July 2022. Three times now, businesses have spent time, and no doubt money, preparing for key deadlines, and three times they have seen the can kicked down the road. What steps will the Government take to restore business confidence in their timetable for import controls, and will they compensate businesses for their wasted efforts?

Lord Frost Portrait Lord Frost (Con)
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My Lords, it has of course been an extraordinary year to 18 months economically. We have been dealing with a pandemic of unpredictable quality, and it is very clear that there are global strains on supply chains and other aspects of the business environment. That is why we do not apologise for taking this series of pragmatic decisions to respond to the evolving situation. We have no plans to evolve these changes further, and the money that businesses have already spent in dealing with the situation will have been well spent.