Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Bill

Author (Corporate)
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Series Details (2017-19)HL80
Publication Date February 2018
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Further information

The United Kingdom published two White Papers on the 9 October 2017, which set out its vision for post EU trade and customs policy once the UK had withdrawn from the European Union.

In Preparing for our future UK trade policy the Department for International Trade established the principles that would guide future UK trade policy as well as laying out the practical steps that would support those aims.

These included:

+ taking steps to enable the UK to maintain the benefits of the World Trade Organisation’s Government Procurement Agreement
+ ensuring the UK could support developing economies by continuing to give them preferential access to UK markets
+ preparing to bring across into UK law existing trade agreements between EU and non-EU countries
+ creating a new, UK trade remedies investigating authority

The UK Government also published on the 9 October 2017 a separate White Paper Customs Bill: Legislating for the UK’s future customs, VAT and excise regimes.

The Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Bill 2017-19 - sometimes referred to as the Customs Bill - was introduced on the 20 November 2017.

The Bill was one of a series of 'Brexit Bills' intended to adjust UK legislation for Brexit, in addition to the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill. Together with the Trade Bill, this Bill was intended to allow the United Kingdom to continue its existing trade policy as far as possible immediately after Brexit.

The purpose of the Bill was to allow the Government to create a functioning customs, VAT and excise regime for the UK after Brexit. The Bill also contained trade defence measures to protect UK industry from unfair competition from abroad and provisions on trade preferences which allowed imports from developing countries to benefit from reduced customs duties. The Bill followed publication of a Customs White Paper in October 2017 and a Future Partnership Paper on customs in August 2017.The United Kingdom: House of Lords: Select Committee on the Constitution issued a report Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Bill on the 23 February 2018. The bill sought to implement a new customs regime once the United Kingdom exits the European Union.

The Committee highlighted that the Bill was a piece of framework legislation, as it included only limited policy detail and instead provided broad delegated powers to ministers to create a new customs regime. The Committee built on the report of the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee on the Bill and raised concerns about the constitutional implications about the proposed powers.

The Bill proposed the use of the 'made affirmative' procedure for many of the powers; a procedure secondary legislation can be made immediately, without parliamentary scrutiny, although it cannot remain in force unless approved by Parliament. The Committee concluded that, while such powers may occasionally be justified in urgent circumstances, the Government had not made the case for the powers in this Bill.

The Committee also found that the proposal in the Bill for legislating by public notice – with no scrutiny by Parliament – was overly broad, its potential use subjective, and thus was not constitutionally acceptable.

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UK: Parliament: House of Lords: Committees: News, 23.02.18: Lords Committee raises concerns about the Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Bill

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