Outside construction of the RPC building.

Government inquiries and consultations

05 February 2021

Parliament committees and inquires

Body

Summary / brief update

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Third-party intermediaries in the retail energy market: call for evidence

BEIS has issued a call for evidence to increase its understanding of how third-party intermediaries operate in the retail energy market. The government has committed to consult on regulating these intermediaries, with a view to ensuring the regulatory framework adequately covers the wider market.

The consultation is accepting evidence until 6 December 2021.

HM Revenue and Customs

Reporting rules for digital platforms

The government is consulting on the implementation of the OECD's Model Reporting Rules for Digital Platforms. From 2023, these rules will require platforms to report information about the income of sellers providing goods and services to help sellers get their tax right and to enable HMRC to detect and tackle non-compliance.

The consultation is accepting evidence until 22 October 2021.

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

A new pro-competition regime for digital markets

DCMS and BEIS are seeking feedback on the government's proposals for a new digital market regime.

The consultation is accepting evidence until 1 October 2021.

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Reforming competition and consumer policy

BEIS is seeking views on a proposed reformation of competition and consumer policy:

  • Promoting competition to drive enterprise, innovation, growth and productivity
  • Updating consumer rights to keep pace with markets
  • Strengthening the enforcement of consumer law by individuals and regulators.

The consultation is accepting evidence until 1 October 2021.

Department for International Trade

Designing the UK trade preferences scheme for developing nations

The Department for International Trade is seeking views on proposed changes to the trade preference scheme which reduces or removes import tariffs for 70 developing countries. In particular, it is looking for input on:

  • Rules of origin requirements for least developed countries
  • Reducing tariffs for low income and lower-middle income countries
  • The approach to goods graduation, which suspends reduced rates on some goods
  • The conditions and reporting requirements for low or lower-middle income countries.

The consultation concluded on 12 September 2021. Feedback being analysed.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Plastic waste

The UK Government has set a target of eliminating all 'avoidable' plastic waste by 2042, with a shorter-term ambition to "work towards" only recyclable, reusable or compostable plastic packaging being placed on the market by 2025. Defra is seeking views on the level of ambition of the targets, whether current measures go far enough, and whether alternatives to plastic consumption can be identified and support.

The consultation concluded on 9 September 2021. Feedback being analysed.

Environment Audit Committee

Net zero aviation and shipping

The Environmental Audit Committee is launching an inquiry into net zero aviation and shipping.

The consultation concluded on 3 September 2021. Feedback being analysed.

HM Revenue and Customs

Draft legislation: Plastic Packaging Tax

HMRC sought views on the draft Plastic Packaging Tax (Descriptions of Products) Regulations 2021, which removes three categories of products from the meaning of a plastic packaging component, and adds a further category of products.

The consultation concluded on 17 August 2021. Feedback being analysed.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Domestic food legislation: amendments to rules in England

Defra sought views on proposals to amend certain food legislation in England following Brexit. The intention of the proposed legislative changes is to maintain high domestic food standards and reflect the UK's trading relationship with the EU.

The consultation concluded on 22 March 2021.

A government response was published on 29 July 2021.

Competition and Markets Authority

Draft Guidance on the Operation of the CMA's UK Internal Market Functions

The CMA sought views on draft guidance on the CMA's UK internal market functions. The guidance will explain the role of the Office for the Internal Market, a new CMA function that was created by the UK Internal Market Act to carry out independent advice, monitoring and reporting in support of the effective operation of the UK internal market following the return of powers from the EU to the UK Government and Devolved Administrations.

The consultation concluded on 22 July 2021. Feedback being analysed.

Department of Health and Social Care

Restricting promotions of products high in fat, sugar and salt: enforcement

DHSC sought views on restrictions to restrict the promotion of HFSS goods in store entrances, aisle ends and checkouts for stores over 185.8sqm (and equivalent locations online). The consultation covered the proposed definitions of these locations, and the text of the draft regulations.

The consultation concluded on 22 February 2021. A government response was published on 21 July 2021.

Government Equalities Office

Consultation on Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

The consultation aims to gather evidence about whether the current laws on protecting people from sexual harassment in the workplace are effective.

The consultation wants to understand people’s experiences, and focus on the following set of issues:

  • How best to make sure employers take all the steps they can to prevent harassment from happening
  • Strengthening and clarifying the law so it’s clear employers should protect their staff from being harassed by clients, customers, or other people from outside their organisation
  • Whether interns and volunteers are adequately protected by current laws and
  • Whether people should be given longer to take a harassment, discrimination or victimisation claim to an Employment Tribunal

The consultation has concluded. A government response was published on 21 July 2021.

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee

The impact of coronavirus on businesses and workers inquiry

The inquiry will keep a close eye on Government policy and its impact on businesses and workers, including the following key areas:

  • How different sectors and those in different forms of employment are affected by coronavirus;
  • The impact of support schemes and policies announced by the Government, including the Business Interruption Loan Scheme, Bounce Back Loan Scheme and Job Retention Scheme;
  • The likely needs of different sectors over the coming weeks and months, and at each alert level of the pandemic.

The last oral evidence session took place on 13 July 2021.

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Good work plan: establishing a new single enforcement body for employment rights

The consultation is seeking views on options for establishing a single enforcement body to improve the enforcement of employment rights for workers and businesses, and whether establishing a new single enforcement body for employment rights could:

  • improve enforcement for vulnerable workers
  • create a level playing field for the majority of businesses who are complying with the law

The consultation has concluded.

A government response was published on 8 June 2021.

HM Revenue and Customs

 

Notification of uncertain tax treatment by large businesses

A consultation on the Government’s intention to require large businesses to notify HMRC where they have adopted an uncertain tax treatment. The proposal is designed to improve HM Revenue and Customs’ ability to identify issues where businesses have adopted a different legal interpretation to the view of HM Revenue and Customs.

The consultation has concluded. A government response was published on 23 March 2021.

UK Research & Innovation

The Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund

The UKRI is seeking input on the implementation and approach of the ISCF, a £4.7bn fund intended to support research and development in the UK.

The inquiry stopped accepting evidence on 25 February 2021, but is ongoing.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Contractual relationships in the UK dairy industry

This consultation is in response to concerns raised that primary producers, including dairy farmers, tend to occupy positions of relative market weakness in the food supply chain. Consensus among agricultural producers in the UK is that unequal bargaining power with processors and retailers can expose farmers to unfair treatment, with the potential to undermine equitable price transmission along the chain.

The consultation has concluded. A summary of responses was published on 3 February 2021.

UK Statistics Authority and HM Treasury

 

 

Consultation on the Reform to Retail Prices Index (RPI) Methodology

The UK Statistics Authority (the Authority) and HM Treasury are jointly consulting on reforming the methodology of the Retail Prices Index (RPI). The RPI is the oldest measure of inflation in the UK and is used widely across the economy and in financial contracts. However, it has a number of shortcomings meaning that it has at times greatly overestimated, and at other times underestimated the rate of inflation.

The consultation has concluded. A Government response was published on 2 February 2021.

Women and Equalities Committee

Changing the perfect picture: an inquiry into body image

Awareness of the impact of advertising and media consumption on people’s body image has increased in recent years. Negative body image is widely perceived as solely a young women’s problem. But more recently, research has shown that this is a wider issue.

The last oral evidence session took place on 27 January 2021.

Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport

Online Harms White Paper

The White Paper proposes establishing in law a new duty of care towards users, which will be overseen by an independent regulator. Companies will be held to account for tackling a comprehensive set of online harms, ranging from illegal activity and content to behaviours which are harmful but not necessarily illegal.

The consultation aimed to gather views on various aspects of the Government’s plans for regulation and tackling online harms, including:

  • the online services in scope of the regulatory framework;
  • ·options for appointing an independent regulatory body to implement, oversee and enforce the new regulatory framework;
  • the enforcement powers of an independent regulatory body;
  • potential redress mechanisms for online users; and
  • measures to ensure regulation is targeted and proportionate for industry.

The consultation has concluded. An initial consultation response was published on 12 February 2020.

This initial Government response to the Online Harms White Paper provides an overview of the consultation responses and wider engagement on the proposals. It includes an in-depth breakdown of the responses to each of the 18 consultation questions asked in relation to the White Paper proposals, and an overview of the feedback in response to the Government's engagement with stakeholders.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Committee sought evidence on:

  • The nature, prevalence and scale of online harms during the Covid-19 period;
  • Steps that could be taken to mitigate these concerns;
  • The adequacy of the Government’s Online Harms proposals to address issues arising from the pandemic, as well as issues previously identified.

That consultation has also concluded. The Government published its full response to the consultation on 15 December 2020.

HM Revenue & Customs

Plastic Packaging Tax: policy design

This consultation seeks views on areas of the Plastic Packaging Tax which have been further refined as we move closer to the implementation date of April 2022.

The consultation has concluded.

A Government response was published on 12 November 2020.

Home Office

Transparency in supply chains

The consultation is gathering views on the proposed changes to the Modern Slavery Act 2015, following the independent review of the Modern Slavery Act.

The UK Government has committed to strengthening section 54 (transparency in supply chains requirements) of the Modern Slavery Act, and is proposing measures intended to:

  • Increase transparency and compliance
  • Improve reporting quality
  • Extend the scope of the legislation.

The consultation has concluded.

A Government response was published on 22 September 2020.

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy

Corporate transparency and register reform

The consultation will look at new proposals to enhance the role of Companies House, increase the transparency of UK corporate entities and help combat economic crime. Consideration will be given to reform to the information we require companies to disclose, increasing the checks on this information and measures to improve the exchange of intelligence between Companies House and UK Law Enforcement bodies.

The consultation has concluded.

A Government response was published on 18 September 2020.

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy

Smart data: putting consumers in control of their data and enabling innovation

Following a green paper in 2018, the consultation is looking at how to better utilise Smart Data to support better consumer outcomes across consumer markets. This includes:

  • enabling data driven innovation in consumer markets
  • using data and technology to help vulnerable consumers
  • ensuring consumers and their data are protected

The consultation has concluded.

A Government response was published on 9 September 2020.

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy

Groceries Code Adjudicator: statutory review, 2016 to 2019

The consultation is seeking views and evidence which will allow the Government to assess the performance of the Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA) against the measures set out in the Groceries Code Adjudicator Act 2013.

The consultation has concluded.

A statutory review was published on 16 July 2020.

Home Office

Violence and abuse toward shop staff: call for evidence

The Home Office is seeking the views of organisations and individuals who wish to contribute to our understanding of the problem of violence and abuse toward shop staff in England and Wales.

The consultation has concluded.

An initial consultation response was published on 7 July 2020. The response sets out a plan to improve support for victims and ensure perpetrators face justice.

Department for International Trade

The UK Global Tariff

The Most Favoured Nation (MFN) tariff will enter into force on 1 January 2021.

The tariffs will apply to all goods imported into the UK, unless an exception such as a preferential arrangement or tariff suspension applies. In particular, this tariff will not apply to goods coming from developing countries that benefit under the Generalised Scheme of Preferences, or to goods originating from countries with which the UK has negotiated a free trade agreement (FTA).

The consultation has concluded.

A summary of public responses along with Government Guidance was published on 19 May 2020.

Low Pay Commission

Good Work Plan: one-sided flexibility - addressing unfair flexible working practices

The consultation is seeking views on the proposals made by the Low Pay Commission, to address the issue of ‘one-sided flexibility’.

In particular it is seeking views on:

  • providing a right to reasonable notice of working hours
  • providing workers with compensation for shifts cancelled without reasonable notice

It also seeks views on what guidance Government can provide to support employers and encourage best practice to be shared across industries.

The consultation has concluded. Feedback being analysed.

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Good Work Plan: Proposals to support families

This section sets out high level options for reforming existing entitlements which could help parents to balance the gender division of parental leave.

The consultation has concluded. Feedback being analysed.

However, an initial consultation response was published on 16 March 2020. The Government has committed to (i) introduce leave for parents of babies in neonatal care, (ii) introduce statutory pay for parents of babies in neonatal care and (iii) legislate to implement the entitlement and the relevant commitments in the forthcoming Employment Bill.

Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs

Single use plastic: banning the distribution and/or sale of plastic straws, stirrers and plastic-stemmed cotton buds in England

The Government wanted to know what you think about banning the distribution and/or sale of plastic straws, drink stirrers and plastic-stemmed cotton buds in England. These single use plastics are associated with negative effects on the environment if they are littered or discarded incorrectly after their use. Not only do they damage terrestrial and marine life, there are costs associated with their clean-up and consequences for the tourism and fishing industries.

The consultation has concluded, and the Government's response published.

Marine Management Organisation

February 2020 catch limit consultation

The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) sets monthly catch limits for quota species to ensure the UK stays within the overall limit set by the EU. These limits apply to all under 10-meter vessels and the over 10-meter vessels that are not in a co-operative (Producer Organisation).

The consultation has concluded. Feedback being analysed.

Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs

Fishing quotas: English reserve quota policy for 2020

The consultation wants to know what you think about Defra’s policy on the use of reserve quota in England for 2020. Reserve quota - formerly known as uplift – is the additional quota used for fish that must be landed under the landing obligation.

They are also seeking views on updating the reserve quota policy section of the English Quota Management Rules.

The consultation has concluded.

Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs

Food origin labelling: enforcement

This consultation regards plans to introduce laws that will allow UK Governments to enforce food labelling rules. This applies to labelling the Country of Origin or Place of Provenance of Primary Ingredients of Food where it’s different to the food itself. For example, a cheese labelled as British needs to make clear on the label if the milk used to make the cheese is from elsewhere. The proposed approach matches the enforcement provisions already in place for most non-safety related food labelling offences. This consultation is aimed at food enforcement officials, food manufacturers, food retailers, food producers, importers and consumers. It does not propose new policies on food labelling.

The consultation has concluded.

The new rules will be enforced in the same way as existing non-safety food labelling rules. These changes will be made through amendment to ‘The Food Information Regulations 2014’ and came into force in England on 18 June 2020.

Low Pay Commission

Low Pay Commission consultation 2020

The Low Pay Commission (LPC) is the independent body that advises the Government on the level of the minimum wage. We have been asked to recommend in October this year the National Minimum Wage (NMW) and National Living Wage (NLW) rates to apply from April 2021. All interested parties are invited to submit evidence to our consultation by Thursday 4 June 2020.

The consultation has concluded. Feedback being analysed.

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy

Pregnancy and maternity discrimination: extending redundancy protection for women and new parents

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy sought views on extending redundancy protection for pregnant women and new parents.

This consultation has concluded.

The Government response published in 2019 proposed to (i) extend the redundancy protection period for 6 months once a new mother has returned to work (ii) to afford the same protection to those taking adoption leave and (iii) to extend redundancy protection for those returning from shared parental leave. Legislative updates are awaited.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee

COVID-19 and food supply inquiry

The Committee is enquiring into food supply during the Coronavirus pandemic, including access to healthy food during periods of self-isolation, and how disruptions in the food supply chain should be managed. The Committee will initially identify current problems and strategies for mitigating potential risks.

The last formal meeting took place on 30 June 2020.

Competition and Markets Authority (Digital Markets Taskforce)

CMA to publish final report on the market study into platforms and digital advertising

The Digital Markets Taskforce launched and is seeking views and evidence from a wide range of stakeholders to inform its work advising Government on a new pro-competition approach for digital markets.

The consultation has concluded. The Taskforce published a host of guidance on 8 December 2020

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee

 

Labour in the food supply chain inquiry

There is a high demand for non-UK workers in agriculture and in the wider food supply chain. Veterinarians, who provide certification for the import and export of animals to third countries and provide official controls at food exporting premises, abattoirs and border inspection posts, are currently on the Shortage Occupation List (SOL).

The last oral evidence session took place on 17 November 2020.

Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport

Online advertising - call for evidence

DCMS announced it will consider how online advertising is regulated. Its aim is to foster fair, accountable and ethical online advertising that works for citizens, businesses and society as a whole.

This call for evidence is focussed on the first pillar of this work - ensuring standards about the placement and content of advertising can be effectively applied and enforced online so that consumers have limited exposure to harmful or misleading advertising.

The consultation has concluded.

Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport

Proposals for regulating consumer smart product cyber security

This consultation seeks views on whether to change the law to make ‘smart’ products - like televisions, cameras and household appliances which connect to the internet - safer and more secure for people to use. The proposal details the Government’s plans to raise the security standard for all consumer smart products sold in the UK.

The consultation has concluded.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee

Agriculture Bill: Trade Standards inquiry

The Government has frequently stated that the UK will not compromise on high standards of food safety and animal welfare in future trade agreements.

As new international agreements are negotiated, the production standards for imported food are to come under Parliamentary scrutiny. The EFRA Select Committee is to take evidence from senior representatives from the agriculture, animal welfare and trade sectors. Areas likely to be considered include consideration of production standards under the WTO and GATT, the extent to which international standards currently compare to the UK's, the efficacy of tariffs, the impact on food security, and the impact of policy changes on both farmers and consumers.

The last oral evidence session took place on 11 March 2020.

Treasury Committee

The impact of Business Rates on business inquiry:

The inquiry into Business Rates will scrutinise how Government policy has impacted business. The Committee will examine how Business Rates policy has changed, including Business Rates retention, alternatives to property-based taxes, such as the proposed digital services tax, and how changes to Business Rates could impact businesses.

The inquiry has concluded. A Government response was published on 27 February 2020.

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee

Work of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy inquiry

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee will examine the Government's new Industrial Strategy, the impact of Brexit and the gig economy.

The inquiry has concluded. A Government response was published on 27 February 2020.

Competition and Markets Authority

 

Online platforms and digital advertising market study inquiry

As part of its Digital Markets Strategy, the CMA launched a market study into online platforms and digital advertising.

The market study final report was published on 1 July 2020. The report found that competition is not working well in these markets, leading to substantial harm for consumers and society as a whole and recommends that the Government passes legislation to establish a new pro-competition regulatory regime.