Clause 19 - Enforcement by local weights and measures authorities

Part of Tobacco and Vapes Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 3:00 pm ar 9 Mai 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Preet Kaur Gill Preet Kaur Gill Shadow Minister (Primary Care and Public Health) 3:00, 9 Mai 2024

Trading standards officers are experts in this area. They know what they are looking for in retail settings, they are experts in the legislation they have to enforce, and they do an important job in difficult circumstances. As we heard in evidence, trading standards officers enforce dozens of regulations, but in many local authorities there are barely one or two officers to do the job. As we consider the new regulations that we give to them to enforce, it is important that we make sure they get the support they need to do the job.

As I mentioned, I have some concerns about clause 20, in that it provides a relatively weak basis on which to compel a programme of enforcement to be carried out. However, I am glad it at least sets out something of the Minister’s expectations, and we acknowledge that different local authorities face different local challenges. We do not want to be overly prescriptive in what we set in law. The issue therefore comes down to resources, so can the Minister tell us what has been the result of Operation Joseph and whether it will be continuing? I note that it received £3 million in funding last year, but the timeframe in which that was scheduled to be delivered was unclear. Can the Minister clear that up?

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute estimates that one in three vapes on British shelves may be illicit, which suggests that local authorities are struggling to fully get to grips with existing enforcement priorities, as we add new ones. What assessment have the Government made of authorities’ capacity to absorb these new responsibilities with the resources allocated?