Clause 71 - Extension of notification requirements etc

Part of Tobacco and Vapes Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 11:00 am ar 14 Mai 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care 11:00, 14 Mai 2024

Before being able to sell nicotine vapes on the UK consumer market, producers should ensure that their products meet the standards required under the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 and notify the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency as to the contents and ingredients of their products and submit their contact details. Non-nicotine vapes and other nicotine products are currently only covered by the General Product Safety Regulations 2005, which means there are no requirements to notify for these products in the same way as nicotine vapes.

Clause 71 provides regulation-making powers to introduce notification requirements for non-nicotine vapes and other consumer nicotine products, and a power to introduce fees to cover the cost of administering the new requirement. Notification plays a vital role in the oversight and compliance of vapes to help ensure that products meet regulatory requirements and are safe for consumers. Given that the Bill gives powers to introduce new restrictions on vapes via future regulations, it is necessary to be able to amend the information required by the vape notification system.

New vape regulations will likely make several changes that would impact on the design and make-up of a vape, and it is essential that the notification system can be updated with new information requirements so that it remains effective in the future. That is why clause 72 provides a power to amend the information that must be submitted when a vape or other nicotine product is notified for sale on the UK market. Without that power, the notification system would likely not align with all future restrictions placed on vapes and would therefore become ineffective.

While the notification system is not an enforcement tool, enforcement agencies use the published information to distinguish between products that have been notified for sale on the UK market and those that have not. There is currently no means by which the MHRA can withdraw a notification from the published list—for example, if a required fee is not paid. As such, clause 73 provides a regulation-making power to create exceptions to the requirement to publish notifications—that is, to allow for a notification to be removed, for example, in the event where a required fee has not been paid. The regulations that may be made under powers in part 5 may relate to consumer protection, which is a transferred—that is, devolved—matter in Northern Ireland but remains a reserved matter for Great Britain.

I turn to clause 74, which provides that if regulations relating to the notification system contain provision that would be within the legislative competence of the Northern Ireland Assembly, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care must obtain the consent of the Executive Office in Northern Ireland. The consent provision maintains and upholds the devolution position in Northern Ireland concerning consumer protection matters with respect to regulations made under part 5. The effect of the clause is to enable the powers in part 5 to be exercised effectively, respecting the devolution settlement with Northern Ireland. I commend these clauses to the Committee.