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On Thursday 24th December, Prime Minister Boris Johnson MP (Con) announced the completion of the Post-Brexit Free Trade Agreement deal with the EU, providing British companies with ‘zero-tariff, zero-quota’ access for goods to EU markets. The deal includes annexes for sectors including chemicals, motor vehicles and medicines, organics and wine, allowing for there to be differences in policies regarding standardisation, accreditation, metrology, market surveillance, and marking and labelling for these sectors. As was expected, the UK has reportedly been granted third country listing status for almost all food and plant exports, with the exception of seed potatoes, which has been welcomed by the National Farmers' Union, however they have stated that they hope the potato seed issue is resolved quickly. The UK retains regulatory autonomy for telecoms, and the deal encourages regulatory cooperation on mobile roaming.
On Wednesday 30th December, Parliament passed the European Union (Future Relationship) Bill enabling the UK Government to implement and ratify the Agreements agreed between the UK and the EU. Prime Minister Boris Johnson MP (Con) also gave a statement at the COVID-19 press conference where he announced that more areas of England would move into Tier 4, and that the start of the new school term will be delayed for some pupils. Secondary schools in England will reopen on a staggered basis, with exam year pupils returning on January 11th and others returning a week later. The Government also published a letter providing advice to local planning authorities on the application of The Town and Country Planning. The Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine met the MRHA regulator’s standards of safety, efficacy and quality, with the rollout to begin from 4th January 2021.
On Saturday 2nd January 2021, Prime Minister Boris Johnson MP (Con) committed to boosting the numbers of teachers, police officers, nurses and other public sector workers as part of the Government’s drive to build back better from the pandemic in 2021. Six projects across the UK will also receive a share of £8 million in Government funding to develop ways to cut carbon emissions from major industrial areas as part of a drive to create the world’s first net-zero emissions industrial zone by 2040. Projects in the West Midlands, Tees Valley, North West, Humber, Scotland and South Wales will see local authorities working with industry to develop plans to reduce carbon emissions, with one scheme alone - across the North West of England and North East Wales - aiming to create over 33,000 new jobs and more than £4 billion of investment.
Both Houses rose for recess on 17th December and will return January 5th.
On Wednesday 6th January, there will be oral questions on the effectiveness of the Green Homes Grant scheme with Lord Oates. In the House of Commons, there will be an evidence session with the Work and Pensions Committee on protecting pension savers – five years on from the pension scams. The Transport Committee will also host an oral evidence session on High Speed Two.
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