THE MP for Montgomeryshire, has welcomed today’s introduction into Parliament the Business and Planning Bill by the UK Government.

The bill includes an urgent set of measures to help businesses across the UK adjust to new ways of working in response to the Covid-19 crisis.

Introduced by Alok Sharma, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the bill contains action to help businesses succeed in these new and challenging conditions over the coming months, and to temporarily remove any of the short-term obstacles which could hamper their recovery.

The bill includes a number of measures which apply to both England and Wales. Areas which are devolved to the Welsh Government will apply in England only.

Secretary of State for Wales, Simon Hart has written to the Welsh Minister for Economy and Transport, Ken Skates about these devolved areas, urging the Welsh Government to consider similar measures and flexibilities to help ease Wales’ economic recovery.

The measures which apply in both England and Wales include:

· Temporarily allowing hospitality businesses to serve alcohol outside.

· Amending the Consumer Credit Act 1974 to disapply ‘unfair relationships’ provisions for lending made under the Bounce Back Loans Scheme, to allow the scheme to operate effectively and loans to quickly reach small businesses.

· Measures to keep commercial vehicles moving by introducing temporary powers to issue one-year lorry or bus licenses rather than standard five-years, in order to waive medical report requirements and ease pressures on NHS and transport industry; and to enable certificates of temporary exemption from road-worthiness testing to be issued to HGV’s and buses on basis of road safety risk, rather than blanket exemption.

Areas which are devolved and therefore only apply in England include:

· Making it quicker and less expensive for businesses to obtain a license to place temporary tables and chairs outside of cafes, bars and restaurants.

· Ensuring that planning plays its role in the economic recovery by automatically extending planning permissions that lapse between the measures coming into force and the end of the year, and allow for extension of permissions that have lapsed since the start of lockdown in certain circumstances; and providing greater flexibility for Planning Inspectors when dealing with a planning appeal.

Montgomeryshire MP Craig Williams said: “These new proposals are for a bill which has arisen as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Covid-19 has affected businesses across all sectors of the economy. Many have been forced to cease trading for several months, and others have had to significantly modify their operations to comply with social distancing regulations. As the economy starts to reopen, the UK Government wants to do all it can to support recovery, help businesses adjust to new ways of working, and create new jobs. I am very pleased that many of these new proposals will apply in Wales.

“One of the most affected industries in Montgomeryshire has been the hospitality sector. Whilst the measure to allow temporary sales of alcohol outdoors will apply to Wales, proposals designed to support the hospitality industry through summer opening such as easing restrictions on applying for outdoor seats and tables will operate in England only. I have spoken with many hospitality business owners across the constituency over the last few months, and they have signalled loud and clear that the industry in Wales needs a clear route map for reopening and government support to get back on its feet.

“Wales as a whole would greatly benefit from a similar package of measures and planning flexibility being introduced by the Welsh Government, in order to boost its economic recovery.”