It is a pleasure to respond to this Adjournment debate. I know that you, Madam Deputy Speaker, and Alex Salmond are disappointed that I am replying to the debate rather than his new friend the Minister for Small Business, Industry and Enterprise. She was due to be here, but is on her way to “Question Time”, where she may well meet the right hon. Gentleman again. I shall do my best to respond to the debate on her behalf. If I do not adequately answer any of the detailed questions that have been posed, I will make sure that she writes to hon. Members with all the details.
I congratulate Ms Ahmed-Sheikh on securing this debate on an important subject that has been raised with me by constituents in a number of emails and letters over the past few months. I am glad she acknowledged that this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a very beneficial free-trade area, and that her fine country and the entire United Kingdom rely on trade and have benefited from trade over centuries and generations. Indeed, we think that we are quite good at it and that we usually benefit more even than our trading partners from its expansion.
The Government are confident that the agreement will produce huge economic benefits on both sides of the Atlantic. Outside the EU, the US is the largest export market for British goods and services, and a successful deal could eventually boost our economy by as much as £10 billion each year. That is a large and abstract number, but it translates into additional disposable income of about £400 a year for the households that the hon. Lady and I represent. More money in people’s pockets, cheaper goods and services, more jobs, and new markets for small and growing businesses—those are the things that we are talking about when we talk about this agreement. It is not an abstract or technical process established by elites; it is an opportunity for people up and down the land to benefit.