Single Market

Oral Answers to Questions — Treasury – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17 January 2017.

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Photo of Alex Cunningham Alex Cunningham Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions) (Pensions) 12:00, 17 January 2017

What assessment he has made of the potential effect of losing access to the single market on the chemical industry and the wider economy.

Photo of Jane Ellison Jane Ellison The Financial Secretary to the Treasury

The Government absolutely recognise the significant contrition that the chemicals industry makes to the UK economy, and of course the complex supply chains between the UK and the EU. The hon. Gentleman will have heard the Chancellor’s words just now about the importance we attach to getting the best possible market access, and the Prime Minister is talking about that this morning. We are looking at a comprehensive range of analysis to inform our position as we go into those negotiations but, as the Prime Minister is laying out, clarity and certainty are one of the industry’s big asks.

Photo of Alex Cunningham Alex Cunningham Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions) (Pensions)

The Chemical Industries Association’s Brexit manifesto shows how the chemical industry could help to sustain and enhance the UK as a location for future investment in jobs while playing a leading part in addressing global environmental challenges. Has the Minister read the manifesto? What is she doing to reassure the chemical industry that its very specific needs are at the forefront of her mind as the Government develop their strategy?

Photo of Jane Ellison Jane Ellison The Financial Secretary to the Treasury

Rather than just reading the manifesto, Ministers have actually been meeting the chemical industry. The Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, my hon. Friend Mr Walker, met the Chemical Industries Association on 17 November. All these issues were explored in some detail and a good, productive conversation was had.

Photo of Julian Brazier Julian Brazier Conservative, Canterbury

I welcome my hon. Friend’s typically constructive approach, but does she recall the clinical trials directive that destroyed much of the pharmaceutical industry in this country overnight, including Pfizer’s site in east Kent?

Photo of Jane Ellison Jane Ellison The Financial Secretary to the Treasury

As I recall, the original directive did have some negative effects, but it was improved on in subsequent negotiations to ensure that it did not have the same effect.

Photo of Rosena Allin-Khan Rosena Allin-Khan Shadow Minister (Culture, Media and Sport) (Sport)

Voters partly backed leave on the basis of the £350 million economic boost that our NHS is still waiting for. Where, therefore, is the democratic mandate for this Conservative version of hard Brexit—leaving the customs union and the single market—that the Chancellor himself has accepted damages the economy and that puts jobs in my Tooting constituency at risk?

Photo of Jane Ellison Jane Ellison The Financial Secretary to the Treasury

Of course. As colleagues across the House will realise, getting the best deal for Britain means getting the best deal for all our major companies and industries. That, in turn, allows us to carry on investing the record amounts that we have in the NHS to date.

Photo of David Nuttall David Nuttall Conservative, Bury North

Yes, indeed. Does my hon. Friend agree that when we leave the European Union, the fact that this Parliament will be free to redraft the registration, evaluation and authorisation of chemicals regulation, which has long been identified as one of the most burdensome of all EU regulations, will be of enormous benefit to small and medium-sized businesses in the chemical industry, particularly those that only operate within the UK?

Photo of Jane Ellison Jane Ellison The Financial Secretary to the Treasury

My hon. Friend makes a fair point. A discussion about the REACH regulation was on the agenda when the Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union met the chemical industry and, of course, it will continue to form part of our discussions.