‘(1) The Prime Minster may not give notice under section 1 until either—
(a) HM Treasury has published any impact assessment it has conducted since
(b) HM Treasury has laid a statement before both Houses of Parliament declaring that no such assessment has been conducted since
This new clause requires the Government to publish any recently conducted Treasury impact assessments of different trading models with the European Union.
Brought up, and read the First time.
With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:
New clause 42—Equality—impact assessment—
Before exercising the power under section 1, the Prime Minister must undertake that she will publish an equality impact assessment, 18 months after this Act receives Royal Assent or prior to a vote on the negotiations in the European Parliament, whichever is sooner.”
This new clause requires the Prime Minister to publish an equality impact assessment in good time before Parliament votes on the final agreement.
New clause 43—Customs Union—impact assessment—
‘(1) Before exercising the power under section 1, the Prime Minister must undertake that she will publish an impact assessment of the effect of leaving the Customs Union on the United Kingdom.
(2) The impact assessment in subsection (1) shall be laid before Parliament 18 months after this Act receives Royal Assent or prior to a vote on the negotiations in the European Parliament, whichever is sooner.”
This new clause requires the Prime Minister to publish an impact assessment of leaving the Customs Union (independently of decisions on the Single Market) in good time before Parliament votes on the final agreement.
New clause 44—Supply Chains—impact assessment—
Before exercising the power under section 1, the Prime Minister must undertake that she will publish an impact assessment of the risks to supply chains presented by the introduction of non-tariff custom barriers, 18 months after this Act receives Royal Assent or prior to a vote on the negotiations in the European Parliament, whichever is the sooner.”
This new clause requires the Prime Minister to publish an impact assessment on the risk to supply chains from any new non-tariff barriers in good time before Parliament votes on the final agreement.
New clause 45—Environmental protection—impact assessment—
Before exercising the power under section 1, the Prime Minister must undertake that she will publish an impact assessment of the effect on—
(a) environmental protection standards,
(b) farm business viability,
(c) animal welfare standards,
(d) food security, and
(e) food safety
18 months after this Act receives Royal Assent or prior to a vote on the negotiations in the European Parliament, whichever is the sooner.”
This new clause requires the Prime Minister to publish an impact assessment on environmental standards, farm viability and food safety in good time before Parliament votes on the final agreement.
New clause 46—Climate change—impact assessment—
Before exercising the power under section 1, the Prime Minister must undertake that she will publish an impact assessment of the value of participation in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme and the Single Energy Market in achieving our climate change commitments, 18 months after this Act receives Royal Assent or prior to a vote on the negotiations in the European Parliament, whichever is the sooner.”
This new clause requires the Prime Minister to publish an impact assessment on climate change objectives and the contribution of the Emissions Trading System and the energy market to meeting these in good time before Parliament votes on the final agreement.
New clause 47—Research and Development collaboration —impact assessment—
Before exercising the power under section 1, the Prime Minister must undertake that she will publish an impact assessment of the effect of—
(a) leaving Horizon 2020, and
(b) setting up alternative arrangements for international collaboration on research and development by universities and other institutions
18 months after this Act receives Royal Assent or prior to a vote on the negotiations in the European Parliament, whichever is the sooner.”
This new clause requires the Prime Minister to publish an impact assessment on leaving Horizon 2020 and alternative Research and Development collaborations in good time before Parliament votes on the final agreement.
New clause 48—Agencies—impact assessment—
‘(1) Before exercising the power under section 1, the Prime Minister must undertake that she will publish impact assessments of—
(a) rescinding membership of the agencies listed in subsection (2), and
(b) setting up national arrangements in place of the agencies listed in subsection (2).
(2) Subsection (1) applies to the—
(b) Office of the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC Office),
(d) European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex),
(r) European Police Office (Europol),
(3) The impact assessments in subsection (1) shall be laid before Parliament 18 months after this Act receives Royal Assent or prior to a vote on the negotiations in the European Parliament, whichever is the sooner.”
The effect of this would be to require the Government to publish impact assessments for each agency to determine whether value for money for consumers, businesses and taxpayers would be achieved by leaving each one and setting up national arrangements.
New clause 49—Impact assessment: withdrawal from single market and Customs Union—
Before giving notice under section 1(1), of her intention to notify under Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the EU, the Prime Minster shall lay before both Houses of Parliament a detailed assessment of the anticipated impact of the decision to withdraw from the Single Market and Customs Union of the EU on—
(a) the nature and extent of any tariffs that will or may be imposed on goods and services from the UK entering the EU and goods and services from the EU entering the UK;
(b) the terms of proposed trade agreements with the EU or EU Member states and the expected timeframe for the negotiation and ratification of said trade agreements;
(c) the proposed status of rights guaranteed by the law of the European Union, including—
(i) labour rights,
(ii) health and safety at work,
(iii) the Working Time Directive,
(iv) consumer rights, and
(v) environmental standards;
(d) the proposed status of—
(i) EU citizens living in the UK and,
(ii) UK citizens living in the EU, after the EU has exited the EU;
(e) estimates as to the impact of the UK leaving the EU on—
(i) the balance of trade,
(ii) GDP, and
New clause 98—Protected characteristics—Equality Impact Assessments—
‘(1) In negotiating and concluding an agreement in accordance with Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, Ministers of the Crown must have regard to the impact of any new relationship with the European Union on protected characteristics, as set out in the Equality Act 2010.
(2) Any report the Government lays before Parliament on the progress of the withdrawal negotiation must be accompanied by an Equality Impact Assessment.
(3) Neither House of Parliament may approve by resolution any new relationship with the European Union unless an Equality Impact Assessment has been laid before both Houses of Parliament.”
This new clause would place specific duties on the Government to demonstrate compliance with the 2010 Equality Act, ensuring that the impact of decisions on women and those with protected characteristics are considered and debated at every stage of the process.
New clause 101—Environment—Environmental Impact Assessment—
Before issuing any notification under Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, the Prime Minister shall give an undertaking to lay before each House of Parliament a full Environmental Impact Statement on the terms of the agreement reached with the European Union on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.”
New clause 102—Economic Divergence—Impact Assessment—
Before issuing any notification under Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, the Prime Minister shall give an undertaking to lay before each House of Parliament an impact assessment of the costs to businesses and the environment as a result of divergence in regulations between the UK and countries in the EU single market, once the UK has withdrawn from the EU.”
New clause 103—EU Customs Union and the European single market—Impact Assessment—
‘(1) Before issuing any notification under Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, the Prime Minister shall give an undertaking to lay before each House of Parliament an impact assessment on the UK of leaving the EU Customs Union and the European single market.
(2) The impact assessment shall include the following information for each sector of the economy—
(a) the nature and extent of any tariffs that will or may be imposed on goods and services from the UK entering the EU and goods and services from the EU entering the UK;
(b) the effect of non-tariff custom barriers that will or may be imposed on goods and services from the UK entering the EU and goods and services from the EU entering the UK;
(c) changes in the rules of origin regulations and the administrative burdens for business.”
New clause 106—Withdrawal from Free Movement of persons—Impact Assessment—
‘(1) Before issuing any notification under Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, the Prime Minister shall give an undertaking to lay before each House of Parliament an impact assessment of withdrawal from Directive 2004/38/EC (free movement of persons).
(2) The impact assessment shall include the impact on withdrawal for each sector of the economy and include effects of—
(a) labour shortages,
(b) changes in costs of labour,
(c) administrative burdens for employers,
(d) effects on the cost base for companies; and
(e) effect on consumers.”
New clause 107—Employment Training needs—Impact Assessment—
‘(1) Before issuing any notification under Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, the Prime Minister shall give an undertaking to lay before each House of Parliament an impact assessment of the skills training needed to supply the necessary skills needed for the UK economy after the UK leaves the European Union.
(2) The impact assessment should detail—
(a) the resources needed to meet the needs of training needs of the UK post commencement of leaving the European Union; and
(b) how government will work with UK companies to train future employees and upskill employees post commencement of leaving the European Union in the context of changes in UK immigration policy.”
New clause 143—Financial liability of the UK towards the EU—
(a) published an assessment of the financial liability of the UK towards the EU following the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union, and
(b) made a statement to the House of Commons on the economic impact of the United Kingdom leaving the single market.”
New clause 152—Natural Environment—impact assessment—
Before exercising the power under section 1, the Prime Minister must lay before both Houses of Parliament an impact assessment covering the impact of leaving—
(a) the European Union, and
(b) the Single Market on the natural environment, including the marine environment, until 2042.”
This new clause would require the Government to set out the impact on the natural environment of leaving the European Union and leaving the Single Market on the natural environment covering the expected duration of the Government’s 25-year plan for the environment.
New clause 153—Chemicals Regulation—impact assessment—
Before exercising the power under section 1, the Prime Minister must lay before both Houses of Parliament an impact assessment covering the impact of leaving—
(a) the European Union, and
(b) the Single Market on the assessment and regulation of chemicals for safety and environmental protection.”
New clause 154—Rural Economy and Environment—impact assessment—
‘(1) Before exercising the power under section 1, the Prime Minister must lay before both Houses of Parliament an impact assessment covering the impact of leaving—
(a) the European Union,
(b) the Single Market, and
(c) the Customs Union on the rural economy and environment.
(2) An impact assessment laid under subsection (1) shall in particular cover the impact on—
(a) tariff and non-tariff barriers to export,
(b) farm incomes and viability,
(c) environmental, food safety and animal welfare standards, and
(d) international competitiveness of UK farms.”
New clause 155—Land Management Payments—impact assessment—
‘(1) Before exercising the power under section 1, the Prime Minister must lay before both Houses of Parliament an impact assessment covering the impact of leaving—
(a) the European Union,
(b) the Common Agricultural Policy, and
(c) the Single Market on land management and rural development payments.
(2) An impact assessment laid under subsection (1) shall in particular cover the impact on—
(a) funding for environmental protection,
(b) funding for rural development, and
(c) farm incomes and viability.”
New clause 167—Rights and opportunities of young people—impact assessment—
‘(1) Before exercising the power under section 1, the Prime Minister must undertake to publish an assessment of the effect of leaving the European Union on the rights and opportunities of people aged under 25 in the United Kingdom, including—
(a) the effect on the ability to work and travel visa-free in the EU,
(b) the effect on the ability to study in other EU member states on the same terms as on the day on which Royal Assent is given to this Act, and
(c) the effect on the ability to participate in EU programmes designed to provide opportunities to young people, including programmes to facilitate studying in other EU member states.
(2) The impact assessment in subsection (1) shall be laid before Parliament before—
(a) 12 months have elapsed after this Act receives Royal Assent, or
(b) the day on which Her Majesty’s Government declares that agreement has been reached on the terms of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, whichever is the sooner.”
This new clause would require the Government to undertake an impact assessment of the effect of leaving the EU on the rights and opportunities of young UK nationals and how they will differ from their European counterparts.
New clause 187—Euratom—impact assessment—
‘(1) Before exercising the power under section 1, the Prime Minister must commit to publish an impact assessment of the United Kingdom withdrawing from the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) on the nuclear industry within the United Kingdom.
(2) The impact assessment should include, but not be limited to, the impact on—
(a) nuclear research;
(b) health and safety in the nuclear industry; and
(c) employment in the nuclear industry.
(3) The impact assessment shall be published either 18 months after this Act receives Royal Assent or before a vote in the European Parliament on the withdrawal deal agreed between the European Union and the United Kingdom, whichever is the sooner.”
This new clause requires the Prime Minister to publish an impact assessment on the effect on the UK’s nuclear industry should the UK withdraw from Euratom.
Amendment 3, in clause 1, page 1, line 2, at beginning insert—
“If a report has been laid before both Houses of Parliament setting out the estimated impact on the public finances of the UK withdrawing from the European Single Market,”
This amendment ensures that prior to any notification of the Prime Minister‘s intention to notify the United Kingdom‘s withdrawal from the EU, a report shall be published setting out the anticipated implications of exiting from the Single Market
Amendment 24, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
“after Her Majesty’s Government has published a report on the implications, costs and benefits for Gibraltar.”
Amendment 25, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
“after Her Majesty’s Government has published a report on the implications of and costs and benefits for the British Overseas Territories.”
Amendment 26, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
“after Her Majesty’s Government has published a report on the implications of and costs and benefits for the Crown Dependencies.”
Amendment 27, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
“after Her Majesty’s Government has published a report on the implications of and costs and benefits for the Commonwealth.”
Amendment 28, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
“after Her Majesty’s Government has published a report on the implications of and costs and benefits for European Foreign and Defence Policy Co-operation.”
Amendment 47, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
‘(1A) The Prime Minister may not notify under subsection (1) until the Chancellor of the Exchequer has published an assessment on the financial liability of the United Kingdom towards the EU on completion of the Article 50 withdrawal process, and laid a copy of the assessment before Parliament.”
Amendment 48, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
‘(1A) The Prime Minister may not notify under subsection (1) until the Chancellor of Exchequer has published a revised Treasury forecast on the state of the economy, and laid a copy of the report before Parliament.”
Amendment 49, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
‘(1A) The Prime Minister may not notify under subsection (1) until the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has published an assessment of the level of agricultural maintenance support grants beyond 2020, and laid a copy of the assessment before Parliament.”
Amendment 51, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
‘(1A) The Prime Minister may not notify under subsection (1) unless a Minister of the Crown has published an assessment on the impact of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU on Scottish sea ports, and laid a copy of the assessment before Parliament.”
Amendment 52, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
‘(1A) The Prime Minister may not notify under subsection (1) until the Chancellor of the Exchequer has published an assessment of the financial implications of leaving the European Union for charities, and laid a copy of the assessment before Parliament.”
Amendment 53, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
‘(1A) The Prime Minister may not notify under subsection (1) until a Minister of the Crown has published a report on the relationship between the Channel Islands and the European Union with regard to the 1972 Act of Accession Protocol No 3, and laid a copy of the report before Parliament.”
Amendment 57, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
‘(1A) The Prime Minister may not notify under subsection (1) until a Minister of the Crown has published a revised Strategic Defence and Security Review, and laid a copy of the review before Parliament.”
Amendment 58, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
‘(1A) The Prime Minister may not notify under subsection (1) until a Minister of the Crown has published an assessment on the impact of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Development Fund, and laid a copy of the assessment before Parliament.”
Amendment 59, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
‘(1A) The Prime Minister may not notify under subsection (1) until the Chancellor of the Exchequer has published a report giving a medium-term economic forecast in the event of the United Kingdom leaving the single market, and laid a copy of the report before Parliament.”
Amendment 61, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
‘(1A) The Prime Minister may not notify under subsection (1) until a Minister of the Crown has published a revised National Security Strategy, and laid a copy of the review before Parliament.”
Amendment 62, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
‘(1A) The Prime Minister may not notify under subsection (1) until the Chancellor of the Exchequer has published an assessment of future payments to the EU after the Prime Minister makes the notification.”
Amendment 64, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
‘(1A) The Prime Minister may not notify under subsection (1) until the Secretary of State for Education has published an assessment on the impact of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU on the department’s responsibilities, and laid a copy of the assessment before Parliament.”
Amendment 65, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
‘(1A) The Prime Minister may not notify under subsection (1) until the Secretary of State for Health has published an assessment on the impact of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU on the department’s responsibilities, and laid a copy of the assessment before Parliament.”
Amendment 66, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
‘(1A) The Prime Minister may not notify under subsection (1) until the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has published an assessment on the impact of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU on the department’s responsibilities, and laid a copy of the assessment before Parliament.”
Amendment 67, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
‘(1A) The Prime Minister may not notify under subsection (1) until the Secretary of State for Justice has published an assessment on the impact of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU on the department’s responsibilities, and laid a copy of the assessment before Parliament.”
Amendment 68, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
‘(1A) The Prime Minister may not notify under subsection (1) until the Home Secretary has published an assessment on the impact of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU on the department’s responsibilities, and laid a copy of the assessment before Parliament.”
Amendment 69, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
‘(1A) The Prime Minister may not notify under subsection (1) until the Secretary of State for Defence has published an assessment on the impact of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU on the department’s responsibilities, and laid a copy of the assessment before Parliament.”
Amendment 70, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
‘(1A) The Prime Minister may not notify under subsection (1) until the Chancellor of the Exchequer has published an assessment on the impact of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU on the responsibilities of Her Majesty’s Treasury, and laid a copy of the assessment before Parliament.”
Amendment 71, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
‘(1A) The Prime Minister may not notify under subsection (1) until the Foreign Secretary has published an assessment on the impact of the UK withdrawing from the EU on the responsibilities of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and laid a copy of the assessment before Parliament.”
Amendment 72, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
‘(1A) The Prime Minister may not notify under subsection (1) until the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions has published an assessment on the impact of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU on the department’s responsibilities, and laid a copy of the assessment before Parliament.”
Amendment 73, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
‘(1A) The Prime Minister may not notify under subsection (1) until the Secretary of State for International Trade has published an assessment on the impact of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU on the department’s responsibilities, and laid a copy of the assessment before Parliament.”
Amendment 74, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
‘(1A) The Prime Minister may not notify under subsection (1) until the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has published an assessment on the impact of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU on the department’s responsibilities, and laid a copy of the assessment before Parliament.”
Amendment 75, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
‘(1A) The Prime Minister may not notify under subsection (1) until the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has published an assessment on the impact of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU on the department’s responsibilities, and laid a copy of the assessment before Parliament.”
Amendment 76, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
‘(1A) The Prime Minister may not notify under subsection (1) until the Secretary of State for International Development has published an assessment on the impact of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU on the department’s responsibilities, and laid a copy of the assessment before Parliament.”
Amendment 77, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
‘(1A) The Prime Minister may not notify under subsection (1) until the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport has published an assessment on the impact of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU on the department’s responsibilities, and laid a copy of the assessment before Parliament.”
Amendment 79, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
‘(1A) The Prime Minister may not notify under subsection (1) until the Chancellor of the Exchequer has published a report on matters relating to the pensions of UK nationals living and working in the European Union on the date that the United Kingdom withdraws from the EU.”
Amendment 80, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
‘(1A) The Prime Minister may not notify under subsection (1) until a Minister of the Crown has published an equality impact assessment on the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU, and laid a copy of the report before Parliament.”
Amendment 82, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
‘(1A) The Prime Minister may not notify under subsection (1) until a Minister of the Crown has published regional and national economic impact assessments on the impact of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU.”
Amendment 11, page 1, line 5, at end insert—
‘(3) Before exercising the power under subsection (1), the Prime Minister must prepare and publish a report on the effect of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU on national finances, including the impact on health spending.
This amendment calls for the Government to publish a report on the effect of EU withdrawal on the national finances, particularly health spending following claims in the referendum campaign that EU withdrawal would allow an additional £350 million per week to be spent on the National Health Service.
Amendment 39, page 1, line 5, at end insert—
‘(3) Before the Prime Minister issues a notification under this section, Her Majesty’s Government has a duty to lay before both Houses of Parliament a review of the independence and effectiveness of the current environmental regulators, including a detailed assessment of their capacity to effectively implement and enforce EU-derived environmental legislation upon withdrawal from the European Union.”
This amendment would ensure that UK environmental regulators and enforcement agencies —namely the Environment Agency, Natural England and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs — are adequately funded and authorised to effectively perform the regulatory functions currently undertaken by institutions of the European Union.
New clause 17—EU Assets and Liabilities—
Within 30 days of the coming into force of this Act the Secretary of State shall publish a full account of the assets and liabilities held by Her Majesty’s Government in respect of the UK’s relationship with the European Union.”
This new clause would ensure that the Government publishes an account of the assets and liabilities held by Her Majesty’s Government in respect of our relationship with the European Union.
New clause 31—Regions of England—draft framework—
Before exercising the power under section 1, the Prime Minister must set out a draft framework for the future relationship with the European Union which includes particular reference to the impacts on the regions of England.”
New clause 41—Public spending implications—
Before exercising the power under section 1, the Prime Minister must set out a draft framework for the future relationship with the European Union which includes reference to the impact on public spending.”
New clause 138—Trade Agreements—
The Prime Minister may not exercise the power under section 1 until a Minister of the Crown has published a report on the number and terms of trade agreements outlined with countries outside of the European Union, and laid a copy of the report before Parliament.”
In addition to speaking to new clause 5, I intend to speak briefly to amendment 11 and new clause 98. The Bill is straightforward, but, as many hon. Members have said, it will set in train a process that will have profound implications for our country and for each of our constituents. Despite the Government’s resisting new clause 3 yesterday and, in so doing, setting their face against giving Parliament an active role in scrutinising and influencing the negotiation process, the House will still need to hold the Government to account in the months and years ahead. If we are to discharge that duty effectively, we will require adequate information and robust analysis. As things stand, we do not have that.
When it comes to the crucial issue of the impact of different trading models on our economy, the Government’s White Paper falls far short of what is required to ensure that we are able to have informed discussions and debates in this place. Indeed, it offers little beyond assurances that the Government will prioritise securing the freest and most frictionless trade possible in goods and services. The House and, more importantly, businesses across the country that stand to be affected deserve to be made aware of the Government’s evaluation of the likely impact of different future trading relations. The Government can provide them with that evaluation without revealing their negotiating hand by publishing any impact assessments that have been undertaken by Her Majesty’s Treasury. That is the purpose of new clause 5.
In its intent, new clause 5 is similar to amendment 11, tabled by my hon. Friend Mr Umunna, which concerns the impact of withdrawal on the public finances. I hope that he gets the chance to speak to his amendment because the public will not quickly forget the £350 million in additional investment that Vote Leave promised to the NHS. He will rightly continue to insist that the Government deliver on that promise.
Returning to new clause 5, we know that the analysis that we want published exists. Ministers have made it clear, both from the Dispatch box and in response to specific parliamentary questions, that the Government are conducting a broad range of analyses at macroeconomic and sectoral levels to understand the impact of leaving the EU on all aspects of the UK. If I recall rightly, the Secretary of State said last week that 58 sectors are now being analysed. We are not asking the Government to do anything new, so I hope that the new clause is not interpreted as a mechanism to delay or frustrate the triggering of article 50. If Ministers maintain that no impact assessments have been finalised, new clause 5 seeks to ensure that the Secretary of State reports as much to both Houses.
The honest answer is that we do not know. As I will come on to mention, other organisations are doing this analysis. There is not a vacuum out there, and the Government could quite easily publish their analysis to help inform the debate.
I hope that the Minister does not simply echo those who have argued and will argue that publishing any information would undermine the Government’s negotiating strategy. We heard that argument prior to the Government conceding a speech and a White Paper, and we will no doubt hear it in the months ahead. I say to hon. Members who take that view, whether out of genuine concern or simply because they in effect want the legislature to shut up shop for the next 18 months, that the detailed analysis of the kind that we are asking to be published is out there. Other organisations are doing it—not just the Government.
I am listening to the hon. Gentleman with care. As I understand it, new clause 5 seeks to make the triggering of article 50 conditional on an impact assessment being laid before the House. However, the triggering of article 50 should be conditional on a vote of the British people, which took place last year. This is simply an attempt to delay.
To be fair, I dealt with that earlier in my remarks when I said that the new clause is not an attempt to delay because we know that the Government have already carried out impact assessments. The idea that no impact assessments will be published throughout the course of the negotiations is farcical. We could have them up front, which would help to inform debate.
Does my hon. Friend agree that if we had official Treasury impact assessments, rather than those done by people who are guessing, we would be able to have a proper debate about the kind of Brexit that is best for our country in difficult and rapidly changing times?
My hon. Friend expresses the new clause’s intent perfectly, and I agree with her 100%.
Reputable and well-regarded organisations such as the National Institute of Economic and Social Research and the IFS have published detailed analysis of the cost and benefits of future trading relations with the EU, as have other less reputable organisations. The quality of analysis that the Government and the Treasury are able to produce will match, if not surpass, that analysis, and hon. Members should be able to access it. More importantly, businesses across the country need to be able to see it, so that they can adequately plan for their futures.
The hon. Gentleman has just asserted that the analysis he wants to see will be superior in quality to some of the others that may be available. On what does he base that assertion, given that the people he wants to report on the situation have given us the most extraordinary information? Before the referendum they told us that we were going to be attended by plagues of frogs and locusts and that the sky was going to fall in.
If the hon. Gentleman is right, I would not like to be one of the Ministers negotiating the agreement with the EU. They will be relying on this information when they come to decide their negotiating priorities.
I will make a little progress.
Labour Members look forward to hearing the Minister’s thoughts. The purpose of new clause 98, in the name of my hon. Friends, is simple. It would ensure that the impact of decisions on women and those with protected characteristics was considered and debated at every stage of the negotiation process. It may have escaped the attention of some hon. Members, but the word “equality” does not appear once in the White Paper. Indeed, the White Paper contains no mention of race, disability, sexuality or gender identity, which is astonishing. How can we secure a Brexit that works for everyone, as hon. Members on both sides of the Committee have repeated ad nauseam, if black, Asian and minority ethnic people, disabled people and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities are not given due consideration when the different negotiating positions are being weighed up?
The process and the final deal must have regard to equalities and the protection and extension of rights for those with protected characteristics. New clause 98 would ensure that equalities considerations were at the forefront of Government thinking throughout the withdrawal process and inform the final deal. Doing so would help to ensure that we got the best deal for everyone, wherever they were and, crucially, whoever they were. It would ensure that any negative impact on women or those with protected characteristics must be transparently presented and considered, and that if there was a risk of a disproportionate impact, the Government took steps to mitigate it.
New clause 98 is in line with recommendations from the cross-party Women and Equalities Committee, which has called for greater transparency on the impact of Government decisions on women and those with protected characteristics. It would help to improve scrutiny and accountability, and I look forward to the Minister giving it due consideration in his response.
I do not intend to delay the Committee, as most of these amendments are narrow and address the very specific point that Matthew Pennycook raised.
I have a simple concern as to why there is such a peculiar sense of the vital importance of these particular forecasts, which give huge credit to the Treasury’s ability to forecast where we may be going in almost every sector. As my hon. Friend Dr Murrison said, many of the forecasts have been fundamentally wrong in the past, so I asked the Library how accurate the Treasury forecast of May 2016 turned out to be. It is worth relating exactly how accurate it turned out to be, even when the Treasury had such a huge array of figures and possibilities before it:
“In May 2016, the Treasury published forecasts for the immediate economic impact of voting to leave the EU. It forecast for a recession to occur in the second half of 2016, with quarterly GDP growth of -0.1% in both Q3 2016 and Q4 2016 forecast (a second ‘severe shock’
scenario was also shown with a deep recession occurring;
under this scenario growth of -1.0% in Q3 2016 and -0.4% in Q4 2016 was forecast). In reality, the economy continued to grow at its pre-referendum pace, with quarterly growth of +0.6%”.
Now the figure has been adjusted again by the Governor of the Bank of England to close to 2%, with the prospect of further adjustments.
On the quarterly growth statistics, I understand that even knowing what is happening right now is often very difficult for the predicting entities. In fact, I believe they have had the correct numbers four times in 270 quarters.
The range of prediction from the Office for Budget Responsibility had nearly a £90 billion margin for error over the previous seven years; that £90 billion went from £50 billion on the plus side to £40 billion on the minus side. The problem we face is the sense that these forecasts give us any strong, real indication of what may happen in the economy. I raise this issue because the new clause and other amendments relevant to it make triggering article 50 contingent; it cannot be done officially until these forecasts are laid. This is not about consulting on them or their being made as a matter of the Government providing information. In other words, the article 50 letter cannot go until these are laid. All they do is inform the debate depending on what the forecasts are. From talking to economists, I am of the general opinion that we have had seven years of growth, and normally within the cycle we would expect to have a flattening at some point after this long period of growth. That would be the normal prospect, but economists will tell us that we are defying the normal prospects. Whether or not we have a natural process of slightly lower growth directly as a result of this longer period of growth, and what happens to the world economy and what is happening in the EU, is almost impossible to forecast with any great accuracy.
My point is that new clause 5 states:
With respect, I say to the hon. Member for Greenwich and Woolwich that this is not just a helpful attempt to get information to the House; it is exactly what he said it was not. It is clearly a back-door attempt to make it almost impossible for the Government to get on and trigger article 50. As my hon. Friend Charlie Elphicke said, the referendum verdict was to trigger article 50. The people were not asked, “Shall we trigger article 50 only after we have laid various reports of notables who believe the economy is good, bad or indifferent?” They were asked, “Do you want to leave or do you want to stay?” They chose to leave and we have to get on with it. The idea that the Government are going to go into a negotiation without any idea about what they favour and what they think will, by and large, on the margins, be better for us is ridiculous.
The other point to make is that the House must recognise it is going to be swamped with information of this sort; every forecasting agency is going to be in the game of telling us where we are, and none will be the wiser. Everybody in the House will take the worst or best one, depending on what they want. If the OBR has a margin for error of £90 billion, people can take whatever position they want. But it does not change anything, because we are leaving. The nature of the agreement that we get with the EU, if we get one, is not going to be based on a bunch of forecasts. It will be based on what those negotiating for the EU think is in their general best interest and what we from the UK manage to persuade them is in our mutual best interest. That is what a negotiation is about.
Anybody who has been engaged in negotiation in business will know that you start with your base, bottom line, worst case for you and try to improve upon that, and the other side does the same. This is not going to be about one side saying, “I tell you what my forecast comes to. It tells me we are going to be better off. What does your forecast tell?” and the other side saying, “Ours says we are going to be better off and you will be better off, so which forecast are we going to take?” The battle of forecasts is a ludicrous and pointless exercise.
Of course this is not, as the right hon. Gentleman characterises it, going to be a battle of forecasts. But the forecasts are based on the same thing as the assessments people make when they are judging what will or will not be in their interests. They have a mental model, and sometimes these models can be put into mathematical form, and sometimes that is useful. Surely that is precisely what the City of London is doing when it says to the French, Germans and Italians, “You need us more than we need you.”
Yes, but the point is that we will be none the wiser. Members might think that a set of forecasts would somehow really inform their view, but after 25 years in the House, I would be astonished if they were right. Debates in this House are rarely really informed; they are mostly based on the judgment of individuals.
My right hon. Friend is making a very impressive case. [Interruption.] Given the reaction from the Opposition, I am tempted to quote from “Carry On Up the Khyber”—they don’t like it up ’em! I am sure that, like me, my right hon. Friend was impressed by the candour and honesty of the chief economist of the Bank of England, Mr Andy Haldane, when he pointed out that the economics had had its Michael Fish moment last year, when so many predictions about the dire consequences of Brexit were proven to be wrong within weeks and months. Given the candour of one of the most distinguished economists in this country, should not those who call for impact assessments, attributing certainty to them, show similar humility?
I agree, and I am tempted to refer to my predecessor, Lord Tebbit, who said, “When they’re screaming, shouting and laughing, carry on, because you must be in the right place.”
The head of the Office for Budget Responsibility is on the record as saying that in the end, almost all forecasts are wrong—
Exactly; he was wrong most of the time, so he has a little knowledge of being wrong, as do many in this House. The point is that the new clause is not really about being informed; it is about delay. It is an attempt to be able to say later, “We’re not satisfied with that. It doesn’t quite comply with what we passed in the new clause, so you’re not able to trigger article 50.” The honest truth is that the Government have to go away with their best will and best endeavour and try to arrange to get the best deal they can.
We should look around us and listen to what various politicians in Europe are saying. We keep forgetting that their position is really what will end up setting the kind of arrangement we get. I was interested to read 24 hours ago that the German Finance Minister has changed his position. He has now said that there is no way on earth that the Germans should have any concept of trying to punish the United Kingdom; quite the contrary, he said that they need the City of London to succeed and thrive, because without it they will be poorer. He went on to say that they will therefore absolutely have to come to an arrangement with the United Kingdom, because it is in all of our interests. That is the best forecast we can get, because it is about what people believe is in their mutual best interests.
Further to that point, has my right hon. Friend seen the comments from the Bundesverband der Deutschen Industrie, which is the German equivalent of the CBI? It, too, makes the point that there should be no attempt whatsoever to punish the UK for Brexit, because it is aware of the adverse consequences that that would have for German industry.
Exactly. It is interesting that it is only since my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made her excellent speech in which she set out the 12 points that were subsequently fleshed out into a White Paper, and made it clear what the British Government were not going to be asking for—any special pleading about the single market and so on—that we have begun to see engagement from some of those throughout the European Union who have a vested interest in seeing the best deal.
The other day, I had the privilege of engaging with a company in the pre-packaged potato industry that turns over €400 million a year. Although it sells all over the world, 39% of its product is sold to the United Kingdom, and it does very well out of that. Even as we speak, it is grouping together to cajole the relevant Governments and persuade them that the very last thing it wants is to have its business wrecked by some artificial attempt to put up a block to the United Kingdom. These things are already in train, and they are nothing to do with forecasts and all to do with people caring about their futures and jobs.
I agree entirely with my right hon. Friend, but these new clauses come before any such rational intervention by reasonable business people across Europe. They are based on the fact that Opposition Members genuinely believe in their doomsday forecast, and they are just waiting for it to play out. That is the whole point of delaying the process—it is in the hope that when the sky falls in, the British people will change their minds.
Order. I am the most mild-mannered and tolerant of men, but interventions are becoming slightly overlong. Interventions, even in Committee, are interventions, not speeches.
Thank you, Sir Roger, for that explanatory intervention. May I say to my colleagues that I am still prepared to take interventions should they wish to keep them short?
That is an important point, and it plays hugely into the Government’s hands. It was the head of financial services in Frankfurt who was over here just before Christmas. When he was interviewed by the BBC, he was asked whether he was over here trying to get people to take up jobs in Frankfurt’s financial sector. To the journalist’s utter horror, he said yes. The journalist then said, “Therefore that means, presumably, that you think that after Britain leaves the European Union, the City will be finished, and that Frankfurt is looking to take its business.” He almost laughed and said, “Oh, no, no, no. We absolutely need the City of London to thrive and prosper, because it is the way that we keep our capital cheap. We cannot replace it, as its business will go somewhere outside Europe.” He said that London is the only global city in Europe. The point that he was making was that, although we move around and trade jobs, the expertise and ability to make capital deals lies here in London, and Frankfurt wants to make sure that the United Kingdom Government, the European Commission and the European Council reach an agreement that is beneficial to both sides, with access to the marketplace.
I make no bones about this: I am an optimist. There is nothing in the new clause that would in any way help the Government. Even more importantly, it would not enable the House to reach any kind of measured conclusion, such as letting the Government trigger article 50. I will conclude now unless somebody wants to intervene.
I thank my right hon. Friend for giving way. He is making a passionate speech. When it comes to forecasts, there is another real-life example that has not yet been mentioned, which is that the referendum in Scotland for independence was predicated on the oil price remaining high. Shortly afterwards, the oil price dropped dramatically, which would have left Scotland in dire straits had it voted for independence.
I agree. The head of the OBR has said that, in the end, most forecasts are wrong. On that basis, it would not really help the House in any way suddenly to have a Treasury forecast, any more than if we had a multitude of forecasters here saying where they think the economy will go. I do not blame them for being wrong, because there are far too many moveable parts in economies as complex as the United Kingdom or, for that matter, the European Union or even the global economy.
Ultimately, if the Opposition are really honest, these new clauses and amendments are really about making sure that the Government’s hands are tied, and slowing down the process in the vague hope that, somehow, people’s opinions will change and it will all look too difficult. These forecasts will then allow everyone to go out and say, “Oh my God, this is so terrible. Look what will happen if we do not get this arrangement or that arrangement.”
My right hon. Friend is being generous in accepting interventions. He has just talked about a sort of buyer’s regret. As I understand it from my experience on the doorstep, most people just want us to get on with the job. In fact, polling shows that Brexit is slightly more popular now than it was at the time of the referendum.
I will not carry on for much longer, but that is exactly the point. All that will happen if we amend the Bill and tie the Government’s hands so that they are slow in triggering article 50 is that the British people will get frustrated and angry.
What if actually everyone in the House—whether they are Brexiteers or remainers—wants the best deal for the country, and in order to make good decisions and have a good debate, they want to know what analysis the Government are doing of the implications of making particular decisions? Surely that, and not delay, is what this is about.
I say to the hon. Lady, for whom I have a huge degree of respect, that if that were the explicit purpose of new clause 5, I would agree with her. The difference is in the line that restricts the Government from invoking article 50 until the matter is laid before the House. That line alone makes it very clear that informing good decisions is not the full intention behind the new clause. If the new clause just said, “We will invoke article 50 and it would be good for the Government to put forward their various predications and forecasts”, I would probably have said, “I don’t think the Government would have a problem with that.” But that is not what the new clause says. If the hon. Lady reads it, she will realise that it is about delay and prevarication.
I thank my right hon. Friend for giving way right at the end of his speech, to which I have listened intensely. Despite decrying some forecasters, would he like to make a forecast that, at the end of the process, the vast majority of the people in Scotland will welcome Brexit?
As I have just condemned pretty much every forecast, I will not make that forecast. I will say that once Scotland gets back to domestic policy, it is almost certain that the Scottish nationalists will be seen for what they are doing: running down education, health and the economy. Let us get back to the real forecast.
I do not wish to sow the seeds of dissention, so I simply say that the new clause and the related amendments, which would put another set of shackles around the Government’s hands and stop them getting on with what the British people voted for on
I am pleased to follow Mr Duncan Smith. Before I speak to the amendment in my name, which is on a subject that was totally absent from the right hon. Gentleman’s contribution, I have to say that I am bemused by what can only be described as a 15-minute diatribe against forecasters and economists—the experts. That is why I was not surprised to see Michael Gove join in with the diatribe. The Opposition have spent the past five or six years listening to these two now former Cabinet Ministers telling us about the importance of listening to independent economic forecasters. They told us how important it was that they set up the Office for Budget Responsibility, which the right hon. Member for Chingford and Woodford Green has just spent the past 15 minutes slagging off.
I will just make a bit of progress. I will come to the hon. Gentleman in a bit, but I do not want to speak for too long because I know a lot of people wish to speak.
I am bound to say that I wish we were not here. As the right hon. Members for Chingford and Woodford Green and for Surrey Heath know well, because I debated with them a lot during the campaign, I campaigned strongly for us to stay in the European Union. I led the Labour In for Britain campaign in Greater London, and played a role in the Britain Stronger In Europe campaign nationally. But we lost. As a democrat, I accept that result, which is why I supported the Bill’s Second Reading. Of course, I respect people who interpreted the referendum result differently. Although we all have different views on whether to trigger article 50, we can all agree that while various promises were made by both sides in the referendum campaign, the key pledge of the winning side was that if we leave the European Union, £350 million extra a week will go to the NHS, which is why I tabled amendment 11.
Dominic Cummings, who worked, of course, for the right hon. Member for Surrey Heath and who ran the Vote Leave campaign, said on his blog last month that the £350 million NHS argument was “necessary to win”. He said:
“Would we have won without £350m/NHS? All our research and the close result strongly suggests No.”
Hon. Members can go and read that on his blog. So the importance of that pledge cannot be overestimated. It cannot be detached from the triggering of article 50. It is inextricably linked to why millions of people voted to leave, to our withdrawal from the European Union and, therefore, to this Bill.
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. I was at a public meeting in one village where people said, “It’s fantastic that we are leaving the European Union, because we are going to get £350 million a week for the NHS, and the Government will be able to reopen the A&E in Bishop Auckland hospital.”
That is right, and there are lots of examples of that throughout the country. That is not surprising, because prominent members of this Government—the Foreign, Environment, International Development, International Trade and Transport Secretaries, who are all members of the current Cabinet—went around the country in that big red bus that said:
“We send the EU £350 million a week. Let’s fund our NHS instead.”
None of them disowned that pledge during the campaign. They also stood by a big sign saying:
“Let’s give our NHS the £350 million the EU takes every week.”
Does my hon. Friend agree that that kind of cynical campaigning gives politics and politicians a really bad name? The people who saw the pledge on that big red bus now expect this Government to deliver on that pledge.
That is absolutely right. Those Members seek to hide behind the wording and to claim that it was conditional, but they knew exactly what they were doing when they stood in front of that big red bus and that sign: the clear message they intended to convey was that if we leave the European Union, £350 million a week will go to the NHS.
I have a huge amount of time for the hon. Gentleman, and I like him very much, but seeing as we are swapping stories about town hall meetings, I had a number of people come up to me in town hall meetings, saying, “Mr Walker, we’d love to vote to leave the EU, but the Chancellor has told us that if we do, we’ll lose £4,400, and there will be an emergency Budget.” I do not think it helps this country or this House to rehash the campaign from seven months ago.
I am glad the hon. Gentleman raised that point, and I also have a lot of respect for him. However, the point is that I am not trying to re-litigate the referendum campaign but to make sure that the promises these people made are delivered.
We know the NHS needs the extra cash, so it was not unreasonable for people to believe those promises. The Health Committee—people on both sides of the House sit on it—pointed out recently that the deficit in NHS trusts and foundation trusts in 2015-16 was £3.45 billion. We know that Ministers’ claimed increases in NHS funding are being funded by reductions in other areas of health spending that fall outside NHS England’s budgets. We know that reductions in spending on social care are having a serious impact, which is translating into increased A&E attendances, emergency admissions and delays in people leaving hospital. The NHS needs that extra cash, so it was not unreasonable for people who voted to leave the European Union to think that that pledge would be delivered on.
The hon. Gentleman is complaining about a slogan on the side of a bus about giving extra money to the NHS and implying that his amendment gives money to the NHS, but it does not—it merely suggests that there should be a report on the effect of the withdrawal from the EU on national finances, including health service expenditure. He therefore seems to be falling into exactly the same trap as he is accusing others of. Motes and beams come to mind.
Is my hon. Friend aware of Change Britain’s latest press release where the £350 million a week has gone up to £450 million a week through its exhortations to scrap such onerous regulations as the motor vehicles regulations, the greenhouse gas emissions reporting regulations, the welfare of animals in transport regulations, and the welfare of farmed animal regulations?
That is very interesting. I note that the right hon. Member for Surrey Heath is still in his place. I saw in The Sun, no less, in November that he was demanding—demanding!—that the Prime Minister spend a £32 billion Brexit dividend on the NHS, so I hope that he will be supporting our amendment as well.
My hon. Friend is making some very important points. It is interesting to hear Conservative Members scoffing and laughing at this. This was not just one of many pledges—it was the key pledge. I am looking at a collection of photographs of all the key proponents of the Vote Leave campaign. It was their No. 1 commitment to this country if it voted to leave the European Union. On that basis, does not this Chamber have a responsibility to honour the pledge on which people voted to leave the EU?
I completely agree with my hon. Friend.
For all these reasons I have tabled amendment 11, which, as Mr Rees-Mogg stated, is very reasonable. It requires the Prime Minister to set out how the UK’s withdrawal from the EU will impact on the national finances, particularly on health spending. In short, she needs to set out how she is going to make good on that Vote Leave pledge to spend £350 million extra per week on the NHS.
I am very pleased to support my hon. Friend’s amendment. Does he agree that this will also be a vital part of the keeping the public’s confidence in the process as we go forward over the next two years, not least given the conversations in a focus group I held in my constituency on Sunday where people said that this issue remains topmost in their minds as to the reason they voted to leave?
I will very shortly.
I hope that we will have the opportunity not only to debate this amendment but to vote on it too. It has been signed by more Members than any other amendment. It is supported across parties and of course has the support of the Opposition Front Bench. In the end, in our democracy, it is in this House that Members are held to account for the promises they make and the things they say to the people. What better way to test the resolve of people such as the right hon. Members for Chingford and Woodford Green and for Surrey Heath than for there to be a vote on this issue so that people can see whether they meant what they said?
Another commitment was that they wanted to make Parliament sovereign again, but Government Members are saying today that when we exercise that sovereignty we are being obstructive and using delaying tactics. They cannot have it both ways.
My hon. Friend is absolutely right.
These people will never be forgiven if they betray the trust of the people by breaking their promise to do all they can to ensure that the £350 million extra per week for the NHS is delivered. They all know that only too well. Mr Cummings, who, as I have said, worked for the right hon. Member for Surrey Heath, discloses in the blog I mentioned that the Foreign Secretary and the right hon. Member for Surrey Heath planned to deliver, in part, on that pledge as part of the Foreign Secretary’s leadership campaign. Mr Cummings writes that when he told the Foreign Secretary
“‘you should start off by being unusual, a politician who actually delivers what they promise’”,
the reply was
Apparently, the right hon. Member for Surrey Heath strongly agreed. Mr Cummings goes on to say:
“If they had not blown up this would have happened.”
No doubt the Minister will say to us that there are a number of reasons why the Government cannot support the amendment. I am going to pre-empt him and deal with each in turn. First, there are those who claim that it was not a pledge at all. The Transport Secretary has said:
“The specific proposal by the Vote Leave campaign was in fact to spend £100 million a week”— of the £350 million—
“on the NHS. I hope that aspiration will be met.”
I say to the Transport Secretary, who of course is not here, that the poster, which the Vote Leave campaigners all stood by, did not indicate that that was an aspiration or use the £100 million figure. It was a pledge, pure and simple. The poster did not read, “Let’s aspire to spend £100 million extra.”
I will give way to the hon. Gentleman shortly. The poster gave the clear impression that the money would be spent. It is true that the Office for National Statistics said that the £350 million figure was misleading, but the Vote Leave campaign, which the right hon. Member for Surrey Heath chaired, kept on using that figure regardless. Now they will be held to account for it.
I thank the hon. Gentleman for eventually giving way. He really should listen to the words of my right hon. Friend Mr Duncan Smith, who talked about forecasting. The hon. Gentleman has forecast—I think he will be wrong—that the £350 million will be an issue at the next general election. Does he agree that the Conservative party was not Vote Leave, and that the £350 million was the slogan of Vote Leave, not the Conservative party? As he is giving us a grand tour de force of the Brexit campaign, would he like to comment on “Project Fear”?
I think the hon. Gentleman was involved in Vote Leave—perhaps he was not—but I am not going to take any lectures about peddling fear and all the rest of it, in any campaign, from anyone associated with Vote Leave. I will come on to the point that he made about the Conservative party shortly.
I entirely agree with the points that the hon. Gentleman is making. Having made that complaint to the UK Statistics Authority, the response that I received was that the claim was potentially misleading. As he has said, Vote Leave campaigners kept using it. Surely, they kept using it because they knew they needed to do so in order to win the referendum. Now that they have done that, we need to hold them to account.
That is absolutely right, and I completely agree with the right hon. Gentleman. I come to the point that Karl McCartney made about the Conservative party—[Interruption.] And, admittedly, about some people from the Labour party. Some say that the pledges were made primarily by people who may have been members of a Conservative Government, but who did not speak with the authority of that Government. Of the five Cabinet Members I have mentioned who took leading roles in the campaign, three were members of the Government at the time and one, the Foreign Secretary, attended the political Cabinet. Part of the reason why those key campaigners were put up to do media and to campaign for Vote Leave was that they carried the authority of being Ministers. We cannot detach one from the other.
The other, and connected, argument that is made is that the commitment was given by one side in a referendum campaign, not by a Government, so we should leave the matter alone and get on with things—we should all shut up. I am sorry, but I do not think that that will wash. Whether they were Ministers or not, all the key Vote Leave campaigners were Members of this House. As I have said, if our democracy is to mean anything, it is that Members of this House answer and are held to account in this House for the promises that they make to the people. After all, as has been said, they campaigned in the name of parliamentary sovereignty. If Parliament is sovereign, they should be held to account here.
I will not give way; I am going to finish.
Either those people made the pledge in the expectation of delivering on it, in which case they must now show us the money and vote for this very reasonable amendment, or they made it in the knowledge that it would never be met, in which case they will never be forgiven for their betrayal of those who, in good faith, relied on that promise.
I am wholly in favour of spending £350 million or £375 million or whatever the figure is. But I want to ask the hon. Gentleman a specific question, as this is his amendment and he has stopped short of saying what he really thinks: the amendment says only that a report should be published. What is his and his party’s position on the spending on the NHS that will come only as and when we leave the European Union and get back the money that we give at the moment, which is £350 million or £375 million? Does he want to spend that all on the health service or does he not?
My party established the national health service in the face of opposition from the right hon. Gentleman’s party. We have a far better record of providing the funding and support to our NHS. We need no lectures or demands from his party, which is in government and throwing it all into chaos.
I finish by saying this to the right hon. Gentleman. His Prime Minister goes around saying, “Brexit means Brexit”. If Brexit means anything, it is that he and all his colleagues who campaigned for Vote Leave need to deliver on their promise to put £350 million extra per week into the NHS. I look forward to seeing the right hon. Gentleman in the Division Lobby tomorrow.
Order. If we are not careful, we will face the situation we faced last night. There are a large number of amendments and a large number of Members wish to speak. I understand entirely why Members are being generous in taking interventions; of course, that eats up time. I urge colleagues to shorten their speeches, if possible, to enable the maximum number of Members to take part in what is, after all, a very important debate.
It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Sir Roger, and to follow Mr Umunna, who made a characteristically authoritative and penetrating speech. I also congratulate him on his leadership of the Labour In campaign in London. The whole United Kingdom, of course, voted to leave, but some of the strongest resistance to the arguments was in London and I am sure that that was in no small part due to the hon. Gentleman’s eloquence and organisational ability.
The right hon. Gentleman has just mentioned the whole of the United Kingdom. The UK is a union, so I hope he will acknowledge that not all the United Kingdom voted to leave. He will remember that we were told in 2014 that the constituent parts were equal partners in the United Kingdom. The whole may have voted leave, but not all of it did.
I entirely accept the hon. Gentleman’s point, but it is striking that the northernmost part of his constituency voted to leave—BBC research, I may say. We heard at length last night from the Scottish National party about how Scotland voted; all I would say is that a million people in Scotland voted to leave the European Union, and overall within the United Kingdom so many people voted to leave. As my right hon. Friend Mr Duncan Smith admirably pointed out, people want that vote to be expedited. I am speaking tonight because I oppose every single one of the new clauses and amendments in front of us because they seek to frustrate the democratic will of the people.
The hon. Member for Streatham is right: people do want us to take back control of the money currently spent on our behalf by the European Union. But if we accept his amendment and the other amendments and new clauses before us, we will be seeking only to delay and, as my right hon. Friend pointed out, to procrastinate, to put off the day when we eventually leave the European Union and can then spend that additional money on our NHS or, indeed, any other priority. If any Member of this House wants to see taxpayers’ money that is currently controlled by the European Union spent on our NHS, on reducing VAT on fuel or, say, on improving infrastructure in the Western Isles, they have a duty to vote down these new clauses and amendments, which seek to frustrate the honouring of the sovereign will of the British people.
The right hon. Gentleman is very kind. He bears some responsibility for the mess that we are in, in not knowing what leaving the European Union means. One area that he was clear on was that Scotland should have more control over immigration. Will he join us in campaigning for that?
It is striking that the hon. Gentleman talks about the mess that we are in. Of course, the “we” refers to the Scottish National party, because it is in a significant mess at the moment. It has found that support for independence has fallen as a result of leaving the European Union and that support for a second referendum is falling. Psychological displacement theory explains why it wants to talk about anything other than its own political failure.
I will make a little progress, then I will give way to the hon. Lady.
The reason I oppose all the new clauses and amendments is that, as was pointed out by my right hon. Friend the Member for Chingford and Woodford Green, every single one of them, if implemented, would delay and potentially frustrate the legislation. They would require a huge list of impact assessments to be published and other work to be undertaken before we could trigger article 50.
I know that Matthew Pennycook said that it was not the mission of the Labour party to delay, but he is rather in the position of what guerrilla organisations call a cleanskin—an innocent who has been put in the way of gunfire by other wilier figures, such as the shadow Chief Whip who is in his place. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman is entirely sincere in his belief that the new clauses and amendments would not delay or complicate the legislation, nor frustrate the will of the British people, but I have to say that he is wrong. He is in the position of the Roman general, Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus Cunctator, “the delayer”: everything that he is doing—every single one of these new clauses and amendments—seeks to delay.
Let me draw attention briefly, for example, to new clause 48, which stands in the name of Helen Goodman. Subsection (1), as clarified by subsection (2)(s), would require us to have an impact assessment on leaving the European Union Agency for Railways. It may have escaped her notice, but Britain is an island.
The hon. Gentleman makes a very good point, but the idea that we should spend an inordinate amount of time and money trying to determine whether this country will suffer or benefit by being free from the bureaucracy of that particular agency would seem to be a massive misdirection of effort. More than that—
I will give way to the hon. Lady in just a second.
More than that, if we were to publish impact assessments on every single one of these areas, we would be falling prey to a fallacy that politicians and other officials often fall prey to, which is imagining that the diligent work of our excellent civil servants can somehow predict the future—a future in which there are so many branching histories, so many contingent events and so many unknowns. If we produce an impact assessment on leaving the European Union Agency for Railways, how do we know how leaving that agency might be impacted by the enlightened proposals being brought forward by my right hon. Friend the Transport Secretary for the more effective unification and cohesion of our transport network? We cannot know, unless we have that fact in play, but we do not yet know—quite rightly, because he is taking time to consult and deliberate—what that policy will be. What we would be doing is commissioning the policy equivalent of a pig in a poke. With that, I am very happy to give way to the hon. Gentleman.
I am surprised to hear the right hon. Gentleman saying he does not know, because I thought everything was known after the
I am a humble seeker after truth, but I recognise that in a world where there are contending versions—the Scottish nationalist version, the Green version, the independent Unionist version and the Labour party version—there is for all of us a responsibility to use reason in the face of so many attractive and contending versions of the truth.
May I say, ever so gently to the right hon. Gentleman, that I am deeply offended by being accused, wrongly, of trying to frustrate the will of the people of the United Kingdom? I am a Unionist. I would like him to address a very serious issue. Sinn Féin, a republican party, will use a hard Brexit to trigger a border poll in Northern Ireland. We may be seeing the break-up of the United Kingdom because of the rhetoric of the right hon. Gentleman and others. Will he address this serious point?
That is a very serious and important point. I do not know if, strictly speaking—I defer to the Chair—it is relevant to the new clauses we are debating. What I would say to the hon. Lady is that, in this House and elsewhere, I will do everything I can to work with her to ensure we honour the vote of the whole of the United Kingdom, and, at the same time, work on the progress she has helped to secure in making sure we have peace on the island of Ireland.
What we do know is that the people on
I may not agree with the hon. Lady on everything, but I agree that effective environmental protection is really important. I would make two points in particular in response to her important intervention. First, it is entirely open to us, as we leave the European Union, to maintain the current standards of environmental protection, but it is also open to us, once we leave, to enhance them. We can, if we wish, have higher standards of environmental protection, for example for moving livestock. Secondly, we can reform the common agricultural policy, against which her party has campaigned for many years, and against which her hon. Friend in the other place campaigned so brilliantly by arguing to vote leave. We can replace the CAP with an approach to subsidising land use that is both more environmentally sensitive and more productive.
The right hon. Gentleman describes himself as a humble seeker of truth. That strikes me as interesting, given that he campaigned so hard to leave on the basis of an extra £350 million a week to be spent on the health service. Why will he not support amendment 11, tabled by my hon. Friend Mr Umunna, which states:
“the Prime Minister must prepare and publish a report on the effect of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU on national finances, including the impact on health spending.”?
Surely, as a humble seeker of truth, he might want to know the answer to that?
That is a very important point very well made, but the point I sought to make earlier—the hon. Lady’s intervention gives me a chance to underline and further clarify it—is that if we want more money to be spent on the NHS, or, for that matter, anything else, and we want to take back control of the money the EU currently controls or spends on our behalf, then we should seek to expedite the will of the British people and leave the EU as quickly as possible. We will then have that money back and we can invest it in the NHS more quickly.
I am grateful. Many members of the public are also humble seekers of truth. If we do not pass these new clauses and get these impact assessments, how will they be able to judge how Brexit is going? How will they be able to judge the impact on health, education, transport, environment and their communities if they have no information at all?
This gets me back to the heart of my argument, which is that if one believes that the only authoritative evidence, the only view that matters, is that produced by the Government, one is turning one’s back on 400 years of Enlightenment thinking. There is not one single canonical view that is right in every respect. As was made clear earlier, there is a proliferation of views about what the impact of leaving the EU might be in different areas.
Further, if we were to have published the Government’s policy advice in every area, which is the inference behind the hon. Gentleman’s question, it would make the business of Government impossible. He might remember, as I certainly do, reading the words of the former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, in his autobiography, “A Journey”, in which he said that the Freedom of Information Act was his biggest mistake—I think there were some bigger. [Laughter.] That is one view that commands a consensus around the House. He thought he had handed a weapon to his enemies and made impossible the business of Government, which requires confidential advice to be prepared by civil servants and accepted by Ministers.
When I was a Minister, I received excellent advice—my mistakes were all my own, all the good ideas were civil servants’. Nevertheless, however good the civil service advice that a Minister receives, it is only one source of wisdom, and every Minister worth his or her salt will want to consult widely. Any Minister who sought to steer only by civil service advice would rightly be held by the House to be a timid mouse constrained by their brief, incapable of ranging more widely and or of making a judgment in the national interest.
On finance, does the right hon. Gentleman agree with the Secretary of State for Brexit, who is prepared to consider our paying the EU for access to the single market?
To be fair to both the hon. Gentleman and my right hon. Friend, I think that that is a mischaracterisation of what he said. [Interruption.] It is. It is a mischaracterisation that was sedulously reported in some sections of the media. I make no criticism of the hon. Gentleman, but my interpretation was different, and in a way the fact that two such fair-minded—I hope—figures as he and I can, from the plain words in Hansard, reach two different conclusions rather proves my point, which is that we can ask for evidence but we cannot have a single definitive view. The argument, as made in the new clauses, that we cannot proceed until we have that so-called single, definitive, canonical view represents a profound misunderstanding.
The most important word used in this debate is “accountability”. We are accountable not to the House but to our constituents, and it will be they at future general elections who hold us to account for the success or failure of Brexit.
My hon. Friend makes a characteristically acute point, and it goes to the heart of my argument, which is that if, come the next election, we have not left the EU, the British people will feel that, having asked a decisive question and been given a clear answer, we have dishonoured the mandate they have given us and not respected the result. That leads directly to my concern about the amount of work required by the new clauses and about the tools that these assessments would give to others outside the House who might wish to frustrate the will of the people further.
“exercising the power under section 1” and before triggering article 50, publish an impact assessment of the effect on the United Kingdom of leaving the customs union. How can we know that?
I am sanguine about leaving. I take the lead from Shanker Singham and other distinguished trade negotiators that leaving the United Kingdom—[Interruption.] A Freudian slip: I mean leaving the customs union—will lead not just to GDP growth in the United Kingdom, but across the world. I take that view, but it is entirely open to others to take a different view, and it is entirely open to Her Majesty’s Government to choose to follow policies that, once we have left the customs union, will either maximise or minimise our GDP. Once again, by insisting on a narrow focus on what is believed to be one truth and holding up the advance of this legislation as a result, the promoters of this new clause are, I am afraid, once again seeking to frustrate democracy.
I certainly welcome my right hon. Friend’s conversion to listening to experts. Does he agree with me, though, that no good will come to British business or to our constituents if all we do for the next two years is rehash the results of or indeed the debate about the referendum? I respectfully disagreed with my right hon. Friend during the referendum, and I am sure we will respectfully disagree for many times to come, but this is not going to help the outcome of the Brexit decision.
I entirely agree, and my hon. Friend makes two important points. Of course, we had the referendum and some people on the Remain side feel sore because they think the result was not just a betrayal of their hopes, but was won by means that, to put it mildly, they do not entirely endorse. I absolutely understand that, and there is a responsibility on those of us who argued for Leave to listen carefully and to seek to include in the type of new relationship we have with the European Union the very best ambitions and aspirations that were put forward as reasons for staying. I think that can be done and that this House has a critical role in bringing it about, but it can be done only once article 50 has been triggered and the British people have had the confidence that we are leaving.
My hon. Friend is absolutely right, and there is a particular element to it, as well. One of the important principles of our constitution, which as a former Justice Secretary I wholeheartedly believe in, is the principle of judicial review. It is absolutely right that Executive action should be subject to judicial review. It is the only way, apart from the exercise of power in this House, that we can be certain that the Executive is following the rule of law. I am one of those people, albeit that I campaigned for and voted for us to leave the European Union, who was pleased that the Supreme Court held this Government to account so that we have this legislation before us now.
Having said all that, and having placed on the record my support for both this legislation and the principle of judicial review, if we accept any of these new clauses or amendments, we will subject the operation of article 50 to judicial review. That would mean that if any single one of these impact assessments were not prepared in exactly the right way at the right time with appropriate care, the whole process and the democratic will of the British people could be upended. Different people have different views about experts—I shall come on to them in a few moments—but I know whereof I speak.
As I have said, I made a number of mistakes during my ministerial career—too much for us to be able to run over now, given that our debate has to close at 9 o’clock. One thing I remember is that judicial review on the basis of a relatively small infraction, as admitted by the judge, of an equality impact assessment—one I deeply regret—nevertheless resulted in the paralysis of this Government’s school capital building programme. Now, if we want to create a feast for lawyers and a festival for litigators, we should accept these new clauses and bring in these amendments. In so doing, we will see the tills ching in the Middle and Inner Temples and hands wring up and down the country, as we once again frustrate the will of the people.
My right hon. Friend makes a very powerful argument. Does he remember that during the campaign, an assessment of the economy was given by the former Chancellor of the Exchequer? Does he remember whether it was accepted by the Opposition, or whether the Leader of the Opposition said that he did not accept the assessment and would not implement it?
Again, my hon. and learned Friend, who is a silk and who took with forbearance my comments about lawyers before making her own very acute point about economics, is absolutely on the button.
Are we to accept that for the first time ever, once the impact assessments have been published, an official Government document will be taken by my friends in the Scottish National party or the Labour party as holy writ? Are they going to say, “Thank heavens, this document bears the name of the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, so it absolutely must be right, because this is the only way in which I can form a judgment on whether or not leaving the European Union will be a success”? Can I expect Ian Blackford to say, “Oh look, the impact assessment from the Department for Exiting the European Union said X, and now, six months later, X has been satisfied, so I am going to give up and accept that the Secretary of State is right, because everything that he has done is in accordance with what he has previously said he would do”?
The right hon. Gentleman has said that members of the Government have made mistakes in the past. This is about the House holding the Government to account. We must recognise the reality of what has happened. He talks about the estimates that are out there, but the reality is that the currency has already fallen substantially against the dollar, and we are aware of the impact of an increase in inflation. The impact assessments must be informed by the reality. Let us also not forget that we have heard nothing from the Government—no plan—about how we are going to effect trade with Europe. Of course we need impact assessments if we are do our job properly as Members of Parliament.
Order. Before the right hon. Gentleman continues his speech, may I again gently say that a great many Members wish to speak? He has been extremely generous in giving way, but I trust that he is nearing his peroration.
I am grateful for the intervention from the hon. Member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber, who combines the roles of crofter and former investment banker with rare skill. He is right—the pound has indeed fallen—but one of the reasons why many people in our shared country of birth rejected the Scottish National party’s referendum promise in 2014 is that at least we know what currency we have in this country, the pound. If Scotland were to become independent, it would not have the pound and it could not have the euro, so we do not know what it would be left with. A hole in the air? The groat? There is no answer to that question.
Let me now deal with the substantial point made by the hon. Member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber, because it is critical. He argues that the only way in which we as Back Benchers and Opposition spokesmen can effectively scrutinise the Government is through impact assessments. That is a grotesque misunderstanding of the opportunities that are available to us in the House through freedom of information requests, parliamentary questions—written or oral—and the diligent use of all the other tools that enable us to scrutinise the Executive. The idea that we are mute and blind until an impact assessment has been published, the idea that there is no relevant tool available to us and no relevant source of information that we can quarry other than an impact assessment—
My right hon. Friend is expounding entirely on the principle of the House, which is the principle of democracy under the rule of law. He is not arguing, as others have done, for the rule of lawyers.
I could not agree more, and my hon. Friend’s intervention gives me an opportunity to commend him for the work that he has done to draw attention to the way in which some lawyers have used some legislation to enrich themselves at the expense of those who wear the Queen’s uniform and defend our liberties every day. His work is commendable, and it is an example of what a Back Bencher can do. He did that work without any impact assessments having been published, and without waiting for the Ministry of Defence to act. He did it because he believed in holding the Executive to account, as we all do—and the one thing for which we all want to hold the Executive to account is the triggering of article 50. So if anyone wants to have the opportunity for perennial judicial review, they should vote for these amendments. If they want to earn the scorn of the public by putting pettifogging delay ahead of mandate—
Yes, it is one of my favourite polysyllabic synonyms for prevarication, procrastination or delay.
If anyone wants to put delay ahead of implementing the will of the British people, they should vote for these new clauses and amendments. But if they actually want to get on with scrutinising what the Government do, why not join us on the Exiting the European Union Committee? Why not table written and oral parliamentary questions? Why not conduct a proper study of what not just this Government but other Governments, not just this Government but civil society, and not just this Government but a variety of industries and enterprises across the country are saying?
The idea that we should seek, as these amendments and new clauses seek to do, to delay the will of the British people would, rather than restoring the confidence in this House that the vote on
I, on behalf of the Scottish National party, would like to speak to new clause 143, on which I hope we will test the will of the Committee later on, to amendment 58, which I tabled, which relates to the European development fund, and the 27 other amendments in the names of my hon. Friend Stephen Gethins and other hon. Friends. The SNP tabled a total of 50 new clauses and amendments to this Bill, and I hope that we get a chance to debate as many of those in this group as possible—amendments 47 to 53, 57 to 62, 64 to 77, 79, 80 and 82, as well as new clause 138.
Government Members who have spoken were quite exercised about the possibility of the amendments causing some delay to the triggering of article 50, but I am not entirely sure what that delay might be. I have read the Bill—all 137 words of it—and nowhere in it is there a date for the triggering of article 50. The Bill gives the power to the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister alone—as I said last week, it is a very presidential power, not a parliamentary power—to choose the date on which article 50 is triggered.
My hon. Friend makes a very good point about the new clauses we are arguing for this evening. Is he aware that the Scottish Parliament this evening voted by three to one against triggering article 50, which comes on top of the two to one of Scots who voted against triggering article 50 as well?
I am fully aware of that. It reflects the consensus across Scottish society that Scotland should retain its membership of the single market and the fact that it did not vote to leave the EU. The Scottish Conservatives have run a mile from that.
No, I will not give way yet; we are just getting started.
I might add that in the time that the Scottish Parliament took that vote, as well as votes on several amendments, barely one Member had spoken in this debate. Voting in the Scottish Parliament is far quicker than here; its Members can vote on far more amendments than we ever can, because they do not have the archaic procedures that we have to put up with down here.
Yesterday’s amendment paper had more pages—142—than there are words in the Bill, but today we are down to just 121 pages. The number of amendments that have been tabled highlights the dreadful inadequacies of both the Bill and this scrutiny process. There is nowhere near enough time to consider the massive implications of what Brexit will actually mean and how the Government intend to achieve it, and of course there is still no kind of meaningful information on what they think those implications might be.
A theme is emerging of what Brexit might mean: a plea—I noticed this in the speech of Michael Gove—for the EU not to punish the UK. Yet from the same lips all the time comes the threat of a punishment to Scotland if we become independent. These acts and words will not be missed in the 27 member states of the EU—the hypocrisy, the double-edged sword and the brass neck and bare-faced cheek in the UK.
I have not responded to my hon. Friend yet.
The Scottish National party—for the record, that is its name, as I think Hansard is probably fed up of hearing—has always understood that our kind of independence is defined by our interdependence and by the role that we want to play in the world, whereas it is increasingly clear that the hard right, Tory Brexit that is being foisted upon us against our will is an isolationist independence—[Interruption.] It is Trumpist, triumphant and narrow nationalism, as I hear my colleagues saying from the Back Benches.
No, I still have not even begun to talk about our new clauses and amendments, and I am sure that Members want to hear why it is so important that the Government should publish impact assessments on the machinery of government, which will be profoundly affected by our leaving the European Union.
The Government must give us a benchmark. They must give us their own assessment against which we can measure and test these things so that we can hold them to account. The Chair of the Procedure Committee, Mr Walker, under whom I am proud to serve but who is not in the Chamber, has said that we are accountable to our voters—that is absolutely correct. However, the Government are accountable to us, and they have to provide us with the necessary information so that we can hold them to account.
It seems to have taken the Scottish nationalist party six months to realise that a third of those who voted yes in 2014 actually wanted to leave the EU. SNP Members seem completely oblivious to that fact, but I would like to hear what the hon. Gentleman has to say about it.
I think that that counts as a minority.
The First Minister herself said on
I want to address some of the new clauses and amendments that have been tabled by various factions on the Labour Benches, and I shall focus particularly on the ones relating to Euratom. The exchanges on this subject on Second Reading demonstrated the utter chaos that has gripped this Administration and their predecessor. Euratom’s role is to provide a framework for nuclear energy safety and development. I would have thought that, no matter how much some of the Brexiteers hate the European Union institutions, this one would have been among the least controversial. Surely there must be consensus on protecting us from nuclear meltdowns. Do they not think that that is a good idea? No.
The Command Paper that the UK Government published in February last year on the impact of Brexit made no mention of coming out of Euratom. Nevertheless, we are being taken out of it without any warning and, if the Government will not accept the Labour new clause on this matter, there will be no further discussion about it. I do not remember the subject featuring on the side of buses or in showpiece debates, yet here we are with another ill-thought-out unintended consequence of a Brexit vote that started as an internal ideological battle among Conservative Members and that is going to leave decades of uncertainty in its wake for us all. That is just one example. Each new clause and amendment, from whatever party, that calls for an impact assessment shows the Government’s lack of preparation across the whole suite of policy.
I should like to ask the hon. Gentleman a small question, if I may. Has he given his constituents an impact assessment of any change that might take place at the next election? Has he prepared them fully and properly for the impact that a change of Member of Parliament might have on them? Or does he trust them to make their own impact assessment—does he trust the people to decide?
I am sure that the hon. Gentleman was here for my Second Reading speech last week, so he will know that 78% of my constituents voted to remain in the European Union. I am therefore reasonably confident that their voice is at last being heard. They will make their judgment at the next election, whenever it comes, and I will be happy to live with their decision.
We want to test the will of the House on new clause 143. It tests the Government not only on the practical costs of Brexit but on the hard money, because we know that the financial costs will be high. It is simply not in the interests of the remaining member states for the UK to be better off as a result of Brexit. We have already seen the shocks to the currency market described by my hon. Friend the Member for Badenoch and so on—[Laughter.] I am not quite as good at this as Michael Gove. We have seen the shocks to the currency market and the revisions that have already happened in the economic forecasts. Withdrawing from the European Union and exiting the single market will lead to an enormous hit on our economy, and new clause 143 calls on the Chancellor to bring forward further revised forecasts and an assessment of the UK’s financial liability to the EU on the completion of the triggering of article 50.
We are talking about financial considerations, but this is about the impact on people and we have to think about UK citizens who are living in Europe. At the moment, they are entitled to healthcare cover and to a UK state pension that will be uprated, but there is no certainty that that will continue post-Brexit—the UK does not pay pension increases in countries with which it does not have a reciprocal arrangement. This is also about the EU citizens who may return to France, Germany, Spain or wherever and be caught up in the same trap, because while they paid national insurance here, the UK might not have a commitment to uprating pensions. Those are the sorts of issues that the Government must provide certainty on.
No, I want to make a little progress.
We have seen the leaked reports of the Government’s assessment that a hard Brexit could cost the UK economy up to £66 billion a year—9.5% of GDP—if we revert to WTO terms. Helen Goodman, with whom I serve on the Procedure Committee, said earlier that analysis in the Financial Times shows that the cost of simply leaving is up to €20 billion due to the shared assets that we are a part of, and that there are up to €300 billion of payment liabilities that need to be settled in the negotiations. Even after all that, there will be ongoing costs, as well as funds that we might wish to continue to contribute to. That is covered in amendment 58, which is about the European development fund. The European development fund is the main method for providing European community aid for development co-operation in African, Caribbean and Pacific countries and the overseas countries and territories of EU member states.
Does my hon. Friend agree that the European development fund is crucial not only to achieving our commitment to the sustainable development goals, but to providing long-term sustainable funding for projects, rather than letting them fall at the first hurdle?
The EDF is highly respected around the world for its effective use of international development aid. Indeed, I have pursued that with Ministers. I have received equivocal answers, but they have recognised from time to time that the EDF is actually quite an important part of the suite of European institutions and that we do make important contributions. If those contributions were ripped away, that would have a devastating effect on the EDF, so we must explore this area and understand it.
Over the years, the UK has contributed around £10 billion to the EDF, which has been a crucial component, as my hon. Friend Dr Cameron says, of our meeting the 0.7% aid commitment. According to the Government’s timetable, Brexit will happen before the end of the current 2020 commitment period, so what will happen after Brexit? The other important thing about the EDF is that it is one of the main instruments for providing development capacity to British overseas territories, so how will they be affected? What plans are being made for them? We are trying to test such things through the amendments.
The Government have indicated from time to time that they ought to continue funding the EDF, so perhaps there are European institutions that they will have to continue to fund and support, and to have some kind of retained membership of. That makes me wonder. We hear about hard Brexit and soft Brexit, but perhaps this is some sort of hokey-cokey Brexit whereby we leave everything and then have to start joining things again: “You put your left wing in; Your right wing out; In, out, in, out”—I do not want to think about anything being shaken all about.
Scotland is already losing out on more than £230 million of EU funding that was supposed to go to Scottish farmers. The UK Government promised a review in 2016, but they have not carried it out. It is critical that we have an impact assessment that tells Scottish farmers what will happen so that they can plan for their future.
There is absolutely no certainty for Scotland’s farmers, or indeed for farmers across the whole United Kingdom. During the EU referendum campaign, the then Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Elizabeth Truss, made it clear that there would be a guarantee of capital and funding beyond 2020. Then, at the Oxford farming conference last month, the current Secretary of State completely changed her tune. Such confusing and contradictory comments about the long-term future show precisely why we need the Government to spell it out in far more detail than they have in the White Paper. Of course, we particularly want to know whether the agriculture powers currently exercised by the European Union will come to the Scottish Parliament. The principle is clear in the Scotland Act 1998: if something is not reserved, it is devolved. Therefore, everything that the EU is currently doing on this should go to the Scottish Parliament.
I will make my own point, thanks very much. Can the hon. Gentleman give the Committee some idea of how long all these impact assessments will take? How much time does he expect the House to devote to debating them and the statements? What other business will not happen because we are debating all the spurious impact assessments that he thinks should occupy the House 100%?
With the greatest of respect, we voted against the referendum Bill. We did not think the referendum should happen. When it became clear that the referendum would happen, we said that the debate should last longer. In Scotland we had two full years to debate the consequences of independence, and the voters heard both sides of the debate and made up their mind. We had less than six short months between the announcement of the date and the referendum—[Interruption.] I am hearing that the Secretary of State for Brexit backed a longer debate. There should have been time before the referendum. As I said at the start of my speech, the White Paper says that article 50 will be invoked at the end of March, but the Bill does not say that. It is entirely in the gift of the Prime Minister, and she might change her mind. There is no mechanism to hold her to account for that.
Precisely. The Brexiteers’ whole point was about parliamentary sovereignty and how this House would take back for itself the opportunity to make decisions, so why are they now afraid of our having those opportunities?
May I provide an answer to Mrs Main? The impact assessment would take slightly longer than jumping off a cliff.
I will make a little progress because, as I said, we have a number of important amendments to discuss, but my hon. Friend can try to intervene later.
Amendment 51 calls for a report on the impact of UK withdrawal on Scottish seaports. The problems caused by Brexit that are facing Scottish seaports are expensive and complex. Concerns for the maritime industry surround general policy areas such as employment law, immigration, border controls and contract law, as well as transport-specific areas such as freedom to trade, safety, the environment, tonnage tax and security. The White Paper offers only more uncertainty.
The UK Government’s stated approach to immigration post-Brexit may create an increased need for border activity at Scottish seaports, and the Government’s preferred arrangements for trading post-Brexit—out of the EU customs arrangements—will necessitate additional customs checks on exports and imports at seaports, and will affect trade volume at seaports, so the Government have to mitigate that uncertainty by publishing a full impact assessment of those complex issues for Scottish seaports before triggering article 50.
Amendment 52 calls for an assessment of financial implications for charities, on which I have a certain amount of experience from my international development portfolio. International development charities across the United Kingdom are already feeling the impact of Brexit and the currency fluctuations. Money that they had raised—money that the UK public had voluntarily donated—is now worth less as a direct result of the Brexit decision, which is having an impact on the day-to-day lives of people in developing countries to whom charities had pledged money that is now not worth what it was when the pledges were made. I hear nothing from the UK Government saying that they want to make up the difference or give the charities any kind of support. UK charities generally receive some £200 million a year from the social fund, through EU structural funds and from the regional development fund.
Is it not extremely concerning that the chief executive of the UK-based international charity World Child Cancer stated that the fall in the pound had resulted in a 9% to 13% cut in its programme funding?
I agree entirely. All of us who deal with stakeholders in the third sector will hear stories such as that time and time again. It probably explains why research published by the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations, which represents more than 3,000 employees and 15,000 volunteers, revealed that its charity chief executives were increasingly worried about the future. Half of those surveyed receive funding from the EU and 30% confirmed that indirect funding was at risk. As I have said, in the immediate case we have seen the devaluation of currency being spent by those charities.
Amendment 53 calls for a report on the relationship between the Channel Islands and the EU. The Channel Islands are not a member of the EU, but they have access to the single market and now face being denied that by a hard Tory Brexit. That is why our amendment seeks a report that sets out the full implication of the relationship between the Channel Islands and the EU, and the impact that Brexit will have. That is vital because there will be a serious impact on many key Channel Islands industries, including finance and fisheries. Again, that is an example of why we need these impact assessments.
Amendment 57 calls for a revised strategic defence and security review. The last SDSR was based on the 2015 national security risk assessment, which took place before the European referendum and did not consider any post-Brexit scenarios. As such, it is no longer fit for purpose. The SDSR makes no mention of the EU’s common security and defence policy, whereas the White Paper outlines existing UK participation in the CSDP and expresses the intention to continue that co-operation post-Brexit. Again, we see the in and out of the Tories’ Brexit.
My hon. Friend is giving a damning indictment of the UK Government’s lack of preparedness for Brexit, but this is also about what will change. We have heard about agriculture and fisheries, but the fact remains that Europe has delivered for Scottish crofters and Scottish farmers, and one institution that we have not been able to depend on is the UK. The EU has given the UK €233 million of convergence uplift funding, which was primarily to go to Scottish crofters and farmers, yet we have only got 16% of it. Who should we be trusting? Should we be trusting Europe or should we be trusting the UK Government to deliver for our crofters and farmers
That is a fair point. We hear Government Members saying, “Where did that money come from? It came from UK taxpayers”, but my hon. Friend is exactly right in what he says. The road I cycled up to school every day, in Inverness and in the country—this was when I was slightly younger than I am now—was built and paid for with EU money. There is no way on God’s earth that Thatcher’s Government would have spent that money on that road, which shows why people in Scotland voted to remain in the EU.
My hon. Friend is highlighting some issues, but I wish to get back to the SDSR. The National Audit Office has identified that a key risk to the strategic plan is fluctuations in the pound because of pricing against the dollar. If the NAO is highlighting that as an issue, should the Government not be looking at it, rather than having a Secretary of State who stands at the Dispatch Box and tells us, “Everything is okay; we made contingency plans”? We need to know what the contingency plans are and what the impact will be.
Of course we do, which is why we tabled all these amendments. We were asked why we were doing that and what we were trying to achieve, but my hon. Friend is making the case on that very clearly.
I have already spoken about amendment 58, so I shall move on to amendment 59, which calls for a report on the medium-term economic forecast in the event of the UK leaving the single market. Again, Scottish National party Members have made points about the dangerous long-term and medium-term economic realities of a hard Tory Brexit. We know that the OBR forecast said:
“we asked the Government in September for ‘a formal statement of Government policy as regards its desired trade regime and system of migration control, as a basis for our projections’. The Government directed us to two public statements by the Prime Minister that it stated were relevant”.
Given the far-reaching and devastating consequences that leaving the single market would have on the economy, teamed with the lack of detail given to the OBR, it has to be the Treasury’s responsibility to publish a medium-term forecast.
It is clear that even in the short term the fall in the value of the pound is triggering significant inflationary pressure across the British economy, which will hurt ordinary people in their wage packets, with an impact on industrial costs, in a way that was wholly avoidable.
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. We see no action from the Government whatsoever, other than to pretend that everything is bright and breezy. We are witnessing a bit of a false dawn.
In the longer term we have other issues, because many of the key shortages in science, technology, engineering and maths skills are filled by EU nationals, who simply are not getting the guarantees they need either to stay in the UK or to come here in the first place.
My hon. Friend is making a fantastic speech, exposing the real difficulties at the heart of this bad Tory Brexit. I am trying to figure out exactly what is going on with Conservative Members. Perhaps they are opposing the economic impact assessments because they know the true nature of Brexit and the damage it will deliver. Does he agree that that seems to be the underlying reason why they are so opposed to having just a short glimpse of what Brexit will do to this country?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. We have every right to continue to question them; after all, as I said earlier, this is what they wanted. They wanted Parliament to regain its sovereign status.
I should, actually—just the one. Why is it that Scotland now has to import scientists and engineers when in the 19th and early 20th century we used to export them? Is it anything to do with the drop in international league table rankings for science and mathematics that has occurred under the Scottish National party’s stewardship of the education system?
First, I am not convinced that the words “import” and “export” are the right ones to use when we are talking about human beings—some of the most capable and talented human beings in the world. [Interruption.] Secondly, I hear my hon. Friend Marion Fellows, who is on the Education Committee, saying, “So is the rest of the United Kingdom.” Finally, we want to welcome people to Scotland. If the Government want to devolve immigration policy to us as part of the Brexit process, they should feel free to. As has been pointed out many times in these debates, the right hon. Gentleman himself has said that immigration policy should come to Scotland so that we can attract the brightest and the best, and we are not afraid to do so.
Having grown up in Inverness, my hon. Friend will remember the Kessock bridge well. When people come over it now, they can see the shining example of the new University of the Highlands and Islands campus there. Thanks to £200 million-worth of EU structural funds over the past 20 years, we have been growing our own scientists and academics in the area. Does he agree that it is absolutely scandalous that up to 2022 an estimated £19 million will be lost, with no impact assessment?
In response to Michael Gove, I would say that it was because of the failure of UK economic policy that after my brother graduated as a scientist he was forced to emigrate to Canada. He eventually became the chairman of the OECD science and technology committee and helped to write the science and technology policy for the free South Africa, yet the failure over here forced him to emigrate.
My hon. Friend makes an absolutely valid point.
Amendment 61 calls for a revised national security strategy. The existing national security strategy is based on a 2015 assessment that took no account of Brexit—[Interruption.] I am not sure what Government Members are so concerned about. It is completely legitimate for Opposition Members to table amendments to the Bill and it is perfectly right and proper that we have the opportunity to debate them.
Order. The hon. Gentleman is speaking. I know that there has been some latitude, but I also know that he wants to get back on the subject of impacts, and that is where we are going now. Let me just say that there are seven other speakers.
The short answer to the hon. Lady regarding the Procedure Committee is, yes, I do believe that this House should introduce rules against filibustering, and, as soon as that happens, we will be happy to abide by them.
On the point about Liechtenstein, I do know how to spell it, but I will not find it by looking at page 54, chart 9.3 of the Brexit White Paper. Amendment 62 calls on the Chancellor to publish an assessment of future payments to the European Union. It is similar to new clause 143, which we want to push to a vote later on this evening, so some of the points should have been covered already.
Amendment 64 calls on the Secretary of State for Education to publish an impact assessment on her Department’s responsibility in this area. We have already heard from some Members about the serious implications regarding the ability of our universities to attract talented researchers and students in the event of the UK leaving the European Union. Figures for 2014-15 show that there were 13,450 full-time equivalent EU students studying for undergraduate degrees at Scottish universities. Frankly, almost every single one of them will have been shocked and saddened by the result on
I thank my hon. Friend for giving way once again. One of the uncertainties faced by EU nationals wanting to come and study in the UK post- Brexit is what fee structure will be imposed on them, and absolutely no answers have been given on that.
My hon. Friend is absolutely correct. Again, we will continue to push the Government on that. I hope that the Minister will have some time to respond to some of these important points. I have spent a lot of time in exchanges with him in Westminster Hall, which perhaps should be renamed “Brexit Minister Hall” in due course once the Brexit process has been completed.
Will the hon. Gentleman enlighten us? Has any impact assessment ever been undertaken by the Scottish Government of the impact of their education policies on participation in higher education, particularly given that the most recent statistics demonstrate that the Scottish Government’s policies—
Order. The problem might have come from somewhere else in the Chamber, but I do not want it to be from the right hon. Gentleman. You have been around this Chamber for far too long and you know that you are way outside scope. I think that I preferred you on the Front Bench than on the Back Bench.
I think the Prime Minister might disagree with you on that, Mr Hoyle.
I want to talk more about education and health before I start to wind up. There are elements of education that are shared with the European Union. Will they also be devolved fully to the Scottish Parliament? That also applies to some aspects of health. Leaving the EU will have serious implications for the workforce of our health service. According to the Trade Union Congress, just under 50,000 citizens from the European economic area work in the NHS—9,000 doctors, 18,000 nurses, and the list goes on. Those people are a vital source of skills and experience, plugging gaps left by the underfunding of training places, especially in England and Wales, in recent years. This again is where the failure of the UK Government to guarantee the rights of EU nationals to remain and to live and work in the UK after we leave the EU is causing uncertainty and disappointment.
The UK Government have also yet to set out how they will deal with cross-border health issues after leaving the European Union.
I thank my hon. Friend for giving way on that point. Many people have received medical treatment abroad under the European health insurance card. That includes me, and I have the scars to prove it. Does he share my concern that we may no longer have access to the card after Brexit?
My hon. Friend makes a crucial point, which he was right to raise eloquently in the House in the run-up to the European Union referendum—[Interruption.] I hear dissent from Labour Members, but the reality is that these are the uncertainties and confusions. Nobody seems to know exactly the right answer, which is why we continue to press our amendments.
One impact assessment that has been researched is by End Child Poverty. Its report “Feeling the Pinch” has assessed that prices are due to rise by 35% between 2010 and 2020, which will have a massive impact on the exponential rise in child poverty. Does my hon. Friend agree that impact assessments like that—of the impact on families and children—are so important, and that is why we table our amendments?
Absolutely. As I said at the beginning of my speech on these important amendments that we want the Committee to debate in full, the Brexit debate was for too long an ideological debating society game being played on the Government Benches. As the reality hits home, we are now beginning to realise the kind of consequences my hon. Friend mentions. It is important that as many of the powers and as much of the budget that are relevant and appropriate come to the Scottish Parliament as part of the Brexit process so that we can protect and defend the rights that people have enjoyed under the European Union and that are now at risk. That is why we continue to press for impact assessments.
Amendment 66 is important because it calls for the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to publish an impact assessment on her Department’s responsibilities, which, of course, include the common fisheries policy.
I represent probably the only constituency to reach 200 miles of the exclusive economic zone. Is there not a case not just for putting Scotland in control of fisheries, but for giving the Hebrides and island groups some power over them? We should certainly not leave them in charge of the guys in Westminster who sold them down the river once and, given this White Paper, are looking to sell them down the river yet again?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. That is why the fishermen and women of Scotland will be particularly concerned when the Government talk about a UK-wide approach. When the Prime Minister makes passing references to Spanish fishermen, everyone knows what she is signalling. Fishermen should not be on the table as some kind of bargaining chip. The UK Government must not sell out our fishermen as they did in 1972. They must tell us now what access arrangements they will seek to negotiate, and conduct a full impact assessment for our fishing sector.
Leaving the EU will create significant uncertainty within the agricultural sector, and the UK Government have to produce an assessment of that. It is particularly true in the case of the food and drink industry, as I am sure that hon. Members who were at the briefing from people in the food and drink industry earlier today would want to know. Some 69% of Scotland’s overseas food exports go to the European Union.
I share my hon. Friend’s passion for the rural economy. Would he be surprised to learn that when an audience of 800 mainly English farmers at the Oxford farming conference were asked how many had confidence that DEFRA could deliver in the Brexit environment, the only hand that went up was that of the Farming Minister?
If we kept that rule going, nobody would speak on either side.
The reality is that my hon. Friends have a very important role in representing the interests of their constituents. There is a reason we tabled this many amendments and why we want to partake in the procedures of this House. We have been sent down here to do a job: to scrutinise this Government and hold them to account, as the official Opposition have been almost singularly unable to do so.
Is it not the case that when Mr Duncan Smith was on his feet, he was begging for interventions? He did it at least five times, and his hon. Friends were all laughing at the time.
Order. We are not getting into a debate about that. I think Mr Grady wants to come to the end of his speech, because he recognises that seven other people are waiting.
You are absolutely right, Mr Hoyle. As we know, six of my hon. Friends were waiting to be called last night, and they were unable to be called, because some people chose to vote for the programme motion and not to allow sufficient time. So I think it is important that I remain within order and that I speak to the SNP provisions in my name and those of my—
Order. If I was keeping everybody in order, your speech would have finished 15 minutes ago. We have latitude for all sides here tonight, so let us see how we go, but I do hope that you will recognise that others are waiting.
Does my hon. Friend agree that an impact assessment on the justice system is crucial because our membership of Europol, Eurojust, the European arrest warrant and other key areas of co-operation on security matters remains at risk following a hard Tory Brexit?
That is exactly what amendment 67 calls for. Members can see that my hon. Friend has read all our amendments and is prepared to debate them on the Floor of the House. Justice issues are particularly important. Where will the Government be on the European convention on human rights? Where will their Bill of Rights be? How will all of that interact with the instruments of justice in the European Union that my hon. Friend speaks of?
Amendment 68 calls for the Home Secretary to publish an impact assessment on her Department’s responsibilities. We heard about immigration earlier. Is that responsibility going to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament, as the right hon. Member for Surrey Heath called for during the campaign? Our membership of Europol, our participation in the European arrest warrant and other key areas of co-operation on security remain at serious risk following Brexit, and that is why we need an impact assessment on the role of the Home Office.
Likewise, amendment 69 calls for the Secretary of State for Defence to publish an impact assessment on his Department’s responsibilities. As I said on Second Reading, we are at risk of being left with Trump, Trident and a transatlantic tax treaty. At this rate, Trump and Trident will be the beginning and end of the UK’s security policy.
I am absolutely certain that these impact assessments can run in parallel, but the hon. and learned Lady touches on an important point, which goes to the heart of all these points about impact assessments and the capacity of the UK Government to deal with all of this. There is an impact on the whole machinery of government—
That is exactly the point. The whole machinery of government is going to be tied up for years and years—this was supposed to be about taking back control. The reality is that, if the Government do not accept these amendments and do not do these things before article 50 is triggered, they will have to do them afterwards. They are simply going to have to figure out how Brexit impacts on every single Government Department. The whole machinery of government will have to be reformed—it stands to reason. So they can do what we propose before triggering article 50 and have some kind of certainty, or they can do it afterwards and the complete chaos can continue.
I think we have heard enough from the former Justice Secretary for now.
The point Nadine Dorries is exactly what amendment 70 touches on. It calls on the Chancellor to publish an impact assessment on his Department’s responsibilities. The responsibility of the Treasury will change quite significantly. As we heard from the Brexiteers throughout the campaign, the Treasury currently channels all this money into the European Union. It is going to have to reabsorb that money and have the structures to apportion it back out to lots of different Government Departments.
My hon. Friend is doing a fantastic job of outlining a series of important areas that are likely to be greatly impacted on financially by the UK leaving the EU. Does he agree that the assessments we are calling for are the very least one should expect from any responsible Chancellor of the Exchequer?
The argument put forward by the hon. Lady from England somewhere—Nadine Dorries—is quite strange. It is akin to the person who says, “Given the cost of buying a map, isn’t it far better that we stumble around in the dark?” That is the argument against impact assessments: do not buy a map, stumble in the dark.
Talking of maps, my hon. Friend brings me to amendment 71, which calls for the Foreign Secretary to publish an impact assessment on his Department’s responsibilities. We need clarity on the working relationships and the division of labour between the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for Exiting the European Union, especially as regards the UK’s permanent representation at the European Union, which we have to assume will continue in some form.
Does the hon. Gentleman welcome the fact that UKRep will probably have to get bigger? Does he welcome more UK bureaucrats in Brussels?
I hope that UKRep will be very slim. The hon. Gentleman is surely now suggesting the most pointless of all his impact assessments, because the Department for Exiting the European Union will cease to exist at the end of the process, and therefore having an impact assessment on what it might do before the process has ended is otiose beyond measure.
I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman has clearly not read the amendment. The amendment calls for the Foreign Secretary to publish an impact assessment that will include, but not exclusively, his relationships with the Department for Exiting the European Union.
Amendment 72—perhaps Mr Duncan Smith will want to intervene on this—calls on the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to publish an impact assessment on his responsibilities. The Scottish Government are seeking to give people in Scotland reassurances that they are allowed live and work here.
No, I am not giving way.
One of the key agreements of the UK’s renegotiation in earlier years was that the UK would be able to establish a four-year period before non-UK EU nationals have access to in-work benefits such as tax credits, child benefit and housing benefit. It is unclear whether the new deal that is done with the EU will enable the UK to impose such restrictions. The Scottish Government did not approve of the proposal and would want to seek different arrangements if they could. Again, there is a question about whether these powers will be devolved to the Scottish Parliament. There were only two pages—
No, I am not giving way to the right hon. Gentleman.
The token total of two pages on securing rights for EU nationals is telling about the UK Government’s real priorities.
Amendment 73 calls for the Secretary of State for International Trade to publish an impact assessment on his Department’s responsibilities. Trade policy is currently under EU competence, and leaving the EU single market and customs union would mean that it fell under the responsibility of the UK Government. The Secretary of State therefore needs to outline how his Department is going to make use of its new competence over trade policy.
The hon. Gentleman is certainly giving a speech that is great in length. On amendment 73, would he suggest that the assessment by the Department for International Trade should include the potential impact of having to deal with Scotland outside the UK single market as an international trade partner?
Conveniently, we have heard from the Prime Minister in recent days about her support for friction-free travel and friction-free trade across the islands of the United Kingdom, so I have every confidence that when Scotland becomes an independent country—
On a point of order, Mr Hoyle. I wonder whether you can advise me. There are seven other hon. Members waiting to speak in this debate, including me, as a Select Committee Chair wanting to share with Members the scrutiny of our cross-party Committee. Does the time limit for this debate not indicate that important assessments on areas such as the environment and agriculture will not be heard by the Committee tonight? Can you send a message to the Lords to make sure that they do the job that this House is incapable of doing?
We can enter into an argument about it, but the House decided on a programme motion, and unfortunately some people are a victim of that.
Yes. I seek your guidance, Mr Hoyle. Is it in order for Members who abstained on the programme motion to complain about the programme, when they have taken no part in it?
I knew that my instinct was correct, and that that was not a point of order.
I take the point that Mary Creagh is making, and I believe she is indicating that she joined us in the Lobby to vote against the programme motion. I agreed with the point made by my friend from the Procedure Committee. We are all in favour of reform of this House. As it is, we will use the procedures of the House to hold the Government to account.
Amendment 74 calls for the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to publish an impact assessment on his Department’s responsibilities. The vote to leave the European Union has plunged our business and energy sector into further uncertainty.
Order. As a member of the Panel of Chairs, you know that you are not making a point of order.
That is an interesting point. The hon. Lady is sitting where a couple of other Members are accustomed to sit on Friday afternoons, and we have watched them rise and talk out private Member’s Bill after private Member’s Bill. So I will not hear Members of the Conservative party complaining about the legitimate use of the procedures of the House. We have tabled amendments. We went up to the Table Office and lodged amendments in precise accordance with the rules of the House, and we have every right to stand here and explain to the House the importance of our amendments.
I hope I am not hearing applause from Conservative Members, because that would be a breach of order.
It is important that we consider our amendment about BEIS, because the vote to leave the EU has plunged the business and energy sectors into further uncertainty.
I reiterate that we are speaking to the amendments that we have tabled. One of the better productions from the UK Government is the Green Paper “Building our Industrial Strategy”, published by BEIS. The Green Paper highlights the challenges in skills gaps, in productivity and in research and development. It does not mention the challenge of leaving Europe, and it does not mention that leaving Europe is even an opportunity. That proves the need for an impact assessment from BEIS—
Order. Let us be a little bit fair. We understand what is going on. In the end, interventions have got to be shorter for Mr Grady to get towards the end of his speech.
I outlined at the start of my speech the amendments that we tabled. My hon. Friend makes a good point. We have spoken about the uncertainty caused by Euratom, which was, I accept, covered in important detail by Labour Members.
Is not amendment 74 the most important one, because it includes workers’ rights? Many of us view the Government’s attitude to workers’ rights with great suspicion.
Absolutely; indeed, an entire new schedule on workers’ rights has been tabled.
Amendment 75 calls on the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to publish an impact assessment on his Department’s responsibilities. Local government throughout the UK receives a host of funding from the European Union, not least the structural funds that we have heard about many times.
Does my hon. Friend agree that with so many regulations being implemented by local government in areas such as food protection and waste disposal, local government needs to know what form those will take once we leave the EU?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right, and that is why we have tabled amendments calling for impact assessments.
Amendment 76 calls on the Secretary of State for International Development to publish an impact assessment on her Department’s responsibilities. Again, we need clarity and a full commitment to 0.7% of gross national income going to overseas development. That is similar to the amendment in my name, amendment 58, which I have already spoken about.
Amendment 77 calls on the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport to publish an impact assessment.
No—which is exactly what the right hon. Gentleman said to me on Second Reading.
The UK Government need to clarify what involvement the EU’s digital single market, which is vital for supporting highly paid jobs in an exciting growth sector, will have. They have been completely silent on the digital single market, which will be one of the most important sectors of our economy—like tourism, which also comes under the remit of the DCMS. Approximately 20,000 EU nationals work in Scotland’s hospitality sector—12% of the total. What will be the impact on them?
Amendment 79 calls for the Chancellor to publish a report on matters relating to the pensions of UK nationals living and working in the European Union. Again, that is an area of great uncertainty, and I have heard about it from my own constituents. Some 400,000 UK nationals living in the EU receive a pension from the United Kingdom Government, and they are incredibly concerned about the impact of Brexit. The Government have done nothing to reassure them.
Amendment 80, one of the most important, calls on the Government to publish an equality impact assessment. We heard earlier from Mr Umunna about the whole range of minority and interest groups in our society—faith groups, LGBT groups and so on—that are completely absent from the UK Government’s White Paper. That is why it is important that we hear about them in an impact assessment.
Does my hon. Friend agree that the Government’s failure to include an equality impact assessment is very distressing? It is completely contrary to their words of support for equality, which are so often let down by their actions.
Of course. Equalities are at the heart of the European project, which the Brexiteers have wanted to rip us away from.
Amendment 82 calls for a regional and national economic impact assessment.
Why do we need an impact assessment? Well, right now chemical manufacturers and importers from non-EU countries are using the UK as a base from which they can guide chemicals through the REACH programme through the appointment of a UK-based only representative. When the UK leaves the EU, only representatives will no longer be able to be based here. Does my hon. Friend agree that that will incentivise—
It will not surprise the House to hear that I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. The single market has allowed Scotland’s economy to flourish over all these years, and that is now at stake in a hard Tory Brexit.
Finally, new clause 138 addresses trade agreements. We have heard the FCO and the Department for International Trade boasting in public about new trade agreements that the UK will sign after it leaves the EU. Of course, it cannot sign them until it has left. That is why the Government have to be transparent and report on which trade agreements they are working on and give details on the nature and terms of those deals. It is crucial that the UK Government inform and consult Parliament in their ongoing trade talks and allow scrutiny throughout the process.
Of nearly 200 members of the United Nations, only six states are outwith a regional trade agreement. The UK is to become the seventh, joining the likes of Mauritania and East Timor. Does my hon. Friend share my concerns and those of the chemical industry about where that leaves us and everybody else involved? The UK is going headlong towards a cliff in joining countries as small as those.
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. I hope that by examining in detail these vital new clauses and amendments tabled by Scottish National party Members, the Government will begin to understand how seriously we are taking this issue.
My hon. Friend has made excellent points about the amendments and about how many there are. Does that not underline the woeful lack of time given to this entire process in respect of article 50?
Absolutely. As has been pointed out, we had more time to discuss the Scotland Bill. That will now probably not be the last legislation on Scotland; I see that the Secretary of State for Scotland has taken his place. He will probably have to steer through another Scotland Bill during this Parliament as a result of Brexit, to give us all the powers he promised he would.
This is only the beginning. The Government want to bring forward the great repeal Bill, increasingly known as “the great power grab”. They must be willing to stand up to the scrutiny of the House. We have been sent here to do a job, and that is what we have done this evening with our amendments. That is what we will continue to do during the passage of this Bill and all the future legislation that comes with Brexit. [Interruption.]
Order. Let us move on, and let us keep going. I call the Minister.
What a remarkable debate this has been. I congratulate Patrick Grady on speaking for 58 minutes and for the ingenuity with which he made sure that the Committee heard so many Scottish voices. It will be clear to those who read the record that the voice of Scotland has been heard loud and clear in scrutinising this Bill.
I congratulate Matthew Pennycook on making a clear and concise speech. Indeed, other hon. Gentlemen in the Chamber could have learned from his conciseness.
It was a pleasure to hear the usual brilliance from my right hon. Friend Michael Gove and Mr Umunna, but at times it felt a little like they were refighting the referendum. I am sure neither of them would have intended to do that, because they want us to move on with the process and bring people together.
The House has voted repeatedly that the Government should do nothing to undermine the negotiating position of the UK. The new clauses and amendments would all require the Government to publish some form of assessment of the implications of the UK’s exit from the European Union or particular aspects of it, from the single market, to the environment, to research and development.
Let us not forget what this very straightforward Bill is about. It is about respecting the decision taken in the referendum—a referendum that saw a lengthy and wide-ranging public debate about the impact of remaining in or leaving the EU. The Bill is not about whether we leave the EU or how; it simply allows the Government to implement the decision taken by the people of the United Kingdom in the referendum following that long campaign.
As the Committee knows, the Government are carrying out a wide-ranging programme of analysis relating to our exit from and our future relationship with the European Union. That analysis will be used to underpin our exit negotiations with the EU, to define the future partnership with the EU and to inform our understanding of how EU exit will affect our domestic policies.
I will come back to the hon. Lady later, because I suspect she wants to address environmental issues and I will come to those in my speech.
Our programme of analysis is important in enabling us to seize the opportunities and in ensuring that our EU exit is a smooth and orderly process. As we discussed yesterday, the Joint Ministerial Committee on exit negotiations was set up to develop a UK-wide approach to the forthcoming negotiations. I know that analysis has been and can be exchanged confidentially through that forum. The Committee should be in no doubt that policy relating to EU exit is underpinned by rigorous and extensive analytical and assessment work. As with all internal analytical work in government, it is not the standard practice to give a public commentary as the analysis develops.
We have said all along that we will lay out as much detail as possible on EU exit, provided that doing so does not risk damaging our negotiating position. The House voted on a motion that confirmed that there should be no disclosure of material that could damage the UK in negotiations. In any negotiation, information on potential economic or financial considerations is very important to the negotiating capital and position of all parties.
Most of the new clauses and amendments would require the Government to publish analysis or assessment work before the process of negotiating with our European Union partners begins and, indeed, before the Prime Minister provides a notification under article 50, as Government Members have pointed out repeatedly. Those include new clause 5, which stands in the names of the Leader of the Opposition and many other Members; new clause 49, which stands in the names of Owen Smith and many other Members; and new clause 143, which stands in the name of Stephen Gethins and many other SNP Members; as well as more than 40 other proposals that I do not intend to list. The common requirement is that we publish information at a time when it could either delay the triggering of article 50 or jeopardise the UK’s negotiating position. That runs contrary to the approach that has already been accepted by this House. For that reason, I cannot accept those new clauses and amendments.
I want to touch briefly on amendments 24 to 26, which were tabled by Mike Gapes to ensure that the Government take account of our responsibilities to represent the interests of Gibraltar, the Crown dependencies and the overseas territories. I assure him that we are doing exactly that. The amendments are not necessary. I met the members of the Joint Ministerial Council for the overseas territories this morning to take their views on board in this process.
Given that I was not able to make a speech, I am very grateful to be able to intervene. Is it not the case that we need more than a personal consultation with the Minister? This House and this Parliament should be aware of the implications for the overseas territories, the Crown dependencies and Gibraltar.
The hon. Gentleman makes a very fair point. I am very pleased to say to him that the very first debate I replied to as a Minister—Patrick Grady was kind enough to name Westminster Hall “Brexit Minister Hall”, because of the number of debates we have had there on this issue—was on Gibraltar and the impact of leaving the European Union. Colleagues across the House represent the interests of Gibraltar extremely well. I have had regular and productive meetings with the Chief Minister of Gibraltar, Fabian Picardo, who has made sure that its voice is heard very clearly by the UK Government. All the Chief Ministers of the overseas territories are being consulted, as are the Crown dependencies.
As a former Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Women and Equalities, I welcome the interest in new clause 98, which makes reference to the Equality Act 2010 and protected characteristics. We are, of course, assessing a wide range of impacts as we develop our negotiating position, and we will continue to do so throughout the negotiation period. The Equality Act already provides a strong framework to ensure that the UK is well placed to continue driving equality forward. I assure the Committee that all the protections covered in the Equality Act 2006 and the Equality Act 2010 will continue to apply once the UK has left the European Union.
The Prime Minister has been clear: we want the UK to emerge from this period of change stronger, fairer, and more united and outward-looking than ever before. We want to get the right deal abroad, but ensure we get a better deal for ordinary working people at home. In the White Paper, we set out our ambition to use this moment of change to build a stronger economy and a fairer society by embracing genuine economic and social reform.
New clauses 42 to 48 and new clause 187 were tabled by Helen Goodman who, sadly, is no longer in her place. What they have in common is a requirement for the Government to publish impact assessments no later than 18 months after Royal Assent. We cannot know, however, that 18 months after Royal Assent we will not still be engaged in negotiations with the European Union. If we were, those negotiations might be at an important and decisive stage. The new clauses could significantly jeopardise our negotiating position, so I hope the hon. Lady will not press them.
Similarly, new clause 167, in the name of Seema Malhotra, requires publication no later than 12 months after Royal Assent, and new clause 17, in the name of Chris Leslie, specifies publication 30 days after the Act comes into force. In each case, I reiterate and amplify my previous objection that the United Kingdom might well be in the middle of negotiations with the European Union.
I turn now to the new clauses tabled by Angela Smith and others, including new clauses 101, 102, 103, 106 and 107. I would be happy to give way to Caroline Lucas on the matter of the environment at this point.
Will the Minister acknowledge that moving environmental policy from the EU to domestic policy through the repeal Bill will not be enough on its own? We need to make it enforceable and monitorable. What legal measures will he put in place to ensure we can enforce environmental legislation? While I have his attention, and at the risk of challenging his stereotype, how does he plan to replace the nuclear safety function if we recklessly leave Euratom?
The hon. Lady raises very important points, which we will debate in detail when we come to the great repeal Bill. On Euratom, we absolutely want to continue to collaborate internationally to achieve the best and highest standards of nuclear safety, as well as to continue to work on nuclear research, where our country has been a global leader.
On the environment, the Prime Minister made very clear in her speech that Parliament will have the opportunity to debate and scrutinise any policy changes that result from our exit and the forthcoming negotiations. I have given evidence to the Environmental Audit Committee and have appeared before the House on a number of occasions. I have been clear that the UK will still seek to be an international leader on environmental co-operation. As part of the great repeal Bill, as the hon. Lady says, we will bring current EU law, including the current framework of environmental regulation, into domestic British law. We will ensure that that law has practical effect. This will preserve protections, and any future changes in the law will be subject to full parliamentary scrutiny. This House will therefore have the opportunity to debate this and other topics throughout the process.
That and future debates will no doubt draw on many assessments of what leaving the EU will mean for a wide variety of issues. The Government will also shortly be launching two closely linked Green Papers on food, farming and fisheries, and on the environment. They will be the next important stage in our dialogue on future policy with industry, environmental non-governmental organisations and the wider public.
No one can say what the final elements of the new agreement with the EU will be, and we do not know exactly how the timetable will work after negotiations are concluded. Parliament will have its say, but so too will others. Greater certainty will emerge as we go through the process, but for now there remain unknowns. For these reasons, we do not consider it wise or prudent to fix now in statute what the Government must publish at the end of a process that has not even begun or been timetabled. Doing so would constrain the flexibility of the UK Government at the end of the process and therefore potentially during negotiations. I come back to the simple purpose of the Bill—to allow the process of negotiation to begin and, in so doing, to respect the decision of the people of the UK in the referendum.
New clause 167, on young people, was also tabled by the hon. Member for Feltham and Heston, who unfortunately has had to leave us. I recently participated in a roundtable, along with colleagues from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, with a wide range of young people from all over the country—from Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and England—to talk about their views on Brexit. It was interesting to hear from groups such as Undivided, bringing people together from both sides of the campaign to talk about the future. Every Member wants to focus on delivering a bright future for the young people of the UK, so I welcome the intention behind the new clause, but we can do that by coming together to represent the 100%, focusing on the future, getting the right deal for the UK in a new partnership with the EU and working together to deliver the opportunities those young people want.
Unfortunately, the new clause would require us to produce an economic analysis and so put us in the position of potentially giving information to the other side in the negotiations that could prejudice our position. The new clause also mentions the importance of Erasmus. The Government recognise the value of international exchange for students and are considering all the options for collaboration in education and training post-Brexit. In the spirit of looking to the future, however, we should not use the Bill to publish information that could undermine our negotiating position.
Based on all the reasons I have set out, I hope that hon. Members concerned will feel able not to press their amendments. We will produce careful assessments of the vast majority of these factors as we prepare for and take part in the negotiations, and we will use them as evidence to protect the national interests of the United Kingdom, but we cannot and should not commit to putting that information into the hands of the other side. Well intentioned as the amendments are, I urge the Committee to reject them so that we can get on with the Bill in the interests of the whole United Kingdom.
In responding, I shall be as concise as I was earlier and simply say that although the Minister has said that the Government are internally carrying out rigorous analytical assessments, he has not given us the guarantees we sought on the publication of Her Majesty’s Treasury’s impact assessments of our future trading relations with the EU. For that reason, we will be pushing new clause 5 to a vote.
Question put, That the clause be read a Second time.
The House divided:
Ayes 281, Noes 337.