“Before giving any notification under Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, the Prime Minister shall give an undertaking to have regard to the public interest during negotiations in—
(a) maintaining a stable and sustainable economy,
(b) preserving peace in Northern Ireland,
(c) having trading arrangements with the European Union for goods and services that are free of tariff and non-tariff barriers and further regulatory burdens,
(d) co-operation with the European Union in education, research and science, environment protection, and preventing and detecting serious and organised crime and terrorist activity,
(e) maintaining all existing social, economic, consumer and workers’ rights.”—(Paul Blomfield.)
This new clause sets out statutory objectives that the Government must have regard to whilst carrying out negotiations under article 50.
Brought up, and read the First time.
With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:
New clause 7—Conduct of negotiations—anti-tax haven—
“(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 public interest in maintaining all existing EU tax avoidance and evasion legislation.
(2) In negotiating and concluding an agreement in accordance with Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, Ministers of Crown must comply with the European Union Code of Conduct on Business Taxation.”
This new clause sets out the government’s commitment to observe the Code of Conduct on business taxation to prevent excessive tax competition and lays out the statutory objectives that the Government must have regard to EU tax avoidance and evasion whilst carrying out negotiations under article 50.
New clause 11—Tariff-free trade in goods and services—
“In the event of the exercise of the power in Section 1, Her Majesty’s Government shall seek a new Treaty between the United Kingdom and the European Union on tariff-free trade in goods and services.”
This new clause would ensure that, in the event of the exercise of the power in Section 1, Her Majesty’s Government shall seek a new Treaty between the United Kingdom and the European Union on tariff-free trade in goods and services rather than withdraw from the European Union with no alternative objective.
New clause 13—Transitional arrangements—
“Her Majesty’s Government shall seek a transitional trading agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union as part of the negotiations following notification under section 1.”
This new clause would make it an objective for HM Government to secure a transitional approach towards new trading relationships with the EU Member States following the end of the Article 50 notification and negotiation period.
New clause 15—Visa-free travel—
“On the exercise of the power in section 1, Her Majesty’s Government shall endeavour to maintain the visa policy in operation at the date of the coming into force of this Act in relation to citizens of member states of the European Union and the United Kingdom.”
This new clause would seek to ensure that HM Government has the objective of maintaining the visa policy in operation at the date of the coming into force of this Act in relation to citizens of member states of the European Union and the United Kingdom.
New clause 21—Trading rights—financial services—
“On the exercise of the power in section 1, Her Majesty’s Government shall make it an objective to secure the trading rights for UK-based financial services companies that exist by virtue of the UK’s membership of the European Union as of the day on which this Act comes into force.”
This new clause would seek to ensure that Her Majesty’s Government endeavours to preserve the existing trading rights for UK-based financial services companies as currently exist.
New clause 55—Conduct of negotiations—
“Before giving any notification under Article 50(2) of the treaty on European Union, the Prime Minister must undertake to have regard to the public interest during negotiations in—
(a) maintaining and advancing manufacturing industry,
(b) securing the interests of all the regions in England,
(c) delivering existing climate change commitments,
(d) maintaining the common travel area with the Republic of Ireland.”
This new clause sets out statutory objectives to which the Government must have regard whilst carrying out negotiations under Article 50.
New clause 70—Relationship with Europe—
“Before the Prime Minister can exercise the power in section 1, the Prime Minister must commit to negotiating a deal that allows free trade and cooperation between Wales and all European countries.”
This new clause requires the Prime Minister to commit to implementing the Leave Campaign’s pledge to negotiate deal that allows free trade and cooperation between Wales and all European countries before exercising the powers outlined in section 1.
New clause 76—Framework for transfer of data—
“In the event of exercise of the power in section 1, Her Majesty‘s Government shall promote a framework for the transfer of data between the UK and the EU to underpin continued trade in services.”
This new clause would make it the policy of Her Majesty’s Government to promote a framework for cross-border data flows to safeguard the UK services economy and its trade with European markets.
New clause 77—Trade in goods and services—
“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 desirability of retaining full participation in the making of all rules affecting trade in goods and services in the European Union.”
This new clause would require HM Government to negotiate to continue the UK’s participation on agreeing all rules affecting trade in goods and services in the European Union.
New clause 78—Europol—
“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 desirability of continuing to participate in the European Police Office (Europol) on the same basis as any other member state of the European Union.”
This new clause would require Her Majesty‘s Government to negotiate to continue the UK’s participation in the European Police Office (Europol).
New clause 79—European Chemicals Agency—
“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 desirability of continuing to participate in the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) on the same basis as any other member state of the European Union.”
This new clause would require Her Majesty‘s Government to negotiate to continue the UK’s participation in the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).
New clause 80—European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control—
“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 desirability of continuing to participate in the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) on the same basis as any other member state of the European Union.”
This new clause would require Her Majesty‘s Government to negotiate to continue the UK’s participation in the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).
New clause 81—Community Plant Variety Office—
“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 desirability of continuing to participate in the Community Plant Variety Office (CPVO) on the same basis as any other member state of the European Union.”
This new clause would require Her Majesty‘s Government to negotiate to continue the UK’s participation in the Community Plant Variety Office (CPVO).
New clause 82—European Medicines Agency—
“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 desirability of continuing to participate in the European Medicines Agency (EMEA) on the same basis as any other member state of the European Union.”
This new clause would require Her Majesty‘s Government to negotiate to continue the UK’s participation in the European Medicines Agency (EMEA).
New clause 83—European Agency for Health and Safety at Work—
“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 desirability of continuing to participate in the European Agency for Health and Safety at Work (EU-OSHA) on the same basis as any other member state of the European Union.”
This new clause would require Her Majesty‘s Government to negotiate to continue the UK’s participation in the European Agency for Health and Safety at Work (EU-OSHA).
New clause 84—European Aviation Safety Agency—
“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 desirability of continuing to participate in the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) on the same basis as any other member state of the European Union.”
This new clause would require Her Majesty‘s Government to negotiate to continue the UK’s participation in the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).
New clause 85—European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training—
“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 desirability of continuing to participate in the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop) on the same basis as any other member state of the European Union.”
This new clause would require Her Majesty‘s Government to negotiate to continue the UK’s participation in the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop).
New clause 86—European Police College—
“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 desirability of continuing to participate in the European Police College (Cepol) on the same basis as any other member state of the European Union.”
This new clause would require Her Majesty‘s Government to negotiate to continue the UK’s participation in the European Police College (Cepol).
New clause 87—European Environment Agency—
“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 desirability of continuing to participate in the European Environment Agency (EEA) on the same basis as any other member state of the European Union.”
This new clause would require Her Majesty‘s Government to negotiate to continue the UK’s participation in the European Environment Agency (EEA).
New clause 88—European Food Safety Authority—
“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 desirability of continuing to participate in the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on the same basis as any other member state of the European Union.”
This new clause would require Her Majesty’s Government to negotiate to continue the UK’s participation in the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
New clause 89—European Investment Bank—
“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 desirability of continuing to participate in the European Investment Bank (EIB) on the same basis as any other member state of the European Union.”
This new clause would require Her Majesty’s Government to negotiate to continue the UK’s participation in the European Investment Bank (EIB).
New clause 90—Eurojust—
“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 desirability of continuing to participate in Eurojust on the same basis as any other member state of the European Union.”
This new clause would require Her Majesty’s Government to negotiate to continue the UK’s participation in Eurojust.
New clause 91—European Maritime Safety Agency—
“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 desirability of continuing to participate in the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) on the same basis as any other member state of the European Union.”
This new clause would require Her Majesty’s Government to negotiate to continue the UK’s participation in the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA).
New clause 92—European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction—
“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 desirability of continuing to participate in the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) on the same basis as any other member state of the European Union.”
This new clause would require Her Majesty’s Government to negotiate to continue the UK’s participation in the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA).
New clause 93—European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights—
“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 desirability of continuing to participate in the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) on the same basis as any other member state of the European Union.”
This new clause would require Her Majesty’s Government to negotiate to continue the UK’s participation in the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA).
New clause 94—European Satellite Centre—
“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 desirability of continuing to participate in the European Satellite Centre (EUSC) on the same basis as any other member state of the European Union.”
This new clause would require Her Majesty’s Government to negotiate to continue the UK’s participation in the European Satellite Centre (EUSC).
New clause 95—Protected designation of origin scheme—
“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 desirability of continuing to participate in the protected designation of origin (PDO) scheme on the same basis as any other member state of the European Union.”
This new clause would require Her Majesty’s Government to negotiate to continue the UK’s participation in the protected designation of origin (PDO) scheme.
New clause 96—Protected geographical indication scheme—
“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 desirability of continuing to participate in the protected geographical indication (PGI) scheme on the same basis as any other member state of the European Union.”
This new clause would require Her Majesty’s Government to negotiate to continue the UK’s participation in the protected geographical indication (PGI) scheme.
New clause 97—Traditional specialities guaranteed scheme—
“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 desirability of continuing to participate in the traditional specialities guaranteed (TSG) scheme on the same basis as any other member state of the European Union.”
This new clause would require Her Majesty’s Government to negotiate to continue the UK’s participation in the traditional specialities guaranteed (TSG) scheme.
New clause 100—Equality and women’s rights—
“Before issuing any notification under Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union the Prime Minister shall give an undertaking to have regard to the public interest during negotiations for the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union in—
(a) maintaining employment rights and protections derived from EU legislation,
(b) ensuring that EU co-operation to end violence against women and girls, to tackle female genital mutilation and to end human trafficking will continue unaffected,
(c) the desirability of continuing to recognise restraining orders placed on abusive partners in EU Member States in the UK and restraining orders placed on abusive partners in the UK across the EU, and
(d) establishing a cross-departmental working group to assess and make recommendations for developing legislation on equality and access to justice.”
New clause 104—Agricultural Sector—Trade Deals—
“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, and shall include, the agricultural sector in any new trade settlement with the European Union.”
New clause 163—Consultation with representatives of English regions—
“(1) Before the Prime Minister issues any notification under Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, the Secretary of State shall set out a strategy for consultation with representatives of the English regions, including those without directly elected Mayors, on the UK’s priorities in negotiations for the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.
(2) The Secretary of State shall nominate representatives for the purposes of subsection (1).”
This new clause would require the Government to designate representatives from English regions and set out a strategy for consulting them on the UK’s priorities in negotiations on withdrawal from the EU.
New clause 166—Rights and opportunities of young people—
“In negotiating and concluding an agreement in accordance with Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, Ministers of the Crown must seek to ensure that the rights and opportunities of people aged under 25 in the United Kingdom are maintained on the same terms as on the day on which Royal Assent is given to this Act, including—
(a) retaining the ability to work and travel visa-free in the EU,
(b) retaining 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) retaining the ability to participate in EU programmes designed to provide opportunities to young people, including programmes to facilitate studying in other EU member states.”
This new clause would ensure that the Government must seek to protect the rights and opportunities currently enjoyed by young UK nationals so that they should not become worse off than their European counterparts.
New clause 170—EHIC scheme—
“(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 desirability of continuing to participate in the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) scheme on the same basis as any other member state of the European Union”.
This new clause would require Her Majesty’s Government to negotiate to continue the UK’s participation in the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) scheme.
New clause 172—Erasmus+ Programme—report
“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 desirability of continuing to participate in the Erasmus+ Programme on the same basis as any other member state of the European Union”.
This new clause would require Her Majesty’s Government to negotiate to continue the UK’s participation in the Erasmus+ Programme.
“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 desirability of continuing to participate in the European Research Area (ERA) on the same basis as any other member state of the European Union”.
This new clause would require Her Majesty’s Government to negotiate continue to the UK’s participation in the European Research Area (ERA).
New clause 178—European Arrest Warrant—
“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 desirability of continuing to participate in the European Arrest Warrant on the same basis as any other member state of the European Union”.
This new clause would require Her Majesty’s Government to negotiate to continue the UK’s participation in the European Arrest Warrant.
New clause 181—Trade agreements—
“(1) In the course of negotiations with the European Union on the UK’s withdrawal from the Union, Her Majesty’s Government must have regard to the value of UK membership of the EU Customs Union in maintaining tariff and barrier-free trade with the EU.
(2) Before exercising the power to notify under section 1 of this Act, the Prime Minister should lay before Parliament an assessment of the value of UK membership of the EU Customs Union in maintaining ongoing tariff and barrier-free trade with the EU.”
New clause 183—Membership of the single market including EU-wide reform of freedom of movement—
“(1) In negotiating and concluding an agreement in accordance with Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, Ministers of the Crown must seek to—
(a) secure reforms of provisions governing the free movement of persons between EU member states in such a way as to allow for greater controls over movement of people for member states and to enable the UK to retain full membership of the European single market, or
(b) maintain the highest possible level of integration with the European single market.”
This new clause would ensure that the Government must seek to negotiate EU-wide reforms to freedom of movement in the single market to enable the Government to seek to retain membership of the single market or as close to membership as possible.
New clause 185—Euratom—
“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 desirability of continuing to participate in the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) on the same basis as any other member state of the European Union.”
This new clause would require Her Majesty’s Government to negotiate to continue the UK’s participation in Euratom.
New clause 193—Conduct of negotiations—
“( ) Before giving any notification under Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, the Prime Minister shall give an undertaking to have regard to public interest during negotiations in maintaining the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights.”
Amendment 22, in clause 1, page 1, line 2, leave out “may” and insert “shall”
Amendment 23, page 1, line 2, after “notify” insert “by
Amendment 7, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
“if it is the intention of Her Majesty’s Government to continue to participate in EU Common Foreign and Security Policy”
This amendment would ensure that the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union would not affect the intention of Her Majesty’s Government to continue to participate in EU Common Foreign and Security Policy.
Amendment 8, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
“but not before 1st November 2017”
This amendment would ensure that any notification of intention to withdraw from the EU cannot be made before 1st November 2017.
Amendment 9, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
“and shall make it an objective for the United Kingdom to remain a member of the European Single Market.”
This amendment would ensure that the policy of HM Government shall be to negotiate the United Kingdom‘s continued membership of the European Single Market.
Amendment 29, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
“after consultation with the Government of Gibraltar.”
Amendment 30, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
“and its institutions with the exception of the European Defence Agency.”
Amendment 31, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
“and its institutions with the exception of Euratom.”
Amendment 32, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
“and its institutions with the exception of Europol.”
Amendment 33, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
“and its institutions with the exception of the European Space Agency.”
Amendment 34, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
“with the exception of the Common Foreign and Security Policy.”
Amendment 42, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
“The power to make this notification shall not include an intention to withdraw the United Kingdom from membership or participation of the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom).”
Amendment 54, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
‘(1A) The Prime Minister may not notify under subsection (1) until the Chief Minister of Gibraltar has notified Her Majesty’s Government that Gibraltar consents to the process for the withdrawal of the UK from the European Union.”
Amendment 89, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
‘(1A) The Prime Minister may not notify under subsection (1) the intention to withdraw the United Kingdom from membership of, and participation in, the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom), until replacement treaties with other EU Member States and relevant third countries have been agreed.”
Amendment 35, page 1, line 5, at end insert—
‘(3) This section does not apply to Gibraltar.”
Amendment 38, 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 White Paper identifying new oversight, accountability and enforcement mechanisms replacing the role of the European Commission and the European Court of Justice to ensure an equivalent level of compliance with EU-derived environmental regulation upon withdrawal from the European Union.”
This amendment would ensure that the UK judicial system is prepared and ready to effectively perform the enforcement duties currently undertaken by institutions of the EU with regards to environmental regulation.
Clause 1 stand part.
Clause 2 stand part.
New clause 12—International trade—
“Her Majesty’s Government shall endeavour to incorporate into UK regulation the international trade policies that apply to the UK as a consequence of its membership of the European Union and European Customs Union on the date of the exercise of the power in section l.”
This new clause would make it the policy of HM Government to endeavour to “grandfather” existing trade policies currently applicable to the UK by virtue of UK membership of the EU Customs Union.
New clause 32—Social Chapter rights—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 reference to the maintenance of Social Chapter rights.”
New clause 34—Free trade—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 reference to the maintenance of tariff and barrier-free trade with EU member states.”
New clause 35—Environmental standards—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 reference to the maintenance of environmental standards.”
New clause 36—Climate change—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 reference to how this will deliver UK and EU climate change commitments.”
New clause 37—Research and Development—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 reference to the maintenance of international collaboration on research and development by universities and other institutions.”
New clause 38—Common travel area—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 reference to the maintenance of the common travel area with the Republic of Ireland.”
New clause 39—Crime and security—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 reference to the maintenance of international collaboration on tackling crime and strengthening security.”
New clause 40—Economic and financial stability—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 reference to the maintenance of economic and financial stability.”
New clause 50—Commencement—
“This Act shall not come into effect before Parliament has sat for one month following the first General Election that takes place after
New clause 133—Commencement—
“This Act does not come into force until the Prime Minister has certified that it is the policy of Her Majesty’s Government that on leaving the European Union the United Kingdom should as soon as possible accede to the European Economic Area Agreement as a non-EU party.”
New clause 141—Extent—
“This Act extends to the whole of the United Kingdom and to Gibraltar.”
New clause 186—Report on future participation in Euratom—
“Within 30 days of the Prime Minister exercising the power under section (1), a Minister of State shall publish a report on the United Kingdom’s intended future participation in and engagement with the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom), and shall lay a copy of the report before each House of Parliament.”
This new clause would seek a report from Her Majesty’s Government on the UK’s participation in and engagement with Euratom, following the withdrawal of the UK from the EU.
New clause 192—Nuclear Collaboration—
“(1) Nothing in this Act shall affect the UK’s membership of the European Atomic Agency Community (Euratom).
(2) Notwithstanding the provisions of any other Act, Her Majesty’s Government shall treat the process of leaving Euratom as separate to that of leaving the European Union.”
I rise to speak to new clause 2 and the other new clauses that stand in my name and those of my hon. and right hon. Friends, which have been judged to be in order. Over the past two days, we have had a series of important debates, primarily on the process that we face over the long period ahead. Today, we move on to new clauses and amendments on the substance of the Government’s negotiations. The debate on process was important precisely because it is about enabling the people of this country, through this elected Parliament, to hold the Government to account on the issues that matter to them: their jobs; the conditions under which our businesses operate; how we keep our country safe and secure; how we protect our environment for future generations; and how we ensure that we remain at the cutting edge of science and research and that we have an economy that is able to fund our NHS and all the services that are vital for our social fabric.
“the country is coming together”, but we are not there yet, and those portraying anyone with a different approach to Brexit as attempting to frustrate the will of the people—as some have done over recent days—does not help. Today, however, we can take an important step, because new clause 2 addresses many of the concerns not only of the 48% but of many of the 52%—those who voted to come out but did not vote to lose out. It is, in fact, a manifesto for the 100%. It puts at the front of the Government’s objectives a duty to maintain a stable and sustainable economy through having trading arrangements with the European Union for goods and services that are free of tariff and with non-tariff barriers. We on this side of the House have been clear that, in the negotiations, it is the economy and jobs that should come first, but the Government have decided otherwise. They are taking a reckless gamble with people’s jobs and living standards by walking away from the single market and the customs union.
No, that is not what I said. I said that the economy should be at the heart of our negotiations, that the advantages of the single market are significant, as the then Prime Minister pointed out before
Does the hon. Gentleman accept that both sides of the House completely agree that we want the maximum possible access to the single market for our exporters and that we will offer the single market the maximum possible access to our market? Does he further accept that we therefore do not need to argue about that? The answer to whether we get that or get most favoured nation status through the WTO lies not here in Parliament, but the hands of the other 27 EU member states.
My hon. Friend takes a big interest in science and technology and universities, so does he agree that it is important for Coventry and the west midlands economy that we get a proper agreement in relation to the single market? Does he also agree that the Government have guaranteed resources only up to 2020 should we pull out?
I do not want to delay the hon. Gentleman, but I listened carefully to what he said about his new clause. He said, when pressed, that the Labour party’s view was that control of migration—sustainable through whatever arrangements—was important. However, I note that new clause 2 is missing any reference whatsoever to that being an important matter. Whether it is as important as the economy or of secondary importance, it will remain an important issue when the balance of negotiation comes down. What is his position? Why has he left migration control out of the new clause, which is currently unbalanced and makes no sense?
The right hon. Gentleman misrepresents my observations, but then I know that the leave campaign strongly supported alternative facts. Moving on to his specific point—[Interruption.]
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way. This point is rather important: will he confirm whether the Labour party no longer supports the principle of free movement—yes or no?
We have said time and again that we believe in the reasonable management of migration through the application of fair rules, and I will talk about that specific issue if hon. and right hon. Members will give me the opportunity.
Not just yet. I should make some progress because I am conscious of the many amendments and the many people who want to speak.
The Opposition accept that concerns about migration were a significant factor in the referendum—probably a critical factor. Mr Duncan Smith is not paying attention at the moment, but leave campaigners talked it up relentlessly—[Interruption.] He is still not listening. The Prime Minister has also talked up migration, both as Prime Minister and in her previous job. That created huge expectations, which the White Paper then begins to talk down. The Home Secretary told the Home Affairs Committee last week that she had not been consulted on that part of the White Paper. This is one of the main red lines defining the Government’s approach and the Minister responsible was not consulted—it is absolutely extraordinary.
For months, echoing the leave campaign, the Government have talked about control, but they have had control over non-EEA migration for six years and the White Paper reveals the facts: no significant change since 2010.
Will the hon. Gentleman accept that free movement has massively benefited our economy, both economically and socially? While Governments may have failed to ensure that those benefits have been shared equally, we should not sacrifice our economy to anti-immigration ideology. Securing the continued free movement of people should therefore be a priority in the UK negotiations.
Let me continue. There has been no real change to non-EEA migration since 2010, for good reasons. When the Government start to disaggregate the EEA numbers, what will they find? Doctors, nurses, academics, care workers, students, and those bringing key skills to business and industry. On lower-skill jobs, Ministers have already made it clear to employers that agricultural workers will still be free to come.
I will make some progress. As my hon. Friend Mike Gapes pointed out, the only real way to reduce numbers substantially is to crash the economy; that may be the effect of the Government’s negotiations, but assuming that that is not their plan, they need to come clean to the British people. As Dame Caroline Spelman argued last week, and as Stephen Crabb argued over the weekend, they need to come clean about this red line. What is their plan? If taking control of immigration defines this Government’s approach to Brexit, the Minister needs to make the Government’s intentions clear in his closing remarks.
Does my hon. Friend agree that UK trade delegations to China and India have made it clear that any trade deal with those countries will almost certainly involve a relaxation of the visa regime, so all we are doing is displacing migration, not cutting it?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. I think the Prime Minister was quite shocked to discover, when she went to India seeking a trade deal, that one of the first things that the Indian Government wanted to put on the table was access to our labour markets and for students. My hon. Friend was right to cite other countries, but he missed Australia off his list. Australia is much heralded as a future trading partner, but it also wants to make the movement of people part of any settlement.
The hon. Gentleman makes an important point about the value of migrant workers and others who come here. Does he recognise that local jobs, particularly in rural areas, are anchored by people’s ability to move here? Our public services and local businesses, and the jobs of the indigenous population, also depend on the freedom of movement, which is such an important part of our single market membership.
I thank the hon. Lady; she is absolutely right. That is one reason why the Government’s White Paper is so much more nuanced, caveated and realistic than some of the rhetoric that we have heard.
As I said, the right hon. Gentleman has had lots of time during Committee of the whole House. I want to move on to a different topic, and I am sure that he will want to get in later. [Interruption.]
Order. Mr Blomfield rightly wishes to speed up his introduction of the new clause; Members will be pleased about that when we come to the end of this debate and they find that they have had a chance to speak.
Probably not, after Mrs Laing’s words.
Our approach is different: it is to put the economy and the jobs of British people first, and to get the right trading relationship with the EU. There may be lots of graphs in the White Paper, but there is little clarity about the Government’s ambitions. However, the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union was much clearer when he told the House a couple of weeks ago:
“What we have come up with…is the idea of a comprehensive free trade agreement and a comprehensive customs agreement that will deliver the exact same benefits as we have”—[Official Report,
Vol. 620, c. 169.]
I am delighted that the Secretary of State has just joined us. He is promising us the exact same benefits that we have inside the single market. That is a benchmark that he has set for the negotiations—a benchmark against which we will measure his success. To help him, in a positive and collaborative spirit, we have tried to embed that into new clause 2, because livelihoods depend on it.
Does my hon. Friend agree that trying to get exactly the same access to the single market without paying any of the costs is like disappearing down the rabbit hole into Alice’s Wonderland? It is important that we have an assessment of what World Trade Organisation rules would cost, if we had to fall back on them.
My hon. Friend makes an important point, and that is precisely why we have been pushing for proper economic assessments.
I acknowledge that that negotiation target is ambitious, but it is the one the Secretary of State has set, and against which his performance will be measured. It is all very well to speculate on trade deals that might or might not come to pass. The White Paper may tell us that the United States is
“interested in an early trade agreement with the UK”, but there is no indication of how “America first” protectionism will give better market access for UK-manufactured goods. Given the uncertainty, the Government need to do all they can to secure the jobs that depend on trade with our biggest and closet partner: the European Union.
I am listening carefully to the hon. Gentleman. Why does he think that the European Union would not seek a free trade arrangement with the United Kingdom, given our balance of trade with the EU?
I am sure that the European Union will be interested in securing the trade agreement that we seek, but the question is whether the Government can secure it on the ambitious terms that the Secretary of State has himself set.
No. I have made it clear that the right hon. Gentleman has had plenty of floor time. I shall press on.
On the trade deal, it really did not help for the Prime Minister to threaten our friends and neighbours with turning this country into an offshore tax haven if she did not get her way. [Interruption.] Government Members may not like it, but that was the clear threat. It was not a threat against the European Union; it was a threat against the British people. Those voting to leave the EU did so on the understanding that the NHS would receive more money, but that will not be possible if we slash taxes, and this House should not allow that. That is the purpose of new clause 7.
I will make progress, because I am mindful of Mrs Laing’s comments.
New clause 7 should command support across the House. The Government have been working with our partners in the OECD on efforts to avoid a race to the bottom on corporation tax, and new clause 7 endorses that work, while new clause 2 would commit the Government to
“maintaining all existing social, economic, consumer and workers’ rights”, as well as to continuing to collaborate on environmental protection. The Government have paid lip service to those things, but they should understand people’s scepticism about their intentions, because although the White Paper boasts of increasing enforcement budgets for compliance with the national minimum wage, it fails to mention the appallingly low numbers of prosecutions for non-payment of the national minimum wage, or the rife abuse in the care sector, of which the Government are perfectly aware, but on which they have failed to act.
On one of the biggest issues we face, climate change, there is just one small paragraph, which says:
“We want to take this opportunity to develop over time a comprehensive approach to improving our environment in a way that is fit for our specific needs.”
What is it about our air and our seas, and the impact of our carbon emissions on the planet, that is specific—so specific that addressing it cannot be done better through continued collaboration with the European Union?
I guess the right hon. Gentleman has spotted that triggering article 50 will signal our departure from the European Union; he can intervene if I have got that wrong. [Interruption.] Mr Harper is not going to get a chance. Our departure puts at risk the many benefits—
Order. The former Chief Whip, the right hon. Member for Forest of Dean, knows better than anyone how business is conducted in this Chamber, and he knows what happens to people who do not do what they are meant to.
Thank you, Mrs Laing. To continue my point, our departure will clearly have implications for the many environmental, employment and consumer rights that have been won over the past 43 years.
Does my hon. Friend agree that the fact that the Government have been dragged to court on three occasions for failing on the air quality targets set by the EU, and have been negotiating behind the scenes to drop the European standards, means that it is really important that we discuss environmental protections as part of the negotiations?
No; I shall try to make progress. I think Members will acknowledge that I have been fairly generous with my time.
New clause 2 would also make co-operation with the European Union on education, research and science, environmental protection, and the prevention and detection of serious and organised crime and terrorist activity, guiding negotiating principles in the negotiations. The Prime Minister talks the talk on research and science, but will she really commit? There is lots to talk about, but I shall take just one example, which is the basis of new clause 192. Tucked away in the explanatory notes is the revelation that the Bill will trigger our exit from Euratom—the European Atomic Energy Community. Whatever else can be claimed of their intentions, and much has been, I am pretty confident that on
Euratom was established by a distinct treaty, and it would fly in the face of common sense to throw away membership of an organisation that brings such unequivocal benefit, yet the White Paper is as ambiguous on Government’s intention as the Secretary of State was last week; it talks simply of “leaving Euratom”.
My hon. Friend makes a compelling argument about that aspect of scientific research. I do not know whether he attended yesterday’s event held by the all-party group on medical research, which is looking at the impact of Brexit on life sciences. If he did, he will know that it was made absolutely clear that we need to maintain the closest possible ties with the EU in relation to Horizon 2020 funding, collaboration and the free movement of people. Does he not agree that the Government need to listen if we are to preserve our wonderful scientific research base in this country?
I absolutely do. I was not at that meeting yesterday, but I was at a meeting of medical research charities and other stakeholders in the field of medical research on Monday, at which they made precisely that point. Indeed, they mentioned that we needed to ensure that we had the right relationship, starting, ideally, with membership of the European Medicines Agency.
I thank the shadow Minister for so generously giving way. He probably knows that the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy is in my constituency. People there told me how concerned they were about this issue, but they decided that the amendments to the Bill were not helpful. They said that it was much better to deal with Ministers directly, and to put pressure on the Treasury to achieve their objectives.
The shadow Minister makes a very important point. These hugely important research projects in nuclear and nuclear build have long lead-in times. My concern is that if we trigger notice to leave Euratom, no agreement will be put in place at the end of the two-year period. That could seriously delay those projects and impact on future investment in this country. Does he agree that, at the very least, we need a transitional arrangement, if not continuing membership?
Yes, I do agree; my hon. Friend makes a very important point. I press Ministers to give greater clarity on their intentions, because the Secretary of State has so far been ambiguous.
No, I will not. I should respond to Mrs Laing’s appeal for us to make progress.
It has been suggested that the Government’s reservations about Euratom stem from the fact that the European Court of Justice is the regulatory body for the treaty. If that is so, their obsessional opposition to the Court of Justice leads them to want to rip up our membership of an organisation on which 21% of UK electricity generation relies and that supports a critical industry providing 78,000 jobs; that number is projected to rise to 110,000 by 2021. That membership led to us hosting the biggest nuclear fusion programme in the world in Culham.
I will not give way, because I wish to make progress.
The organisation also helps to ensure nuclear safety. Before the Secretary of State leaves the Chamber, let me tell him that it would be helpful for the Government to explain their intentions. I will give way to him or to the Minister of State, Department for Exiting the European Union, because the people in this country deserve to know what is happening in relation to Euratom; people voting in Copeland in a couple of weeks’ time want to know, as their jobs are on the line. I give the Secretary of State or indeed the Minister the opportunity to intervene on me to make an unambiguous statement that it is the Government’s intention to remain in Euratom.
No, I will not.
Clearly, there is much more to be said about our future relationship. There are many more people who wish to speak and many more amendments to be moved. I will draw my remarks to a close—[Interruption.] It is disappointing for me, too.
Thank you, Mrs Laing. I draw my remarks to a close with the simple point that our new clauses provide a basis for bringing people together around plans that address the concerns of the 100%; supporting them would be a good first step.
I find myself in agreement with new clause 2, which makes perfectly sensible statements about what our negotiating aims should be. I have even better news for the Opposition Front-Bench team: it is a statement of the White Paper policy. Of course we wish to maintain a stable, sustainable, profitable and growing economy, which we have done ever since the Brexit vote. Of course we wish to preserve the peace in Northern Ireland, to have excellent trading arrangements with the European Union for goods and services free of tariff, to have lots of co-operative activities with EU member states and institutions in education, research and science and so forth, and to maintain the important rights and legal protections enshrined in European law. As I understand it, the Government have made it crystal clear in the White Paper and in many statements and answers to questions and responses to debates from the Front Bench that all those things are fundamental to the negotiating aims of the Government.
Having excited the Opposition with my agreement, I need to explain why I will not vote for this new clause. I have two main reasons, which I briefly wish to develop. First, I am happy to accept the promise and the statement of our Front-Bench team, and I advise the Opposition to do the same. Secondly, although the words do not explicitly say, “This is what has to be delivered”, the fact that it is embedded in legislation implies that all these things must be delivered, and some of them are not in the gift of this Government or this Parliament. I return to the point that the Opposition never seem to grasp: we are all united in the aim of ensuring tariff-free trade, but it will be decided by the other 27 members, not by this Parliament or by Ministers.
That is a very powerful point. I could add others. It is a great pity that it does not mention the opportunity to have a decent fishing policy. It certainly does not talk about having a sensible immigration policy. The Opposition still do not understand that we have to remove the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice if this Parliament is to be free to have a fishing policy that helps to restore the fishing grounds of Scotland and England, and to have a policy that makes sensible provision for people of skills, talent and interest to come into our country, but that ensures that we can have some limit on the numbers.
I heard the right hon. Gentleman’s wish list at the beginning of his speech. Has he grasped the fact that that wish list is actually encapsulated in two words: single market?
No, it clearly is not. The hon. Gentleman has not been listening to what I have been saying. The whole point about the single market is that it does not allow us to have a sensible fishing policy or a sensible borders policy, which are two notable omissions from the list, which, fortunately, were not absent from the White Paper or from the Government’s thinking.
Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would like to reconsider what he just said. He said the whole point about the single market is that it does not allow us to have a sensible fishing policy, but Norway is in the single market in the European economic area, but not in the common fisheries policy. It controls its own fisheries policy, which he would know if he had read this excellent document, “Scotland’s Place in Europe”.
Well, why have we not had a sensible fishing policy for the past 40 years? It is because we have been a full member of the EU and its single market. What is agreed across this House—even by some members of the Scottish National party—is that we want maximum tariff-free, barrier-free access to the internal market. However, what is not on offer from the other 27 members is for us to stay in the single market, but not to comply with all the other things with which we have to comply as a member of the EU. There is no separate thing called the single market; it is a series of laws that go over all sorts of boundaries and barriers. If we withdraw from the EU, we withdraw from the single market.
The right hon. Gentleman’s example was of fishing policy, so does he agree as a point of fact that Norway is in the single market but pursues its own independent fishing policy? Yes or no?
I agree that Norway decided to sacrifice control of her borders to get certain other things from a different kind of relationship with the EU, but we do not wish to join the EEA because we do not wish to sacrifice control over our borders. That is straightforward.
Norway is now part of a freedom of movement area far bigger than that, and that was part of its deal. It also has to pay in a lot of money that British voters clearly do not wish to pay, so why would we want to do that?
That is quite right, and they also ignore the whole of the rest of the world. It so happens that we have a profitable, balanced trade with the rest of the world. We are often in surplus with the rest of the world overall and we are in massive deficit in goods with the EU alone. There is much more scope for growth in our trade with the rest of the world than there is with the EU, partly because the rest of the world is growing much faster overall than the EU and partly because we have the chance to have a much bigger proportion of the market there than we have, whereas we obviously have quite an advanced trade with the EU that is probably in decline because of the obvious economic problems in the euro area.
Does the right hon. Gentleman note that although the shadow Minister made no mention of the importance of controlling immigration, his new clause 2 mentions “preserving peace in Northern Ireland”, although he never mentioned one word of it? Does the right hon. Gentleman accept that the shadow Minister perhaps understands that Brexit has no implications for peace in Northern Ireland? It is not a cause of increased terrorism. Indeed, the terrorists never fought to stay in the EU; they fought to get out of Britain.
First, let me congratulate my right hon. Friend on recognising that there is nothing in new clause 2 that is remotely objectionable to either leavers or remainers as an objective for the country in the forthcoming negotiations. If tariff-free access to the single market is desirable, does he accept that access to any market is not possible without accepting obedience of that market’s regulations? Otherwise, there are regulatory barriers. We need some sort of dispute procedure. If we start to reject the European Court of Justice and say that all the regulations must be British and that we are free to alter them when we feel like it, we are not pursuing the objectives in new clause 2 with which my right hon. Friend expresses complete agreement.
Of course there is a dispute resolution procedure when we enter a free trade agreement or any other trade arrangement. There is a very clear one in the WTO. We will register the best deal we can get with the EU under our WTO membership and it will be governed by normal WTO resolution procedures, with which we have no problem. The problem with the ECJ is that it presumes to strike down the wishes of the British people and good statute law made by this House of Commons on a wide range of issues, which means that we are no longer sovereign all the time we are in it.
The right hon. Gentleman argues that our membership of the EU inhibits our ability to trade with the expanding economies of the rest of the world. If so, will he explain why Germany exports nearly four times as much as we do to China and exceeds our exports to both India and Brazil, the other fast-growing economies, and why France also exports more to China and Brazil than we do? What is it that they do in the EU that we will do when we come out?
It is quite obvious that Germany will export more at the early stages of development in an emerging market economy, because it tends to export capital equipment of the kind that is needed to industrialise, which is what China bought in the last decade. Now that China is a much richer country, she is going to have a massive expansion of services and that is where we have a strong relative advantage in that if we have the right kind of arrangement with China we will accelerate the growth of our exports, which China will now want, more rapidly. The hon. Gentleman must understand that the EU imposes massive and, I think, dangerous barriers against the emerging market world for their agricultural produce. The kind of deals we can offer to an emerging market country, saying that we will buy their much cheaper food by taking the tariff barriers off their food products in return for much better access to their service and industrial goods markets where we have products that they might like to buy—[Interruption.] I hear my right hon. Friend Mr Vaizey express a worry about British farmers, and British farmers, would, of course, have a subsidy regime based on environmental factors, in the main, which we would want to continue.
What impact does the right hon. Gentleman think that that would have on Welsh agriculture and the rural economy in Wales?
I just explained that it should boost it. I am sure that more market opportunities will open up for Welsh farmers, but we will also debate in this House how to have a proper support regime. I hope that it will be a support regime that not only rewards environmental objectives but is friendly to promoting the greater efficiencies that can come from more farm mechanisation and enlargement, which will be an important part of our journey to try to eliminate some of the massive deficit we run in food with the rest of the EU while being more decent to the emerging world—the poor countries of the world to which we deliberately deny access to our markets.
May I take it from what the right hon. Gentleman has just said that in any free trade deal with New Zealand he will continue to ensure that sheep farmers in this country are not sacrificed in the interests of getting good access to the New Zealand market for our financial services?
I am sure that that would be a very appropriate part of the discussions our country holds with New Zealand and Australia. I broadly take the view—I thought Labour was now of this view—that getting rid of tariffs was a good idea. Labour has spent all of the past six months saying how we must not have tariffs on our trade with Europe, but now I discover it wants tariffs on trade with everywhere else in the world. It is arguing a large contradiction.
My right hon. Friend is making a very powerful case. Does he not agree that it is truly remarkable that Germany makes three times as much money on coffee as developing countries because of tariffs and that we are noticing a problem with out-of-season fruit and vegetables in our supermarkets in part because of the pressures applied to producers in north Africa? It is no good colleagues on the Opposition Benches having a go at those who are concerned about international development assistance if they are prepared to tolerate such tariff barriers, which act against the interests of developing countries.
I think that we have teased out something very important in this debate. The Opposition want no barriers against ferocious competition from agriculture on the continent, which has undoubtedly damaged an awful lot of Welsh, Scottish and English farms, but they want maximum tariff barriers to trade with the rest of the world so that we still have to buy dear food. That does not seem to be an appealing package.
My right hon. Friend might be interested to know that just last week I visited Randall Parker Foods in my constituency, a company that slaughters and processes several hundred thousand Welsh lambs every year and that is salivating at the chance of opening up the US market, in particular, where Welsh lamb is under-represented and where there is huge potential for us to export more than we do.
I congratulate my right hon. Friend on his great speech, but I want to ask him one question that goes to the merits of the new clause. It says that the Prime Minister “shall give an undertaking”, which is clearly a mandatory requirement under statute, and which itself calls for judicial review if somebody decides to do that. However, in all my time in this place, I have never seen a clause proposing the preserving of peace in Northern Ireland as a matter of public interest and of judicial review. It is unbelievably unworkable and completely contrary to all the assumptions that one might rely on for a decent provision.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for drawing me back to my central point. He kindly said that I have made a good speech, but I have just responded to everybody else making their own speeches and riding their own hobby horses. I hope they have enjoyed giving those hobby horses a good ride.
To summarise my brief case, the aims of the new clause are fine. They happen to be agreed by the Government. However, it is disappointing that the Opposition have left out some important aims that matter to the British people: taking back control of our borders and laws, and dealing with the problem of the Court immediately spring to mind, but there are many others. They leave out, as they always do, the huge opportunities to have so many policies in areas such fishing and farming that would be better for the industry and for consumers. They have now revealed a fundamental contradiction in wanting completely tariff-free trade in Europe, but massive tariff barriers everywhere else, and do not really seem to think through the logic.
My conclusion is that there is nothing wrong with the aims. We need the extra aims that the Government have rightly spelt out. It would be quite silly to incorporate negotiating aims in legislation. I believe in the Government’s good faith. We are mercifully united in wanting tariff-free, barrier-free trade with the rest of Europe. It is not in the gift of this House, let alone the gift of Ministers, to deliver that, but if people on the continent are sensible they will want that because they get a lot more out of this trade than we do. They must understand that the most-favoured nation tariffs are low or non-existent on the things we sell to them, but can be quite penal on the things they have been particularly successful at selling to us. The aims are a great idea, but it is a silly idea to put them into law.
This group of amendments is about the UK’s priorities for the negotiations on withdrawal from the European Union. I will talk about Scotland’s priorities. The Scottish National party has tabled amendment 54 and new clause 141 on the situation of Gibraltar, in which we deal with the fact that the Bill has omitted to include Gibraltar in its remit, which is rather curious given the great love and affection that Government Members have for Gibraltar.
Those of us who are members of the Exiting the European Union Committee were very impressed by the evidence given to us a couple of weeks ago by the Chief Minister of Gibraltar, Fabian Picardo. He emphasised that Gibraltar’s main concern is to preserve its sovereignty and connection with the United Kingdom. Unlike some of us, he is very happy to be part of the red, white and blue Brexit that the Prime Minister talks about. It is important to take Gibraltar’s concerns into account.
The hon. Gentleman, to whom I will give way in a moment, has a long and admirable commitment to the people of Gibraltar and their interests. He has also tabled amendments on the matter, including amendment 29, which I am sure he will tell us about in detail in due course. It would put upon the British Government a requirement to consult Gibraltar before triggering article 50.
I will not make a speech now, as I hope to be called later. I just want to emphasise that there is an important need to protect the interests of Gibraltar. As the hon. and learned Lady said, the Bill does not refer to Gibraltar, but it was specifically mentioned in an amendment when the legislation to hold the referendum was agreed. The people of Gibraltar voted in the referendum. Surely the Bill should be amended to reflect the need for Gibraltar’s interests also to be considered.
Absolutely. I have with me a letter from the Deputy Chief Minister of Gibraltar, who says that he
“can confirm that the clause on the application of the Article 50 Bill to Gibraltar would be politically useful to us here. It would also follow on logically from the original consent that we already gave to the extension of the actual UK referendum Act to Gibraltar.”
I will come back to that in more detail in a moment.
Before my hon. and learned Friend moves on, I think it is important to back up Mike Gapes. Gibraltar’s connection to the United Kingdom and being British should be reflected in this House. I have visited Gibraltar, and hon. Members should think seriously about supporting his amendment because it would send a signal to Gibraltar that it is respected here, and by Members on both sides of the House. Please listen to the hon. Gentleman.
Indeed. I totally agree with my hon. Friend. The Deputy Chief Minister of Gibraltar also said in his letter:
“I understand that this amendment mirrors a number of others which have also been tabled seeking to make clear its application”— that is the application of the Act—
“to Gibraltar in the same way. This would strengthen Gibraltar’s case to be mentioned in the Article 50 letter.”
Of course, Scotland shares with Gibraltar a desire to be mentioned in the article 50 letter.
The big priority for Scotland is that the British Government take into account the Scottish Government’s request for a differentiated deal for Scotland. We tabled new clause 145, which would require the British Government to commit to such a differentiated deal before triggering article 50. That amendment has been held over until today, but we will not push it to a vote because we are prepared to give the UK Government one last chance to respond to the document, “Scotland’s Place in Europe”, which was laid before the British Government before Christmas, some seven weeks ago.
I will when I have finished my point. No formal response to “Scotland’s Place in Europe” has yet been received. Karl McCartney is a member of the Exiting the European Union Committee, as I am. We heard detailed evidence about the document this morning from the Scottish Government Minister responsible for negotiations with the United Kingdom. It is a far more detailed document in its proposals than anything the British Government have been prepared to produce so far.
I thank my hon. and learned Friend for giving way; as a fellow member of the Brexit Select Committee, I hope that she would treat me as a friend, rather than as just an hon. Member sitting on the opposite side of the House. I do not disagree with her when it comes to Gibraltar and maybe even Scotland, but we are acting on behalf of the whole UK. If there were to be a list in the article 50 letter, are there any other places, such as the Isle of Man or Jersey, that she would like to see included on it? Would she like to see a long list of places?
The hon. Gentleman is obviously not aware that the arrangements that apply to the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands are rather different than those that apply to Scotland, because they are not in the European Union. Perhaps he would like to read “Scotland’s Place in Europe”, which would explain that to him. Some differentiated agreements do, in fact, exist within the wider UK and Crown dependencies. Gibraltar is in the European Union, but not in the customs union. I will return to the matter of Gibraltar in due course.
My hon. and learned Friend will remember this direct quotation from The Daily Telegraph:
“Theresa May has indicated that…she said she will not trigger the formal process for leaving the EU until there is an agreed ‘UK approach’ backed by Scotland.”
Surely Government Members do not intend for the Prime Minister to break her word of
I am sure that Government Members would be loth to encourage the Prime Minister to break her word—[Interruption.] Conservative Members are shouting, “No veto.” We are not asking for a veto. This document is a compromise whereby Scotland could remain in the single market while the rest of the UK exits it. Perhaps hon. Gentlemen on the Government Benches who are shaking their heads and mumbling about vetoes would like to get their iPads out and look up the difference between a veto and a compromise; it is rather a radical difference.
I will make some progress and then I will take some more interventions, perhaps from people who have not yet spoken.
The Scottish Government have made a proposal, and we are waiting for it to be taken seriously. The signs that the compromise put forward by Scotland will be taken seriously by the Government and, indeed, by this House have not been promising so far this week. Not a single amendment to the Bill has been accepted, despite the numerous amendments tabled by all sorts of different groups of Members, many with significant cross-party support. Even yesterday, when the Government were forced into announcing a significant concession, they were extraordinarily reluctant to commit that concession to writing. We all know that it is because they do not want to amend the Act: they have fought tooth and nail through the courts and in this House to avoid the sort of scrutiny that those of them who seek to leave the European Union have been trumpeting for years. They tell us how fantastic this wonderful, sovereign mother of Parliaments is, but we are berated for having the effrontery to attempt to amend a Bill. It is preposterous.
No, I will not give way. We heard ample from the right hon. Gentleman the other day.
This Bill is being railroaded through this House with scant regard for democratic process. Here is an example: on Monday, when we were debating the proposals that concerned the devolved Administrations, including Scotland, only one of my hon. Friends got to speak. When I attempted to double that tally, I was told to sit down, shut up and know my place. I do not mind being insulted and affronted in this House, but what people need to remember is that it is not just me; it is the people who elected me who are being insulted and affronted when I am prevented from speaking about proposals on which my name appears.
Government Members are extraordinarily relaxed about the effect this sort of thing has on Scottish public opinion. I do not know whether they take the Herald newspaper—it is rather difficult to get hold of in the House of Commons—but if they do, they will see that today’s headline is “Support for independence surges on hard Brexit vow” .
No, I will not.
Backing for a yes vote in another independence referendum has risen to 49% on the back of the hard Brexit vow, and that is when no referendum is even on the table and we are still seeking our reasonable compromise. Hon. Members should make no mistake—it gives me great pleasure to say this—that the barracking by Government Members and the preventing of SNP MPs from speaking in this House play right into our hands and result in headlines saying that support for independence is surging.
On a point of order, Mrs Laing. On Monday, I spoke about the amendments on devolution arrangements. I seem to remember that I took many interventions, including from the hon. and learned Lady. She was not, therefore, prevented from speaking; indeed, I seem to remember that the person in the Chair at the time—[Interruption.]
Opposition Members should let me finish making my point of order to the Chair. The person who was in the Chair made great efforts to facilitate the hon. and learned Lady’s speech, but there was then a kerfuffle when she objected to the amount of time she got. How can we put the record straight about the fact that she had a fair opportunity on Monday?
The right hon. Gentleman does not need to put the record straight, because it is a matter of record. I have myself looked in Hansard, and by the simple use of my arithmetical powers, I have worked out how many people managed to speak, for how long they spoke and what contributions they made. Now, the hon. and learned Lady is asserting that she was prevented from speaking. Because there was a time limit on the debate and the hon. and learned Lady came quite late in the debate, there was not an awful lot of time left in which she could speak. But I think that, in saying that she was prevented from speaking, the hon. and learned Lady is making a rhetorical point rather than an arithmetical point, because her contribution to the debate has been considerable. She will note that she has been given the opportunity very early in today’s proceedings to speak, and I look forward to hearing her speak to the amendments to which she has put her name, and that is what we should stick to.
I am very grateful, Mrs Laing, for your clarification. Indeed, I am speaking early today, because I am leading for the third party in this House, and it is my right to speak early in the debate.
The right hon. Gentleman is terribly anxious to make an intervention. In order to put him out of his misery, I would very much like to hear what he has to say now.
I am very grateful to the hon. and learned Lady. She was waxing lyrical about the importance her party places on Gibraltar, but when I was listening to the evidence from the Chief Minister of Gibraltar, he was rather more committed to the continuance of the United Kingdom than the Scottish National party, which does not seem to be committed to it.
That is called democracy. The people of Gibraltar vote for parties that wish to remain part of the United Kingdom; the people of Scotland vote for parties that wish to be independent—that is a statement of fact. I am very happy to endorse Gibraltar’s right to self-determination—just as I am happy to endorse Scotland’s, or indeed any nation’s, right to self-determination.
Just on a point of clarity, it should be understood by both sides that Gibraltar is not in the United Kingdom. Gibraltar does not want to be in the United Kingdom. It wants an association with Britain, which is very different. The United Kingdom dates only from December 1922. Britain is little bitty older than that. Gibraltar does not have a Member in this Parliament because it is not in the United Kingdom. It has an association with the United Kingdom. It is independent of the United Kingdom. That is something I would quite like for Scotland: British, but not in the UK.
I am very grateful to my hon. Friend, who, like Mike Gapes, has a long association with Gibraltar, for clarifying the situation for those who appeared not to be aware of it.
I will not at the moment, thank you.
I will come back to Gibraltar in a moment, but I want to continue on the subject of Scotland’s priority in these negotiations. The document I am holding—“Scotland’s Place in Europe”—puts forward a highly considered and detailed case to the British Government. As I said, we are still waiting for any kind of considered or detailed response. This morning, the Exiting the European Union Committee heard evidence from a number of Scottish legal experts, in addition to the Minister, Mike Russell. We were told by Professor Nicola McEwen that the proposals in this document are credible and merit examination.
What the Scottish Government are asking for from the British Government is no more than the British Government are asking for from the other 27 member states of the European Union, and that is for there to be consideration in negotiations of our position, and our position is somewhat less substantial than the position the British Government want to put forward in Europe.
I am going to make a little progress, and then I will give way.
The Scottish Government are looking for a response to this document, and that is why we are not going to push new clause 145, which has been held over to today for a vote. A meeting is taking place this afternoon of the Joint Ministerial Committee, and we are still prepared for the time being to put faith in the promise the Prime Minister made, which my right hon. Friend Alex Salmond has just reminded us of, about Scotland’s wishes being taken into account. However, Members of this House should make no mistake: we will expect the Prime Minister to deliver on that promise. We will expect—just as Gibraltar does—to have our position put forward in the article 50 letter. If that does not happen, and the Prime Minister breaks her promise, we will hold another independence referendum, and on the back of the Herald headline, things are looking pretty good for that at the moment—we are at nearly 50%, and not a single word has been uttered yet in the campaign for a second independence referendum.
The hon. and learned Lady referenced the evidence session we had this morning with her colleague from the Scottish Parliament. Does she agree, however, that there were a number of unanswered questions in the Committee, including on what regulations Scotland may be subject to if it were in the European economic area; what the impact might be on the trade relationship with the rest of the UK; what the controls at the border might be, and what they might need to look like if Scotland had free movement but the rest of the UK did not; and what payment might need to be made by Scotland, including how much that would be and where it would come from? There was some confusion over those points.
I do not agree with the hon. Lady. The transcript will be available shortly, and when hon. Members read it they will see that my colleague who is a Minister in the Scottish Government repeatedly told Members that the answers to the questions they were asking were in this document. It was rather surprising that one member of the Committee admitted that he had not read the document but berated the Scottish Minister for not having answered questions that are answered in the document he has not read. I hope that the British Government are studying this document, as there is perhaps quite a lot to learn from it.
I have got some news for the right hon. Gentleman: when the United Kingdom Government go to negotiate with EU’s 27 member states about exiting the EU, they will be looking for a compromise. At the moment, the UK Government are looking for things that the EU member states are not willing to give, but that is not preventing them from going into a negotiation—that is how negotiations work.
I urge the right hon. Gentleman to read this document. If he had read it, he would know—I had to correct him on this earlier—that although Norway is in the single market, it is not in the common fisheries policy. What Scotland is looking for in this compromise document is an arrangement similar to that of Norway. I visited Oslo recently. The Norwegians seem to be doing pretty well on the back of that arrangement—it looks as though they have a prosperous and successful economy.
If the right hon. Gentleman had made the same pledge as the Prime Minister made, I would expect him, as a right hon. Member, to have kept to it. I saw the evidence this morning, and I heard the Scottish Parliament Minister, Mr Russell, give the example of Liechtenstein and Switzerland. Liechtenstein is in the European economic area; Switzerland is not. They have a frictionless border—let us put it that way—just like the border the Prime Minister promises for Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
Many of the questions that hon. Members in this House raise with the Scottish Government and with the Scottish National party about how these matters might be managed are answered in this document, which is the product of research and consultation that has been going on in the many months since the Brexit vote. While the British Government have been going round in circles trying to decide whether they want to be in the single market or in the customs union, the Scottish Government have been looking at a considered compromise and answer to the dilemma in which we find ourselves whereby the majority of the people of Scotland wish to remain part of the EU but the rest of the UK wishes to exit.
A few minutes ago, my hon. and learned Friend made a really important point about Norway and the benefits that could accrue particularly to my constituency from a Norwegian-style deal that would help our fishing interests, but also protect the interests of our fish processors and all the people who depend on export markets, most of which are in the EU at the present time.
Indeed. It is no secret that of the minority of people in Scotland who voted to leave the EU, a significant proportion was made up of people working in the fishing industry, including fishermen, because, as we heard earlier, they have received such a bad deal over the years as a result of inept negotiations by the British Government on the common fisheries policy—negotiations that Scottish Government Ministers have been kept out of. The great advantage of this compromise proposal for fishermen is that, while coming out of the common fisheries policy, they would still have access to the single market. When I was in Norway, I saw a presentation about how the Norwegian fishing industry is progressing on the back of such an arrangement, and, believe you me, it is doing significantly better than the Scottish fishing industry.
Is not the fundamental difficulty with the document’s proposal about the possibility of Scotland remaining in the single market the fact that there is absolutely no evidence that I have seen thus far—perhaps the hon. and learned Lady has—that any one of the other 27 member states, never mind the British Government’s view, has indicated that it would consent to such an arrangement, given that all the other parallels, the Faroes aside, relate to countries, which is not the case in relation to this proposal?
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for raising this issue, because it highlights the reason I am belabouring this point. For Scotland to get the compromise deal that we are proposing, the United Kingdom Government first need to accept it as something they would then put forward to the other 27 member states. The other 27 member states are waiting for the United Kingdom to put its money where its mouth is and come to the table and negotiate. They need us to put our own house in order before we do that. [Interruption.] Government Members may not like it, but the Prime Minister made a promise to involve Scotland in the negotiations and to look at all the options for Scotland. We are withholding our right to force our amendment to a vote today in the hope that the Prime Minister will be as good as her word. People in Scotland are watching and waiting.
This document has widespread support. It has the merit of uniting leavers and remainers because it has a compromise that appeals to both sides.
Does the hon. and learned Lady agree that in the event that Scotland was in the single market and England, Wales and Northern Ireland were not, industry would move from England and Wales to Scotland to have tariff-free access to the single market? Similarly, industry would move from Northern Ireland to southern Ireland, ripping open the peace process, which, although it was denied earlier, will indeed be ripped open.
The SNP’s position on the peace process has been made very clear in this House: we would wish to do everything to support it.
Moreover, we do not wish the rest of the UK to suffer as a result of coming out of the single market. That is why the principal suggestion in this document is that the whole United Kingdom should remain in the single market. I am terribly sorry on behalf of Members representing English and Welsh constituencies that the Prime Minister has now ruled that off the table, but I am sure those Members will understand why we, representing Scotland, must try to see whether we can get a compromise deal for Scotland.
Does the hon. and learned Lady recognise that if the Government did accept that they could negotiate a separate place for Scotland within the single market, that could equally read across in respect of Northern Ireland, and would be particularly compatible in terms of the strand 2 arrangements and upholding the Good Friday agreement? In many important ways, it would go to the heart of upholding the peace, not upsetting any basis for it.
Indeed. As usual, the hon. Gentleman makes his point with great force and great clarity. The difficulty is that in the Committee on Exiting the European Union this morning we heard from experts who have been observing the process of so-called negotiations between the British Government and the devolved nations in the Joint Ministerial Committee that these negotiations lack transparency and have not really made any significant progress. That is a matter of regret not just for Scotland, but for Northern Ireland and for Wales.
Is my hon. and learned Friend as surprised as I am, given the apparent suggestion that it would be to Scotland’s economic advantage to be in the single market, that we are debating leaving the EU in the first place? Surely what is good for Scotland would be good for the whole UK in this respect.
Indeed. We made it clear in this document that we felt it would be to the advantage of the whole United Kingdom to remain in the single market. Unfortunately, the Prime Minister, in what my right hon. Friend Alex Salmond has described as a very foolish negotiating tactic, has ruled that out from the outset.
I am going to make a bit of progress because I am conscious that a lot of other people are wishing to speak, and, as I said, I want to move on to deal with our amendments on the topic of Gibraltar.
As the hon. Member for Ilford South pointed out, Gibraltar was covered by the European Union Referendum Act 2015. Section 12(1) of the Act extended to the United Kingdom and Gibraltar. There was an over-whelming vote in Gibraltar to remain. When Fabian Picardo, the Chief Minister of Gibraltar, gave evidence to the Committee on Exiting the European Union, he explained that Gibraltar already has a differential agreement whereby it is in the EU but not in the customs union. This has been working well for the people of Gibraltar. They would like to be involved in a Brexit deal that guaranteed continued access to the single market. They do not want to be forgotten. In the letter I quoted from earlier, the Gibraltarian Government support these amendments to get Gibraltar brought within the ambit of the Bill so that Gibraltar’s interests can be taken into account in the triggering of article 50.
Will the Minister tell us why Gibraltar was omitted from the Bill? Was it, God forbid, an oversight—if so, the Government now have the opportunity to correct that, with the assistance of the SNP—or was it a deliberate omission of Gibraltar from the ambit of the Bill? If it was a deliberate omission, how does that sit with assurances that the British Government have been giving to Gibraltar that its interests will be protected?
The hon. Member for Ilford South will speak with greater knowledge than I can about Gibraltar. The purpose of the amendments is to ensure that Gibraltar is not forgotten. We feel that there may have been an oversight, so we are attempting to provide assistance. However, if there has not been an oversight and the omission is deliberate, we need to know why and hon. Members need to consider whether it is appropriate to rectify the situation.
A number of other amendments would ameliorate the Bill. Paul Blomfield spoke ably from the Front Bench about new clause 2 and other amendments. I find new clause 2 to be slightly disappointing, because it does not enumerate the interests of Scotland as a particular consideration to be taken into account. We are not going to push new clause 145 to a vote, because we are hopeful that today’s Joint Ministerial Committee might have a fruitful outcome.
I am grateful to my hon. and learned Friend for taking Scotland into account. I hope that the promise made by the Prime Minister on
Order. I give the hon. Gentleman a lot of leeway, but it is this Bill that we are discussing right now. We cannot go on to previous Prime Ministers and previous Bills. I am sure that Joanna Cherry, whose legal expertise is among the best in the House, will find a way of saying what she wants to say.
I am bringing my remarks to a conclusion, Mrs Laing, because I am conscious that others wish to speak. I want to make it clear that the SNP broadly welcomes many of the amendments, including new clause 100, which would secure women’s rights and equality. We believe that the EU is about more than just a single trading market; it is also about the social ties that bind us and the social protections that it guarantees.
On equality and protection, does my hon. and learned Friend agree that what we have seen since we were elected to this place does not fill us with any hope that this Government, when they have their great power grab, will uphold the protections that the EU has brought? We will fight for our citizens’ rights.
I agree with my hon. Friend. That concern is shared by Members of many parties in this House. We support any amendments that would underline the social aspects of the EU. For example, new clause 166 centres on the rights of young people, who benefit so much from the important ability to live, work, travel and study across Europe. Of course, the SNP fought for 16 and 17-year-olds to get the vote in the referendum, but that was not to be. Perhaps the result would have been different if it had been allowed.
Later today, we will vote on amendments carried over from earlier in the week, including the SNP’s new clause 27, which would protect the rights of EU nationals. I think that the widely shared view in the House is that we ought not to trigger article 50 until we have given EU nationals living in the United Kingdom some assurance on their rights. Furthermore, the Exiting the European Union Committee has received evidence from representatives not only of EU nationals in the UK, but, perhaps more importantly for some Members, of UK nationals living abroad. The witnesses felt that a unilateral declaration of good will from the British Government—who, after all, caused the problem by holding the referendum and allowing the leave vote to happen—to guarantee the rights of EU nationals in the United Kingdom would be met by a reciprocal undertaking from other member states, as opposed to using individual human beings as bargaining chips. [Interruption.] If Mr Lilley wants to intervene I will be happy to take that intervention, but he obviously does not; he just wants to shout at me from a sedentary position.
“the provisions of the… Bill are compatible with the Convention rights”.
I am not usually in the habit of giving out free legal advice, but I am happy to do so on this occasion. If the Bill proceeds and we trigger article 50 without taking any steps to protect the rights of EU nationals living in the UK, the British Government could find themselves facing a challenge—and possibly claims—under the Human Rights Act on the Bill’s compatibility with articles 8 and 14 of the European convention on human rights. I know that many Government Members do not hold any great affection for the ECHR, but when we exit the EU we will still be signatories to the convention and the British courts will still be bound by it. I offer the Government a helpful word of warning: if they want to save taxpayers’ money, they might want to think carefully about addressing that issue before they are met with a slew of legal claims.
EU-national workers in science and research are key to research and industry in our society. We should be begging those world-class researchers to stay. We should be bending over backwards instead of using them as bargaining chips, because we are damaging good will and how they feel valued in our society.
Indeed. My hon. Friend takes great interest in teaching, research and science, which was her own field before she came to Parliament. Many Scottish universities, including Herriot-Watt and Napier in my constituency, are extremely concerned about the brain drain that could occur as a result of the failure to reassure EU nationals living in the UK about their rights. With that, I repeat my support for the SNP’s amendment 54 and new clause 141 in relation to Gibraltar.
I am grateful for the chance to speak briefly. It is a great pleasure to follow Joanna Cherry, whom I gather felt that she had not previously had the opportunity to put her points. She has taken about 10% of the time allocated to debate this group of amendments, so I hope that she feels that she has now had the opportunity to make her case, and she did so extremely eloquently.
I want to cover a few bases. [Interruption.] There is a lot of noise coming from the Opposition Benches; it is quite hard to think or speak, but I will plough on. I feel extremely strongly about the rights of EU citizens living in the United Kingdom. I had a meeting in my constituency on Friday, in which I discussed Brexit with about 150 people, including a lot of people from different EU countries, because there are a great many scientific research and high-tech international companies based in my constituency.
These are people who contribute. I note that people love to talk about the economic contribution made by citizens from Europe, but I also deeply value their social contribution. They are incredible people who not only provide world-class expertise to many businesses and science, but make a huge contribution to the communities in my constituency. They are obviously devastated by what has happened and they seek reassurance from the Government.
I am not going to support any particular amendments, because I think that would mess up the Bill and that they would not necessarily achieve what they seek to achieve. I am also deeply reassured by the Home Secretary’s letter, which was circulated earlier, and by the Prime Minister’s repeated comments about how she is going to make it an absolute priority to get clarity on the rights of EU citizens.
The right hon. Gentleman said that there was a letter from the Home Secretary. Was it a letter for Conservative Members only? Now that he has referred to it in the House, is it not appropriate to put it on the Table or in the Library for all hon. Members to see?
I may have made a faux pas. It was addressed “Dear Colleague”, and may have just been sent to me. It might be private correspondence between me and the Home Secretary, for me to circulate to my European constituents, who are among the most talented Europeans living in this country.
I believe it is appropriate for an hon. Member to refer to whichever document he or she might care to quote. It would be a matter for Mr Vaizey whether he makes any more of the immediate quotation he wishes to use from any particular correspondence. We all have private correspondence.
The right hon. Gentleman is absolutely right, as ever—[Interruption]—or as often. If a letter or any document was produced by a Government Minister in his or her capacity as a Government Minister that was intended for the information of the whole House, it would indeed have to be placed in the Library or the Vote Office, or distributed on the Benches. Hypothetically, if there is a letter—I do not know whether there is or not—addressed privately to an hon. Member, it is a matter for the hon. Member.
I am already in enough trouble with my Whips, Mrs Laing, so I suppose another faux pas will not get me to a much better place. I have only been in the House for 11 years, so I am still learning the ropes.
My right hon. Friend has been here only as long as I have, so we are clearly both still learning the ropes. I wanted to assist him. The Prime Minister has been clear on the record that she intends to take a very generous approach. To go back to the point made by Joanna Cherry, part of the roadblock is that some EU member states will not negotiate with us until we have triggered article 50. In fact, the quicker we get the Bill on the statute book and get article 50 triggered, the quicker we can get that arrangement in place and reassure EU nationals in Britain and British citizens overseas.
That is an excellent point. A difficult road lies ahead and we will have to make some pretty unsavoury compromises. They are understandable compromises, but we should make no mistake that the mood of the House among many colleagues who supported Brexit is to move as quickly as possible to provide reassurance to European citizens in this country. I wanted to use this opportunity, before I got mired in a procedural quagmire and moved closer to the Chief Whip’s tarantula, to make it as clear as possible that I stand four-square behind European Union citizens living in this country and their contribution.
We have heard much talk in the House, particularly from the Prime Minister, about the idea of global leadership. Will the right hon. Gentleman explain precisely his definition of global leadership if it does not mean being a leader and standing up for EU nationals living in this country?
The hon. Lady makes an interesting point and allows me to segue to the next issue, which is Britain’s global leadership in free trade.
Hon. Members who were lucky enough to hear me speak on Second Reading know that the constant talk of free trade treaties is driving me round the bend. As a Minister, I took part in the state visit from President Xi, and as a Member of Parliament I was in Westminster Hall to hear the address from President Obama—I know I should not stray on to the subject of presidential addresses in Westminster Hall, which is a dangerous road to go down—and I fail to understand those who cite the lack of British influence that has existed while we have been members of the European Union. Heads of State and Presidents from countries all over the world are only too happy to come and visit.
I am a loyal Conservative Member, but the point made about Germany’s trade with China was well made. People refer constantly to free trade treaties. I hope we will be able to negotiate them within a matter of days of leaving the European Union, but it strikes me that people are unaware of what happens in the real world if they think that our farmers, who are the best example, will simply sign up without a murmur to free trade treaties with countries such as the United States, which has very different welfare standards from ours. I understand the arguments of those who support free trade with, for example, developing nations, and I understand people who say that we should open our markets to them and support our farmers in different ways, but our farmers will have severe concerns. We also have to wonder whether developing nations have the same welfare standards as us.
I entirely agree and support my right hon. Friend on his first point. On his second point, does he agree that many hon. Members, while wishing the very best, worry that those deals and transactions will take a long time to fulfil, particularly in the case of the farmers, and that there is therefore the great danger of being in limbo-land?
That worries me, and I thank my right hon. Friend for making the point.
This is obviously a remoan. I know it is a remoan. I am a remainer just getting things off my chest. It is probably not very constructive, but it strikes me as bizarre that we have given up extraordinary influence over a market of 500 million people to sail off to negotiate free trade deals that will not be without controversy.
I would not dream of correcting my right hon. Friend, but I would ask him this question. When it appeared that we were going to stay in the EU, was he concerned about the terms of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and what that would have done to British farmers? Was he concerned about the trade agreement with the Canadians, of which we have today voted to take note? Was he concerned about those things, or is he concerned only when it feeds his remaining remoan tendencies?
I did not accept the argument that TTIP would undermine our NHS, and I did not receive any representations from my farmers about its impact on them. I was concerned about the French introducing cultural protections, but felt that we were getting close to a free trade agreement thanks to the negotiating power of the European Union.
Further to the intervention from my right hon. Friend Mr Lilley, I wonder whether the logical extension of the argument of my right hon. Friend Mr Vaizey is that we should withdraw from the World Trade Organisation. For example, is it fair that the textile workers of Leicester were exposed through our WTO membership to the textile industry in China, which has largely meant a transfer of that industry to that country?
My argument is simply that it will be very difficult to negotiate the free trade agreements that people talk about. It is a very unconstructive and unhelpful argument and will not take us very far. It is more therapy on my part because I feel so frustrated that the tone of the debate since the referendum has been so awful and unpleasant; that we forget that 48% of the country voted to stay in the European Union; and that we are unable to build a consensus on the way forward. The remain part of the House and the country has, by and large, accepted that the referendum result is clear and decisive, and that it will take us out of the EU. We want to work extremely constructively to make that happen, despite my earlier remarks. We are urging all sides to have a realistic assessment of how difficult it will be so that we can work together in the national interest.
The right hon. Gentleman is being generous with his time. I agree with his point about trying to reach consensus for the sake of the country. Is he concerned as I am about the protectionism of other countries and the dangers it presents in international trade? After a change of leadership in Nigeria, the Nigerians, on a whim, wrote a list of imports that they would no longer accept, which cut off all existing trade with UK companies, including one in my constituency that exported to Nigeria.
I agree with the hon. Lady and that example reinforces my belief that free trade deals will not be easy to negotiate.
What I am really saying, I suppose, is that my constituents who voted to remain—especially those who come from other European countries—have a great deal of anxiety and want a realisation that we cannot wave a magic wand but that this will need hard pounding. I stand foursquare with the Government on ensuring that we get the best deal possible.
I want to cheer my right hon. Friend up a little and apologise to him as I may have inadvertently failed to invite him to meet the Legatum Institute special trade commissioners who visited Parliament on Monday. The Mexican trade commissioner, who was one of the original North American Free Trade Agreement negotiators, explained to us the danger that NAFTA may need a major renegotiation under President Trump. With talk of the need to get the substance right and then get it through three Parliaments, it sounded as if it would take a terribly long time, but they think it can be concluded by October 2018. The experience of actual trade negotiators who have negotiated such agreements is that they can be done quickly.
I will visit my hon. Friend’s constituency in April, so we can discuss the matter at length as I turn his leave association into a remain one. I know the Legatum Institute well because the chap who has become flavour of the month for his knowledge of trade deals, Shanker Singham, was at school with me, which automatically makes him a dangerous member of the liberal metropolitan elite. It is important that we are aware that one of the Brexiteers’ great champions is a member of the dangerous liberal metropolitan elite—
Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that the danger is that we will be caught between a rock and a hard place? If our farmers lower their standards to compete with American imports under free trade, those standards may then be too low for the foodstuffs to be admitted to the European Union. It would be a difficult place to be.
That is just one of many factors we must take into account.
I have tested the patience of the Committee with my wisecracks, and I now want to talk about my main, very serious issue—the withdrawal from Euratom, which will directly affect my constituency. My hon. Friend John Howell, who is no longer in his place, represents the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy, where the main research into nuclear fusion—the holy grail of sustainable energy—takes place. In 2014 we signed an almost €300 million contract to run the Joint European Torus on that site until 2018. We are now negotiating to take the programme forward. The JET, based in Oxfordshire, accounts for a quarter of the European fusion programme budget. Other money comes from ITER, the global fusion project. It will take place in France but still provides financial support for British projects including, for example, €40 million of remote handling equipment awarded to the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority—based in Oxfordshire—as part of a wider consortium.
Coming out of Euratom would present some difficult issues, including a requirement to conclude new bilateral co-operation agreements with the United States and approximately 20 other countries to maintain our access to intellectual property and nuclear technologies; removing the requirement for the UK to comply with Euratom’s safety regimes, which would prevent other countries from collaborating with us; and further potential delays and cost increases to the nuclear new build programme. I am extremely unhappy that the Bill will take us out of Euratom—and I was also unhappy that I had no warning of that—but I am grateful to Ministers, some of whom are in their places, for their reactions on this issue. I have been able to have discussions with Ministers from the Departments for Exiting the European Union and for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. I am grateful to the Minister for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, my hon. Friend Joseph Johnson, who has personally met the Culham chief executive, and to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy who has also spoken to the chief executive. I am also delighted that the Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, my hon. Friend Jesse Norman, is due to visit Culham. Every effort is being made to ensure that at its all-staff meeting tomorrow proper reassurances can be given.
As far as I understand it, that subsidy is not going away, and certainly shortly after the referendum the Science Minister guaranteed science funding up to 2020. I am sure that we will find some way to be a member of Euratom and to benefit, because British—and European—scientists working in Culham are vital to that project.
It is welcome to hear that Ministers have been so heavily engaged with my right hon. Friend following the concerns he raised on Second Reading. Does he agree that Euratom is so closely linked with the European Union that it would be difficult for the United Kingdom to continue to be a member of Euratom while leaving the European Union?
I will answer by saying that I agree that that is the Government’s position. I also understand that the Government will act to minimise any further legal challenge to the Bill. I reiterate that I cannot fault Ministers for their response since I raised the issue on Second Reading, in terms of engaging personally with me and with Culham.
I do not know whether I am walking into a point of order quagmire, but I hope that Ministers will publish a document that will explain their strategy for taking forward Euratom as soon as they are able to do so. The key point is that the Government have no intention of walking away from Euratom because they somehow disagree with the principle of Euratom’s existence or the work that it does. It may sound trite when talking about people’s futures, but this is a technical withdrawal and I have been impressed by the energy of Ministers in engaging on this issue.
A constituent of mine who is an employee of the National Nuclear Laboratory has told me he is concerned that an exit from Euratom would impair his ability to collaborate with leading scientists and engineers across Europe, to the detriment of science and technology in this country. Does the right hon. Gentleman agree with that point?
The hon. Lady makes exactly the point about why people are concerned. As I hope I have made clear, Ministers are putting in a great deal of energy—I am full of terrible puns today—to ensuring that the implications of our technical withdrawal from Euratom are minimised, and that we can restore our de facto membership in the coming months.
The right hon. Gentleman is making a considered speech, as I would expect, but has he considered the possibility that if the Bill passes unamended, his position and point of influence will pass with it? It might be better to have something in writing in the Bill, rather than all these warm words, cups of tea and assurances.
I hear what the right hon. Gentleman says, but I have known the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy for many years and shared many warm cups of tea with him, so I accept his warm words. I fully expect him to be in his post for several years to take this forward.
My right hon. Friend is concerned about Euratom. Has he considered the alternative? Given that in the last funding round Euratom had to fight very hard to try to maintain its funding, a position it is unlikely to be able to maintain in future, and the fact that the largest single contributors to Horizon 2020, the Germans, have taken the decision to phase out their civil nuclear programme all together, is he not concerned that over the next couple of decades continued membership of Euratom might expose us to diminishing research funding? Exit from the EU could provide us with the opportunity to partner bilaterally with other countries, as we do already with India and South Korea, and therefore expose ourselves to a wider pool of research.
My hon. Friend makes an interesting point. In fact, in answering him I may slightly contradict my earlier rant. I have significant concerns that our exit from the EU could potentially damage British science because of our close collaboration with the EU, but some scientists in my constituency have pointed out that there is a danger of our becoming too inward-looking in only seeking European scientific collaboration. Whatever one thinks of other issues, China is certainly becoming a much more important player in scientific research. There may be a silver lining to the withdrawal from Euratom.
My hon. Friend is also right to point out that securing funding for nuclear fusion is no easy task. In some respects, nuclear fusion is always the gold at the end of the rainbow. Nevertheless, it is extremely important research and I support it 100%, both in general and for the impact it has on my constituency.
I have taken so long that Ms Laing has turned into Mr Howarth. Having made a gentle jibe earlier at the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh South West, I see that I have taken up an inordinate amount of the Committee’s time, so I will sit down. I simply reiterate that I stand foursquare behind EU citizens living in our country. Please do not keep banging on about how easy free trade is going to be and please secure our nuclear relationships as far as possible.
I now have to announce the results of today’s seven deferred Divisions. On the motion relating to trade unions and education, the Ayes were 327 and the Noes were 264, so the Question was agreed to.
On the motion relating to trade unions and transport, the Ayes were 328 and the Noes were 263, so the Question was agreed to.
On the motion relating to trade unions and health, the Ayes were 323 and the Noes were 263, so the Question was agreed to.
On the motion relating to trade unions and border security, the Ayes were 323 and the Noes were 263, so the Question was agreed to.
On the motion relating to trade unions and fire, the Ayes were 323 and the Noes were 262, so the Question was agreed to.
On the motion relating to trade union political funds, the Ayes were 322 and the Noes were 254, so the Question was agreed to.
On the motion relating to the comprehensive economic trade agreement between the EU and Canada, the Ayes were 409 and the Noes were 126, so the Question was agreed to.
[The Division lists are published at the end of today’s debates.]
It is a great pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Howarth. I do not want to go on for too long, but nine amendments in my name have been selected, though I will not speak to all of them. Amendment 31 relates to the implications of leaving Euratom. I agree very strongly with the concerns expressed by Mr Vaizey. He also talked about the implications of the decision to leave the European Union for British citizens overseas. I declare an interest as the honorary president of Labour International, which represents the interests of Labour party members who live in other countries, many of whom were able to vote in the referendum. However, those living in the EU for longer than 15 years did not have a vote in the referendum, even though many still have very close connections to this country.
It was a disgrace. We are not dealing with that issue in this debate, but I wish to place on the record the messages of concern I have been sent by people living in other EU countries. They remain very worried about their access to healthcare, education services and support in the communities they live in, whether they are in Spain, France, Bulgaria, Greece or one of many other countries. This issue should have been resolved already, but the Government have chosen to use these people as a bargaining chip, to use the Government’s own words. Frankly, that is unacceptable.
I thank the hon. Gentleman. I have raised the issue of the importance of guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens living here, perhaps unilaterally, and I have received assurances from the Prime Minister that this will be top of her list in the negotiations. Also, does the hon. Gentleman not accept in good faith that the issue could be resolved very easily if the EU reciprocated our intention of guaranteeing those rights? The issue could be put aside very quickly if the EU guaranteed the rights of British citizens living in the EU.
The hon. Gentleman has been around long enough to know that the negotiation will start after article 50 has been triggered. The reality is that the British Government could have provided reassurance to families in this country—perhaps families with one British and one French parent, whose children are born in this country—who are uncertain about their long-term future if a family member has retained citizenship of another EU country. Frankly, in the interests of those families in this country, the issue should be resolved today, not delayed until the negotiation. That is in our own interests as a country of values, high morals, justice and fairness.
Order. The hon. Gentleman is indicating that he does not intend to give way—certainly not at this stage. I do not think it is conducive to the good order of the business of the Committee if people keep pressing. I am sure that he will signal if, at some point, he wants to give way.
Thank you, Mr Howarth. I referred to my nine amendments, two of which are minor and drafting amendments. Amendment 23 states that we should, “by
I mentioned amendment 31, on Euratom. Amendment 30 refers to the European Defence Agency. Defence co-operation within the European Union is vital. There is a large number of major defence projects with a components arrangement, whereby parts from one country are assembled in another. For many years, there have been such collaborative arrangements. Frankly, the British defence industry is unable to compete without international involvement. Some companies have moved offshore, in the sense that they have moved across the Atlantic, while others in this country are joint collaborative arrangements. Thales, originally a French company, is now very much a British defence manufacturer. For many reasons, if our defence industry is to be competitive and provide jobs for tens of thousands of highly skilled people in this country, we have to keep that defence industrial base, but that will be possible only through joint collaboration; otherwise, European manufacturers will be swept aside by the United States or other parts of the world. We have seen that already in the way that industries have shifted to Asia.
Anybody who wants to see the whole manufacturing process of a motor vehicle has to go to South Korea, where they press the steel, have the paint shops and engine plants, and fit out the vehicles. When I was a young man in the 1960s, I went on a school visit to Ford Dagenham. I was struck by the noise and the smell of paint. I was 17 years old. I had never been in a place like it. At that point, I realised that making cars was a massive, complex process. The only time I have seen a place like it subsequently was when I went to the Hyundai motors in Korea, where I saw the sheets of steel to be pressed. When I more recently visited the Ford Dagenham plant, which is not far from my constituency, all I saw was men in white coats walking around, adjusting things in a complex process, with lots of robots and diesel engines. That is the contrast. We need to think about this. When we leave the EU, we have to make sure that our manufacturing industry, and within that, the defence sector, is maintained and strengthened.
The hon. Gentleman makes an interesting point, but will he accept that our membership of the EU has seen a transfer of industries and factories from the UK to eastern Europe and others parts of the EU? Not least of those is Cadbury, which transferred manufacturing to other parts of the EU.
The hon. Gentleman will find that globalisation and the expansion of the wealth of the world, led by regional trading blocs such as the EU, have led to a significant change in the types of industries located in particular countries. Hundreds of millions of people have been taken out of poverty because of industrialisation in China. The same thing is happening in Vietnam, the Philippines and India. Globalisation is affecting everyone. He refers to eastern Europe. Yes, the days when the polluting Trabi cars were being made in the German Democratic Republic, and when Škoda vehicles were regarded as a joke, have gone.
There is now high-quality manufacturing in many countries throughout Europe, but they often have integrated supply chains, which is why Ford Dagenham makes diesel engines for cars also manufactured in Belgium, Spain and other European countries. That is the nature of modern capitalism and the global world. The danger in our leaving the EU is that we could make those industries in this country less successful and put tens of thousands of jobs at risk.
I have good news for the hon. Gentleman: courtesy of our leaving the EU, sterling has fallen and manufacturing in this country is having a field day, as he can see from the export orders and factory output orders. Does he agree that that has been a boon to the manufacturing industry, particularly in the north?
Sterling has indeed fallen. As a result, foreign holidays and Marmite are more expensive and chocolate bars are getting smaller. There are all kinds of consequences coming through.
I want to make some progress. I referred to my nine amendments. Amendment 34 relates to the common foreign and security policy. The EU does not do enough on defence. It needs to do far more, particularly, as President Donald Tusk pointed out, given the dangers from outside the EU—from Daesh terrorism, Russia and its territorial grabs in eastern Europe, and the uncertainties surrounding the other Donald, President Donald Trump, and the future of NATO. We all need to recognise that Britain, with France, is the backbone of the European pillar of NATO. The co-operation on the common foreign, security and defence policy that we have established so far needs to be sustained, whether or not we are in the EU.
It would be very foolish if, on leaving the EU, we weaken defence co-operation arrangements that date back to the Saint-Malo agreement with France, or the co-operation with our EU partners, which is limited but nevertheless important, on common peacekeeping, security and policing missions; we make a big contribution there. Some people have said that that could be used as an asset in the bargaining process, but that is the wrong approach. Regardless of what happens to agriculture or on financial contributions, it is in our national defence and security interest to have excellent relations with our neighbours—our French, Dutch and German neighbours—on the defence and security of this country. If we do the opposite, we will cut off our nose to spite our face, and that is not very sensible.
My hon. Friend is making an excellent speech. Does he agree that we should go further? Now that we are leaving the federal project, we have an opportunity to create a confederal project, in which we strengthen co-operation on defence, social rights, science, international development and climate change. The Prime Minister says that we might be leaving the EU, but we are not leaving Europe. In that case, let us see the plan for strengthening our relationships across a host of areas of work across the continent.
My right hon. Friend makes a very good point, and I hope that he gets a chance to enlarge on it when he makes his contribution.
I wish to highlight two of my other amendments. Amendment 29, to which Joanna Cherry referred, and amendment 35 both relate to Gibraltar. Anybody who, like me, has seen the occasional attempts by the authorities in Madrid to cause trouble in Gibraltar will know that there might suddenly be hundreds of vehicles and dozens of people queueing at the border between Gibraltar and Spain, the special police sent down from Madrid at a moment’s notice having imposed a rigorous check on everyone going to Gibraltar. A few hours later, there will be no queue—and then it can come back again.
Between 10,000 and 14,000 people living in southern Spain, in Andalusia, travel across the border each day to work in Gibraltar. Gibraltar has a population of about 32,000 people, many of whom are children. There is an economic base there now that cannot be sustained simply by employing residents of Gibraltar. Also, there is not enough land to house the number of workers it needs, so it is dependent on 10,000 or more workers crossing daily to work in Gibraltar—about 40% of the total workforce in the Gibraltar economy.
The hon. Gentleman makes a powerful point about Gibraltar, which I understand. I want to take him back to the words of Mr Vaizey, who spoke just before him and said that he was afraid that an amendment would mess up the Bill. I fail to see how the addition, at the end of clause 1, page 1, line 3, of the words
“after consultation with the Government of Gibraltar” could possibly mess up the Bill. Amendment 29 is a sensible amendment that the whole House should support, and that Gibraltar wants us to agree to.
The hon. Gentleman must be a mind reader, because I was just coming to that point. When the Government proposed the European Union Referendum Bill in 2015, after the general election, they did not initially include any wording relating to Gibraltar. That came in only because of the strenuous efforts of a number of Conservative Back Benchers, including my parliamentary neighbour Andrew Rosindell, who is very active on the British overseas territories all-party group, and of Labour and other MPs who were concerned to ensure that Gibraltar was referred to in the Bill, and that Gibraltar’s citizens, even though they are not part of the United Kingdom but are part of the European Union and can vote in elections to the European Parliament, had a vote in the referendum. It is therefore strange, is it not, that although the Bill to set up the referendum, which triggered this process of leaving the European Union, explicitly mentions Gibraltar and the right of Gibraltarians to vote, there is no reference to Gibraltar at all in the Bill to trigger article 50?
I understand that one day after the referendum on
The self-determination of Gibraltar is important. Culturally, the people of Gibraltar include people with Spanish, Italian, Moroccan, Genoese, British and many other roots. These people were British; they are British; they will remain British. That is not in question. As I said earlier, however, the day-to-day relationship between Gibraltar and Spain can, at the whim of some official or politician in Madrid, be made difficult. The people who suffer most from that are trade unionists, and workers in the Andalusia region who are working in Gibraltar. I have met them here in the House of Commons.
Interestingly, the socialist-led local authorities in the south of Spain want excellent relations between Andalusia and Gibraltar. While we are in the EU, our Government can ensure that there is no funny business and that no silly things emerge from some draft document produced somewhere about territorial waters, environmental issues, flights and trade matters. As soon as we leave the EU, however, we no longer have the ability to argue that case and block it if a particular Government in Madrid decide to up the ante to make life more difficult for Gibraltar.
Given the importance of this issue, it is surely necessary that the people of Gibraltar are, through their elected government in Gibraltar, made aware of these matters as we leave the EU. Surely, then, to be consistent with what the Bill said when we voted here to have a referendum, Gibraltar should also be mentioned in the current Bill. That is why I shall press my amendment 29 to the vote. I hope that Members of all parties, particularly those who have an interest in the British overseas territories and who believe strongly and firmly that Gibraltar should remain British, will consult their consciences and their own voting history and beliefs, and support this amendment.
Finally, I must say that it is unfortunate that so many Members wish to speak and that there is so little time for them. This whole process has been a disgrace; setting aside just three days for the Committee stage is an absolute disgrace. Clearly, we have seen complicity and collusion—
A stitch-up, as my right hon. Friend says, which John Smith certainly did not agree to. When I first entered this House in 1992, I had many happy hours and late nights debating the Maastricht treaty. I can recall—some of the faces on the other side of the Chamber are still there—taking interventions from seven or eight Conservative Members late at night on that issue. For that Bill, we had five, six or seven—[Interruption.]—eight times as much time as we have today.
I do not wish to give advice to the other place, because it is possible to get into trouble if we do that. I simply say that it is fortunate for democracy and accountability that there is an opportunity for the other place to give more consideration and time to these matters, without being subjected to programme motions in the same way as we are.
May I first offer an apology, Mr Howarth, to the previous incumbent of the Chair for having the temerity to challenge the opening of the debate. The infallibility of the Chair has been on display in this House over the last three or four days, and I was mistaken to think that I should join the chorus of doubts about the Chair’s decisions.
I have listened very carefully to the debate over the last two and a half days, both within the Chamber and while sitting in my office watching the television. Sadly, what I have heard is, broadly speaking, a three-day ululation by those who voted to remain about what is to come. We seem to have lost sight of the fact that, as far as I can see, we are trying to make the law in this Chamber, rather than debating the merits or otherwise of the decision that was made by the people on
I want to expand on my earlier point of order, and to explain why I cannot support the vast majority of the new clauses and amendments. Let me deal first with those tabled in the name of the Leader of the Opposition and various other Labour Members, including Chris Leslie. They constitute a large shopping list of things that Members would like the Prime Minister to take into account, but there are a number of omissions. Other Members have included some of the missing provisions, but they have also missed one or two. For instance, they seem to have forgotten to compel the Prime Minister to breathe or keep her eyes open.
When we add up the list of things that Members are demanding that the Prime Minister take into account during her negotiations and discussions with our European friends, we see that her scope would become extremely limited if we were to pass any of these new clauses. My main objection to them relates to their vagueness. New clause 2, for instance, contains plenty of material that gave me reason for thought. It states that
“the Prime Minister shall give an undertaking”.
To whom should she give that undertaking? Should she give it to her husband, or to the House? It is very imprecise. It also does not specify the form of the undertaking. Should it be written on the back of an envelope? We are writing legislation in this House, and it is incumbent on us to be precise. I raised the point of order about the new clauses being vague and therefore out of order because that is exactly what they are.
On a point of order, Mr Howarth. The hon. Gentleman made a point of order saying that the new clauses were out of order, and was ruled out of order. Now he is saying that his point of order was in order, so I suggest that he is out of order.
Thank you, Mr Howarth. The previous occupant of the Chair corrected me, and said that my point of order was a matter for debate in the Chamber and not, in fact, a point of order. Debating it is therefore exactly what I am attempting to do.
The hon. Gentleman said that he could not support the “vast majority” of the new clauses and amendments, which presumably means that he can support some of them. I wonder whether he is able to support amendment 29, which was tabled by Labour Members but is backed by the SNP, and which would insert the words
“after consultation with the Government of Gibraltar”.
It is quite simple. Will the hon. Gentleman stand with the people of Gibraltar, or will he not?
The hon. Gentleman is quite right. I did say “the vast majority”. I should not have said that until I had managed to read them all, but I must confess that even my enormous stamina started to wane at one in the morning when I was two-thirds of the way through them. I have not read them all, which is why I am sitting here listening. So I shall have to mull over that decision over the next few hours.
As I was saying, we do not know what the form of the undertaking is to be, we do not know to whom it is to be made, and, critically, we do not know what the sanction is. If the Prime Minister says “Do you know what? No”, what are we to do? Are we to send her to the Tower? Is she not to participate in the elections?
According to my reading of the new clause, the sanction is that until the Prime Minister has given the undertaking, she cannot proceed with giving notice under article 50, which I suspect is the intention of those who tabled the new clause. These new clauses are festooned with mechanisms for not giving notice under article 50, which is the entire purpose of the Bill.
I think that the right hon. Gentleman is being quite generous. As far as I can see, the huge number of new clauses and amendments is designed purely to waste time and to delay, and to send political signals rather than trying to achieve anything. The hon. Member for Ilford South complained about the programme motion. If the opponents of the Bill, or those who wish to amend it, had collaborated and focused on three or four critical changes that they wanted to see, rather than throwing a lot of flak in the air and causing all these problems, they might have made some progress.
My hon. Friend is making a number of extremely good points, but is not vagueness the virtue as far as the drafters of the new clauses and amendments are concerned? If passed, they would turn a simple one-page Bill into an absolute monster that would be subject to a lawyers’ beanfeast and would be judiciable at every turn, thus kicking the Bill into the long grass.
I agree, although the word I would use is “simplicity”. With simplicity comes clarity, and we need clarity from the Prime Minister, as she enters the negotiations, about the motivations of the House and its support for her.
My other reason for objecting to new clause 2 is that it abrogates to the Prime Minister decisions that will rightly become the decisions of the House in the future. Paragraph (e) states that the Prime Minister should have regard to
“maintaining all existing social, economic, consumer and workers’ rights.”
Apart from anything else, I am not sure what my social or economic rights are. They are undefined in the Bill. But, in future, those decisions will presumably become decisions of the House. If there are to be any changes in those rights, undefined as they are, they will have to be the subject of primary legislation.
I do wish that the hon. Gentleman would inform himself before making his points. We already know from the White Paper that the Government have said that it will be possible for plenty of these measures to be reformed in secondary legislation. In other words, it will not be subject to parliamentary scrutiny. The hon. Gentleman may not care about his own economic, social and environmental rights, but Opposition Members have constituents who do care. We are trying to do our job properly; it is a pity that the hon. Gentleman is not.
Perhaps she did. I admit that I am a relative newcomer to the House, but, as I understand it, even secondary legislation can be forced into debate on the Floor of the House by the Opposition parties. They can table motions, and there can be Back-Bench debates. All sorts of scrutiny of secondary legislation is possible. Indeed, there are ways in which the Opposition can strike down such legislation once it is before the House, if they wish to do so. It is not as if we were without powers in such circumstances.
May I help my hon. Friend and, in particular, Caroline Lucas? It is made clear in the White Paper—an undertaking that the Prime Minister has already given to the House—that any significant policy changes will be underpinned by primary legislation, which means that the House can be given a full opportunity to debate them. It is also clear that secondary legislation, under the great repeal Bill, will be used only to address deficiencies in the preserved law, which will relate to the fact that we will not, for example, be able to use EU institutions. I think that that is very clear, and preserves the rights and privileges of the House to protect our constituents.
Is my hon. Friend not puzzled about why Caroline Lucas and others now want to be able to vote on and control legislation on whole swathes of which, for the last 40 years, they have been content to have no vote—no vote before negotiations, no vote during negotiations, no vote at the end of negotiations—and no power to destroy an EU regulation even if every Member voted against it.
My right hon. Friend has neatly drawn attention to the fundamental paradox that sits at the base of all Remainer arguments.
“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 desirability of retaining full participation in the making of all rules affecting trade in goods and services in the European Union.”
That effectively means remaining members of the Commission, members of the Parliament, and members of the Council of Ministers, or else not leaving the EU. As far as I can see, that is indeed peak nonsense. Yet again, we see bad legislation and bad law.
The hon. Gentleman should perhaps take another look at new clause 77. It makes the point about the need for the UK to retain its role around the table as a rule maker in our tariff arrangements for trade. There are some serious issues to do with our position in the customs union and so forth, and I suggest that Britain should retain its role around the table. Does the hon. Gentleman disagree?
No, that is not what it says. If the hon. Member reads the Member’s explanatory statement to the amendment he will see that it says:
My understanding is that those rules are made by the Commission and agreed by the Council of Ministers and the Parliament, so we would have to stay around all those tables.
Should we pass this new clause, will the Act of Parliament therefore be binding on the other 27 members, who will therefore, because we willed it, be forced to accept our presence at their table, despite our having left all the organisations that we have left? Does my hon. Friend think that this is in any way enforceable? If not, is it not slightly fallacious even to debate it?
My hon. Friend rightly points out that, as with all of these amendments, even if this does not happen, there is nothing to be done. There is no sanction; there would just be a shrug of the shoulders, and we would have to turn our back and ask Chris Leslie what we are supposed to do next if we cannot manage to comply with his amendment. It really is nonsense. I know the hon. Gentleman has ambitions within his party, but he will have to do a little bit better than produce stuff like this.
Again, new clause 179 on protecting current levels of funding states:
“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 desirability of protecting current funding from the European Union.”
Funding to whom? Which funding? All funding? The funding that we send? The funding that comes back? Defence spend? Funding to us, or funding to other countries? The vagueness of these new clauses is extraordinary.
Again, new clause 183 on membership of the single market including EU-wide reform of freedom of movement states:
“secure reforms of provisions governing the free movement of persons between EU member states in such a way as to allow for greater controls over movement of people for member states”.
That is all very vague, as is
“maintain the highest possible level of integration with the European single market.”
What does that mean? What is the highest possible level of integration? Perhaps that means membership.
I think my hon. Friend is being a little uncharitable. He seems to be assuming that these new clauses are without purpose, but, as was recently pointed out, they have a very definite purpose: were they to be passed, it would be impossible for the Government to proceed with article 50. It would be in the courts certainly for years, possibly for decades, and maybe even for centuries. A very conscious policy of great intelligence is being followed here. My hon. Friend is underestimating the ingenuity of the Opposition.
Order. While the hon. Gentleman is perfectly entitled to debate the quality or otherwise of any amendments or new clauses, he needs to acknowledge that the Chair has deemed all of them to be within scope. So whatever the purpose or otherwise behind them, they are within the scope of the Bill.
I am grateful to you for that direction, Mr Howarth, but the previous incumbent of the Chair told me that that was a matter for debate on the Floor of the House, and that we were allowed to debate the merit—
Anyway, I have come to the end of my peroration on that particular point and I have a couple of other points.
Quite a lot of these amendments are unenforceable and nonsensical and cannot be supported. I will listen to the rest of the debate and discover whether there are any substantive ones in this potpourri that has been thrown up in the air, as my right hon. Friend Sir Oliver Letwin says, to try to fog the issue or create legal difficulties in the future. But for the moment I am afraid I am not able to support the vast majority of them, albeit that I have not read every single one yet.
I wish to make two further points. First, I want to reiterate what I said earlier about Euratom and the nuclear industry. The nuclear industry is of course incredibly important not just to the UK, but to the rest of the world. The UK is a serious nuclear power; there is serious, deep research going on here into the future of nuclear fission and fusion. But we have to recognise that things are changing in the EU nuclear research landscape, and be aware of those decisions, and take them into account when we consider our future association with Euratom.
There is now only one serious nuclear power in the EU, which is France. Germany has taken the decision to withdraw completely from the civil nuclear programme. Belgium is the only other country with a significant number of reactors, but France, with 58 reactors, is the only country truly putting effort into nuclear research, and of course we are fortunate in this country in having a bilateral nuclear collaboration agreement with France.
Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre is the heart of nuclear technology research in this country. The hon. Gentleman ought to think again about his statement.
I am not quite sure what the hon. Lady thinks I said. I said there were broadly two serious nuclear powers in the EU at the moment, the UK and France, and that we are fortunate in having a bilateral agreement signed in 2010 with the French to deepen and widen our collaboration on nuclear research. Our exit from Euratom, which looks like it is going to happen, will not affect that at all. Those bilateral relations and that research will continue. In particular, our participation in the Jules Horowitz Reactor project in southern France can continue, not least because there are a number of non-EU members in that fantastic materials testing programme at the moment.
I wonder whether my hon. Friend shares my concern. I think that the threat to the UK nuclear industry is not this Bill but the fact that the Leader of the Opposition wants to shut down the nuclear industry in this country, including, of course, Sellafield.
I am glad the hon. Gentleman mentioned the good voters of Copeland, because they will be looking after the nuclear workers whose pensions are under threat from his Government.
The agreement between France and Britain comes under the umbrella of Euratom, and the people who know—the academics and the industry—are lobbying us to maintain that link.
I am not sure the hon. Gentleman is right legally; my understanding is that it is an intergovernmental treaty between the two countries and will not necessarily be affected.
We have bilateral treaties with lots of other countries. Just before Christmas, we signed yet another agreement with the Japanese to deepen our research into the civil nuclear programmes. We also have bilateral arrangements with India and South Korea. These are really where the innovations are happening in nuclear research, so the idea that somehow by coming out of Euratom we are going to close ourselves off from the rest of the world is totally untrue. If anything, it might free us to do more work across the rest of the globe in developing what I think is going to be the future of British energy.
Finally, I want to say a few words on EU nationals. As Front Benchers will know, I have expressed my doubts about the Government’s approach to this matter over the past few months, and I am firmly of the belief that we should give those people some reassurance. However, I am willing to give the Prime Minister the space she needs in the negotiations to ensure that she can secure the fate of British nationals overseas. On the basis that the question of EU nationals will come back to the House—as will so many other things—and require primary legislation if their status is to change, I will be voting with the Government on this new clause, as I know many others will for the same reason.
No, I must finish now.
I therefore encourage Members to look at these new clauses and amendments and decide whether we would be putting good, enforceable law on to the statute book by accepting them. I suggest that, in most cases, we would not, so I urge Members to vote with the Government.
It is a pleasure to serve under your stewardship, Mr Howarth. I listened carefully to the contribution from Kit Malthouse. I believe that it is part of our job in the House of Commons to raise questions about important decisions that affect all our lives and, through the use of amendments and other means, to open up the discussion and seek answers from the Government of the day. That is important in the debates that we will have today and in the future. The Government have refused on numerous occasions to accept contributions from those on my own Front Bench and others, but they have then gone away and thought about the issues and decided, “Maybe there’s something in that.” We seem to be pushing at the Government, although they do not want to accept some of the amendments, some of which I have put my name to. Part of the purpose of having these debates in the public arena is to hold the Government to account and make them look again at the important subjects that are being raised at the moment and that will, I have no doubt, be raised in the next two years and beyond.
I was delighted to read in the White Paper that one of the Prime Minister’s 12 objectives was to enhance employees’ rights and maintain EU protections. On page 32, the graph suggests that we will have 14 weeks’ statutory paid holiday. I wonder whether she will keep to that suggestion. Some amendments on the protection of workers’ rights tabled by my hon. Friend Chris Leslie were not selected, but we will take heart from the suggestion in the White Paper and perhaps hold the Prime Minister to account on that particular issue.
I want to challenge the Government on a number of aspects of this important process, and I do so as an MP who believes that the decision is made. Whatever the falsehoods, exaggerations or unpleasantnesses that surfaced in the referendum, none of those invalidates the UK’s decision. The House should make it clear that we respect the outcome of
The Government have accepted our essential demand for a vote in the House prior to withdrawal. There will be lots of debate about what that should mean, but it has been a concession. The Government have also accepted that that vote has to include our proposed relationship with the EU after we leave. They have accepted that the vote must take place on a draft withdrawal agreement, and that it will do so before the European Parliament or Council decides on that draft agreement. In accepting those Labour arguments, the Government are asserting that the UK Parliament does not play second fiddle to our colleagues in the European Parliament, and that this House asserts some measure of control over the withdrawal process. It is really important that this is not seen as a debate only for the Prime Minister and her Ministers, and that everyone in the House is able to air their views and influence the discussions.
I will make a bit of progress, then I might take a few interventions.
In the Prime Minister’s Lancaster House speech, she pledged that the UK would keep workers’ rights after Brexit. She also pledged to avoid a cliff edge by seeking a period of stability after we leave, while our trading arrangements with the EU single market are sorted out. She pledged to seek good access to the single market with no extra tariffs or bureaucracy. There might be some disagreements on my own side of the House about what all that should look like, but none of us should be in any doubt about the importance of our trading arrangements—not only for exports, but for imports.
This is not just about our cities; it is about places such as Doncaster and the other towns and communities around the country in which these arrangements are vital for jobs. When I did a survey of my constituents after the referendum campaign, I asked them what my three priorities should be. Jobs and investment came first. Tackling immigration came second. The £350 million a week that was apparently going to come back to the NHS came third. We heard about that in yesterday’s debate. I am not sure what I can do about that last one, but I the first two are certainly going get my full attention.
I believe that we have to look at freedom of movement. I have been saying for many years that immigration has not been attended to, by my party or by others, in the way that it should have been. The Prime Minister has said that she wants the negotiations to guarantee that EU workers currently living here can stay. I agree with that. Many of my constituents have particular issues about freedom of movement and they want them to receive attention in a way that they have not done before. However, the Prime Minister could lead her MPs through the Lobby today and vote to guarantee the rights of EU nationals here. As others have said, she could make it clear that they will not be used as a bargaining chip and could end their uncertainty. Likewise, we also want to safeguard the rights of Brits living in Europe, and by adopting a positive approach today we would make it more likely that Brits living in the EU were treated fairly.
The right hon. Lady touches on EU nationals. It has been misunderstood several times in this House, not just today, that Europe should make the first step. Which European state did those people mean? Should it be Bulgaria, Sweden, Portugal or wherever? The reality is that the UK is making a move with Brexit, so the UK should be leading and showing good will to the citizens of all European countries. We are talking not about two places—the UK and the EU—but about the UK and 27 other places.
The tone of the debate as we move forward is crucial not only to how we in this country work together for the best deal, but to how we are perceived in the other 27 member states. Something will have to be done about EU nationals living here and Brits living in the other member states. That is a fact. There will have to be a deal. There are those on the Government Benches—remain voters and leave voters—who cannot understand why the Prime Minister is not stepping up and a making a decision to make that clear.
I am going to make progress.
I also want us to be open to EU students. I understand the concern in parts of our country—maybe not so much in London, but certainly in Scotland and the north of England—about the continuing brain drain from our communities that is hindering our ability to grow our economy. My constituents do not have much of a problem with that, just like they do not have much of a problem with having the ability to travel for their two weeks in the sun maybe once a year, which will be a problem for Doncaster Sheffield airport in my constituency. However, they do know that we have to think about some rules to manage migration, because the net benefits of migration, of which there are many, have not been shared equally across the country. In some communities in some towns, the rate of change with people coming in, particularly from eastern Europe, has had economic and social effects—with no blame accorded to those individuals. When a factory finds, perhaps over a matter of weeks or even overnight, that the number of people from eastern Europe outweighs the number of people from the local community, it cannot be denied that that creates worries, problems and pressure on services.
The debate over the next few years cannot be just about migration from the EU. Over the past seven years, the Tory Government’s policies on migration and immigration have failed. The Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union is not here, but I remember when he caused a by-election on the basis of getting rid of ID cards. I supported ID cards then and I support them today. In the world in which we live, and given identity fraud, crime and needing to know who should have access to what, they could have been part of the solution to some of the problems we have seen since he caused that by-election.
I have been following the right hon. Lady’s remarks with great interest. She has reiterated the shadow Minister’s abandonment of her party’s long-standing principled commitment to free movement. Given that she wants the House to control migration in the future, how would that be possible without leaving the EU?
We have failed to raise that issue under successive Governments and influence how the change should happen, and I believe that discussions are happening across the other 27 member states about what freedom of movement has meant for them. Unfortunately, we have not attended to that issue for too long. As a result of not doing so, when David Cameron tried to negotiate a deal, he did not leave enough time to broaden the scope for some real reform, so we hurtled into a referendum of his choosing on the date that he set and the consequences are there for all to see.
Mr right hon. Friend is making a brilliant and honest speech. When I was the Immigration Minister in 2007, it was clear to me that there could have been a consensus throughout Europe on the reform of free movement. If only the Labour party had pursued it then, when we were in government—indeed, if only the Conservative party had pursued it with care and forensic detail when they came to office in 2010, the Government would not have been forced to offer a bargain-basement deal to the British people when the Prime Minister’s back was against the wall.
Order. I do not want to stifle interventions, but it occurs to me that some people who are intervening and are still hoping to speak will have nothing left to say by the time they get to speak.
I absolutely agree with that statement by my right hon. Friend Liam Byrne. We should be having a more grown-up discussion about the mistakes that have been made and how we navigate what is for us all uncharted territory. A little humbleness in all that would not go amiss.
I am most grateful to the right hon. Lady, who is making a very serious speech. Does she agree that as part of the grown-up discussion to which she refers, Members on both sides of the House need to have the courage to explain that migration of many kinds is beneficial to our economy and our society, in a way that we have not done so far?
I totally agree with that, but perhaps part of the problem is that often we talked about that a lot, to the exclusion of sometimes talking about the ways in which communities were feeling that it was not working for them. That is part of the problem. We in politics all know that we create white noise, but how much of it actually gets through to the public? Let us remember that every single region in England, outside of London, voted to leave. If we avoid these important issues, we do so at our peril. For me, the biggest danger is that we let the extremes of the far right occupy ground that allows them to influence the debate, and I hope none of us would want that.
I wish to make some progress and address briefly some of the amendments and new clauses that are important for both sides of the House to consider. Whether or not they are passed tonight, we will see, but I hope that their content and some of the contributions that are made will be taken seriously by Ministers and given some attention when they respond.
It is important, and in the UK’s interest, that we present ourselves not as a nation retreating from a successful international union, but as a nation that remains determined to uphold that union’s best values. New clause 7 speaks to that aim, as it would commit the Government, in advance of any negotiations, to having regard to the legislation shared throughout the EU on preventing and tackling tax avoidance and evasion—a matter to which I have given considerable time over the past few years.
In September last year, the UK put itself at the forefront of the international debate on public country-by-country reporting. Our stance should be, as it was then, that the best and biggest international companies with any substantial presence in the UK should have no fear of openness, and no fear of publishing where they do business and pay taxes. In that spirit, the UK should pledge, ahead of the negotiations, to comply with the EU code of conduct on business taxation. We should do so not because we are required to, but because we want to uphold the standards on which, in many ways, the UK has been leading. It is unfortunate that some of the Prime Minister’s comments seem to rail against some of the positive efforts that have been made to tackle tax evasion and avoidance and some of the issues relating to tax havens. It would be a huge step backwards if we were seen to step away from something important and on which we could be leading the world.
New clause 100 is a modest provision on equality and women’s rights, yet its values reach to the core of what modern Britain should be about. It is modest because it simply asks that during negotiations the Government have regard to the public interest in maintaining employment rights and co-operation against trafficking, domestic violence and female genital mutilation. It suggests a cross-departmental—it could be cross-party, if we want—working group to recommend appropriate legislation on equality and access to justice. The values are clear: it asks only for what we already have, but it also asks the House to embrace the things we value and to make it clear that none of them will be sacrificed during our departure from EU membership.
New clause 163 is about consultation with the English regions. We have heard much in this Chamber about the importance of a meaningful dialogue with the devolved Administrations, and I endorse that approach. I have argued publicly that the best way forward is for the Government to acknowledge that we are in uncharted waters, and that the Prime Minister should be seeking cross-party agreement and having regular meetings with other party leaders. I should not need to remind her that, like me, her Government argued to remain. The decision of the British people on
In that spirit, I urge the Government to adopt new clause 163 and consult the English regions. As a Yorkshire MP, I hope that I do not need to remind Ministers that Yorkshire has a population greater than Scotland. We had a gross value added economic output of £110 billion in 2015, just £17 billion less than Scotland, so I call on the Government not to overlook the English regions.
Finally, I urge Ministers to clarify our future relationship with the European Atomic Energy Community, which has already been mentioned in this debate. We all know that that is such an important sector, and it is a sector that should grow in the UK not only because of the nuclear energy that we create here, but because of the potential export market that it provides.
New clauses 185 and 192 and amendment 89 all seek to ensure that the Government take this matter very seriously. There is an onus on Ministers urgently to clarify whether, on leaving the EU, the UK will forfeit membership of Euratom. In the meantime, I put to the Minister the request from the Nuclear Industry Association to convene a specific working group to ensure that no omissions are made in the framing of regulations to replace the provisions of this treaty.
My right hon. Friend is right to press the Minister, because we have had some very thin talk on this important matter. The industry wants this working party, and it wants Government to give some clear assurances. I make my appeal to the Minister, through my right hon. Friend, to do that tonight. I am sure that he is listening.
I absolutely agree with my hon. Friend.
As a remain campaigner, I saw many positive benefits from our membership of the European Union. I am determined that this House will respect the referendum outcome and seek the best for my constituents from our new relationship.
Some in the Prime Minister’s Cabinet talk as though Brexit will be nothing but boundless prosperity. Some remainers talk as though Britain is hurtling off a cliff and they are all doom and gloom. The reality is likely to be something in between. After a long and sometimes difficult marriage, we are getting a divorce. During that process, we need to leave behind some of the false promises and distortions of the referendum campaign. Dramatic false claims only damage trust. We need to replace the rhetoric with honest discussion and honest endeavour to achieve the best outcomes from the path that our country has chosen. That is how we rebuild trust and secure a deal that most leave and most remain voters can accept. That is the way I will be approaching the discussions in the months ahead.
In rising to support the Government, I wish to consider new clause 2, amendments 5 and 42 and new clause 185 relating to Euratom.
I am enormously encouraged by today’s debate not least because I take new clause 2, as my right hon. Friend John Redwood explained, as an endorsement of the Government’s position. I look forward to a very full aye Lobby on Third Reading. Paragraph (e) talks about
“maintaining all existing social, economic, consumer and workers’ rights”.
That is something to which the Prime Minister is committed. Along with other Members, I look forward to seeing her succeed in guaranteeing reciprocal rights as soon as possible. I think we know from the press why that has not been done already. It is because the German Chancellor and various figures within the EU institutions have stood in the Prime Minister’s way. We know, from what we have read in the press, that the Prime Minister has a clear framework for guaranteeing reciprocal rights and she has sought to deliver it, but, because our negotiating partners have insisted on no negotiation before notification, she has not made progress on it. None the less, I have full confidence in her intent and in the solidity of her work, and I will certainly vote with the Government tonight.
Of course, looking at the character of this sheaf of amendments, I think many right hon. and hon. Members have indicated why they have been tabled. They are undoubtedly meant to draw within the jurisdiction of the courts a wide range of issues that would keep us mired in the courts for ever, putting off the inevitable day of leaving. I think it is far better to be strong, confident and committed and to act with a constructive and positive spirit to take us out of the EU successfully.
With that in mind, having dramatically curtailed my remarks on the new clause in light of what colleagues have said, I want to turn to Euratom. What is it? It is a legal framework for civil nuclear power generation, radioactive waste management, arrangements for nuclear safeguards and movement of and trade in nuclear materials.
The first point I want to address is the suggestion that this issue was not on the ballot paper. I suppose that if we had put all the issues that are of concern to hon. Members on the ballot paper, it would have been very long indeed. The question on the ballot paper was perfectly adequate and if the fault can be laid at anyone’s door for Euratom’s not being discussed in the course of the campaign, it lies with the pro-EU Britain Stronger in Europe campaign.
The Euratom treaty is a separate treaty, signed in 1957 by the founding members of the EU. The UK joined it at the same time as it entered the EEC, and the European Communities Act 1972 gives effect to that treaty as well as to the EEC treaty. Section 3(2) of the European Union (Amendment) Act 2008 makes it clear that any Act that refers to the European Union includes a reference to the European Atomic Energy Community. It is absolutely clear that conferring on my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister the power to notify that we are leaving the European Union gives her the power to take us out of Euratom.
That leaves a couple of questions. The first is whether the Government are seized of the importance of nuclear safeguards, which are an extremely important issue for the House. My experience of working with nuclear systems is, I admit, distant and limited. I joined the Royal Air Force at a time when we still had tactical nuclear weapons and I was trained to certify aircraft nuclear weapons electrical installations. I must say that it was neither rocket science nor magic; it was about using the finest components to the highest quality standards. From my experience of that work, I would say that I have complete confidence in British scientists and engineers to do everything necessary to ensure that safeguards continue.
I particularly observe that we will continue to be part of Euratom throughout the negotiation period. Since Euratom brings into effect in Europe the provisions made by the International Atomic Energy Agency, and since we will continue to be members of that agency, we can expect not only to continue to comply with Euratom but to continue as members and put in place appropriate arrangements as we move forward.
In addition to the points made by my hon. Friend Kit Malthouse about the French bilateral, I point out that the Trident system is evidence that we can collaborate on nuclear issues outside the framework of Euratom. I know from experience that anything to do with a nuclear system focuses the mind like nothing else, and I know that my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Front Bench are seized of the issues and will prioritise this point.
The hon. Gentleman says that Euratom was not on the ballot paper, and he is right, but it was not even mentioned by the Government until they produced the Bill. If it was such a big and obvious issue, why did the Government not raise this important point while the European Union Referendum Bill was going through this House, or at another opportunity? Secondly, and finally, he talks about the two years. Is he suggesting that if there is no agreement after two years, there should be a transitional period, or we will lose our place in the world?
I thought that I had explained that carefully, but I will say it again. Section 3(2) of the European Union (Amendment) Act 2008 makes it clear that any Act that refers to the European Union includes a reference to the European Atomic Agency Community. It is very clear that Euratom was included in the scope of the referendum. On the hon. Gentleman’s point about the transition, the Government will make it a priority, as I have just explained at some length, and I have absolute confidence that those on my Front Bench are apprised of the importance of the issue and will take it extremely seriously. We will continue as a member of the agency. In the highly unlikely situation that no deal were reached, I expect that we would continue to maintain nuclear safety under the auspices of the international agency.
Does my hon. Friend agree that Euratom, much like Europol, is one of those organisations from which the other EU member states would have absolutely no interest in excluding the UK and that, therefore, a quick agreement is likely?
That is an important point. About half of Business for Britain’s 1,000-page “Change, or go” report went through, section by section, all the areas on which we currently co-operate with other nation states through the European Union and its agencies. In each case, it explained that there were bases on which we could co-operate internationally. During the Prüm debate, I made a point particularly in relation to Europol: in a globalised world of cheap, fast air travel, and the internet making just about everywhere milliseconds away, we need global co-operation on police, judicial and security matters. We need to escape the mindset that the only way to do that is through the hierarchical arrangements of the European Union. I hope that my hon. Friend James Berry will not mind if I dilate slightly on his point.
I remember being told back in 2010 by Members across the House, particularly by the then leader of the Liberal Democrats, that politics was changing and that we were seeing a realignment of politics. I thought of Ronald Reagan’s words on choice:
“Up to the maximum of individual freedom consistent with law and order, or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism”.
That reorientation of politics is happening.
The availability of the internet and air travel means that the old hierarchical structures that were necessary for communication in the absence of the internet are no longer appropriate for the world in which we live. It is quite right that we should seek, as my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston and Surbiton suggests, to co-operate on a global basis on all these issues under new arrangements that allow us to act with far greater agility.
The hon. Gentleman talks about international and global relations. If it is so straightforward, why is the Nuclear Industry Association saying,
“Given the international nature of the nuclear industry the biggest risk in leaving Euratom is an interruption to normal trade both in the European Union and overseas.”?
On that point, I am grateful that my hon. Friend John Howell is back in his place. He devastated all those arguments in a straightforward intervention by making the point that the Joint European Torus project over at Culham does not want these amendments. That is not to say that people do not want collaboration; of course we all want that. However, the question today is whether these amendments should be made. The clear answer coming from Culham—I am grateful that my hon. Friend the Member for Henley is indicating assent—is that the amendments should not be made.
My hon. Friend’s point is absolutely clear. The management at Culham do want to co-operate, and they want a much larger project. We should do that not by making amendments, but by having discussions with Ministers.
“The Bill also gives the Prime Minister the power to start the process to leave Euratom…This is because, although Euratom was established in a treaty separate from the EU agreements and treaties, it uses the same institutions as the European Union, including the European Court of Justice.”—[Official Report,
Vol. 620, c. 819.]
He went on, in response to an intervention, to say
“Euratom passes to its constituent countries the regulations, rules and supervision that it inherits, as it were, from the International Atomic Energy Agency, of which we are still a member. When we come to negotiate with the European Union on this matter, if it is not possible to come to a conclusion involving some sort of relationship with Euratom, we will no doubt be able to reach one with the International Atomic Energy Agency”.—[Official Report,
Vol. 620, c. 820.]
The point I am making is that this is a crucial issue and the Government understand that. We are fully committed to making progress on nuclear matters in research, development, implementation, safety and global collaboration, but we need to leave Euratom as we leave the European Union. The Government are entitled to do so, and it is quite right that the Bill stands as it is as the Government move forward. I will certainly be voting for the Bill as it stands. The amendments are unnecessary and counterproductive. I commend all the Ministers’ work on Euratom.
I feel the need to say that I will be brief and then just talk for as long as possible, just because I would not like to revert to type. I wish to speak specifically to new clause 100, which is principally in the name of my right hon. and learned Friend Ms Harman. I would like to start by saying how grateful she and I are to the 64 colleagues who have added their names in support of it. That shows the real strength of feeling and concern in the House on this issue. It has already been mentioned by some of my hon. Friends, and I shall go into it in more detail.
Despite the assurances we have had from Ministers and the Prime Minister herself, very real concerns remain about the potential impact of leaving the European Union on women’s rights and about the Government’s intention of defending them. The new clause addresses that in four key areas. The first is employment rights and protections derived from EU legislation.
We know that the rights of part-time workers and pregnant women at work, as well as—we have seen many different cases about this—the right to equal pay for work of equal value, derived in the EU. The Government’s White Paper argues that we have more generous maternity leave systems here in the UK than are required at EU level, and that is absolutely correct—yes, we do. What I would say to the people in this room about that is, “You are very welcome,” because it was the Labour Government that introduced those things. Specifically, it was my right hon. and learned Friend and other women who sit in this Chamber with me today who fought for those rights.
At the moment, we have something that is better than what exists in the EU, but we have seen in many of the different global changes in the past few days—I was going to say months—how easily women’s rights can be undone when our global alliances begin to fail.
I certainly pay tribute to the role that Labour has played in those rights. Does the hon. Lady agree, though, that the EU does actually take us further in some respects—for example, on equal pay for work of equal value? Would she also agree that the real risk here is that when that EU legislation becomes UK domestic legislation, it can be unpicked through secondary legislation, and what we have heard is absolutely no reassurance on that?
I will give way—perhaps—shortly.
The rise of pregnancy discrimination in the past few years because of changes in UK legislation means that women’s rights definitely need to be protected and considered, and I would be very happy if we had external protection.
The rights of part-time workers are crucial for women. That includes pension rights and equal treatment at work for part-time workers. Some 75% of part-time workers are women, and 42% of women work part time. Equal pay for work of equal value is crucial for women. The issue derives from the speech therapist case brought to the European Court of Justice in 1993. It is a very live issue, because low-paid women in the UK are today fighting equal value pay cases against Asda and Reading Council—this is still going on today.
The Government’s White Paper touches on this. I am just going to make a minor segueway: because my favourite moment in the White Paper was the bit where it said that Britain does have sovereignty but it has not always felt like it. That reminded me of my children saying, “I know you love him more than me. I know you love me too, but it hasn’t always felt like it.” We really made Britain look like a petulant teen. Anyway, back to women’s rights.
The White Paper says:
“The Government is committed to strengthening rights when it is the right choice for UK workers and will continue to seek out opportunities to enhance protections.”
What exactly does “the right choice” mean? When do the Ministers in front of me think that strengthening workers’ rights is not the right choice?
I remind the Committee that it is not long since we had the red tape challenge. The Equality Act 2010 was included in the red tape challenge in 2012, so the very rights to which the Government now say they are committed they have previously considered to be red tape. The Prime Minister herself was the then Minister who led that review. When Ministers wonder why we doubt the sincerity of their commitment, I say to them that I have read the White Paper very carefully. Much like the Government Front-Benchers going out to the European Union as part of the Brexit team, there is not a single mention of a woman, nor equality, anywhere in the White Paper.
My hon. Friend is making a characteristically powerful and passionate, and humorous, speech. Would it not be fair to approach the wording in the White Paper with some caution, bearing in mind that prominent leave campaigners argued that leaving the EU would be an opportunity to cut EU social and employment protections?
Absolutely. My hon. Friend makes a very good point, unfortunately. The thing that we might get, as the leave campaign said, is a squashing of workers’ rights; the thing that we will not get is £350 million going into the NHS. If only there was a level of consistency in what we have been promised.
I have always enjoyed working on the Women and Equalities Committee, which has been incredibly harmonious, listening to both men’s and women’s voices. I understand the spirit of new clause 100, but I find it faintly objectionable—I know who I am addressing this to in using that phraseology—to criticise our Prime Minister in talking about women’s rights and equalities, because she has led the way on tackling female genital mutilation, making sure that workers in particular areas have better life chances, and tackling coercive control. May I implore the hon. Lady to believe that Conservative Members, particularly our Prime Minister, do believe in the rights of those both male and female?
I have absolutely no doubt that some Conservative Members care about women’s rights, but I have lots of evidence to suggest that some absolutely do not, and need, frankly, a good, strong talking to by our Prime Minister. It is because I know how committed the Prime Minister has been to dealing with issues of violence against women like FGM, and cross-border issues to do with FGM, that I cannot understand why she would whip her party not to vote for this.
When Ministers are at the negotiating table thinking about the competitiveness of the UK economy, what will be high on their list? Will it be how to ensure that we protect and enhance workers’ rights or women’s rights—I think we can see the answer on the Government Front Bench—or will it be to undercut our EU neighbours by becoming a low-regulation, low-tax economy? The esteemed High Court justice Dame Laura Cox has said:
“Some of the basic rights that we now take for granted—pregnancy and maternity rights, part-time workers’ rights, equal pay for work of equal value—are all at risk if the UK becomes a low regulation economy.”
Is that the true destination of these negotiations? Can the Minister give us an assurance that powers in the great—or otherwise—repeal Bill will not be used to remove any equality and employment rights at a later date? Will the rights of part-time workers, pregnant women at work and women fighting for equal pay really be safe with them, whatever happens?
No. To clarify, a lot of Members are waiting to speak. The right hon. Gentleman has been on his feet for many minutes during this debate, and I think it is time for someone else to have a chance to speak.
My second concern, which has been touched on, is the issue of violence against women and girls. The new clause would not only defend women’s rights at work, but protect those women escaping domestic violence and FGM and those trafficked across the EU and the UK. In 2010, up to 900 schoolgirls across the city of Birmingham were at risk of FGM, with the key risk ages being at birth, four to six years old and during puberty. One in five children in Birmingham will have experienced or seen domestic violence before they reach adulthood. At least 300 forced marriages of women take place in the west midlands every year. When Ministers are at the negotiating table, who will be in their minds? Will it be the women in my constituency experiencing FGM and those fleeing their violent partners and using services such as Birmingham and Solihull Women’s Aid?
In Birmingham, four women have been murdered in the past year, with another woman found dead in my constituency only last week. The European protection order ensures that women who have suffered domestic violence are protected from the perpetrators if they travel or move anywhere in the EU. Predictions about the consequences of Brexit for policing measures will depend on the outcome of the negotiations.
In the area of crime, only organised crime and terrorism are mentioned. Although they are incredibly serious things, no Member will be able to find as many constituents who are as affected by those two crimes as are affected by what I am talking about. Will ending violence against women and girls and, in particular, the UK’s continued use of the EPO be a priority for the Government during and after the Brexit negotiations?
Finally—this is not a penultimate “finally”—the new clause would achieve what the Prime Minister says she wants to achieve, which is to make the UK a fairer place and to not only protect workers’ rights but build on them. Those were her words.
There are many gaps in our equalities legislation, and there is a need to make our legislative framework fit for the 21st century. Sections 14 and 106 have been there since the Act was passed but have not been commenced. Will the Minister undertake to establish a cross-departmental and cross-party—I put myself on the line by saying that I will come and help—working group to assess and make recommendations on developing legislation on equality and access to justice? My challenge to the Government is this: will they take the opportunity that Brexit gives us and make the UK the best place to be a woman, or will it be one of the worst?
I am pleased to follow Jess Phillips, who speaks with passion about her cause and argues for women with much persuasion. I gently point out that only when the Labour party can claim to have elected its second lady Prime Minister can it preach to Conservatives on how to support women. I rise to speak against the entirety of the proposals tabled by Opposition Members, but particularly against the references to trade with the European Union and the rest of the world in new clauses 2, 11, 77 and 181.
I have two key points, the first of which is on trade. I am struck by the premise in the wording of, for example, new clause 181 on trade agreements, which calls on the Government to
“have regard to the value of UK membership of the EU Customs Union in maintaining tariff and barrier-free trade with the EU.”
The new clause is wrong for several reasons. It is totally misguided, and a misreading of what the British people voted for on
“have regard to the value” of the customs union, we are missing the point. Where is the call to have regard to the costs of UK membership of the EU customs union? Why does the new clause not refer to the reasons why Britain must leave the customs union, and what we stand to gain? There is simply no point to Brexit and no meaning to the result of the referendum if we do not leave the EU customs union.
Where is the acknowledgment of the restrictions and costs of the common commercial policy inherent in our membership of the EU customs union? The new clause and all those containing that reference to trade are one-sided, prejudge, and lack any objectivity or impartiality. Where is the reference to, or acknowledgment of, the simple fact that Britain can set her own rules on trade policy, and forge new and dynamic agreements with the rest of the world, only if she leaves the EU customs union? Where is the reference to the gains we stand to make by striking new trade deals with the rest of the world? The Legatum Institute special trade commission estimates a 50% increase in global world products over 15 years.
I am concerned that there is no impact assessment of the damaging effect of the EU’s trade agreements on developing countries, or of the common external tariff, which binds members of the customs union.
The hon. Lady is commenting on a proposal that is in my name and the name of three other Select Committee Chairs. Is she aware of the evidence given to the Home Affairs Committee by a series of hauliers, ports and so on? They said that if their goods from the EU were subject to the type of customs checks to which goods from outside the EU are subject, there could be delays of between one and three days.
The right hon. Lady needs to do her research before she makes points like that. If she had attended the meeting I had with experienced trade negotiators just two days ago—they are part of the special trade commission and have led trade deals on behalf of other countries—she would know that they say that the rules to which she refers are already part of free trade agreements around the world. The problems she highlights are being blown out of all proportion, given the reality of what we stand to gain from leaving the customs union.
My hon. Friend makes her point with typical force. At our last Treasury Committee meeting, we heard from the director of customs at Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, who pointed out repeatedly that 96% of customs clearance, where required, takes place electronically within a few seconds and requires no intervention.
My hon. Friend is making a typically powerful case. As the Member of Parliament who represents Dover and Deal, where this issue will have the greatest impact, I have put together a group to look at it. It is perfectly possible to build a frictionless border, using the latest technology. The Opposition want it to fail; we will make it succeed.
We can all see that the amendments are an attempt to pull the wool over the British people’s eyes and fob us all off, and I will have nothing whatever to do with them.
EU protectionism has placed farmers and workers in developing countries at a disadvantage when exporting to the EU, because of the common external tariff. Why should British consumers be denied cheaper sugar, wheat or tomatoes from developing nations to protect less efficient farmers in northern Europe? That is the effect of the common external tariff, and the effect on our consumers of our membership of the EU customs union.
The absurdity of the current position is astonishing. We will be able to remedy that injustice only by leaving the customs union, taking control of our trade policy, having trade deals on a fairer basis and being real promoters of fair trade for those countries.
I will not, because I have taken quite a few interventions and I want to make progress.
Business for Britain has estimated the cost to British consumers of the damage done by the common commercial policy and the customs union at some £500 per household. The amendments do not reflect the absurdity of the current position. British companies such as JCB are no more able to sell their machinery tariff-free from India to the UK than Tata can from the UK to India. Since 1973, Britain’s trade has pivoted from being global to being European, and that has all been negotiated on our behalf by the European Trade Commissioner. Why is there no amendment recognising the influence to be regained by Britain resuming its own seat at the World Trade Organisation? Why is there no reference to the fact that EU trade policy has wrecked the ports of Glasgow and Liverpool, which are on the “wrong” side of the country, and denied us any chance of determining our own trade policy? That is a reflection of the one-sided prejudice in, and misguided nature of, the amendments.
The amendments fail to point out that in 2015, the UK’s deficit in trade in goods and services with the EU was £69 billion, while the surplus with non-EU countries was £30 billion. Why is there no amendment asking for an impact assessment on the gains from trading more widely and more freely with the rest of the world, building on our surplus with countries outside the EU? The amendments do not reflect the fact that Britain is losing out now because of our membership of the customs union, and they miss the fact that we have more to gain by leaving. They omit those salient features because Opposition Members do not want to be honest about the fact that the EU still does not have any agreements with major nations such as Brazil, the USA or China, and that we have more to gain from increasing our exports to the rest of the world than by remaining a member of the customs union.
My second-to-last point is on EU nationals. I consider the Prime Minister’s position appropriate in the circumstances: she will guarantee the position of approximately 3.5 million EU nationals as soon as possible once the negotiations have started. I want to ensure that this issue is put in perspective. Of the 3.5 million EU nationals currently residing in the UK, approximately 64% already have the right to stay here, 8% are children with an EU national parent and therefore have a right to reside here, and 12% will have accrued their five years permanent residency by 2018. This means that 84% already have a secure immigration status in this country. We are talking about a minority of people.
Does my hon. Friend share my concern and disappointment that while EU Governments could have sorted this out already, some have put the brakes on and have refused to do so? We should be putting pressure on them to sort out this very important issue much, much earlier, and outside the renegotiation process.
Was my hon. Friend not as disappointed as I was by the response to that letter, which signally failed to grasp the nettle? This could all have been resolved before Christmas, on
That reflects the wisdom of the current position. We must safeguard the rights of UK nationals abroad before making any move on this issue.
I was involved, with Ms Stuart and Kate Green, in a cross-party study with the think-tank British Future. We made suggestions to the Government on how to regularise and deal practically with the legal position of the 3.5 million EU nationals in this country. There will be issues for the Government to deal with. For example, what should the cut-off date be? Our report recommended that the date after which the new rules should apply be the date when article 50 is triggered, at which point a legitimate expectation will have arisen in respect of new arrivals to the country. We felt that that struck the right balance between fairness and pragmatism.
We also recommended that EU nationals who already qualified for permanent residency by virtue of their five years’ residency in the UK be offered permanent residency under the current rules, and that EU nationals who did not meet the five-year criterion be granted a transitional period, in accordance with the old rules. Again, that would safeguard their legitimate expectation. We also made recommendations on the practical ways in which the Home Office could deal with the considerable number of applications and the paperwork. Home Office officials will have over 1 million cases to deal with, so we recommend that the local authority nationality checking services be given first-line responsibility for processing and approving applications for permanent residency.
I shall conclude—[Hon. Members: “Hear, hear!”]—as hon. Members will be pleased to hear. The majority of constituents in Fareham voted to leave the EU. They chose to do that because they wanted to re-empower themselves, free up our country and take back control. These amendments are an attempt to pull the wool over their eyes and fob off Parliament. They aim only to delay and frustrate, and I will have nothing to do with them; it would be an insult to my voters in Fareham and to the British people, and a dereliction of my duty as a representative in this place, if I did.
Order. I am holding in my hand a list of Members who wish to speak; it stretches from here to Brussels. There are 21 Members who wish to participate, so a degree of self-restraint in terms of the length of speeches and interventions would be helpful. Several hon. Members on both sides of the House have spoken already in the course of these three days. It is only fair, therefore, that I try to give some preference to those who have not been able to contribute at all.
I am pleased to follow Suella Fernandes, not least because I would like to disagree with several of the points she made—I am sure she will not find that surprising. She says that she finds the Prime Minister’s attitude to EU nationals “appropriate”. I find it deeply inappropriate, and so do the EU nationals themselves, who simply want certainty about their future in this country. The Prime Minister’s refusal to guarantee that now, when she has the ability to do so, is cruel and, frankly, immoral. We are talking about people’s lives, which are not commodities to be traded in some wider bargain. The Prime Minister could and should guarantee to people who have made their lives here in good faith that of course they can stay. The idea that it is appropriate to do otherwise is out of order.
Is the hon. Lady aware, as I am, of EU nationals holding senior positions in UK institutions already leaving the country and of EU nationals being interviewed for senior positions but asking searching questions about what Brexit means for them and their families?
I completely agree. I was talking to the vice-chancellor of one of the universities in my constituency the other day and hearing that already staff were wondering about their future and whether it was worth leaving. Some of them feel unwanted, despite having made a massive contribution to our society and communities. That is why, again, I think that the Government’s attitude is incredibly irresponsible.
I want to talk in particular about my amendment 38 on the environment. I am so pleased that we have at least a few moments to talk about the impact of Brexit on our wider environment and on sustainability. So many of us have been trying to raise these issues for a huge amount of time, because they are massively significant, and I know that the Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee was waiting hopefully yesterday to make some interventions, based on some of the evidence that we heard in that Committee about the environmental impacts of Brexit. They are deeply worrying, and I would particularly like to focus on the issue of the monitoring and enforcement of environmental legislation once we leave the EU.
Does the hon. Lady share my disappointment that, as a result of last night’s filibuster by the Scottish National party, it has not been possible to share in this Committee debate the work done by the Environmental Audit Committee on both the benefits and the potential risks to the natural environment of leaving the EU and on our new inquiry into chemicals regulation, which affects every single aspect of our manufactured and exported goods?
I am not going to pick out any one particular party for filibustering. I am afraid that it is an epidemic that affects this whole place, and I would love to see it end. I do, however, want to talk about precisely that kind of evidence that the Environmental Audit Committee heard.
One almost believes that it is precisely the complexity demonstrated when evidence is given about the environmental impacts of Brexit that explains why Conservative Members do not want to hear about it. Such complexity underlines to them that this Brexit process is not going to be done and dusted in two years. The idea that we will have a whole new trade agreement in two years is cloud cuckoo land; anybody with any knowledge of this issue would certainly say that now.
No, not at the moment; I want to make a bit more progress.
As many Members have noted over the last few days, the protections currently guaranteed by our membership of the EU—whether it be on the environment, workers’ rights or food safety—rely on an established and robust system of monitoring and enforcement provided by EU institutions and agencies. Perhaps the most important part of this system has been precisely the strong pressure to implement the law within a specified timescale.
The incentive to adhere to the law arises from the monitoring and enforcement role of the EU agencies. The Commission acts as the guardian of the law and responds to legitimate complaints; serious breaches are referred to the European Court of Justice; and sanctions can follow, including fines of many hundreds of millions of pounds. It is exactly that enforcement mechanism that we are going to lose as a result of Brexit. Although the Government talk about moving across lots of this legislation in the great repeal Bill, the enforcement processes and the agencies that make sure that this stuff gets done do not get automatically transferred.
The hon. Lady and I share an enthusiasm for the greater deployment of renewables within our energy mix, so does she agree with me that one of the protections that the EU also affords is the protection of the German solar photovoltaic manufacturing sector, which is inflating prices for PV cells in the UK because the EU has put in place the minimum import price on those cells from China?
I do not support that decision, but the idea that we should go down the road of leaving the EU, with all the problems that are going to arise, which would cause much greater damage to the environment, simply because we do not agree with one or two key decisions, really is the definition of someone throwing their toys out of the pram. That is not a sensible way forward.
Is the hon. Lady as concerned as I am that when we leave the single market and the customs union, the birds and habitats directive, which protects migratory species and Britain’s special places for special wildlife, will cease to apply in this country, affecting all environmental impact assessments? Is she also concerned that air pollution standards that are currently set and enforced by the European Union could be downgraded?
I absolutely share the hon. Lady’s concerns. On the air pollution issue, we have seen very recently that it was precisely the threat of EU sanctions that eventually got this Government moving when it came to dealing with the problem. Without the extra sanction at the EU level, they simply would not have taken the necessary action. I think that absolutely makes the point.
Since its establishment, the European Chemicals Agency has built up a staff of over 600. Together with the EU Directorate-General for the environment in the UK, it has become the natural home of chemical risk assessment in Europe. Does the hon. Lady agree and share my concern that the UK does not have the resources—financial or human—to create its own regulatory agency in chemicals?
The hon. Gentleman is a fellow member of the Environmental Audit Committee, and just this week he and I heard experts give evidence about the impact on our chemicals industry of leaving the EU, and, in particular, of losing membership of the REACH directive. This country has not the capacity or the resource simply to step in and take that over.
Our Committee heard yesterday from industry representatives that British chemical manufacturers could pay up to €300 million, and have already paid about €130 million, to register chemicals with the REACH database and the European Chemicals Agency. Those sunk costs, which must be incurred by 2018, could be lost to UK industry as a result of the duplication of setting up a UK-based chemicals agency. Does the hon. Lady share my concern about that?
Order. I do not know what more I have to say. I gave an indication that I wanted to enable as many Members possible to speak. A significant number of Members have not spoken at all during the three days of this debate, and that is hard on some Members who have tabled new clauses or amendments and wish to speak. I want to try to give a fair crack of the whip to those who have not spoken at all, but long interventions and long speeches do not help that process.
I apologise, Sir Roger. I know that my hon. Friend Mary Creagh—who chairs the Environmental Audit Committee—tried to make some of these points for hours yesterday, but I will confine myself to saying that I agree with what she has said. I think that the impact on our chemical industry has been massively underestimated. Given that it is our second largest manufacturing export and given that at least 50% of those exports go to the EU, the impact on the sector will be massive.
If the Government are serious in their ambition to be the first Government to leave the environment in a better condition than the condition in which they found it, Ministers must now explain to us in detail how the legislative system for monitoring and enforcement will be replaced. I find it astonishing that they expect us to vote for the Bill without being given any idea of what the present complex, robust and unique system of legal enforcement might look like when we leave.
In evidence given to the Environment Audit Committee, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds made the important point that the European Court of Justice operates on a slightly broader basis than the Supreme Court in the UK, which must follow narrower due process. It is therefore possible that great swathes of environmental protections, once transferred to UK statute, will in effect become redundant owing to the absence of monitoring and enforcement by the European Commission and the European Court of Justice. That loss of an effective judicial system will come at a time when UK regulators, tasked with monitoring compliance with environmental legislation, have had their own budgets slashed. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has a third of the staff that it had 10 years ago. Furthermore, because the great repeal Bill will not carry over the jurisprudence from the European Court of Justice, we seem to be set to lose the important case law which, for the past 40 years, has proved so effective in protecting the UK environment.
I agree, and the same applies to the European Food Safety Agency. Some of the new clauses draw attention to the fact that we still need to have access to those bodies. It strikes me as completely baffling that the hon. Member for Fareham can somehow think it insulting to her constituents for us to be talking about such vitally important new clauses.
This is not only an issue of law relating directly to wildlife and nature. As it stands, the Government’s push for an extreme Brexit opens the way for changes in key environmental policies relating to air, water, waste, food and much more, all of which will have an impact, direct or indirect, on UK biodiversity and our natural environment. For all those reasons, I think that new clauses which are intended to protect our environment, and which ask for that protection to be guaranteed before article 50 is triggered, make good sense.
I will end my speech in just 30 seconds, Sir Roger. Let me simply say that I particularly support new clause 100, about which Jess Phillips spoke so passionately and eloquently. In recent weeks we have heard repeated and welcome assurances from Ministers that workers’ and women’s rights will be protected. If that is the case, let us get the new clause into the Bill. Let us ensure that this will not be rolled back through secondary legislation.
I propose to sit down at 4.50 pm, because it is important that we get as many Members in as possible, and it is also important to give an example to Patrick Grady, who, sadly, is not in his seat today, so he can understand that courtesy to the House and to other speakers—and to Mary Creagh, who waited so patiently yesterday—is actually quite important. Good manners are something we should never forget in this place, even if the Scottish National party is not always acquainted with those manners.
Turning to new clause 2, my concern—other than the fact that I do not agree with its proposals—is that it does not include as a priority the fact that we should leave the internal market. We should leave it for two key reasons. First, we cannot carry on writing out cheques for billions of pounds to Brussels. That was a very clear instruction from the referendum and it should be honoured. Secondly, as Caroline Flint alluded to in her principled and considered speech, not enough has been done on the matter of immigration and unchecked migration from Europe—freedom of movement, as it is called. It is a great concern to our constituents and it must end, and it cannot end unless we leave the internal market, so that must be our priority. We must leave the internal market so that we can save our money and also so that we can control our borders.
That is difficult for the metropolitan elite of the SNP and the metropolitan elite who run the Labour party these days, who are completely divorced from how people in the regions of England and Wales and elsewhere feel. They feel very deeply about controlling our borders and controlling migration. They feel very deeply about that in my constituency of Dover. [Interruption.] I am being challenged: it is being said that I was not a leaver, and that is true. I made the case for remain because I was concerned about our border at Dover, but the decision has been made and we need to honour it, understand why it happened and implement it as quickly as possible, with a clean Brexit and a clean Bill to do so.
I thank the hon. Gentleman for his graciousness in allowing me to intervene. He and many of his colleagues have claimed that the decision to leave the EU will mean we can take back control of our borders. Can he gently and slowly explain to those of us in Northern Ireland how he is going to take back control of the border, which stretches for about 300 miles, between the Republic of Ireland, which remains within the EU, and Northern Ireland, part of the UK and which therefore will be coming out of the EU? How do we retain control of that?
I thank the hon. Lady for making a very important point. The common travel area must be maintained. We have a strong history of that between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and the Prime Minister has set it out as a key priority for her. [Interruption.] The hon. Lady’s intervention brings me neatly to the next issue: the customs union. [Interruption.] I am answering the hon. Lady’s question.
There are sedentary interventions asking my hon. Friend how we might do that. Let me give a constructive suggestion. Because of the common travel area and the rights of Irish citizens in the United Kingdom, which are also reciprocal, it seems to me that there is no need to have checks on people movements across the border, and from the conversations we had earlier about the fact that most customs checks can be done electronically, it seems to me that we can perfectly well maintain a soft border and the prosperity of both parts of the island of Ireland when we leave the EU.
I cannot take an intervention as I need to let others get in.
In the last minute, I want to touch on the issue of the customs union. It is clear in the decision that we want to enter trade agreements elsewhere in the world that we must leave the customs union. Opposition parties say that will all be a terrible disaster; in fact, as always, they hope it will be a complete disaster. But, on this side of the House, Members like me have been putting together industry groups to look at how it can be done, listening to what HMRC says, listening to how checks can be put in place, and listening to how we can construct a frictionless border that will work for Britain and work for Europe. It is in the interests of both—
No, not at the moment.
It is in the interests of Britain and the European Union that we construct a frictionless border, and that is why I am also in discussions with the authorities in Calais. It is in the interests of Britain and France, of Dover and Calais, and of the United Kingdom and the European Union that we ensure that this works. We need to embrace electronic bills of lading, risk-based checking and audits in workplaces. We need to treat the border as a tax point rather than as a hard place with border posts. That is a further answer to Lady Hermon. That is how we can ensure that we continue to have frictionless trade even if we have to leave the customs union. On that note, and given your injunction, Sir Roger, I shall conclude my remarks so that others may speak.
I rise to speak to new clause 163, which stands in my name and would require the Government to publish a strategy for properly consulting the English regions, including those without directly elected mayors. We are getting ever closer to the Prime Minister’s self-imposed
To remind the House—and the Secretary of State, who is in his place—I asked him what discussions he had held with key stakeholders in the north-east about the effects of leaving the single market, given that 58% of our region’s exports go to the EU. I received an entirely unsatisfactory response to that question, and I remain concerned that the Government have ruled out membership of the single market before negotiations have even begun and without properly consulting those parts of the country likely to be most affected by this move.
Even more worrying is the fact that, despite the publication of the Government’s White Paper last week, we are still no closer to knowing what role representatives from all the regions of England, including the north-east, will play in informing the Government’s negotiating strategy and objectives. Instead, we have been provided with this entirely meaningless statement:
“In seeking such a future, we will look to secure the specific interests of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as well as those of all parts of England.”
Does my hon. Friend agree that comments from Members such as Suella Fernandes about the port of Liverpool, which is in my constituency, having been in some decline are complete nonsense? The port is doing more tonnage than it has ever done, and it has recently had £350 million of investment. Conservative Members do not realise the good that the regions do for the economy.
I am pleased that I took that intervention. My hon. Friend makes a strong case for why the Government’s “we know best” approach to the Brexit negotiations just will not wash with the British public. Furthermore, the word “region” appears just four times in the White Paper, and three of those references are in the footnotes.
The Government claim that around 150 stakeholder engagement events have taken place to help to inform the Government’s understanding of the key issues ahead of the negotiations, but I would be interested to know when, where and with whom those meetings were held. We know that the Secretary of State made a vague commitment in the House to
“get all the mayors of the north to come and have a meeting in York”—[Official Report,
Vol. 619, c. 802.]
but of course that cannot happen until after the mayoral elections have been held in May. I appreciate the sentiment behind the offer, but it is wholly inadequate. What will happen to those regions, including the north-east, that will not have an elected mayor after May and will therefore be excluded from that meeting? Surely, if the English regions are to have a truly meaningful input to this process, those discussions must start before May, given that the UK’s negotiations with the EU will already have commenced, and given the incredibly tight two-year timescale for achieving a deal that does not damage jobs and our economy.
We are repeatedly told that Brexit was about taking back control. We now know that that means an unelected Prime Minister who has sought every means possible to avoid scrutiny of her approach—ploughing ahead with a hard Brexit, regardless of the consequences for different parts of the country. I am not convinced that people voted for that. I am not convinced that this Whitehall-knows-best approach will get the best deal for everybody up and down the country.
The only way for the Government to secure the best possible deal for all the regions—the north-east in particular—which have so much to lose from a bad deal, is to engage properly with those on the ground about what we need. That is why I am supporting new clause 163, which would compel the Government to ensure that that proper consultation took place.
Sir Roger, you will be pleased to know that I have never spoken for more than four minutes in the Chamber—I have never had the opportunity—and I do not intend to start now.
I agree with the intention and emotion behind many of the amendments tabled by hon. Members from across the House, but I do not support them simply because I do not want the Prime Minister’s hands to be tied throughout the negotiations. I campaigned fiercely to stay in the EU as I passionately believed that it was in Britain’s interests to do so, and I have not changed my mind. I agree with everything my right hon. and learned Friend Mr Clarke said last week and that, in addition to the economic implications, we will lose a tremendous amount of influence. However, there is one difference between me and him: I voted for the referendum and I have to accept the result. It may have been advisory, but the public, including those in Portsmouth South, voted to come out of the EU, and I respect that. I will be monitoring the negotiations closely, and I am pleased with yesterday’s reassurance that there will be a vote in good time on the final deal. It may be that we will get a very good deal, and that is why I cannot support new clause 2, which is too limiting.
I understand new clause 100, which was eloquently introduced by my hon. Friend—I will call her that—Jess Phillips, but I hope that those who added their name to it will agree that the matter is already being addressed through the Women and Equalities Committee; the Modern Slavery Act 2015, brought in by this Prime Minister; and the Government’s work on domestic violence. We can be assured that what new clause 100 would address will be included in those things. I assure the Opposition that there are enough strong women on the Government Benches, led by a female Prime Minister—[Interruption.] There are strong women in the Opposition, too. Equality and women’s rights are well understood by the Government, and I am sure that there will be cross-party collaboration.
We have already received many assurances from the Prime Minister about EU and UK nationals, so I hope that we will get a firm agreement shortly. The sooner we get on with the negotiations, the better it will be for everyone. This could be a great opportunity for this country, but I will not support any deal that is not better for the UK. That would be a dereliction of duty. However, I have every confidence in the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union—that they will have taken into account the views of people such as me and the intentions behind many of the amendments tabled for debate today. I am confident that the deal will be great for us and for our European friends and neighbours.
It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Sir Roger. I add my support to new clauses 163 and 193, tabled by my hon. Friend Catherine McKinnell and my right hon. Friend Liam Byrne. My hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle upon Tyne North made an excellent speech about why the Government should accept the new clauses, but I want to add something else.
At a meeting of the Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire all-party parliamentary group yesterday, we heard from representatives from the four LEPs, from industry, from the creative industries and from universities, and we agreed to analyse what Brexit means for Yorkshire and the Humber. We agreed on a cross-party basis to submit that analysis to Ministers so that we can analyse not only what leaving the European Union would mean, but what we want to see from the negotiations. As my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle upon Tyne North said, the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union talked about a meeting with mayors in York; that is a very vague promise, and we need to put some meat on its bones.
We heard yesterday that the LEPs have a ministerial champion, which is terrific news, I am sure. Apparently, that champion is the Minister for Climate Change and Industry. I suggest that the Minister of State, Department for Exiting the European Union, Mr Jones asks the LEP champion to draw together the proposals from all the regions—I know that there will be right hon. and hon. Members who would be happy to go back to their regions to see whether a similar plan could be put forward for them all—and then convene the MPs and representatives from the regions, so that we would be on an equal footing with Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and London and really have an input into the process. I urge the Minister to look carefully at that proposal.
I turn to new clause 193, tabled by my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Hodge Hill. You are, Sir Roger, the leader of the UK delegation to the Council of Europe. I am sure Members will be aware of the different media reports on the Government’s view of the European convention on human rights, so I hope that the Minister will accept the new clause to dispel, once and for all, any doubts about the Government’s view of the Council of Europe and the convention. The Prime Minister said that we need to be a good neighbour to other European countries; accepting the new clause would be a way to illustrate that. We must not vacate such global platforms and we need to continue to have a voice in Europe, so I hope the Minister will accept the proposals I have outlined.
I, too, will try to be brief. Like many colleagues, I voted to remain, but I was clear at the time that I would be bound by the result in both my constituency and the country. The result in the Wells constituency was that we should leave, as it was in the country at large, so that is what we must do.
I am baffled by the number of amendments that have been tabled to the Bill, not because they lack value or do not make good points about our extraction from the EU—they obviously do—but because, as the shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, Keir Starmer, rightly said on Second Reading, primary legislation will follow the triggering of article 50, and both Houses of Parliament will have an important role in scrutinising that legislation and what we do in the negotiations. I certainly intend to play a full part in that scrutiny, as I know will Opposition Members.
Earlier, we were discussing the impact of free trade agreements, particularly on our farmers. It stands to reason that when free trade agreements are introduced, they, too, will be scrutinised by the House, so the interests of the farmers and food producers in our constituencies can be brought to bear then to ensure that the deals are in their interests.
I associate myself with the comments made by so many colleagues about the rights of EU nationals to remain in the UK. In Somerset, people from elsewhere in the EU play a huge part in our local economy, particularly in our tourism, farming, and food and drink manufacturing industries. It is inconceivable to me that they would ever have their right to be here taken away.
On Euratom, Hinkley Points A and B are in the neighbouring constituency to mine, and we will soon be the neighbour of Hinkley Point C, too. It is clear to me that the UK nuclear industry has a world-class reputation for having the very highest regulatory standards. Those standards have been developed within the Euratom framework, but we should be clear that the United States, Japan and China also operate within that framework, without their being members of the European Union. I fully expect that we will do the same when we have left Euratom by virtue of our leaving the European Union.
Those who have expressed any doubt that the Government will seek to continue to maintain the highest safety standards in our nuclear industry are perhaps not giving them the credit that they deserve. We have always set those standards, and we will always do so whether or not we are in the EU and Euratom. As for the willingness of other nations in Euratom to want to continue to co-operate with us, I am certain that they will. The French Government are very heavily invested in EDF, and it is inconceivable that they will not want their operations here in the UK to remain a part of the common regulatory framework across the European continent.
The Government have rightly committed to working with the industry and with all the nuclear research bodies in the country to make sure that they fully understand what the priorities of that sector are within the UK, so that those needs can be met with whatever it is that we put in place once we have left Euratom.
The UK’s nuclear industry is the gold standard globally. Many countries want their technologies to be employed here so that they can have the tick to say that their technologies have been approved for operation in the UK. It is apparent to me, therefore, that, as we put in place regulatory standards in the future, we will want to maintain that high standard and our great reputation around the world. Crucially, this House of Commons will have an important role in that.
My final point on energy policy generally is to encourage the Government to clarify that they see a clear distinction between the EU single market and the EU single internal energy market. From the perspective of security of supply, of cost and of decarbonisation, it is in our interests—
The hon. Gentleman is making a very good point now. In fact, it is exactly the point that I would have made had I been called. He is absolutely right. Does he agree that, if we leave the single energy market and lose the interconnectors, we will need higher baseload capacity, which will cost more, and electricity prices will shoot up?
I absolutely agree that, from an energy perspective, the interconnection of the UK and the European mainland is hugely important, but my point is that that is not a part of the EU single market. The EU’s internal energy market is a separate entity. I invite the Government to clarify the fact that they recognise that and that their commitment to leaving the European single market, which I fully understand, is distinct from a continued enthusiasm for the internal energy market, which is an entirely separate thing and hugely to our benefit.
The will of my constituents and our country is clear: we have been instructed to leave. It is not what I voted for, but it is what we will do now. The process starts with this binary decision of whether or not to trigger article 50. The Bill, without amendment, does exactly that. As we go forward, the role of this House and our responsibilities to our constituents are clear: we must engage fully in scrutinising all the legislation that comes forward as a result of the negotiations. Those who have suggested that to not amend the Bill now is somehow an abdication of our responsibility to our constituents are just wrong. Our responsibility as a House is to be bound by the result of the referendum to trigger article 50 and then to bring all of our expertise together in scrutinising the legislation that follows, as we do on all other legislation.
It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Sir Roger. I want to speak to new clause 193, which is in my name and the names of my hon. and right hon. Friends. I tabled it in the hope that the Minister would take it on board. I want to give the Government a chance this afternoon to set out their pro-European credentials.
As my right hon. Friend Dame Rosie Winterton so eloquently put it, the Prime Minister has said that, yes, we may be leaving the European Union, but that we intend to be good European neighbours. New clause 193 is an opportunity for the Government to set out how we, in this country, will remain determined to stay a member of one of the most important European clubs, the European club that we helped to found—the Council of Europe, the European convention on human rights and the European Court of Human Rights.
We moved the new clause because one of the most significant consequences of this divorce from Europe is that we will leave the European Court of Justice. Indeed, an important part of the leave campaign’s argument was that we must escape from the tutelage of these terrible European judges and that only British judges are good enough for us—unless, of course, they happen to want to give this Parliament a chance to debate this Bill, in which case they instantly become enemies of the people.
This idea that foreign judges are anathema to this place is, of course, complete fiction. This very afternoon, the Government have solicited our support for CETA—the comprehensive economic trade agreement—replete with the new investor state dispute mechanism, a new court populated not with British judges but with foreign judges. The idea that foreign judges are about to be removed or extracted from the body politic in this country is nonsense, and that is why I think we must argue that one of the most important tribunals that oversees the law in this country should remain in place. That court is the European Court of Human Rights.
The right hon. Gentleman makes a fundamental point about our sympathy not only with our European partners but with our common European heritage, stemming straight out of Judeo-Christian theology through the Enlightenment and various schools at Paris and the Sorbonne, into the concept of rights that has emerged. Those rights were not simply created by the Council of Europe, as he seems to be claiming, but rather by British judges over several hundred years—admittedly taken from French and other traditions—and were re-imposed on Europe in the aftermath of the second world war. Although that heritage is important, as he rightly claims, would it not also be appropriate to recognise that some of those judges today are Moldovan and Russian and have been rather more prone to look for dictatorial abuse than to guarantee rights?
There is a reason why Russia has had its credentials suspended by the Council of Europe, and that is that it is not prepared to honour the great European Magna Carta that British civil servants helped to draw up under Churchill’s inspiration in the years after the second world war.
The Conservative manifesto—
The Conservative manifesto is not well read on the Government Benches; we study it forensically and in detail. In 2010, the manifesto said that the Conservatives would introduce a British Bill of Rights, replace the Human Rights Act and ensure that the European Court of Human Rights was no longer binding over the UK Supreme Court, ensuring that the European Court of Human Rights could no longer change British laws. That position was repeated in the 2015 manifesto. I hope that the Minister can say that that plan is now in the bin.
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for giving way. I have resisted intervening throughout the course of the debate, but I think I can help him to this extent: I do not know whether he was present during the wind-ups on Second Reading, but I informed the House that the Government have no plans to withdraw from the European convention on human rights.
The Minister is good to put that on the record, but the fact is that there are plans—plans were set out in the Conservative manifesto in 2010 and in 2015, and the draft British Bill of Rights that is circulating in the Ministry of Justice contains similar plans. That is why in August 2016 the Justice Secretary told the House that a British Bill of Rights would be introduced, and the House wants categorically to know whether that British Bill of Rights will have the implication and result of taking us out of the European Court of Human Rights. That is the point that I want the Minister to put beyond doubt by accepting new clause 193.
May I give the right hon. Gentleman some reassurance on two points? First, having served as the Minister responsible for human rights, I can say that it was never in the Conservative plans for a Bill of Rights to pull out of the European convention on human rights. I made that clear monthly at Justice questions. Secondly, precisely because the Council of Europe is completely independent from the EU, this is an entirely meaningless amendment.
Let me help to set the right hon. Gentleman’s mind at rest. I am sure that I have heard the Prime Minister say publicly—I think, during her leadership campaign—that she was abandoning plans to leave the European convention on human rights because she accepted that she could not win a parliamentary majority for such a proposal.
I am grateful to the right hon. and learned Gentleman for that point, but I would like the question put beyond doubt by asking the Minister to accept new clause 193, which would give us a degree of assurance. Mr Clarke is perfectly prepared to vote against his own Whip in order to seek cast-iron reassurances, and I seek the same level of reassurance this afternoon.
It was back in September 1946 that Winston Churchill went to Zurich and proposed the Council of Europe as a first step towards recreating the European family whose breakdown led to the tragedy of the second world war. In the face of rising risks and threats, those old words are still wise words to guide us.
It is a great pleasure to speak in this Committee of the whole House on the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill. I fully support the Government as they enact the will of the people shown in the European Union referendum, and welcome the White Paper.
Taking them at face value, I agree with some of the new clauses; they look benign and fairly honourable. The problem is that it is illogical to try to muddle the negotiations into the middle of this withdrawal Bill as if it were a Christmas tree Bill. I shall speak briefly about some of my constituents’ concerns, and set out my own view on new clause 2. I will not be supporting it because although it seems agreeable and benign, it does not mention migration. The Prime Minister spoke today about the priority she will place on the UK’s need for highly skilled workers from the EU throughout the negotiation process. The new clause fails to deal with that.
Anyone who has been part of any negotiation, particularly in the private sector, will be only too aware of the importance of not having our hands tied behind our back as we go into the process. Revealing our complete negotiation strategy at the start seems somewhat absurd. The aim of the Opposition’s new clause is simply to fudge the issues by suggesting that they care more about the negotiating principles than the Government do. The Prime Minister laid out guiding principles in her Lancaster House speech. My constituents on both sides of the referendum debate appreciated that speech and welcomed those principles. Many people are simply asking us politicians to get on with it.
I welcome all the contributions from speakers across the Committee over the past few days. The debate has been fascinating, and it has been important to be a part of it. Inevitably, the fine details will be part of the key negotiations to enact the will of the people in the coming months and years. Local businesses have spoken to me about the need to move forward. They are having to make key decisions about their staffing and arrangements, and wish that politicians would do exactly the same.
One of the issues I have found most surprising during the Committee stage is the attempt by some to suggest that various leave campaigns’ proposals were some kind of direct manifesto that the Government ought to follow to the letter. The Government are seeking to enact the will of the people, and to negotiate a strong and appropriate deal. We are in a post-referendum phase, but despite having been in Committee over the past few days—it feels like weeks—it appears that that is something the Liberal Democrats are gleefully unaware of. These are likely to be the most complex negotiations that the country will ever enter into, and the effects will be far ranging. Free trade treaties have been referred to a great deal, with separate sectors needing separate discussions and focus points. It is absolutely right that they should be separate from the Bill.
Taking anything but the smartest approach to this issue would be letting down our constituents, so I will not be supporting these weak attempts to dilute the Bill. Instead, I will be putting my trust in the Prime Minister and the work she will do in the national interest. As I said earlier, I find it objectionable that new clause 100 suggests that the Prime Minister and Government Members would somehow put women’s rights back because of this Bill—our Prime Minister, who did so much on this issue as Home Secretary, when she was committed to working against FGM, dealing with coercive control and fighting the gender pay gap. It is absolutely wrong to say that, in areas such as women trafficking, the Government and the Prime Minister will somehow just roll over and that these issues will not be a highlight of what we seek to achieve in leaving the EU.
Many of my constituents have rightly asked me about the rights of EU citizens working in this country. I totally agree with Caroline Flint about tone of the debate on this: it is very frightening and nerve-racking for constituents, and we are keen to protect all our constituents. No one in this Chamber is in any doubt about the huge contribution that EU citizens make to our economy, our society, our culture, our tourism industry and our national life, but in planning for free movement, issues around homes, doctors and pressures on NHS services have been very difficult to manage.
I was reminded at the recent local enterprise partnership conference that EU students make a positive contribution to my area, and particularly in Eastleigh as they come and go through Southampton airport. However, I would expect this House to have the same view of the contribution that our citizens make in other EU countries, so we need to make sure that we take a balanced approach.
All Members of this House do great casework in their constituencies. Often, we are dealing with international and EU citizens with immigration and homelessness issues, which are complicated and difficult. I therefore do not understand why there is a feeling that Conservative Members are somehow going to forget the work they do for people who may be married intercontinentally and who may have issues we need to resolve. In some cases, I have helped to get passports so that members of families can go to funerals, and I have helped with other issues that people needed help with. Ultimately, these people have complicated and difficult lives too.
In terms of the Bill, I believe we all understand that we need a mutual recognition of the work UK citizens do abroad and the work EU citizens do here. We also need recognition of all that Members of Parliament do to help to resolve the issues that affect all our communities. I do not believe that that will somehow change because of this Bill and that we will forget what we have to do for our constituents.
The Prime Minister was very clear today at Prime Minister’s questions about her intention at a priority first stage to look after all our citizens at home and abroad. I fully support her in the work she does, and I believe we will eventually get a deal that is right for the UK—a UK that is open and strong and that looks to the future. I will support the Bill, and I go back to my previous point: it is a notification of withdrawal—it is not about negotiations.
I would like to speak to new clause 192, to which I have added my name, about Euratom. A number of Conservative Members have spoken with great knowledge about the nuclear industry today, and as chair of the all-party group on nuclear energy I invite them all to join us and to come to our meetings to share their knowledge.
The nuclear industry is critical to my constituency in west Cumbria. Because of that, I have probably had an unusual inbox compared with most hon. Members, in that I have had a large number of direct emails from concerned constituents about the proposed withdrawal from the Euratom treaty. Those constituents are particularly concerned because of the significant negative impact that withdrawal could have on the nuclear industry in the UK. They believe it unnecessary and ill-considered, and are concerned that it will create great disruption in the nuclear industry at a time when we really need to be pressing forward with our nuclear new build programme.
Euratom has had a significant role in establishing its members’ credibility and acceptability in the wider global nuclear community. A constituent has contacted me to say that he believes that exiting will have a significant impact on the cost and the duration of decommissioning, which is of course very important in west Cumbria because of Sellafield. They also believe that the nuclear new build programme at Moorside will be impacted. EDF Energy, which is building the Hinkley Point C project, has said that it believes that ideally the UK should stay in the treaty, as it provides a framework for complying with international standards for handling nuclear materials.
On the issue of safety and materials, another constituent, who worked for very many years as a radiation protection adviser, has been in touch to share his concerns. He has wide experience of applying regulatory controls in workplaces including hospitals, the oil and gas industry, paper and plastics manufacturing, radiography, and the nuclear industry. He says that every one of these is considerably safer today as a result of Euratom—so this is not just about the nuclear industry directly. He goes on to say that he believes it is extremely short-sighted to remove the wealth of information and expertise that has resulted from our membership of Euratom.
The hon. Lady and I share a real enthusiasm for the nuclear industry and host it in or near our constituencies. How, specifically, will our withdrawal from Euratom lead to a diminishment of our expertise in how to regulate the nuclear industry?
I am talking about what constituents who actually work in the industry are telling me. To be honest, I would trust the judgment of my own constituents. In an intervention, I mentioned a constituent who works at the National Nuclear Laboratory, who says that leaving will impair his ability to collaborate with leading scientists and engineers across Europe, to the detriment of science and technology in this country. This is what my constituents are telling me. The hon. Gentleman can choose to disbelieve them—I do not. I trust my constituents.
I do not understand why, when we have conflicting legal opinion on why we have to leave, the Government are insisting so much that we have to. We need to make sure that a rapid exit does not do serious harm to our nuclear industry. We have so much to lose, with so little to gain. I therefore ask Members to support new clause 192.
For the sake of brevity, I will focus, if I may, on new clause 11, which is entitled “Tariff-free trade in goods and services”. Of course, there are no tariffs on services worldwide, so that should be fairly easy to achieve. I take it to mean tariff-free trade in goods and the minimum of barriers to services.
With regard to trade, there are only two realistic outcomes to the negotiations we will have: first, that we negotiate a free-trade agreement continuing tariff-free trade—more or less what we have at present—and secondly, that we move to trading on the basis of most favoured nation tariffs under WTO rules, which is basically what America, China, Japan and Russia, the four most successful countries exporting to the EU, do.
From what I have heard in this House and what I know of the Government’s position, everybody would like us to negotiate continuing tariff-free trade with our European partners. We do not particularly need any clause in this Bill to try to achieve that. Moreover, it is very simple to negotiate. It is very easy to go from zero tariffs to zero tariffs—it can be done in an afternoon. It is not like negotiating the removal of tariffs, as the EU has had to do with Canada. Canada had 5,000 different tariffs, the EU had 12,500 different tariffs, and they had to trade off one against the other.
Tariff-free trade is very simple to negotiate. As far as barriers and services are concerned, if our regulatory systems began to diverge, all we would have to negotiate—after assessing whether or not the matter was serious—is the normal dispute resolution procedure, because after the great repeal Bill we will start with identical regulatory arrangements.
Tariff-free trade is also in the interests of the European Union. We are the biggest single market for the rest of the EU—bigger than the United States, with which it has laboriously been trying for years to negotiate the removal of tariffs. The EU also has a big surplus in trade with us, so it should not be difficult. It is very much in the EU’s interests and it already has free-trade agreements with some 50 other countries that do not involve free movement of labour, paying a contribution or accepting European legislation. It has demonstrated that that is the sort of thing it can do with countries with which it wants free trade.
It might be the case that, within the EU, politics will trump economics. Although it is in its economic interests to continue tariff-free trade with us, the EU may feel it necessary to punish us in order to deter other countries from following our example and their voters from voting for Eurosceptic parties. This House has to acknowledge—few people seem willing to do so—that that will be the EU’s choice. It will either decide to go along with continuing free trade, or it will say, “No. For political reasons, we can’t accept that. We must trade on most favoured nation terms in future.” We cannot go back to it and say, “Sorry. You didn’t give it to us the first time, but the House voted against, so can you give it to us the second time?” If it does not give it to us the first time, it will not give it to us at all.
We need to acknowledge that, although trading on most favoured nation terms is not as good as continuing free trade, it is the second best option and better than continuing with our previous arrangement. If Europe applies the common external tariff to us, most favoured nation tariffs would average 4%. The net contribution that we make to the EU annually is equivalent to 7% of the value of our exports. We are currently paying 7% to avoid a charge of 4%.
Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that if a 4% tariff is imposed, it is possible that the pound will depreciate by the same amount, because we have our own currency?
It is already 15% more competitive than it was a year ago, which dwarfs the average of 4%. We can, of course, give processing relief—that is, remit tariffs—on components that are part of processing and manufacturing chains and that will be re-exported. We will get £12.3 billion of revenues, if we apply the common external tariff to imports from the EU, but our exporters will pay some £6.5 billion of tariffs on their exports to the EU, so we would have ample money to compensate any exporters who were not sufficiently advantaged by a 15% devaluation, and still have billions of pounds to reduce general taxation. We can also, of course, negotiate free trade agreements with the rest of the world and slash unilaterally the tariffs that we currently charge on food, clothing and other things that we do not produce but that mean that our consumers have to pay higher prices to subsidise inefficient producers elsewhere in the EU, instead of importing from, say, the less-developed countries from which we should naturally be importing.
There are many other advantages, but as you have urged brevity, Ms Engel, I will not tell the Committee what they are but hold them back for a future occasion.
It is always interesting to follow Mr Lilley. I will concentrate my brief remarks on Euratom. As the Minister and the Committee will know, its principal goals are the promotion of research and the dissemination of information; the establishment of safety standards; and facilitating investment. It also governs the supply of ore and nuclear fuels.
Euratom establishes a nuclear common market. The Eurosceptics always used to say, “We want to be in the common market,” yet their decision is to pull out of it. I believe that the Government want to retain the principal goals, and they stated on the publication of the Bill that we are leaving Euratom only because of legally binding arrangements, but that is debatable—I have seen conflicting legal advice—and cynics suggest that it is more to do with the European Court of Justice.
The Government say that they support Euratom and want us to continue both to co-operate and to have the highest standards. James Heappey is absolutely right that we are world leaders on nuclear standards, but in co-operation with other countries, which is why it is so important to keep Euratom, the umbrella body.
The purpose of new clause 192, which is supported by the industry and industry bodies, is to continue co-operation and have greater certainty. I have raised this matter with the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, who was very courteous. He said he had met the industry and was sure that we will be able to continue outside Euratom, but that is not what the industry in general believes. John Howell said that the management of the JET energy research programme in Oxfordshire did not want the proposal, but the workforce have lobbied me in great numbers through the union, saying that there are risks if we pull out.
Access to information and data sharing are important. We will be way behind if we pull out. Companies in the industry need to plan in advance; they need that certainty. Euratom deals with nuclear co-operation with the United States. It is ironic that although we are talking about coming out of Europe and trading with the United States, we need to be part of Euratom to get agreements to move fuels to the US, Japan, Canada and other countries. Renegotiating will take an awful long time.
Ideally, the Minister would retain the UK’s membership of Euratom even if we left the European Union. If the Government proceed to give notice to withdraw, we must have an agreement on transitional arrangements. We must also have sufficient time to negotiate and complete new arrangements with EU states and third countries such as the US, Japan and Canada. If in two years an agreement cannot be reached, the UK should remain a member. Our standing in the nuclear industry is at stake, as are jobs and our reputation as a major country in nuclear research. I hope that the Minister takes that on board.
I have listened to a large number of very important contributions this afternoon from right hon. and hon. Members, and a large number of proposals have been considered. I hope that the Committee will forgive me if I say that I prefer—
That is what I was about to say. I would like to address all the amendments if I can, so I hope that the House will forgive me if I take no further interventions.
The amendments serve as a valuable reminder of the numerous important matters that will need to be considered and discussed throughout the process of negotiation. They seek to ensure that specific aspects of our future relationship with the European Union are prioritised by the Government. Let me take this opportunity to tell the House once again that we are committed to delivering the best possible deal for the whole of the United Kingdom. However, we can only set about delivering that deal after we have triggered article 50. It is not appropriate, therefore, to seek to tie the hands of the Government on individual policy areas at this stage; that could only serve to jeopardise our negotiating position.
I will do my best to respond to each of the amendments, given their broad scope, but for the avoidance of doubt, there is a common response to them all: elementally, this is a straightforward procedural Bill that serves only to give the Prime Minister the power to trigger article 50 and thereby respect the result of the referendum. As a consequence, these amendments are not for this Bill. Instead, they are for the many future debates that will take place in this House and the other place—
Thank you, Ms Engel. The amendments will be debated at a later stage.
New clauses 2, 7, 100, 163 and 193, as well as amendments 32, 34, 40 and 55, would require the Prime Minister either to have regard to, or to set out in a report, a number of matters prior to triggering article 50. Those include, but are not limited to, the common travel area with the Republic of Ireland and the preservation of peace in Northern Ireland; tariff-free trade with the European Union; workers’, women’s, human, civil, social and political rights; climate change and environmental standards; and the British economy and economic model. The White Paper published last week sets out our strategic aims for the negotiations and covers many of the topics that hon. Members have addressed in these and other amendments.
With regard to the common travel area, for instance, we have already stressed that we are committed to working with both the Irish Government and the Northern Ireland Executive to recognise the unique economic, social and political context of the land border between the UK and Ireland. We have also made it clear that we are seeking a bold and comprehensive free trade agreement with the European Union that is as tariff-free and frictionless as possible.
On new clause 7, which concerns the preservation of EU tax avoidance measures, the Prime Minister has made it very clear that we will convert the acquis into British law, and that it will then be for the British Parliament to decide on any changes to that law, with appropriate scrutiny. Similarly, amendments 7, 9 and 38 to clause 1 and new clauses 16, 70 and 133 seek to require the Government to commit to a position on specific issues before triggering article 50. Amendment 7, for example, seeks to ensure that the UK continues to participate in EU common foreign and security policy after withdrawal from the European Union. A matter such as that cannot be resolved through unilateral action and, instead, must be clearly addressed through discussion with the other 27 member states of the EU. We have been clear that we want to see continued close co-operation on foreign and security policy with European partners, but those discussions can begin only after article 50 has been triggered.
New clause 16 is designed to ensure that the employment rights of those living or working in the UK will be unaffected by the Bill. The Government have made it clear that not only will there be no change to employment protections as a result of triggering article 50, but we will protect and enhance the rights people have at work.
A further distinct set of amendments, new clause 141 and amendments 29, 35 and 54 to clause 1, seek to clarify the position of Gibraltar. This was addressed most notably by Mike Gapes. The Government are clear that Gibraltar is covered by our proposed exit negotiations. We have committed to fully involving Gibraltar as we prepare for the process of exiting the EU. We must seek a deal that works for Britain, and that deal must work for Gibraltar, too.
A number of amendments tabled by hon. Members raised issues relating to the negotiations. New clauses 11, 12, 21, 76, 77, 104 and 181 relate to our future trading relationship with the EU, and some seek carve-outs for specific areas of the UK economy, such as financial services or the agricultural sector. Again, the Government’s position is clear: the Prime Minister has said that the UK will seek to strike a unique agreement with the European Union that gets the right deal for people at home, and the best deal for Britain abroad.
On new clause 13, the Prime Minister has said that we expect a phased process of implementation in which both the UK and the EU prepare for any new arrangements. This will not, however, be some form of unlimited transitional status; that would be unhelpful for both the UK and the EU. New clauses 15, 166 and 183 also address the UK’s negotiating objectives, but focus on the right to free movement and matters concerning immigration. The precise nature of the deal will be a matter for the negotiations, but let me reassure the Committee that we are seeking a deal that will work for everyone in the UK.
Another set of amendments seeks to ensure that the UK retains its membership of specific European Union agencies. I will first address the issue of Euratom, since many hon. Members have made explicit reference to it, including in new clauses 185, 186 and 192, and in amendments 31, 42 and 89 to clause 1. I would like to explain why, as we trigger article 50, we will also commence the process of leaving Euratom. Although Euratom is a separate treaty-based organisation, it shares a common institutional framework with the EU, making the EU and Euratom uniquely legally joined. The Government’s view is that it would not be possible for the UK to leave the EU and continue its current membership of Euratom. When article 50 is triggered, the UK will therefore leave Euratom as well as the EU. The Government’s aim for this relationship is clear: to maintain the mutually successful civil nuclear co-operation with EU nations. Our exact relationship with Euratom, however, will be subject to negotiations with our EU partners. Those negotiations have not yet started, and cannot start until we have triggered article 50, but we will continue to engage closely with MPs, industry and stakeholders.
New clauses 78 to 97, 170, 172, 174 and 178, and amendments 30 and 32 to clause 1, refer to other specific agencies, bodies and schemes. We recognise the importance of these and stress that we do want close co-operation with our European partners in all these areas, but the Bill is not the place to ensure that; it is a matter for the negotiations. Our intention, as set out in the White Paper, is to leave the EU. It would be wrong to start negotiating our new relationship with our membership of one European body or another already predetermined, and it would be wrong to set out unilateral demands before negotiations have even begun. We recognise the importance of all of these agencies, bodies and schemes, but the nature of our membership of them will be a matter for negotiation with the EU.
Further amendments seek to specify the timing of the triggering of article 50. There are many reasons why the end of March deadline is extremely important. We need to progress now. We have done a great deal of analysis and preparation, and the time is right to get on and serve the article 50 notice.
The issue of EU nationals was once again raised, having been debated earlier this week as well. I want to restate to the House that the Government fully recognise that the issue of EU nationals resident in the UK is an extremely important one that we wish to address as a matter of priority, just as we wish to address the issue of the rights of UK nationals resident in the EU. This, however, must be addressed after the negotiations have commenced.
No, I will not give way.
I am grateful for the contributions of Members to this Committee stage. The Bill respects the judgment of the Supreme Court. I urge right hon. and hon. Members to support both clauses of the Bill. Clause 1 gives the Prime Minister Parliament’s authority to notify the European Council of the UK’s intention to withdraw from the EU. It also makes it clear that this power applies notwithstanding the European Communities Act 1972; this is to address the Supreme Court’s conclusions on the status of the 1972 Act. I urge all right hon. and hon. Members who have tabled amendments not to press them to a Division, so that we can make progress with the Bill, start the process of withdrawal and work to deliver a deal that respects the vote of the British people in the referendum.
In the few seconds left to me, I want to say that we will not withdraw the new clause and we will hold the Government to account in respect of the Secretary of State’s commitment to achieve a deal that provides for the exact same benefits as we enjoy from our current membership of the single market.
The issue of our membership of Euratom has caused concern among Members on both sides of the House, which the Minister failed to allay in his closing remarks. To clear up any doubts, such as those that James Heappey expressed, I remind the House that the Nuclear Industry Association has made it clear that we should not leave Euratom. It is not in the interests of the industry or people’s jobs. They will watch how the House votes on new clause 192, and will judge the Government accordingly. I hope that Members will recognise that and vote for the new clause, and for all the other helpful amendments we have tabled.
Question put, That the clause be read a Second time.
The House divided:
Ayes 291, Noes 336.
Division number 152
Question accordingly negatived.
More than five hours having elapsed since the commencement of proceedings, the proceedings were interrupted (Programme Order,
The Chair put forthwith the Questions necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded at that time (
New Clause 7