Exiting the Eu: Sectoral Analysis

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:36 pm on 7th November 2017.

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Photo of Matthew Pennycook Matthew Pennycook Shadow Minister (Exiting the European Union) 12:36 pm, 7th November 2017

Here we are again, Mr Speaker. As you will know, Members from both sides of the House have repeatedly requested that the 58 sectoral analyses undertaken by the Government be released. On each occasion prior to last Wednesday’s debate on our motion, Ministers argued that publication of these analyses would compromise the UK’s negotiating position. On no occasion did Ministers argue or imply that the information did not exist as discrete documents, yet yesterday, in his letter to the Chair of the Brexit Committee, that was precisely what the Secretary of State argued. Can the Minister tell the House why, if the information that Members have repeatedly called for does not exist as a series of discrete impact assessments, a clear impression has been allowed to develop over many months that it does?

In a response dated 29 September 2017 to a freedom of information request submitted by my hon. Friend Seema Malhotra requesting details about the analyses and their publication, the Department’s FOI Team stated:

“the Department for Exiting the European Union…holds the information you have requested”.

Yet in the Secretary of State’s letter to the Chair of the Select Committee, he implies that it will take time to collate and bring together the information because some of it is held by other Government Departments. Can the Minister confirm that the information given by his Department’s FOI Team on 29 September is correct and that the Department holds the information? If not, why was the Department’s FOI team permitted to state that the information is held? If the Department holds some of the information but not all of it, what is preventing the information that is available from being released to the Brexit Committee immediately?

This farce has dragged on for far too long. Ministers cannot use semantics and doublespeak to avoid the clear instruction that this House has given. There can be no further delay; Ministers just need to get on with it.