Charter of Fundamental Rights – Government Report

Part of European Union (Withdrawal) Bill – in the House of Commons at 4:45 pm on 21st November 2017.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mark Harper Mark Harper Conservative, Forest of Dean 4:45 pm, 21st November 2017

That is a very helpful point. There may well be areas in which, because of the nature of the product or service involved, the exact matching of regulations will be judged to be right, but that may well not be the case in every single area. Perhaps what we need is a sensible structure that allows us to have some debates and decide what is the right thing to do, and then have conversations with our European neighbours. That will be one of the big arguments as we negotiate the trade deal, because it is relevant to the extent to which we can then have different arrangements that will enable us to seize the opportunities that are undoubtedly available to us around the globe.

I was on the Remain side, as, indeed, was my hon. Friend. There is also the argument that if we continue to match every single regulation introduced by the European Union, particularly when we have no say in the process, we shall not be gaining any of the benefits of not being in the EU, which would rather defeat the point of leaving in the first place. I certainly believe that, given that the country decided to leave, we need a good, deep relationship with our EU partners so that we can continue to trade with them, but we also need to be able to take full advantage of every opportunity of securing that incremental business from around the globe. My hon. Friend is right, however: we should listen to the businesses that are involved in these sectors, and make the right decisions.

Let me now deal with the specific points made by the right hon. Member for East Ham about amendment 151, which would require the laying of

“regulations to create a fundamental right to the protection of…data.”

There is an argument here about what will or will not be the behaviour of our European partners, both the member states and the Commission. It seems to me that, if we deliver legislation according with the General Data Protection Regulation in our Data Protection Bill, along with other provisions that protect such data, the European Commission may decide, for what will be political reasons, to rule that there is some incompatibility. If the Commissioners have made up their minds, for political reasons, to be mean and horrible to us and try to damage our economy, there is not very much that we can do about that. Even if we were to do what the right hon. Gentleman has suggested, they would just dream up another excuse to damage us.

If that is how the Commission is going to behave, it is not an organisation I would want to be a part of, but I do not take the view that that is what the Commission or the other member states are going to do. It is certainly not the way we have approached the negotiations. The Prime Minister has been very clear that we want a deep and special partnership with our European neighbours. We have made clear—which is relevant on this data issue—that we will have an unconditional relationship with our EU partners on security and intelligence co-operation: that we will use our assets and resources to help to defend and protect European security. On that basis, it would be very churlish if the European Commission were to take the approach the right hon. Gentleman set out.