Customs duties

Part of European Union (Withdrawal) Bill – in the House of Commons at 6:00 pm on 20th December 2017.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Steven Baker Steven Baker The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union 6:00 pm, 20th December 2017

It is ironic that my right hon. and learned Friend and I should be constituency neighbours, and, if I may say so—and as we put on the record on a previous day—friends. It is also ironic that our other Buckinghamshire neighbours have swapped one rebel commander for another. But I think I should move on: I have kicked enough hornets’ nests myself for one day.

Amendment 291 relates to greater parliamentary control over tertiary legislation. As was established during our debates on clause 7 and schedule 7, any statutory instrument transferring or creating such powers will be subject to the affirmative procedure, so Parliament would need to be satisfied with the nature of the power and any procedure attached to it. To provide further reassurance, the normal requirement to produce impact assessments will apply, as appropriate, whenever we replace, abolish or modify functions, including legislative functions. Our amendment 391 will require Ministers, before tabling statutory instruments under the main powers in the Bill, to make various statements explaining the changes that are being made, including any delegations. I assure Members that when considering a transfer or modification of tertiary legislative functions, they will be able to have a fully informed debate before voting on the SIs that make the changes.

Let me now deal with the issue of rights in Gibraltar and new clause 56. Let there be no mistake: we are steadfast in our support for Gibraltar, its people and its economy. Both the EU and the UK have been clear about the fact that the implementation period will be agreed under article 50, and will be part of the withdrawal agreement. Both sides have also been clear about the fact that Gibraltar is covered by the withdrawal agreement and our article 50 exit negotiations.

In legislating for the United Kingdom, the Bill seeks to maintain, whenever practical, the rights and responsibilities that exist in our law at the moment of leaving the EU, and the rights in the UK of those established in Gibraltar are no exception to that. We respect Gibraltar’s own legislative competence, and the fact that it has its own degree of autonomy and responsibilities. That means that it will produce its own equivalent legislation. Indeed, we are committed to fully involving Gibraltar as we prepare for negotiations to leave, to ensure that its priorities are taken properly into account. We are working closely with Gibraltar on that, through, for instance, the dedicated Joint Ministerial Council on Gibraltar EU Negotiations.

The Bill, however, is not the place for legislation on Gibraltar. It does not extend to Gibraltar except in one minor way, namely that by virtue of clause 18(3) the powers in clauses 7 and 17 can be used to amend European parliamentary elections legislation that extends to Gibraltar. I understand, though, the concerns that have been expressed in the amendment. I hope that, in response to them, I can reassure the Committee that Gibraltar’s access to the UK market is already protected by law, and that it is the UK Government’s unshakeable objective to ensure the seamless continuation of existing market access to the UK and enhance it where possible. In financial services, where UK-Gibraltar trade is deepest, that is granted by the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (Gibraltar) Order 2001, on the basis of Gibraltar’s participation in EU structures.

We acknowledge the need to introduce a new legislative framework with which to maintain UK market access provided by the Gibraltar order. It is likely that amendment of that order will be necessary to ensure that it continues to function as intended after EU withdrawal. We consider that this is a better way of maintaining Gibraltar’s access to the UK market than the proposed amendment.