Draft EU-Canada Trade Agreement Order

Part of Food Advertising (Protection of Children from Targeting) – in the House of Commons at 1:19 pm on 26th June 2018.

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Photo of Barry Gardiner Barry Gardiner Shadow Minister (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Climate Change), Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade 1:19 pm, 26th June 2018

I see a lot of Members standing. I am happy to give way later in my remarks but I want to make progress now.

The debate has been pending since the European Scrutiny Committee granted a scrutiny waiver to the Secretary of State in October 2016 to proceed with signing the agreement in order to bring the trade elements, but not the investment elements, into provisional application. That waiver was on the express condition that there was prior debate on the Floor of the House. That debate did not take place.

It is unusual to bring a statutory instrument to the Floor of the House rather than to a Delegated Legislation Committee. The Government are pretending to have afforded the House the opportunity to properly debate and scrutinise a controversial agreement and one of the most extensive that the country has entered into—the Secretary of State has admitted as much. However, at this stage it is all too late. The agreement is signed and cannot be renegotiated.

On 5 July 2016, the European Commission published its proposals for the signature and provisional application of CETA. On 7 September 2016, the European Scrutiny Committee recommended an urgent debate on the Floor of the House, noting the significant political and legal importance of the agreement. On 6 October 2016, the Minister sought clearance from the Committee to sign the agreement without having such a debate. On 12 October 2016, the Committee granted the Government a conditional scrutiny waiver, allowing them to proceed with signing the agreement only after a debate on the Floor of the House—the Committee directed the Government to ensure such a debate. [Interruption.] I hear the Secretary of State muttering from a sedentary position, “Process, process, process,” but process is how the House ensures proper transparency and scrutiny.

On 17 October 2016, the Secretary of State advised the Committee that it was his intention to override scrutiny and proceed not only with the signature of the agreement but with its provisional application, despite the controversy attached to it and despite the fact that the House had been given no opportunity to scrutinise or debate it.