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Seaborne Freight

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:41 pm on 8th January 2019.

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Photo of Joanna Cherry Joanna Cherry Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Justice and Home Affairs), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Justice), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Home Affairs) 1:41 pm, 8th January 2019

I am very concerned about the legality of this procurement process. In his statement yesterday, the Secretary of State said that he had proceeded under regulation 32 of the Public Contracts Regulations 2015, which allows the Government to circumvent the normal, transparent and EU-mandated procedures. I have a copy of the contract notice here, which is freely available on the internet, and it says that the basis for proceeding under regulation 32 is “extreme urgency.” As my hon. Friend Alan Brown said, the idea that no deal is a possibility and, to quote the Prime Minister, that no deal is better than a bad deal has been around for some time, so how can the Government, at this late stage, justify proceeding with procurement that is appropriate only in the case of extreme urgency?

I have two questions for the Secretary of State and, just for once, my constituents would like to hear an answer. First, will he release the legal advice that permitted him to proceed under regulation 32? Secondly, as he will be aware, if he has proceeded wrongly under regulation 32, his Department and the Government are open to legal action. How much money has been set aside for the contingency of court action about the illegality of the procurement process and a claim for damages?