Of course the Government have engaged extensively on EU exit with businesses and industries across all sectors of the economy and all regions of the UK. I am pleased to tell the House that I visited Tees valley to discuss EU exit issues with representatives of the chemical sector, including the bioethanol industry, and they made it very clear that supporting the Prime Minister’s deal is the one way they can get certainty and clarity.
I thank the Minister for his response but, on behalf of the British bioethanol industry, may I highlight the devastating impact that a zero-tariff regime would have on the industry? Tariffs ensure a level playing field, and the UK industry cannot compete with US bioethanol, which has substantially lower energy costs and feedstock prices. The biofuel plant at Wilton in my constituency is only just about to restart after a production pause, but with reduced operations. British jobs are hanging in the balance.
Will the Minister meet members of the bioethanol industry again to reassure them on this point? Will he assure the House today that a zero-tariff regime for bioethanol will not come into force at any point, deal or no deal?
As the hon. Lady knows, I am of open disposition. I am happy to meet representatives of any industry, particularly from her constituency. I make it clear that the political declaration clearly states that the EU and UK will agree on a free trade area for goods. There is no question of having damaging tariffs, in the way she describes, on the industries she mentions.
I am grateful, Mr Speaker.
Paul Flynn never told me that I have star quality, but he did say that I might have a fighting chance if I bought his book.
Is the Minister, like me, opposed to unnecessary testing on animals? If he is, will he make sure that, as we seek to replicate regulatory regimes on the chemical industry, not a single unnecessary duplicate test is conducted on animals in this country?
This issue definitely came up in the debates on the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 last summer, and it was very much the Government’s position at the time that we would try to maintain standards on the protection of animal rights.
And the regulations. I am determined to resist any idea of a second referendum, because that would extend the uncertainty and lack of clarity.