Eurotunnel: Payment

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:45 pm on 4th March 2019.

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Photo of Matthew Hancock Matthew Hancock Secretary of State for Health and Social Care 5:45 pm, 4th March 2019

I would like to update the House on the settlement that the Government have reached with Eurotunnel, which will help to deliver the unhindered supply of vital medicines and medical devices in the case of a no-deal Brexit.

The best way to ensure a smooth and orderly exit from the EU, both for the NHS and for the wider economy, is to support the deal that the Attorney General is currently finalising. Anyone in this House who cares about the unhindered supply of medicines should vote for that deal, but leaving the EU without a deal remains the default position under the law, and it is incumbent on us to keep people safe. It is therefore vital that adequate contingency measures are in place for any Brexit scenario.

Preparing for a no-deal exit has required significant effort from the NHS, the pharmaceutical industry and the whole medical supply chain, and I pay tribute to their work and thank them for their efforts on these contingency measures. The settlement struck between the Government and Eurotunnel last week is an important part of these measures. Because of the legal action taken by Eurotunnel and the legal risks of the court case, it became clear that, without this settlement, we could no longer be confident of the unhindered supply of medicines. Without this settlement, the ferry capacity needed to be confident of supply was at risk. As a Government, we could not take that risk, and I doubt anyone in this House would have accepted that risk, either. With this settlement we can be confident, as long as everyone does what they need to do, that supply will continue unhindered. Under the settlement, Eurotunnel has to spend the money on improving resilience, security and traffic flow at the border, benefiting both passengers and business.

The Department for Transport, on behalf of the whole Government, entered into these contracts in good faith. Our duty is to keep people safe, whatever complications are thrown up. Although we continue to plan for all eventualities, it is clear that the best way to reduce all these risks is to vote for the deal in the days to come.