Exiting the European Union (Consumer Protection)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:08 pm on 2nd April 2019.

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Photo of Bill Esterson Bill Esterson Shadow Minister (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Shadow Minister (International Trade) 3:08 pm, 2nd April 2019

I am delighted to welcome the passing of that Bill. I was not quite sure what that intervention was going to be about. I agree that it is an extremely welcome and important piece of legislation that has made progress in the other place.

The TUC and the CBI are calling for a plan B. I hope that, as we make further progress in finding alternatives tomorrow, we do that and avoid a no deal. If that is the case, the Minister will not have to invoke these regulations.

The revocation of the geo-blocking regulation is not the largest single impact of no deal; it is a small example of the consequences, and I hope it is not needed. I hope that the Minister and all hon. Members agree with that point.

I have a couple of questions for the Minister in addition to what I asked her earlier. I understand that there are businesses in the UK that currently use hosting services from EU providers. Can she reassure them about how that access will continue if the geo-blocking regulation is revoked in the event of no deal? The impact assessment takes a very narrow view and does not comment on the number of individuals using services from the EU in this way under the regulation. I hope that the Minister can give some sense of what the impact would be, what the likely outcome is, and how the Government propose to protect businesses in the event of no deal in this respect.

Consumers currently enjoy the ability to buy services and goods from across the EU. Will the Minister indicate whether the Government have assessed what the impact on them will be in relation to access to services and registration? Will businesses in this country be able to buy services from within the EU if the regulation is revoked?

I and other hon. Members have asked questions about the damage that no deal will do on a small scale through this one set of regulations. One way to express it is to say that these regulations show that the Government have failed to prepare; another is to say that they have not prepared because it simply is not possible to prepare for no deal. These regulations, like so much else that is going on at the moment, given the looming prospect of no deal, demonstrate that. We can overcome the danger of a disaster only by avoiding no deal. I hope that hon. Members from all parties will take note of that and will try to find alternatives. The Government’s deal will not go through, so an alternative needs to be found.