Irish Border: Customs Arrangements

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:41 pm on 1st October 2019.

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Photo of James Duddridge James Duddridge Chair, High Speed Rail (West Midlands - Crewe) Bill Select Committee (Commons) , The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union 12:41 pm, 1st October 2019

There were eight or nine questions there, and I will try to cover them all, but if I do not, perhaps we will pick them up in questions. I think it is completely reasonable that the Government can use non-papers to have those technical discussions. The Government are seeking to have a good discussion with the Commission, rather than disguising anything. The previous Government shared more, and actually it led to proposals being rubbished before they were properly worked through. These technical papers are not even our final proposals to the Commission—they are very much working documents—but we will be giving proposals to the Commission shortly.

Clearly, the Government will want to comply with subsection (2)(b). The right hon. Gentleman asked about legal advice. I think he will understand that I am not going to get into whether legal advice has been taken, or what legal advice has been given; for normal reasons, those things are not shared with the House. He asked about the impact of physical checks. There is no intention to have physical checks at the border. I am not choosing my words carefully there; there are no plans to do that, I can reassure him. Perhaps he was thinking about some of the reports in the Northern Ireland press suggesting there might be checks near the border. That is not the intention. Those reports simply are incorrect. The right hon. Gentleman also referred to GPS and technology. I am afraid I cannot get into the detail of the proposals at that level now, because they are subject to ongoing negotiations and discussions at the Commission.