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Part of European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill – in the House of Commons at 6:30 pm on 8th January 2020.

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Photo of James Duddridge James Duddridge The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union 6:30 pm, 8th January 2020

It is always a pleasure to follow my right hon. Friend Philip Dunne. I think I will be able to reassure him throughout my contribution, particularly on non-regression issues.

We have heard a number of good speeches. In the days since the general election, I have sensed a change in tone in Parliament, an acceptance of that which is happening, and a better debate across the House about what is actually going to happen. [Interruption.] There is a little bit of laughter, or chuntering, as David Linden would call it. I have been an offender in that sense, but I do sense a small change in tone.

I would like to speak to 21 new clauses, but I will focus my time because I understand that the House wants to make progress on the substantive new clauses, as opposed to those that are technically flawed. Some are probing new clauses—that point has been made a number of times—and I hope they are more in number than the substantive new clauses that will be pushed to a vote.

I will first speak to new clause 2, tabled by the official Opposition, and to new clause 51 and new schedule 1, tabled by Joanna Cherry, who has been omnipresent throughout the day. I am grateful to her for her contribution. The amendments relate to the protection of workers’ rights. As the Government have stated and the Prime Minister has confirmed, we are committed to ensuring that workers’ rights are protected as the UK leaves the EU. I want to reiterate that and add some detail. There is no suggestion that this Government would propose, or that this Parliament would allow, a change or regression in workers’ rights to make them lower than currently required by EU law. We have been clear, in fact, that we will protect and continue to improve workers’ rights. We do not need to be in the EU to do that; we can do it on our own.