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Interpretation

Part of European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill – in the House of Commons at 6:45 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 6:45 pm, 8th January 2020

Thank you, Sir George. I suspect that the Committee is encouraging me to make progress, and I will take the hint. I do ask Members to bear with me, because I am dealing with 21 new clauses and it is important to cover them, as they have all been tabled with seriousness and deserve the Government’s attention.

On new clause 38, the Government have been committed to publishing an objective spending analysis of the UK’s withdrawal ever since the people voted to leave the EU three and a half years ago.

On the economy, we have already spoken about the objective analysis, and I am not going to say any more on new clause 38. I will address human rights in more detail when dealing with a slightly later clause.

New clause 20 deals with mutual recognition and raises a number of important issues relating to adequacy and equivalence with the EU in a number of areas for the future relationship. The Government fully agree that in some areas it would be appropriate to agree arrangements of the sort that my right hon. Friend Mr Davis mentions. For instance, the political declaration envisages reciprocal adequacy decisions in the area of data protection. However, the Government do not believe that adequacy decisions, mutual recognition or equivalence arrangements are always in the best interests of the country, with one example being where they rely on alignment with future EU rules. Although I understand the thrust of his proposal, I do not think it is helpful to constrain the Prime Minister and his negotiating team by prescribing negotiating objectives too precisely. The Government will always listen to the views of my right hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice and Howden and we are particularly grateful for his stewardship of a Department that is about to come to an end as a result of the success of his work and that of many other contributors, including some fantastic civil servants and a truly exceptional Secretary of State, in the shape of my right hon. Friend the Member for North East Cambridgeshire (Steve Barclay). It is always a good idea for me to be nice about my boss.

New clause 27 addresses further environmental issues. Sadly, the Government cannot support the new clause; I shall go into some detail on why. The UK is an advanced modern economy with a long history of environmental protections supported by strong legal frameworks that in some cases predate the EU. We will shortly bring forward an environment Bill that will set ambitious new domestic frameworks for environmental governance, including—crucially—the establishment of the office for environmental protection. The legislation will build on the 25-year environmental plan, which we are part-way through—admittedly, it is early on in the 25-year plan—and provide the assurances that will be upheld.