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I want to make some progress. The reason why I stood to speak this evening is that I made my maiden speech in a debate on the EU in my first month in this House 14 and a half years ago. It is therefore fitting that I should say something in this debate just before we hopefully cease debating whether we are leaving the EU this month, because that matter has now been resolved.
I want to make a specific contribution in relation to new clause 27, which was tabled by Debbie Abrahams. I have considerable sympathy with the spirit and principles underlying the new clause, which she spoke eloquently on earlier, but the reason why I want to refer to it is to ask the Minister, in his summing up before the Committee ends this evening, how the Government intend to take account of that spirit and intent in future legislation. I recognise that it is not appropriate to adorn this Bill with commitments that have nothing to do with the withdrawal agreement per se, but they are none the less worthy in themselves.
I draw the House’s attention to the part in the Conservative manifesto, on which I was proud to stand recently, that says
“we will legislate to ensure high standards of workers’
rights, environmental protection and consumer rights.”
We have already heard from others this evening about the existing higher level of workers’ rights that apply in the UK over and above those that are applied across the EU, and we as a Government have an ambition to maintain environmental protections in many areas at a higher level than those that currently apply across the EU.