It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Sir Graham
This is a good Bill, and a necessary Bill. It will protect the integrity of the United Kingdom and our internal market as we leave the European Union. In our considerations on part 4, the description we heard earlier of our internal market as a shared asset is very apposite. Part 4 provides an important part of the framework that will allow us to uphold our obligation under the Articles of Union, which state clearly that all parts of the United Kingdom should be on the same footing in respect of trade and navigation and in all treaties with foreign powers. The United Kingdom is built upon a commitment to free trade between our four nations, and prosperity and peace are built on such trade and partnerships. The European Union, for all its faults and all its deviation from its original vision, was founded on that principle and purpose: to preserve peace through trade.
I speak, therefore, in support of an unamended Bill and unamended part 4 in its entirety. Clause 28 to 39 give us an independent advisory office for the internal market under the auspices of the Competition and Markets Authority that will act purely for the benefit of the UK and each of its nations. This replacement of EU legislation will see practical powers brought back to our devolved Parliaments to help regulate the strength and progress of our internal market and ensure a smooth transition for businesses away from the European Union. The Office for the Internal Market will strengthen the internal market’s might and efficient operation and enable real-time and considered advice to the Government to help direct their route forward.
As a one nation Conservative, I believe that global Britain itself begins with one nation—it begins at home between all four parts of the Union—and the Bill will set us up for that mission by reinforcing the United Kingdom and its internal market. We need these provisions to protect, strengthen and monitor the internal market and to make safe the Union and the businesses and jobs within it, and to protect our sovereignty and that of future generations; and we need them to become that outward looking and strong global nation that this Government and I want us to be and which the might of our internal market demands.
The Bill is a demonstration of the UK’s preparedness to manage our markets abroad and at home. It will ensure unfettered trade across the UK and avoid new burdens and barriers being put on us unreasonably. As we begin our recovery from the covid-19 crisis, these two implications of the Bill could not be more important. Businesses in my constituency rely on seamless trade across our four nations and further afield. While the Government can enable growth, they cannot create it. Throughout the crisis, we have relied on frontline heroes, in the NHS, schools, shops, and elsewhere, to get us through, but in this next stage of the recovery, it will be the wealth creators, business people and entrepreneurs who take us forward, but they need a secure, dynamic, investable playing field from which to operate. That is what these clause provide: the framework in which to grow, the springboard from which to flourish, and the rules to operate within.
I will finish by stressing our obligation to uphold the internal market and ensure that our sovereignty as one nation is secured.