Outcome of the European Union Referendum - Motion to Take Note (Continued)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 9:50 pm on 6th July 2016.

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Photo of Baroness Anelay of St Johns Baroness Anelay of St Johns Minister of State, Deputy Speaker (Lords) 9:50 pm, 6th July 2016

My Lords, as I said, I do not think that I am in a position to invent new policy at the Dispatch Box. I have listened very carefully to the views of the House, and those views will be taken very strongly into account—as every single view about every part of this debate will be taken into account by the Government. This House has had an opportunity, which another place has not yet had, to spend two days debating these matters in detail. The value of this has been that we have been able to go into details that another place has not. It is important that we consider the position of all. That includes UK citizens who are within the EU. I can give an assurance—I was asked a specific question on this—that it also covers UK citizens who work in the EU institutions. It is true that acquired rights are a difficult matter; what I have given today is an assurance, made in another place by James Brokenshire, which I believe should be able to deliver the right result.

Noble Lords referred to the impact of the referendum result on the economy. The Prime Minister and the Chancellor have been clear that Britain’s economy is fundamentally strong. As a result of the Government’s long-term plan, ours is one of the strongest major advanced economies in the world. We are well placed to face the challenges ahead. We have low, stable inflation; the budget deficit is down from 11% of national income and is forecast to be below 3% this year; the financial system is also substantially more resilient than it was six years ago. It is true that the markets may not have been expecting the referendum result but, as the Chancellor set out on 27 June, the Treasury, the Bank of England and our other financial authorities have spent the last few months putting in place robust contingency plans to maintain financial stability—and they will not hesitate to take further measures if required.

It is important that we make the most of our great ability as a trading nation to be even more entrepreneurial than in the past. The Prime Minister has made it clear that the UK will remain a member of the single market during the period of renegotiation. There will be no immediate change in the way that our goods can move, nor in the way that our services can be sold. Britain is and always will be open for business. We are indeed a special country—a great trading nation. The Government’s ambition remains that Britain should be the best and easiest place in the world to do business, and a global trading partner.

There has been considerable disagreement around the House about the precise relationship which the UK should or should not have with the single market. We have had a great opportunity to hear some of the plans that could be put forward to have almost a single market-light or single market-heavy. There is a lot on which we need to reflect from these debates, which have also reflected the extent of disagreement about what our approach to free movement might be after we have negotiated the exit. What should be part of that agreement? I have listened carefully to all those diverse views, which will all contribute great value to the development of the work on policy from now on.

This House has excelled in the work that it has carried out in the international field. Our withdrawal from the EU will be the biggest institutional change that this country has undergone in a generation—but not everything has changed. The United Kingdom remains a permanent member of the UN Security Council, the second largest contributor to NATO and a member of the G7, the G20 and the Commonwealth. We must not forget the Commonwealth’s role in preventing and helping to resolve conflicts. We remain fully engaged and prominent on the world stage, projecting our values, protecting our security and promoting our prosperity, with the strongest economic links with our European neighbours, as well as with our close friends in North America and the Commonwealth, and important partners such as India and China.

We live in a truly great country. We will continue to thrive and prosper, whatever the nature of our relationship with the EU and whatever challenges lie ahead. In tackling those challenges we must have one guiding principle in mind: to ensure the best outcome for all those who live in these great islands of ours.

I referred earlier to the thoughtfulness that has threaded its way through our debate. Peers have rightly advised that we should all find new ways of living well together. I shall break my rule about not referring to particular noble Lords: I must, I feel, refer at the end to the words of the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury yesterday. He said:

“We need a deep renewal of our values in this country. We need a renewal of a commitment to the common good and of solidarity. We need a sense of generosity, hospitality and gratuity, of the overflowing of the riches and flourishing that we possess, not only into our society but across the world”.—[Official Report, 5/7/16; col. 1860.]

I agree. That is the way forward. I beg to move.

Motion agreed.

House adjourned at 10.16 pm.