G20 Summit - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:55 pm on 7th September 2016.

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Photo of Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Leader of the House of Lords and Lord Privy Seal 3:55 pm, 7th September 2016

I am grateful to the noble Baroness and the noble and learned Lord for their remarks. Before I address some of the specific points, I will touch on some of the key elements of last week’s summit. First, as I said, we saw that the UK has, and will continue to have, a leading role in the international community, whether in championing work on antimicrobial resistance or pushing to deliver an economy that works for everyone. The summit showed that we are shaping the global agenda on many of the important challenges facing the world, and we will continue to do so.

Secondly, we saw that world leaders want to work constructively with us to make a success of Brexit. The Prime Minister outlined her vision for the UK as a global leader on free trade, and it was clear that there is a shared desire to build and maintain strong relationships with our international partners. Our priority now has to be to work through the issues posed by Brexit to deliver on that vision, and to get the right deal for Britain.

The noble Baroness and the noble and learned Lord asked about the shape of this. We are looking at negotiating a new relationship with Britain. Noble Lords are right that the process will not be brief or straightforward, but we are looking to achieve the best deal. What the British people told us with their vote was that it must be a priority for us to regain more control over the numbers of people who come here from Europe, but also that we must allow British companies to trade with the single market in goods and services.

Both noble Lords asked about Japan’s approach. Of course we continue to listen to and engage with Japanese business and investors as we plan for our exit. In fact, since the G20 the Japanese ambassador has praised the,

“cautious and very patient”,

approach of the Prime Minister, and said that what is needed are,

“well-thought through considerations before you start any negotiations”.

That is exactly the approach that the Prime Minister has taken. The relationship between the UK and Japan has gone from strength to strength in recent years, and we believe it will continue to do so. The PM and the Prime Minister of Japan spoke and were both clear that they would work together to build our relationship. As was said in the Statement, as a member of the EU we will continue to support a swift conclusion to the EU-Japan free trade agreement, and co-operation on security with our European and global allies will be undiminished.

The noble Baroness and the noble and learned Lord asked about unaccompanied children. I assure noble Lords that we began to work to implement the Dubs amendment immediately after the Immigration Bill gained Royal Assent. Discussions are happening with local authorities because this is a UK matter rather than a G20 one, but of course we are working with Greece, France, Italy and NGO partners to speed up existing processes and implement new ones where necessary.

The noble and learned Lord commented that the Prime Minister did not meet other EU leaders. As he will be well aware, over the summer she visited France, Germany and some of the key leaders. This was her first opportunity to meet President Obama, for example, so she took such opportunities at the G20 and that was the right approach.

The noble and learned Lord questioned the fact that the Prime Minister did not specifically raise steel with China. In fact she raised it with everyone; this was a key concern of ours, and in fact we were delighted to have secured a commitment from the G20 steel-producing nations to bring forward a global response to address overcapacity, including through the OECD Steel Committee, which will meet next week. That will provide the first opportunity, following the summit, to take stock of response efforts and discuss the feasibility of forming a global forum for dialogue and information sharing on overcapacity.

The noble and learned Lord asked about the Paris agreement. We are fully committed to ratifying it, and of course we were very pleased to see the commitment from both the United States and China during the course of the summit. We are already playing our part in delivering this through our domestic climate framework and we will ratify it as soon as possible, but all necessary work to implement the agreement is under way. I am sure we will refer to some of the other issues that the noble Lords raised later in the debate, but if there is anything else I can add subsequently I will do so.

To conclude, I reinforce what the Prime Minister said in the other place: the best route to prosperity for this country is as a global leader in free trade, but to carry people along with us we must deliver and demonstrate the benefits of that approach for people right across the country. As a Government, that is exactly what we will do. We will act boldly at home so that our economy works for everyone, and we will work with our international partners abroad, shaping an ambitious global role for this country that will deliver prosperity for our citizens and those around the world in years to come.