Economy: Currency Fluctuations - Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 2:26 pm on 17th November 2016.

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Photo of Baroness McIntosh of Pickering Baroness McIntosh of Pickering Chair, Licensing Act 2003 Committee 2:26 pm, 17th November 2016

My Lords, I will take this opportunity to thank all noble friends and noble Lords on both the Front and Back Benches who have contributed to this wide-ranging debate. I thank my noble friend the Minister for his very elegant summing-up of what has been an excellent debate. I pay tribute to my professor at Edinburgh University, Professor Khan, who taught me the fundamentals of international and economic law—although I did not believe that I would be jousting with the noble Lord, Lord Skidelsky, who is obviously a leading expert on the economy.

I think that I am going to have to invite my noble friend Lord Vinson to repair with me over coffee to debate some of these issues, because I believe that we will not understand what the implications of Brexit will be until we finally leave and see what access, if any, we have to the single market and whether we remain part of the customs union or rely on free trade agreements. Who can forecast what the impact on the economy will be at that time? My plea to the Government is that we remain an outward-looking, free-trading nation looking to forge new relationships at that time.

I take comfort from what my noble friend Lord Young said as regards trading bonds—the government-backed bonds—which I hope may release more capital spending on limited capital projects in flood-defence areas. My only hope is that the period of adjustment to which my noble friend referred will be short-lived and defined and that we will not go down the path—sadly recommended by my noble friend Lord Vinson and, I think, the noble Lord, Lord Skidelsky—of protectionism. I believe that we have to be an outward-looking, free-trading nation and be confident going forward.

Motion agreed.