UK and EU Relations - Motion to Take Note (Continued)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 8:13 pm on 12th September 2017.

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Photo of Lord Hutton of Furness Lord Hutton of Furness Labour 8:13 pm, 12th September 2017

It certainly could be one way forward, but it has been ruled out by Ministers to date. It might well be that the best outcome is some form of associate membership. No one in this House, or outside this House, wants to see any harm done to the nuclear industry by leaving the Euratom treaty. But, if we are going to avoid that outcome, Ministers will have to show considerably more pragmatism than they have done to date in making sure harm is not caused to the industry in the way that the Article 50 negotiations are handled. The most obvious need of all, given the difficulties in negotiating these agreements, is that we do not actually leave the Euratom treaty until all the nuclear co-operation agreements are in place and are legally robust.

Trade in nuclear goods and services is different to trade in goods elsewhere. Unless there is a clear, robust legal framework for the movement of goods and services in nuclear materials, in most jurisdictions that we trade with, that trade becomes instantly illegal. It is a cliff edge which is much more apparent and real than the consequences and dangers of exiting the European Union without an agreement on future trade arrangements under Article 50. This is the ultimate cliff edge. If there is no agreement with other nuclear states within the 18-month period we have left, we are in a serious position. I urge the Minister and her colleagues in the Government not only to confirm tonight that they are willing to be pragmatic and look at extending the transitional periods of membership of the Euratom treaty, but to keep this House more fully updated on the progress of these important negotiations.