Update on EU Exit Negotiations - Statement

– in the House of Lords at 3:47 pm on 17th October 2017.

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Photo of Baroness Goldie Baroness Goldie Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip) 3:47 pm, 17th October 2017

My Lords, with the leave of the House, I wish to repeat a Statement made in another place by my right honourable friend David Davis, the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union. The Statement is as follows:

“I will now update the House on the fifth round of negotiations with the EU. In view of the fact that the October European Council is this week, I will also review the progress of the five negotiation rounds since June.

While at times the negotiations have been tough, both Michel Barnier and I have acknowledged the new dynamic that has been created by the Prime Minister’s speech in Florence. This momentum was maintained during the October round. Both negotiating teams continued to work constructively together. Since June, we have steadily developed our shared political objectives. There is still some way to go to secure our new partnership, but I am confident that we are on the right path.

I will now take the House through each of the negotiating issues in turn. On citizens’ rights, we have made further progress towards giving British citizens in the EU and EU 27 citizens in the UK the greatest possible legal certainty about the future. In future, our legal orders will be distinct and different. Last week, we explored the ways in which we will make sure that the rights we agree now will be enforced in a fair and equivalent way. We also explored ways in which we can fully implement the withdrawal treaty into UK law. This will give confidence to European citizens living in the United Kingdom that they will be able to directly enforce their rights, as set out in the agreement, in UK courts.

The two sides also discussed ways of ensuring consistent interpretation of our agreement. Although we have not yet arrived at a single model that will achieve this, we have explored a number of solutions. We should also not lose sight of the fact that we have made significant progress in this area since June. We have reached agreement on: the criteria for residence rights; the right to work and own businesses; social security rights; rights for current family members; reciprocal health care rights; the rights of frontier workers; and the fact that the process for securing settled status in the UK will be streamlined and low cost. But, of course, there are still some issues outstanding for both sides, including the right to continue to enjoy the recognition of professional qualifications; to vote in local elections; to onward movement as a UK citizen already resident in the EU 27; the right to return; the right to bring in future family members; and the right to export a range of benefits.

In many of these areas, it is a straightforward statement of fact that our proposals go further and provide more certainty than those of the Commission. We are trying to find pragmatic solutions. In the fourth round, we offered the guaranteed right of return for settled citizens in the UK in exchange for onward movement rights for British citizens currently living in the EU. We look forward to hearing the Commission’s response on this offer.

I recognise that there has been some concern regarding the new system which European citizens will have to use to gain settled status in the UK. So last week, I confirmed that while there will be a registration process, the administration process will be completely new, streamlined, and—importantly—low-cost. Furthermore, any EU citizen in the UK already in possession of a permanent residence card will be able to exchange it for settled status in a simple way. They will not need to go through the full application process again. The tests associated with this process will be agreed and set out within the withdrawal agreement. As a result of our productive discussions, the Commission is also able to offer similar guarantees in return for those British citizens in the European Union. These clarifications, on both sides, have helped to build further confidence.

This round also saw further detailed discussions on Northern Ireland and Ireland. In a significant step forward, we have developed joint principles on the continuation of the common travel area and associated rights. These joint principles will fully preserve the rights of UK and Irish nationals to live, work and study across these islands. They will also protect the associated rights to public services and social security. To provide legal certainty, these principles recognise that the withdrawal agreement should formally acknowledge that the UK and Ireland will continue to be able to uphold and develop these bilateral arrangements. Our teams have also mapped out areas of co-operation that function on a north-south basis, and we have begun the detailed work to ensure that that continues once the UK has left the EU. We also agreed a set of critical guiding principles to protect the Belfast Good Friday agreement in all its dimensions, and we are working on the necessary steps to make this a reality. Throughout this process we have reaffirmed our commitment to the rights of the people of Northern Ireland to choose to be British or Irish or both, as they choose.

I have set out before our shared determination to tackle the unique circumstances of Northern Ireland by focusing on creative solutions. We have begun to do so. But we cannot fully resolve these issues without also addressing our future relationship. As the Prime Minister said in her Statement to this House last week:

“We owe it to the people of Northern Ireland—and indeed to everyone on the island of Ireland—to get this right”.—[Official Report, Commons, 9/10/17; col. 43.]

On the financial settlement, discussions continued in the spirit fostered by the Prime Minister’s significant statements in her Florence speech. The Prime Minister reassured our European partners that they will not need to pay more or receive less over the remainder of the current budget plan as a result of our decision to leave. She reiterated that the UK will honour commitments that we have made during the period of our membership. Off the back of this, in the September round we agreed to make a rigorous examination of the technical detail where we needed to reach a shared view, and this work has continued. This has not been a process of agreeing specific commitments; we have been clear that it can come only later, but it is an important step so that, when the time comes, we will be able to reach a political agreement.

Finally, on separation issues, we have continued to work through the detail on a range of issues, in particular in those areas relating purely to our withdrawal such as nuclear safeguards, civil judicial co-operation, and privileges and immunities. While we have made good progress, we believe that the remaining issues are dependent on discussions on our future partnership. We are ready and well prepared to start those discussions.

In conclusion, our aim remains to provide as much certainty as possible to businesses and citizens on both sides. I have made no secret of the fact that to fully provide that certainty we must be able to talk about the future. We all have to recognise that we are reaching the limits of what we can achieve without consideration of our future relationship. The Prime Minister’s speech in Florence set out the scale of our ambition for a new partnership with the European Union. She also laid out our case for a simple, clear and time-limited period of implementation on current terms. At the European Council later this week, I hope that the leaders of the 27 will recognise the progress made and provide Michel Barnier with the mandate to build on the momentum and spirit of co-operation we now have. Doing so will allow us to best achieve our joint objectives and move towards a deal that works both for the UK and the EU.

There has been much discussion of what would constitute sufficient progress. Let me be clear that sufficient progress and the sequencing of negotiations has always been an EU construct. Negotiations require both parties not just to engage constructively but to develop their positions to advance. On the UK’s part, I have always been clear that we will conduct these negotiations in a constructive and responsible way. We have been entirely reasonable. The work of our teams and the substantial progress we have made over recent months proves that we are doing just that, and we are ready to move these negotiations on. I comment this Statement to the House”.

My Lords, that concludes the Statement.

Photo of Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Shadow Spokesperson (Exiting the European Union), Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Lords 3:57 pm, 17th October 2017

I thank the Minister for repeating the Statement, although sadly it adds nothing to what we have already seen in the press. Indeed, it is rather less since we have been able to read what the EU negotiators and their political masters think of how things are going, and it was their side that used the words “impasse” or “deadlock”. It is noticeable that the Governments of the 27 EU member states have shown markedly more unity than the 29 people who sit around our Cabinet table. Moreover, while the British side argues, the clock ticks relentlessly on, so it is time to talk turkey for the sake of citizens, business, trade, farmers and consumers. If that means talking money now, so be it. We know that the Government’s reluctance to do so is a fear of their more uncompromising Eurosceptics.

A financial deal will need to be made, a deal that some will not like no matter how good it is, so why put it off for fear of their wrath at such cost to everyone else? Every industry, as well as agriculture, consumers, patients, doctors, lawyers and investors, says that we must end this uncertainty. Just this morning I met representatives from Rolls-Royce who told me how key it is that we can trade freely with the EU. We might make the best aircraft engines, but they include parts from the EU, use the skills of people from the EU, and sell within the EU when complete, as do 90% of Toyota cars made here. Their reps were telling me this morning that non-tariff barriers, rules of origin certificates and so on are as challenging as tariffs if we leave the customs union.

Meanwhile, Rolls-Royce and other companies are highly dependent on our participation in the European Aviation Safety Agency, but they are hearing nothing from the Government as to what they want in that regard—as with other vital agencies, such as Euratom and the European Medical Agency. I even read talk of us coming under the US Food and Drug Administration in Maryland—or la-la land.

There is a host of other non-trade issues where reciprocity is key: the mutual recognition of civil and family judgments, handling insolvency cases, data protection, and long-term insurance contracts. All those issues need early negotiation and preparation by the Government, which those industries concerned simply find that they are not invited to engage with. They can get no answers on those questions and nor can we. For example, the Minister for Consumers in the Commons said last week that while consumers will retain rights on goods bought,

“from a trader based in the UK”,

beyond that,

“is a matter for negotiations”.—[Official Report, Commons, 10/10/17; col. 51WH.]

Nothing was set out about what we wanted from those negotiations. She said only that we are exploring options in maintaining early warnings of dangerous non-food products—shared at the moment via Rapex—as with the pharmacovigilance network on unexpected responses to drugs and our key role in the European Consumer Centre Network. It is not simply that Europe is not ready to talk on these issues, though I understand it is on some of them, but that the Government are not engaging with industries or the consumers concerned.

There are three key areas on which Parliament, not just the Government, must have the right to decide. One is future trade with the EU, where the Institute of Directors is demanding to know what the Government want from our EU trade deal. Can the Minister indicate whether achieving tariff-free trade is the Government’s objective? The second area is about transitional agreements. The word “implementation” was used, but I think we are really talking about transitional arrangements. Can the Minister confirm that the Government will press to achieve those arrangements on the same terms as now and to ensure that the withdrawal Bill contains approval of those agreements? Finally, does the Minister agree that any walking away from the negotiations—effectively a “no deal”—should be a matter for Parliament and not Ministers alone? Will the Government therefore agree to amend the withdrawal Bill to ensure that any such decision will be taken by Parliament?

Photo of Baroness Ludford Baroness Ludford Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Exiting the European Union)

My Lords, it is 16 months after the referendum. The brazen and airy assertions by the leave campaign that negotiations would be easy and our economy would prosper have been revealed as the empty rhetoric they always were. The Government believe that,

“we are on the right path”.

That path seems not only to be a long one, but to have an unknown end point.

On citizens’ rights, it seems true that some progress has been made, but 4 to 5 million citizens are still in limbo. The Government’s approach is still flawed because of their concept that EU citizens resident in the UK will have to secure settled status, even if the Government claim the process will be streamlined and low-cost. Those citizens should not have to secure what they already have by right, and it remains a matter of great regret that the Government refuse to give the unilateral guarantee of existing rights that a majority in this House wanted. Can the Minister assure us that we will have the novel experience of witnessing a process by the Home Office that is administered efficiently, quickly and accurately?

To complain that,

“the sequencing of negotiations, has always been an EU construct”,

is rather feeble. It has always been clear that this sequence would be followed—so what is it now that takes the Government by surprise? The Secretary of State even accepted the sequencing a few months ago after a little bit of huffing and puffing. The Government maintain that they are ready and well prepared to start the negotiations on transition and final status, but as the right honourable Kenneth Clarke MP has said, that sounds like la-la land—there is no substance. The truth is that members of the Cabinet are fighting like ferrets in a sack, with no agreement in prospect. This is a key reason for lack of progress.

The sensible approach would be to stay in the single market and customs union not only in the transition but in the permanent relationship. Instead of that stability, we hear the deeply destabilising nonsense about no deal. The Secretary of State told the other place that he had not talked up “no deal”, but he has failed to disown it. Many of his ultra-hard Brexiteer colleagues have talked it up. Those ideological obsessives positively want no deal as the destructive revolution they crave. Will the Government now rule out the hugely harmful no-deal prospect?

The former top official at the department of trade, Sir Martin Donnelly, rightly calls this reckless bravado. The OECD says that it would immediately cut UK growth by 1.5 percentage points. The Resolution Foundation predicts that in a no-deal scenario the “just about managing”, the people whom the Prime Minister professes to care about so much, would suffer the most from an inflation hit to the tune of £5 a week on top of the current 3% rate of inflation. No wonder polls show that 47% of people are now against Brexit—it is 49% of women; I shall not make any remarks about how sensible women are—compared to 42%. Has not the time now come to offer the British people an honourable way out of this morass through an opportunity to think again, to really reflect in a further referendum, once they can see the concrete reality of what Brexit entails?

Photo of Baroness Goldie Baroness Goldie Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)

My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, for her points. The scenario that she described sounded a bit alien to me—she quoted “impasse” and “deadlock”. However, I was intrigued to see her colleague in the other place, the right honourable Keir Starmer, say in a recent letter to my right honourable friend David Davis:

“The announcement of further progress on the rights of EU citizens and the issue of Northern Ireland is welcome. It is also encouraging to see a more constructive tone in the talks”.

So Mr Starmer seems to be content that something healthy is happening; I hope that might act as a contagion to his noble colleague on the Benches opposite.

The noble Baroness also raised the important issue of trade. The Government have been consistent in articulating their objectives: we want a bold and ambitious free trade agreement—that is at the heart of what we are negotiating for, and we are determined to seek that outcome. That to some extent leads on to points raised by the noble Baronesses, Lady Hayter and Lady Ludford, about there being no deal. The Government have been very clear that we are in this to negotiate the best possible deal for the United Kingdom. However, if any Government were simply to disregard the possibility that we might end up in a no-deal situation, they would be culpable. The Government have to plan for all eventualities. The presumption is that we will negotiate a deal—that is what we all want—but it would be grossly irresponsible for any Government to dismiss the possibility of no deal. That prospect is there; we hope that it is unlikely to occur, but it is one against which the Government have to plan and they will do so.

The noble Baroness raised a number of important issues relating to safety agencies and food products. It is important to make it clear to your Lordships that we value the structures currently in place. We would like to negotiate to see those replicated. If we have to devise our own structures within the UK so that we are in a safe framework post Brexit, that is what we will do—in some cases, we are engaged on that work now.

The noble Baroness referred to the implementation period. That is a helpful addition to the discussions. It emerged from the Prime Minister’s speech in Florence. It recognises that in March 2019 there will be a point where both sides know what they want to do but the implementation will take some time. It is realistic to anticipate that and to recognise that an implementation period may be necessary.

The final, rather pessimistic note from the noble Baroness was about walking away. I assure her that my right honourable friend David Davis and all his colleagues in the Department for Exiting the European Union are a busy hive of bees. There is an awful lot of buzzing going on down there. There is an awful lot of flying between the European agencies, parties and personnel. That is right. That is healthy. That is exactly what we need to do—to not only conduct dialogue but keep ourselves informed of intelligence about what people are thinking. That is a very healthy activity. There is no doubt about the commitment of the Secretary of State and his department to continue with these negotiations in an energetic fashion, to try to secure the objective we all want of a really good deal for this country, placing our relationship with the EU on a strong, prosperous and optimistic footing for the future.

I cannot help thinking that I could offer the noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, the welcome news that she had won the lottery and she would accuse me of being parochial and mean. I think that what has been achieved in relation to citizens, much of which was repeated in the Statement, is welcome. It is clear. It gives a certainty which has not been there before. I totally disagree with her interpretation of it.

The noble Baroness also said that we should rule out no deal now. No, that would be utterly the wrong thing to do. This is a negotiation. The Government have responsibilities to the people of the United Kingdom, made clear in a referendum vote which they are obliged to implement and deliver. I have already made clear in my response to the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, why I consider it would be culpable for a Government not to anticipate the—I hope, remote and certainly unwelcome but none the less possible—prospect that there might be no deal.

Politicians can be accused of living in a bubble but my impression from outside this place is that across the country people are saying, “Just get on with this. Get on with your negotiations and produce something that can allow the United Kingdom to move on to the next phase of life”. On the matter of a second referendum, I have to say to the noble Baroness that her party fought a general election on that premise and it did not seem to resonate particularly positively with the voters. I also have to tell her that in Scotland the prospect of a second independence referendum is going down like a lead balloon. The bottom line is that when voters vote on something and a decision is made, they expect politicians to honour and respect that.

Photo of Lord Butler of Brockwell Lord Butler of Brockwell Crossbench 4:13 pm, 17th October 2017

My Lords, whichever way we voted in the Brexit referendum, I think we all agree that these negotiations are very important for our country. Would the national interest not be better served if the loyal Opposition stopped carping at the Government’s position and got behind our negotiators instead of undermining them?

Photo of Baroness Goldie Baroness Goldie Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)

I am pleased to have the opportunity to respond to this extremely positive contribution. I thank the noble Lord, Lord Butler. There is a serious point to be made here. At their core, these negotiations have the national interest of the United Kingdom at heart. At their core, they have the need to respect a referendum result. That is what the Government are charged with prosecuting, progressing and, I hope, ultimately delivering on. It is not terribly helpful if the principal Opposition are offering a variety of views, ranging from inconsistency to self-contradiction, because it gives the EU negotiators the impression that even within the United Kingdom everyone is fighting like ferrets in a sack.

Oh!

Photo of Baroness Goldie Baroness Goldie Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)

There are always points of minor dissonance to be found; one accepts that. But the voting record of the Opposition in the Commons is that, on the one hand, they were happy to vote to trigger Article 50—the thing that would let the train leave the station—but then the Opposition seem to want to turn round and say, “We don’t like the look of this. Stop the train”. Half the party then seems to want to say, “Paint the train a different colour, and then it might look all right”. These inconsistencies just do not help, and it is important that the Opposition square up to their responsibilities. Yes, they should legitimately question aspects of the negotiations, but they have to have a coherent position of their own. At the moment, that is not yet clear.

Photo of Lord Tebbit Lord Tebbit Conservative

My Lords, first, in the discussions that are going on there has been talk of alimony and a divorce settlement. Does my noble friend know what is to happen to the matrimonial home? That is: the offices which are owned and occupied in Brussels, and have been partly financed by British taxpayers. Are we to get our share of their capital value or not? I think we should get it. Secondly, there has been a great deal of talk at times about protecting the rights of EU citizens who will be resident in this country after Brexit. They should be properly protected, but what can my noble friend say about the rights of British subjects who will be resident after Brexit in the European Union? Some of them have been arrested under European arrest warrants and held in detention, without being told the charges against them or brought into court to have those charges tried. That is a right which we have had for 700 years, but it seems it is not yet acknowledged in Europe. What are we going to do to protect our people?

Photo of Baroness Goldie Baroness Goldie Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)

I thank my noble friend for his two questions. The specific issue of the capital value of buildings comprising part of the EU estate is a matter for the negotiation. It will form part of the information which is made available to inform discussions on the final financial settlement. I am not able to pre-empt that and do not know what those details are, but I am satisfied that they will be part of the overall equation when that issue is addressed. On the matter of UK citizens in the EU, the Government take their position very seriously. We are satisfied that, given the arrangements we are proposing to the EU for EU citizens in this country, we can expect to see those arrangements reciprocated for our UK citizens elsewhere in the EU. My noble friend raised a specific issue about apprehension and an alleged contravention of human rights. It is disturbing to hear such an account but, at the same time, these citizens are protected by the rule of law and that will continue, both in the EU and within the United Kingdom post Brexit.

Photo of Lord Grocott Lord Grocott Labour

My Lords, on the financial settlement, can the Minister confirm as a matter of fact and experience that, during the 40-odd years of our membership of the European Union, we have been very large net contributors to the European budget and have always honoured our financial obligations quite properly, as we always have done in relation to other international organisations? The Prime Minister herself has assured our European friends that they will not,

“need to pay more or receive less over the remainder of the current budget plan as a result of our decision to leave”,

and that the UK,

“will honour commitments we have made during the period of our membership”.

In view of that fact, I genuinely cannot understand what on earth the requirements are, in addition to those undertakings and that factual reference to our experience and past behaviour, which the European Commission expects us to deliver.

Photo of Baroness Goldie Baroness Goldie Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)

The noble Lord, Lord Grocott, sets out a simply stated position. I think that is at the heart of the negotiations. It is right that all these matters should be on the table and that due regard should be given to them. As I said to my noble friend Lord Tebbit, I cannot anticipate what the detail will be, but it is all in the bubbling cauldron of negotiations for the final financial settlement.

Photo of Baroness Smith of Newnham Baroness Smith of Newnham Liberal Democrat

My Lords, the Secretary of State’s comments suggest that agreement has been reached on the criteria for residents’ rights. In the light of questions that were raised with me outside the Chamber last week, is there any provision for, or has there been any discussion about, the rights of UK citizens who move from the United Kingdom to one of the EU 27 states between now and the time we exit the European Union? How Her Majesty’s Government envisage the situation for EU nationals is quite clear in the UK’s paper on settled status. Is there going to be reciprocity for UK citizens leaving between now and March 2019?

Photo of Baroness Goldie Baroness Goldie Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)

The aspiration is to achieve for UK citizens elsewhere in the EU the same rights, privileges and entitlements as will be enjoyed by EU citizens in this country. I will ascertain whether there is any more specific information I can provide to the noble Baroness and, if there is, I will write to her.

Photo of Lord Birt Lord Birt Crossbench

My Lords, my friends in Europe all tell the same story: that no leading Government nor anybody in the Commission has any real understanding of what the UK wants its future relationship with Europe to be, yet in the Statement the Minister said we are ready to begin discussions on that future relationship. Are the Government really ready? Will we be able to go in December and put on the table detailed, precise plans setting out what future relationship with Europe we really want?

Photo of Baroness Goldie Baroness Goldie Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)

I can merely reiterate what I said when reading out the Statement and in comments I have subsequently made to other contributors: we are very clear that we want a strong relationship with the EU that is mutually beneficial and allows both entities to benefit from many of the advantages which have emerged and which have been evident. That is what we are negotiating to try to achieve. We regard the EU 27—language is important—as friends and allies. We want them to continue to be friends and allies, and that is the objective of the negotiations at every meeting we have.

Photo of Lord Maude of Horsham Lord Maude of Horsham Conservative

My Lords, surely no one can doubt that it is very much in the interests of both sides for there to be a sensible, pragmatic agreement at the end of all this, if only because the absence of an agreement means an immediate €10 billion gap in the EU’s budget. Will my noble friend confirm that Article 50 is absolutely clear that these must be negotiations,

“setting out the arrangements for”— the state’s—

“withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union”.

It would arguably be unlawful for there to be an agreement on the withdrawal arrangements without any visibility of the framework for the future relationship. If the result of this is that we end up with no deal because there has been insufficient time left by the European Union negotiators for those future relationship discussions, arguably that would be because they had behaved unlawfully.

Photo of Baroness Goldie Baroness Goldie Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)

I thank my noble friend for bring to the attention of the House something which has been overlooked and yet is of fundamental importance. My understanding is that the text which he quoted from Article 50 is correct: the arrangements for withdrawal are inexorably interwoven with the future relationship. It is very important that everyone bears that in mind. I very much hope that the gloomy scenario he outlines, which I hope is an entirely remote possibility, does not materialise. I do not think it would be in the interests of the United Kingdom or the European Union. All involved in the negotiations will be cognisant of the bipartite nature of the Article 50 obligation.

Photo of Lord Higgins Lord Higgins Conservative

My Lords, the Statement brings out very clearly the complexity of the whole Brexit operation. Could my noble friend perhaps put her remarks in the context of the report published today by the OECD, which brings out very clearly that after Brexit we are likely to be worse off economically and have a lower rate of economic growth than if we were to remain in the European Union? At some stage we have to consider the benefits and disadvantages anew because no one voting in the referendum—perhaps no one at all—fully comprehended the difficulties that Brexit would involve. As far as the no-deal argument is concerned, the OECD again brings out that it, too, would be disastrous. Does my noble friend not agree that if we arrive in that situation it is essential, as the noble Baroness opposite suggested, that Parliament should take a view on whether we should go ahead against that background? Clearly we do not need another referendum—we have had one and it was a bad enough example of how such things operate—but it is crucial that at that stage Parliament should reach a decision on whether we finally go ahead or not.

Photo of Baroness Goldie Baroness Goldie Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)

I say to my noble friend that Parliament will be fully engaged throughout the process and, as we have repeatedly set out, will get a vote on the final deal. I have to remind the House, though, that the British people voted to leave and we will deliver on that instruction. Although we do not want or expect a no-deal outcome, Parliament gets a vote on the final deal but it does not get a vote on whether or not we leave.

Photo of Lord Liddle Lord Liddle Labour

My Lords, the Minister referred to the public wanting us to get on with it. May I therefore follow up my noble friend Lady Hayter’s question: why are the Government refusing to talk about money now? Although the Prime Minister has made these general commitments, what the EU wants is clarity about what past commitments we are liable for. These are past commitments and nothing to do with the future trading relationship. Why are we delaying talking about that now, when the need for a transition deal is urgent and the absence of it will lead to the loss of jobs in the City of London and elsewhere very quickly in the coming months? Is the real reason not that the Cabinet is so divided on the question of the EU that the Prime Minister is terrified of making any concession to her Eurosceptics? Is it not therefore a disgrace, in a way, that a former head of the Civil Service should try to say that the Opposition are to blame for the pretty pass in which the nation now finds itself?

Photo of Baroness Goldie Baroness Goldie Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)

It is not for me to defend the noble Lord, Lord Butler; he can do that very adequately himself. I think it was I who carped and criticised about the Labour Opposition. There is a phrase, “If the cap fits”. I think the Labour Opposition have a question to ask themselves. The noble Lord asks me why we do not come out with what we think about sums paid to date and what sums we should get back. These are all within the negotiating environment, and the fundamental rule in any negotiation is that you have to some extent to preserve your own thoughts and confidence and not have that be the subject of general discussion and public comment because you will weaken your negotiating position. I am aware that the shadow Chancellor, the right honourable John McDonnell, seems to take the view that you should just shove money at it and pay whatever you want. What I want to know is exactly how much money the Labour Party thinks we should be throwing about. I do not think that is a strategy to pursue. It is naive and ill conceived, and I cannot agree with the noble Lord that it is a sensible way to proceed.

Photo of Lord Elystan-Morgan Lord Elystan-Morgan Crossbench

My Lords, how often have the joint bodies set up between Her Majesty’s Government and the devolved Assemblies met since the activation of Article 50, and how often do they intend to meet in the next six months? Does she accept that there is a very strong feeling in Cardiff—mirrored, I suspect, in Edinburgh—that they are completely cosmetic entities with no practical significance whatever?

Photo of Baroness Goldie Baroness Goldie Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)

I am sorry that the noble Lord takes that view; I suggest that it is not underpinned by the facts. The Government have been clear from the start that the devolved Administrations should be fully engaged in our preparations to leave the EU. Since the election, the Secretary of State has spoken to Ministers from the Scottish and Welsh Governments on a number of occasions to update them on the progress of negotiations. In addition, the joint ministerial committees have been meeting. In fact, there was a meeting just Monday past, which built on discussions that the First Secretary of State has led with the Scottish and Welsh Governments. So there has been a lot of consultation and there is continuing consultation. It is very important that the devolved Administrations not only feel but are part of this; that is precisely the situation that the Government have endeavoured to create.

Photo of Lord Campbell of Pittenweem Lord Campbell of Pittenweem Liberal Democrat

The noble Baroness bravely described the carping and criticism within the Cabinet as dissonance. Let me put to her a specific question raising just that carping and criticism. Is it still the Prime Minister’s position that during the period of transition—or implementation, if you prefer—the ECJ will continue to enjoy jurisdiction, just as it does now; or has the Prime Minister bowed to the will of the Foreign Secretary and Mr William Rees-Mogg?

Jacob.

Photo of Baroness Goldie Baroness Goldie Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)

I thank the noble Lord, Lord Campbell, for his question. In relation to the implementation period—it is important that we make clear what we are talking about—I understand that it may mean that we start off with the ECJ still governing the rules that we are part of for that period. The Government are also clear, however, that if we can bring forward a new dispute mechanism at an earlier stage, that is what we will do.

Photo of Lord Garel-Jones Lord Garel-Jones Conservative

My Lords, is it not a statement of the obvious that, given the results of the referendum, the Government must do what they are doing: have talks with our partners in the European Union to achieve the best possible outcome for this country? That said, while it is much too early to speculate about what that outcome will be, is it not also true, as the Supreme Court has made clear, that the Government have a duty to bring the results of those discussions to Parliament? Picking up the point made by my noble friend Lord Higgins, this is a parliamentary democracy. Parliament authorised the referendum. It has not authorised any outcome or no outcome: that must come to Parliament.

Photo of Baroness Goldie Baroness Goldie Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)

I thank my noble friend for his question. I can only repeat what I have already said: Parliament will be fully engaged and it will get a vote on the final deal.

Photo of Lord Soley Lord Soley Labour

The noble Baroness does not have to worry about the position of the loyal Opposition; she should worry about the opposition in the disloyal Government. That is where her problem is. I welcomed the Florence speech and the recent Statement, but it is not about the issues she raised at first; it is about the desire of the Europeans and the British Government to make progress. It is that lack of progress that is causing so much of a problem. It is about money, because commitments will have to be made in future, unless we are to leave a lot of the other organisations involving science and technology, aerospace and 101 other things. We need to address that money problem. If the Prime Minister has had the psychological advantage of going to those two meetings and making it clear that we are willing to move on that, this Statement is good and desirable. The other things are, frankly, purely decorative.

Photo of Baroness Goldie Baroness Goldie Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)

I do not accept the noble Lord’s view that progress has been inadequate or disappointing. I think there is recognition that progress is now visible and tangible. That has been borne out by different parties. It was borne out by Michel Barnier himself, who said at the end of the October round:

“Since Florence, there is a new dynamic. I remain convinced that with political will, decisive progress is within our reach in the coming weeks”.

It seemed last night at dinner that Mr Juncker and the Prime Minister share that view. That is encouraging and what we want to see. On the specific issue of money, I do not think I can add anything further to what I have already said.