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European Union (Withdrawal) Bill - Committee (3rd Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:00 pm on 28th February 2018.

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Photo of Baroness Young of Old Scone Baroness Young of Old Scone Labour 5:00 pm, 28th February 2018

My Lords, I want to add to the voices of those who have said that there is a lack of clarity and point to a specific example that raises some questions: the circular economy package. We, along with our European colleagues, have been working on this since 2014 and it is due to be agreed shortly. There is legislation to amend six EU directives on resource use, all of which are incredibly important both domestically and internationally. That includes things such as the waste framework directive; the packaging and packaging waste directive, which has a big impact on the Government’s commitment on plastics; the landfill directive; and directives on end-of-life vehicles and batteries in electrical and electronic equipment, for example, all of which will be hugely germane to our potential export of motor vehicles and other electrical equipment. We will be approaching exit day with the package enshrined in EU law, but we will not have had time—nor indeed will many member states—to implement it.

For me, this package is important for a number of reasons. First, there are hugely important international commitments that we need this legislation to fulfil. Secondly, we have spent an awful lot of time on it and have been quite effective in making and shaping it to ensure that it fits with our requirements, as well as being effective for the environment. Thirdly, one assumes that we are going to keep a car industry going in this country, and I doubt that we can maintain our trade, or the levels of exchange of components for the automotive industry, across national boundaries if we do not adopt similar standards.

I am concerned about the “snapshot” mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Pannick. I understand that it is required, but if that snapshot will leave us with a great need for this legislation to go forward but an inability to make it happen, then I must press the Minister on how he envisages that such a situation will be dealt with. It would have a poor effect not just on the environment but on our ability to trade.