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

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:15 pm on 28th February 2018.

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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 5:15 pm, 28th February 2018

The noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay of Clashfern, says that he is confused about the transition; my worry is that the people on the Bench in front of him remain confused about what a transition period means—but let us put that to one side.

I want briefly to broaden the discussion to regulations—I know that the amendment refers to directives, but it is probing and there is an important issue here which Ministers may have heard. The clinical trials regulation was mentioned at Second Reading. Like many of the measures that we are discussing today, that would have been adopted but not implemented, either because it was complicated or it took a lot of work to get everyone lined up to it—so it would not have reached its implementation date by the time we left. It might well reach that date during the transitional period—which raises another question and, probably, another Bill. If it is a standstill only on measures that have come in by the day we leave, there will be important issues to address such as the clinical trial regulations and those others that we have heard about today. They will not count as retained law, leaving us reliant on regulations that rapidly become obsolete—those relating to cars I know less about, but certainly in respect of those relating to clinical trials it would end our ability to participate. All such regulations are about not just anonymity but the way data are held. It will happen very quickly: if we are not on the same basis as the rest of Europe, our ability to be involved in those could end quite promptly. That is obviously important to patients, but also to researchers and, indeed, the pharmaceutical industry.

I wrote to the noble Lord, Lord Callanan, on 19 January and he replied very rapidly on 26 January. As we have heard today, he confirmed the Bill’s approach, which will bring over only regulations actually operative as we leave. That would exclude these clinical trial rules, for example, although we agreed them back in 2014. The letter that the noble Lord kindly wrote to me makes smoothing comments, if you like. It says, “Yes, we recognise the importance of close co-operation, we want UK patients to have access to innovative medicines, for which we need to be part of the same system, and we want the UK to be one of the best places to do science”. I turned over the page expecting the Lord Deben response, which would be to say what we are going to do about it. Unfortunately, at that point the letter stops. It says that we will discuss with the EU how to continue to co-operate in business trials but it fails to look at what will be needed, which is, I fear, a legislative process to make that happen.