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

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:00 pm on 28th February 2018.

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Photo of Lord Davies of Stamford Lord Davies of Stamford Labour 6:00 pm, 28th February 2018

My Lords, the support of the noble Lord, Lord Kirkhope, for the amendment will be welcome. It reflects what I have always thought was a considerable cross-party consensus in this country in favour of a reasonable amount of regulation. Of course there are fanatics. Professor Minford is a very good example of an intelligent man who believes if we got rid of all regulation it would be a very good thing, and he has made calculations of the economic benefits to the country if literally all regulations—health and safety, environment, consumer protection and employment protection and so on—were simply abolished. However, he is rightly regarded as a fanatic in his own profession and indeed in politics. There are a number of people on the right wing of the Conservative Party who have always been very close to that way of thinking, and it would be quite terrifying if the Government, under the camouflage of taking powers apparently needed to bring about Brexit, found themselves in possession of instruments that meant that without any real let or hindrance they could simply take an axe to the protective regulation that has emerged in this country over the decades.

All civilised countries have to have a reasonable amount of regulation in these fields or they very rapidly cease to be civilised. One of my great worries about leaving the EU is that we will probably end up with more regulation that in many cases will be much less rational: it will be the result of a campaign by the Daily Mail and weak Ministers giving in, saying, “Oh goodness, let them have what they want”, and regulating on this or that. There is a much greater chance of that happening when we are no longer part of a body of 28 countries that are forced to look at these issues in realistic terms and come to some agreement on the subject. That is very worrying.