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

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 8:45 pm on 25th April 2018.

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Photo of Lord Whitty Lord Whitty Chair, EU Internal Market Sub-Committee, Chair, EU Internal Market Sub-Committee 8:45 pm, 25th April 2018

My Lords, the noble Baroness was doing quite well until her last sentence. I take a limited amount of comfort from what she says are the Government’s desired outcomes. I am sure that we all subscribe to those outcomes on safety and co-operation and so forth. However, these entities have provided the basis on which European railways, European maritime contacts and European air contacts have operated with increasing closeness over the last few decades. The situation is similar with roads. At least yesterday, with regard to haulage, the noble Baroness, Lady Sugg, provided a necessary but not complete basis for activity to replace the European Community licence system. In these areas, the industries feel uncomfortable that they do not know what is happening and do not know how to plan ahead. That has been underlined to us from time to time and Ministers must have had the same kinds of approaches. Therefore, it would have been helpful if the Minister had given us a promise—in writing, if necessary—that the objectives would be spelled out in a little more detail.

We are in an asymmetrical position. We know what the EU has said. In its guidelines for the negotiations, it has said that not from December 2020 but from March next year we will no longer be a member of those agencies and will be invited only at its request for particular reasons. That is the EU’s negotiating position. We are not clear what the Government’s negotiating position is in relation to these or any other agencies. The Prime Minister has, admittedly, said slightly more about aviation but, even there, she referred at one point to continued participation and at another point to associate membership, which have rather different connotations.

Therefore, despite the noble Baroness’s efforts and some of the reassurances that she has given us, which I appreciate, I am no clearer about which way we are going. If I am not clear, I suspect that those who run our airlines, railways, maritime services—the ferries in particular—and roads are not clear either. On transport depends the rest of our industry and our society. If those industries are not clear, that bodes ill for how we respond economically to the shock of Brexit.

I will beg leave to withdraw the amendment with some regret—I had hoped for better from the Minister—but the issue remains, and I certainly advise Ministers to address that issue with the industries as rapidly as possible.

Amendment 48 withdrawn.

Consideration on Report adjourned.

House adjourned at 9.09 pm.