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European Union (Withdrawal) Bill - Report (6th Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:00 pm on 8th May 2018.

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Photo of Lord Kerr of Kinlochard Lord Kerr of Kinlochard Crossbench 7:00 pm, 8th May 2018

My Lords, I am sceptical about the EEA option. I am not sure that the EFTA EEA partners particularly want us—some of them tend to say that they do not—and I am not sure that the consultative arrangements that they find sufficient, or reasonably satisfactory, would be found satisfactory by this country.

I have always thought that the sort of consultative arrangements that we could secure would be best devised here and put forward in the proposal for the framework of the future relationship. I have always thought it very strange that the Government always insist on playing away—that it is for the other side to put forward the drafts. I do not know why we have not put forward our own prescription. I think we still should—but I begin to despair that we ever will.

I am very impressed by the argument of the noble Lord, Lord Mandelson. We have not yet done anything on services, and we really must do something. I am not sure that the EEA is right—but, as the noble Lord, Lord Mandelson, said, if we applied to join the EEA, it would be a different EEA that would emerge. It is not, therefore, a knock-down argument that the template that suits Liechtenstein would be imposed on the United Kingdom. I think we could do better. So, although it is not for me the ideal way to go, I would much rather that Britain put forward a British proposal optimised for the British relationship with the European Union that we will have left. If we are not going to do that, this is the next best thing. So, despite my doubts about the EEA option, I will vote for the amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Alli, if he chooses to test the opinion of the House—and I hope that others will, too.