Trade Bill - Committee (1st Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:30 pm on 21st January 2019.

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Photo of Lord Wigley Lord Wigley Plaid Cymru 4:30 pm, 21st January 2019

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for introducing this amendment. As far as it goes, I support it, but I shall take up a point that was made a moment ago by the noble Lord, Lord Purvis, from the Liberal Front Bench that trade agreements will certainly need not just consultation with, but the agreement of, the devolved authorities. Let us think of, for example, the trade in lamb in Wales and how basic it is to the rural Welsh economy. Pressure is coming from New Zealand, which is threatening to block movement in the international trade discussions on these matters. If New Zealand were pressing for certain agreements that would undermine our Welsh lamb sector, that would be devastating. The devolved authority has responsibility for economic development, agriculture and rural affairs in Wales. That is an example from Wales. I can well imagine examples from Scotland, such as in the whisky sector. There should be more than just consultation. As I said at Second Reading, there should be a requirement for statutory agreement, a statutory endorsement by the devolved authorities in these areas. It may not be necessary in all areas, but there are certainly some where it is needed.

Therefore, between now and Report I hope there will be an opportunity to explore this area more in conjunction with the devolved Administrations to make sure that at this stage, before a specific difficulty arises, these matters are thought through because when a difficulty does arise, the tension builds up and it becomes a battle of attrition. We need a system that avoids that, and now is the time to get the system right.