Trade Bill - Committee (1st Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:15 pm on 21st January 2019.

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Photo of Baroness Young of Old Scone Baroness Young of Old Scone Labour 5:15 pm, 21st January 2019

My Lords, I support Amendment 4 in the name of my noble friend. I declare an interest as president of the Woodland Trust and as president or vice-president of a range of environmental organisations.

The noble Lord, Lord Fox, was absolutely right when he said that these would be the “continuity” four days. I will make that point shortly with regard to what we are trying to do with this amendment. It is important that we ensure that our joining of the GPA as an independent entity maintains all sorts of standards: employment and human rights equalities, SME targets, other government national priorities and, in particular, the environment. I therefore support Amendment 4 to enable conditions to be applied to tenders for services.

I will say more about the importance of maintaining environmental standards when we come to the group starting with Amendment 8. However, on Amendment 4 I will simply say that it is a very different thing to operate as one of the EU 28. It was pretty easy to have high environmental ambition when we were sailing as a pack, as it were. It will be very different when we are negotiating as an isolated country, either with the World Trade Organization or in bilateral agreements. I therefore do not believe that the Bill can be just about continuity, because continuity is not an option; in the future we will be operating in a very different environment in all our trade arrangements. It is important to ensure that standards—in my case, particularly environmental standards—are reinforced in all the trade mechanisms we are putting in place as part of a Brexit mechanism.

I therefore very much support Amendment 4 with regard to our changed membership of the GPA and subsequent tenders and contracts, which are an important part of that wider trade system that we are now entering into—which is not an issue of continuity.