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 Lord Livingston of Parkhead Lord Livingston of Parkhead Conservative 5:15 pm, 21st January 2019

I echo the comments from my noble friends Lord Lansley and Lady Hooper, that of course the Bill, and in particular this part of it, is not about changing policy or procedure but about continuity. I think they are raising points to consider in future trade negotiations. On Amendment 5, it is important to recognise the more important part about SMEs rather than just SME procurement policy. I know that the Minister has done a lot of work in promoting SME trade around the world; the UK’s policy has been moving towards supporting SMEs, not just in UK procurement but around the world, taking them to see other Governments and incorporating them within the supply chains. The UK has already taken a lot of steps over a number of years. Indeed, in one of the negotiations the EU and the UK had on trade, we tried to incorporate an SME chapter to have more focus on understanding, across any business, that SMEs are important. It is important here, and it keeps on appearing as an issue.

It is fine for us to talk, as noble Lords have, about things we would like to see in future trade agreements with future countries in future ways. However—I know that the Minister will make the point again—we are replicating where we already are. It is right and appropriate to set up signposts for the future, and on SMEs, I am sure that the Minister will say how as a Government we have done a lot, and how we expect to do a lot more and be incorporated, not just within trade agreements but in trade support, and what we do in areas such as trade fairs and in leading many trade delegations. Indeed, a number of noble Lords do a great deal around the world to support UK SME trade, along with the trade department.