Trade Bill - Committee (1st Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:45 pm on 21st January 2019.

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Photo of Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Opposition Whip (Lords) 5:45 pm, 21st January 2019

I fully accept what my noble friend has said, and I am sorry if I misrepresented him. I think he has the right point there. It picks up what I was going to say about the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Lansley, that contracting is often seen in terms of large contracts issued by central government to very large manufacturers, and of course it is not like that. The work of the BEIS department in setting up not only the industrial strategy itself but the way it will roll out to the smaller end of the market is a very important element of that. I am sure we all accept that there is a future there for a much broader engagement with big and small projects, but also for a wider range of activity where innovation, skills, flexibility of movement and the ability to adapt to new environments—such a hallmark of SMEs—are used and capitalised on for the benefit of our public good.

In a sense, it is good to hear from the Minister the progress in setting and achieving high standards in our procurement arrangements. The points that need to be brought forward are not just the range and need for these issues to be picked up in all our consideration of contracting; we must not be left behind if other countries are using the GPA, or indeed other measures, to achieve change in their environment and economies, and benefiting from it. We must not miss out on that; we need to have a strategy for it.

The points made about the SME end of the market, particularly in relation to making sure—