Trade Bill - Committee (1st Day) (Continued)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 10:00 pm on 21st January 2019.

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Photo of Baroness Fairhead Baroness Fairhead The Minister of State, Department for International Trade 10:00 pm, 21st January 2019

I am seeking to reassure the House because what we are agreeing in the withdrawal agreement is that all those obligations that we are party to come over as a result of the EU withdrawal Act. We remain parties to exactly the same international commitments made before, during and after we leave the EU. Nothing in that changes. I am trying to convey that this is about continuity of the existing obligations. We are not changing them; they are therefore being brought across as they stand.

I turn now to Amendment 13, tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Henig, and Amendment 14, tabled by my noble friend Lady McIntosh, which focus again on standards. Amendment 13 restricts the use of the Clause 2 power if it has the effect of lowering market standards for agricultural products below EU standards. Amendment 14 extends this to animal health, hygiene or welfare standards for agricultural products. I hope noble Lords will let me try to address any concerns over trade agreements leading to a change in standards for those agricultural products.

Our trade agreements must work not only for UK consumers, businesses and farmers but also for the environment. The global demand for British products is based on our high standards; people buy British not because it is cheaper but because of its high quality. To disregard standards would be to undermine the future of our farmers and of the British exporters. The Government have already announced a new environment (principles and governance) Bill to ensure environmental protections will not be weakened as we leave the EU. We have finished a consultation on a new body, which promises to hold the Government to account on the environment, and have published our 25-year environment plan which sets out our goals.