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My Lords, the UK Government support an ambitious environmental goods agreement. We believe that a high-standard environmental goods agreement would have three effects. First, it would enhance global access to clean technologies. Secondly, it would advance environmental protection. Thirdly, and not least, it would benefit UK workers, businesses and consumers.
Negotiations on the environmental goods agreement began in 2014 but stalled in 2016 due to disagreements over the scope of products to be liberalised and increasing global trade tensions. While the UK supports the objective of having an environmental goods agreement—and we have been a particularly active supporter in the WTO negotiations—I understand why the noble Lords, Lord Stevenson of Balmacara and Lord Grantchester, have proposed this amendment. I took note of what the noble Lord, Lord Grantchester, said. However, there is a reason we are not able to take this forward: it is already the objective of the UK to continue to support and participate in the negotiations on this agreement. That position will not change. It is not clear what “all necessary steps” in the amendment are, who would decide what those steps are, or what benchmark would be used to decide whether these legal conditions had been met.
I will attempt to answer the noble Lord’s question about significant differences. In our reports under Clause 3, we will be giving details and explaining reasons for all differences that have an effect on trade. There is no official definition, in fact. The noble Lord said that he is taking about the differences—let us be clear about this—in rolling over continuity agreements set out in reports which are prepared under Clause 3. If that does not satisfy the noble Lord, I am very willing to write a letter with the necessary legal ins and outs on this particular matter, but I hope with that explanation the noble Lord will be prepared to withdraw his amendment.