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Trade Bill - Committee (2nd Day) (Continued)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 9:30 pm on 23rd January 2019.

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Photo of Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Opposition Whip (Lords) 9:30 pm, 23rd January 2019

I am grateful to the Minister for her full discussion of these issues. As she started I was thinking that we could have got a better result if we had drafted Amendment 29 in the positive rather than negative tone—to make it optional in, rather than to restrict out, which was the main complaint she had about it. As the argument has extended, I can see there is a lot more going on here than we were aware of at the time we drafted it. I am sure that I share with the noble Baroness, Lady Kramer, the idea that if we can have a discussion about all the various things going forward, we might be able to have a better understanding of where, if at all, there is any need to move on that.

Having said that, the Minister mentioned that there was a lot of interest in it. I stress again that this is the one single issue that I have had the most correspondence about. Just about every group involved in trade and development has picked this as its number one issue. It is good that work is being done on it, in the sense that one is not trying to constrain good and effective systems that arrive at having a fair, efficient and highly regarded court that will have all the details and be able to deal with the various aspects of it. Clearly, we do not want to disadvantage other countries in relation to anything we might be doing. These are the pieces in play, as it were, and it is a question of trying to get confidence from Ministers and officials that things are moving forward.

In some ways—although this may be the wrong line to follow—it is quite like the discussions on the Unified Patent Court. There is a person not too far away from the noble Baroness who has quite a lot of detailed experience of that. That is an ad hominem—I do not know what the Latin is—but it relates to a particular issue: patentem. It has a link in to but is not part of the European Court of Justice, which would play back to the noble Baroness, Lady Kramer. It might be too elegant a solution, but I wonder if that might be something we might also pick up, because there is something in there that might square all the circles. With that, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 29 withdrawn.