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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 Tyler Lord Tyler Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Constitutional and Political Reform) 9:30 pm, 23rd January 2019

My noble friend is absolutely right. The important point is simply this: here is a truly successful scheme where UK Ministers have taken the initiative and grabbed the opportunities in the EU. We cannot allow it to disappear. The threat to a large number of enterprises would be disastrous. It would set such a bad example to the agricultural and food industry if we allowed the scheme to be diluted or dissolved in any way.

As we know, the Bill and the proposed new clause are caught up in the rather absurd contingency planning for the crash-out, no-deal scenario that the Government now insist Parliament must play with, despite the dire warnings about how awful such a result would be. If we are not careful, not carrying forward this very good scheme would be disastrous. Indeed, it would be tragic if this excellent scheme, in which successive Governments have invested so much energy, initiative and political capital and on which so many UK producers rely, were lost in the wash. The threat is there.

Of course, the ideal solution would be for it to continue exactly as it is now, with full UK membership of the EU—but I suppose we have to admit the possibility that the ideal will have to give way to the best available replication: hence the proposed new clause. In the words of the 20th century’s most authoritative actuary, Frank Redington, we are faced at the moment with an “expanding funnel of doubt”. We cannot afford for there to be any doubt about the success of this scheme and the necessity of its continuation. The best we can do is to insist, through the amendment, that we do not throw out this precious baby with the bathwater.