Trade Bill - Committee (3rd Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:45 pm on 30th January 2019.

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Photo of Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Opposition Whip (Lords) 4:45 pm, 30th January 2019

My Lords, we move from future prospects and problems around definitions and what other partners will do to a matter which will lie very much in the hands of the Government as we go forward. As and when trade agreements become the responsibility of this Parliament, there need to be procedures for establishing how and on what basis these are agreed, but also, as is the subject of Amendment 32, for reviewing our progress in carrying these forward.

The amendment is rather full. It contains a long list of issues so it is perhaps not a probing amendment, but I hope the Minister will accept that we would be open to further discussion on the wording. It is meant to set out broadly all the issues that we think need to come into play on this issue but the detail itself could be subject to discussion.

I hope all Members of the Committee will agree that we need to have a system under which we have confidence that any trade negotiations taking place on behalf of the people of this country are subject to effective periodic review of the issues involved, what the process will be and how many dimensions are involved in the consultations and engagement with the devolved Assemblies and Parliaments, as well as the involvement of those affected by the negotiations, such as consumers, those who work in the industries concerned and the companies themselves.

Of course, there is an issue about what impact these trade agreements will have regionally, not just across the national regions but within England in particular, with variations that will need to be picked up. We need to make sure that Parliament, in assessing how these trade deals are done, has access to all the information that is required.

The whole process is set out in Amendment 32. Amendment 81, in the name of my noble friend Lord McNicol—he did so well with his previous amendment that we have given him the afternoon off to recover, so I am speaking for him on this amendment; we are working together, of course, as noble Lords would expect—sets out in more detail the question of independence for the responsible body. There are many candidates for that. We do not need to go into it, but it is important that there is separation between those who set up and agree trade agreements and those who review them for the benefit of the public interest.

This issue can be developed across various activities. I think there will be contributions from those who will wish to see more stress placed on the social rather than the economic issues. The Government are involved in international treaties that will come into play on this. There is a great deal to be said about how you would do this, with what process and everything else. The amendment attempts to set that up. I beg to move.