Trade Bill - Committee (3rd Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:30 pm on 30th January 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Baroness Fairhead Baroness Fairhead The Minister of State, Department for International Trade 5:30 pm, 30th January 2019

I am happy to confirm that.

I turn to Amendment 64. Trade continuity agreements, which Clause 2 would be used to implement, simply continue the effects of existing EU trade agreements. Many of the benefits are already being reaped by UK businesses. I hope that my noble friend can take comfort from my reassurance in my responses to Amendments 32 and 52, and I would like to reassure her further by confirming that any impact assessments published at the time the agreements we are transitioning came into force remain valid. On the international agreements referenced by my noble friend, I can confirm that we have not changed our commitment to them. The process of exiting the EU will not alter the UK’s commitment to upholding either international laws or our international commitments. These include commitments on climate change and the sustainable development goals.

The noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, and my noble friend Lady Hooper both raised issues in a number of areas such as human rights, labour and environmental standards around the world. In an earlier debate in Committee we confirmed that we will proudly continue to comply with those international obligations. In response to the comment of the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, on monitoring by independent bodies, I can confirm that that too will continue.

I turn now to Amendment 81, tabled by the noble Lord, Lord McNicol. Let me be clear that the Government will continue to ensure that Parliament and the devolved Administrations play a crucial role in the scrutiny of the UK’s trade agreements. We are in discussions at both official and ministerial level on this.

Specifically in relation to compliance, I must stress that the UK will not bring into force any international agreement without first ensuring that it is fully compliant with its obligations. Where we are transitioning existing ratified EU trade agreements, we have been complying with those agreements as a member of the EU. We are working hard to ensure that we continue to be compliant after leaving the EU, for example by using the powers in the European Union (Withdrawal) Act to make UK law operable without reliance on the European Communities Act 1972. Any secondary legislation necessary to ensure that we are in compliance will be made before ratification, following the usual parliamentary processes. This means that we will start from a point of being in compliance with our agreements. We would expect the same of our international partners. This is simply what is required when it comes to making international treaties.

Normally within trade agreements there are mechanisms for monitoring and reviewing the agreement through bodies such as joint committees. This applies both to our compliance and the compliance of our partner countries. We will of course look to replicate the functions of these existing mechanisms. The noble Lord, Lord Purvis, mentioned that we should make sure that we reflect the regions and the devolved Administrations. Again, I am happy to meet with him to discuss how that can be done. We will operate the mechanisms according to the terms specified in the relevant agreement. These will of course differ by agreement, but we will be accountable for compliance overall. I hope that this reassures the Committee, and I would ask the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment.