Trade Bill - Committee (3rd Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:00 pm on 30th January 2019.

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Photo of Viscount Younger of Leckie Viscount Younger of Leckie Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip) 6:00 pm, 30th January 2019

I had only just started, and I stand by my words, because I was about to go on to say that, none the less, I understand the desire of noble Lords, including the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, to debate these issues today—and that is what we have just done. I also appreciate the desire to understand how the Government intend to fulfil our commitments to transparency on and scrutiny of future FTAs as we exit the EU.

The amendments on future FTAs pursue many aims, which the Government understand. To be helpful to the House, during my remarks I will give as much information as I can on progress and process on FTAs. I will also answer the question raised earlier by the noble Lord, Lord Hannay—but not just yet—and will agree with the remarks made by my noble friend Lady Fairhead.

Amendments 33 and 99, which the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, spoke to, seek to ensure that Parliament has a significant role in free trade agreements via the creation of a new Joint Committee. Amendments 71 to 74, which the noble Lord, Lord Purvis, spoke to, seek to achieve similar outcomes through imposing obligations on the Government in relation to mandate-setting, transparency and scrutiny before signature. I will address those amendments together.

First, I shall give a little context. Brexit does not change the fundamental constitutional principles that underpin the negotiation of international treaties. The making of treaties, including international trade agreements, is a function of the Executive. At the same time, it has long been held—and this Government continue to hold—that Parliament should have the opportunity to scrutinise treaties effectively. In 2010, the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act confirmed, after a process of consultation, the respective roles of the Government and Parliament in treaty-making. The Government will continue to support and facilitate parliamentary scrutiny of treaties under CRaG.

The noble Lord, Lord Purvis, asked about the Israeli trade agreement. There is agreement in principle on an FTA, but subject to—