Trade Bill - Committee (3rd Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:15 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) 6:15 pm, 30th January 2019

I thank the noble Lord for that. It does indeed take us back to the debate we had last week, and I hope he remembers that I gave certain reassurances on that point. What I can say—without having the details in front of me—is that, as he knows, there is ongoing dialogue with the devolved Administrations to ensure that they are kept fully in touch with what we are doing. That will be the general tenor of the ongoing discussions as we look forward to FTAs.

I would like to pick up on some of the remarks made by the noble Lord, Lord Bilimoria, in the last debate as they are relevant to this point. He asked how our approach differs from the role of the European Parliament in EU trade negotiations. He may well know this but I shall spell it out: the European Parliament’s role operates in relation to EU trade policy. We are offering scrutiny for the UK Parliament at every stage of the process in a way that is appropriate and proportionate to the UK constitutional context. In the UK, the power to make treaties is a power held by government, but the context of the negotiations will be different. The European Commission negotiates free trade agreements representing the interests of the 28 member states. It is given the mandate to do so by the Council, and final agreements are approved by the European Parliament and the Council before they can come into force. UK-only free trade agreements will be negotiated by the elected Government in the best interests of the UK. The Ministers responsible for the negotiations are directly accountable to Parliament.