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 Lord Hannay of Chiswick Lord Hannay of Chiswick Crossbench 6:15 pm, 30th January 2019

I am very grateful to the noble Viscount for some of the remarks he made about what the Government are likely to do before Report in tabling their own amendments on the negotiating process. That was helpful and it will be good to look forward to that. However, in everything he said, I am afraid I detect an unwillingness to give Parliament a role at a time when it would really help. Everything he said involves decorating the final stage—the approval of an agreement already negotiated—with all sorts of wonderful bells and whistles. We all know that then you have only the nuclear option. You have concluded the negotiations and, if Parliament objects, you cannot amend the text that has been negotiated with the third country. If it objects, it can reject the agreement and that will be very damaging for the national interest and the relationship with that country.

I listened very carefully to the noble Viscount. At one stage, he claimed that the Government would negotiate on trade as the Executive and under their right to do so. That is just the problem. The word “mandate” did not come into a single thing he said. All I can say—politely, I hope—is that when the Government table their amendments, the word “mandate” had better be there. If it is not, I think they will get badly stuck. It is not magic. The mandates under which the European Union negotiates are quite general; they are not specific about this or that tariff, but they are very helpful in setting the parameters under which the negotiations are conducted. I believe the Government would benefit from that, so please think a little about the word “mandate”.