Trade Bill - Committee (3rd Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:00 pm on 30th January 2019.

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Photo of Lord Grantchester Lord Grantchester Shadow Spokesperson (Energy and Climate Change), Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) 7:00 pm, 30th January 2019

My Lords, Amendment 35 seeks to set the objective that the UK should fully participate in the European internal market after exit from the EU. This wording may also need to be examined. However, it is once again merely a probing amendment to enable the Government to provide more clarity on their intentions in the Bill and in future scenarios. Full participation may be said to imply continued membership in the internal energy market. While the Government have now been clear that leaving the EU will also include leaving Euratom, they took some time to explain what the close relationship with Euratom would mean. We now know that it means full duplication of regulations and regimes. However, what is the situation regarding the internal energy market, and—turning to Amendment 36—how does this outcome bear on the internal all-Ireland energy market?

Once again, an industry is calling out for clarity over trading arrangements as the UK leaves the EU. In the event of no deal, the outcomes become even more precarious and pose risks to the functioning of the UK energy market. Energy and climate should be among the first topics covered in negotiations to preserve security of supply and aid completion of the modernisation of the UK’s energy system, which requires tens of billions of pounds in investment in a smart power grid and low carbon transport and heating to underpin the competitiveness of all UK business. Electricity and gas cross-border trading is an increasingly important part of efficient markets. Net imports of electricity accounted for 4% of the UK’s power supply in 2017 and 47% of gas arrives via pipelines from Europe. Increased interconnection and a proposed doubling of these connectors with neighbouring markets are planned—for example, from Peterhead—and will help balance the security of power supplies.

I am grateful to my noble friend Lord McNicol for tabling his Amendment 36, to which I am also speaking in this group. It draws attention to the challenges posed by the integration of the island of Ireland’s single electricity market. Also included in this group is Amendment 46, which proposes that there should be no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. Will the UK continue to participate through membership of the internal market to avoid disruption across both Ireland and the UK and maintain a low cost-efficient power supply through integrated systems under common international environment laws? Losing access could lead to higher bills for consumers and potential disruptive effects, and raise critical issues regarding the EU emissions trading scheme. It is important that the Government provide clarity. I beg to move.