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Trade Bill - Committee (3rd Day) (continued)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 9:15 pm on 30th January 2019.

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Photo of Baroness McIntosh of Pickering Baroness McIntosh of Pickering Conservative 9:15 pm, 30th January 2019

My Lords, I shall speak to Amendment 63 in my name and those of the noble Lords, Lord Dykes and Lord Browne of Ladyton. I thank them for lending their support to the amendment, which relates not just to Amendment 39 but also, I would argue, Amendment 45—it is bizarre that they are not in the same group.

The amendment relates to lawyers in particular and the right to provide services, establish yourself in the legal profession and practise. I am a currently non-practising Scottish advocate but, as a young, recently qualified advocate, I went to Brussels to practise European law without having to take a separate qualification. I am greatly indebted, as I think are your Lordships, to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Keen of Elie, for moving the relevant statutory instrument, the Services of Lawyers and Lawyer’s Practice (Revocation etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019, which the House adopted. I shall quote him because I cannot put it better than him. He said:

“In the event of us exiting without any deal, there will be no reciprocal rights—which was one reason why, as I indicated, these regulations are required. They are necessary in order that we can establish a position in which all third-party country lawyers will be on the same standing in the absence of a free trade agreement or other agreement with a third-party country. There will be no reciprocity—that will be a matter for the relevant EU country to consider—but clearly it is a matter that we would wish to address in future negotiations consequent on our exit from the European Union. This is dealing with the position in the United Kingdom in light of the existing regulatory regime under EU law. Clearly, and quite patently, you could not address the question of how the EU 27 are going to treat our lawyers going forward”.—[Official Report, 15/1/19; col 177.]

What concerns me greatly is that the next generation of young, budding advocates will qualify on 30 March or 30 April and will be unable immediately to ply their trade, or to continue to ply their trade after 29 March, if we crash out of the European Union without a deal. I could not find it in Hansard, but I took a note of what your Lordships said. I would not like to attribute it to my noble and learned friend Lord Keen, but we learned when the regulations were passed that Ireland’s professional body has taken the opportunity to increase the cost of qualifying as an Irish lawyer to practise there from £300 to £3,000. That is quite an increase. I think we learned from the Liberal Democrat Benches that, in another EU member state, a rule was passed to prevent the sharing of an office or creating a partnership with a British or other third-country lawyer wishing to practise in that country.

We will have a two-tier system. Having passed the regulations, we have, quite rightly, granted those EU lawyers who currently practise here or are qualified and wish to continue to practise here rights to continue or enable them to do so. How can that possibly be? I ask that the Minister use her good offices to ensure that that position is not sustained beyond 29 March.

I entirely endorse what the noble Lord, Lord McNicol, from the Labour Benches said in moving Amendment 38, and I look forward to Amendment 45 on much the same lines. I hosted a meeting here of all the professions that are deeply concerned: architects, dentists, lawyers, nurses and so on. I remind your Lordships that the mutual recognition directive took 21 years to agree in the case of architects. That is not a position to which we would wish to return.

I had a meeting with the Irish Commissioner, Phil Hogan, who was kind enough to receive a group of us from the House of Commons when I was on the Select Committee there. I am currently a member of the all-party parliamentary racing group, and in that capacity and others I attend race meetings. I also had the privilege to represent Thirsk Racecourse, and trainers throughout Thirsk and Malton and the Vale of York, during that period. I am grateful that Amendment 48 is being discussed this evening. If the tripartite agreement existed in its own right before it became part of the arrangements of the European Union, would it not make sense if it reverted immediately to that—a backstop, if you like? Is that the Government’s intention? I see no benefit in taking the tripartite agreement forward as part as existing arrangements. It will get lost in the wash, as it has done this evening in this group of amendments—I have not counted how many of them there are. That would be a very neat way forward. I am sure it would get the agreement of the French and the Irish, and it would be very much in the interests of the business. I remember, when Ireland reduced the rate of VAT, the number of trainers and owners that left this country. Personally, it has been to my advantage because the cottage I live in when I am in North Yorkshire was vacated by a trainer, Sue Bramall, who I understand has had great success training in Ireland, but obviously it is to the UK’s detriment. I would hate to see that happen again here.

I was aghast when I heard the Minister say earlier that the Government sought to revisit Clause 6 on the European Medicines Agency. One of my outside appointments is to work with the Dispensing Doctors’ Association, whose headquarters is based in Kirkbymoorside in North Yorkshire. We are in this curious position where we are going to follow the falsified medicines directive unless we crash out with no deal. That is the only benefit I can see of crashing out with no deal. The GPs in Ireland have been deemed to be self-employed, so they are going to be exempt from the provisions of the falsified medicines directive. Why is there this dichotomy—that we do not wish to be part of the European Medicines Agency, but we do wish to be part of the falsified medicines directive? I would like a route to understanding. I would be very happy to accept a letter on why that should be.

I am not going to rehearse and itemise all the agencies in Amendment 70, but I would make a particular plea for the EASA, the European Food Standards Agency and European Environment Agency. As I have mentioned previously—I have not yet had satisfaction on this point—we should commit to remaining part of the European rapid alert system, on incidents of food hygiene and food poisoning. The need for this was never more apparent than during the 2010 Horsegate scenario. We were lucky that that was a case of food fraud, where horsemeat was passed off as beef. Whatever happens to Clause 6, I hope that the Minister will confirm this evening that we will remain part of the European rapid alert system for such incidents.