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

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 9:45 pm on 30th January 2019.

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Photo of Viscount Trenchard Viscount Trenchard Conservative 9:45 pm, 30th January 2019

My Lords, the hour is late and a large number of amendments are being debated. I shall not touch on more than one or two. I was impressed by the mention by my noble friends Lady McIntosh and Lord Risby of Amendment 48, on the tripartite agreement. I declare an interest because my brother-in-law is a racehorse trainer near Newbury and he is worried that he will not be able to move his staff and horses round Ireland and France as is necessary for his business. I see no reason why this agreement should not be grandfathered through because it existed before the European Union was founded. I fear, as my noble friend Lord Risby also intimated, that the tentacles of the European state have already embraced Ireland and France to such an extent that they will not have the freedom unilaterally to decide to continue the agreement. I hope, though, that our United Kingdom will have such freedom after Brexit but perhaps we can find a way to preserve this tripartite agreement for the future.

It is clear that all of us would like as little disruption to current arrangements as possible, but most of these amendments should not be in this Bill. They have nothing whatever to do with its purpose. I simply wish to comment on Amendment 55, tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Kramer, who has not, I believe, spoken to it. Does she not realise that the City of London has suffered from the imposition of several barriers to trade in financial services as a result of having been forced to implement some new European regulations in recent years, such as parts of MiFID II, AIFMD and others. One of the benefits of Brexit is that the City will be free to adopt proportionate and sensible regulation that will enhance its business in years to come.

Brexit also provides an opportunity for the UK to play an enhanced role in the development of proportionate regulation at the global level, balancing the need to protect the consumer and the environment against the requirement to provide an innovation-friendly environment that will enable us to abandon some of the more cumbersome and restrictive parts of the European regulatory regime to which we have become progressively shackled and which is, in places, more about harmonisation and protectionism than about the genuine protection of consumers.

I shall give one example. I have known the chief executive of a Japanese pharmaceutical company for more than 30 years. He told me that when Brexit came along he was not happy, but he has spent more than $8 million upgrading his European network and is now confident that he will be able to research, manufacture and distribute medicines in both the UK and EU27 after Brexit, just as he does now, on whatever basis we leave. He told me that now that he has spent the money, he would like to see the upside of Brexit. He says that the upside is that he expects us to return to what I believe is a more natural state for this country, in which we will have a less cumbersome regulatory regime that will be more helpful for a life sciences company such as his to innovate in new therapies, new drugs and new medicines. What worries me is that, although we are about to leave the European Union, we will, through this type of amendment, promise to continue to align entirely with EU regulation, which in places relies too much on the precautionary principle, and in that case there will be absolutely no upside to leaving. Therefore, we must have a balance here.