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

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 10:15 pm on 30th January 2019.

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Photo of Lord Bates Lord Bates The Minister of State, Department for International Development 10:15 pm, 30th January 2019

Yes, of course. I will probably miraculously sit down sometime around 10.39 pm. I think that is the convention. Let me go through as much as I can. I apologise to Members of the Committee and to the reporters of our proceedings for the pace at which I am going.

The noble Lord, Lord McNicol, and my noble friend Lord Lansley referred to the common transit area. As my noble friend hinted, this is an area where we have some good news, because the UK has agreed the common transit convention with the secretariat. Letters were received on 19 December 2018. That is taking shape.

The noble Baroness, Lady Kramer, talked about financial services. The Government are seeking a close future relationship on financial services with the EU that reflects our uniquely integrated markets and respects UK and EU autonomy. The political declaration includes commitments to close and structured co-operation on regulatory and supervisory matters, grounded in the future economic partnership. There will be a certain Groundhog Day feeling to the answers to a lot of these questions, because I will simply say that they are a matter for the future economic relationship, which we hope will be deep and extensive across all these headings. Of course, that is for another piece, or other pieces, of legislation.

The noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, spoke to her amendments. On haulage, the Government have been clear that we want to maintain the existing levels of access for UK and EU hauliers. A mutually beneficial road freight agreement with the EU will support the objective of frictionless trade. I very much take the point that the noble Baroness made about us often talking about Dover in the context of roll-on, roll-off, but there is strategic importance, particularly on the island of Ireland, for Holyhead and movements through there. However, we understand that we need the reassurance that we will have in place the arrangements needed to maintain continued access. On that basis, we welcome the contingency proposals being made by the European Commission on the basis that the Government are seeking a very close partnership based on reciprocal and binding agreements that protect the rights of road hauliers to access EU markets and vice versa.

The noble Lord, Lord McNicol, also talked about rail services, which are mentioned in Amendment 40. The Government are carefully considering the potential implications of leaving the EU, including implications for the continuation of cross-border rail. The noble Lord, Lord Fox, also referred to this through the Channel Tunnel and on the island of Ireland. I assure noble Lords that we understand the importance of maintaining the continuity of these important cross-border rail services, and we will continue to negotiate with our European partners to secure the best possible outcome.

In addressing Amendment 43, the noble Lord, Lord Fox, talked about open and fair competition. The Government recognise that commitments to open and fair competition are fundamental to all trading relationships; continuing the control of anti-competitive subsidies and creating a UK-wide subsidy control framework are crucially important. To support the desire for a future relationship, we propose rule alignment on state aid to be enforced by the Competition and Markets Authority, which already has a strong reputation in the UK. We also have strong proposals in other areas, including non-regression provisions for the environment, social issues and employment to ensure that we maintain the highest of standards, as my noble friend Lord Lansley requested.

Turning to Amendment 62, my noble friend Lord Lansley and the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, said that it raised important issues for the future relationship with the EU, by providing that the patients should not be disadvantaged. We have given commitments that patients should not be disadvantaged; industry should be able to get its products into the UK market as quickly as possible, and we continue to play a leading role in promoting public health. The Government have already set out their aim to secure participation in the European Medicines Agency. The political declaration sets out the mutual commitment of the UK and the EU to explore working together in future medicines regulation and negotiating the UK’s ongoing co-operation.