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Trade Bill - Committee (4th Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:45 pm on 4th February 2019.

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Photo of Baroness McIntosh of Pickering Baroness McIntosh of Pickering Conservative 3:45 pm, 4th February 2019

My Lords, I follow the noble Lord, Lord Liddle, in pursuing the aspect of services, and I have a specific question for my noble friend Lord Bates, who I think will be summing up. This debate is not dissimilar to the one that we had on the free movement of professions, and I am mindful of the fact that my noble friend Lady Fairhead has said on a number of occasions that the Bill before the Committee today is all about continuity. I also have regard to what my noble friend Lord Hamilton said—that there has been precious little reciprocity in terms of setting up and establishing services elsewhere in the European Union to date. So that does not fill me with confidence about what the legal position will be going forward.

There are some very helpful pages on the European Commission website about what the position will be as regards professions after 29 March and in the longer term, but there is precious little about establishing companies. This is becoming a matter of increasing urgency because we can see, in particular if we look at financial services, that the issue is not just free movement of people but free movement of services and capital. We have recently seen an increasing exodus of capital and people moving from the City of London to bases in Dublin, Frankfurt and Holland—and even Paris and Copenhagen are pressing for people to go and set up businesses there.

I would like to ask my noble friend the Minister how we are pursuing this on a reciprocal basis. We saw with professions, in the case of lawyers, that we have adopted the statutory instrument and the necessary regulation. What is the legal position of a UK company that wishes to establish itself and offer its services, first in the event of no deal after 29 March, secondly in the event of a deal during the transition phase, and thirdly at the conclusion of the transition period, whether it is as planned or extended? It strikes me that many of us are focusing on businesses already established in the UK and providing services. My concern is how much the ability of those looking to set up and establish themselves will depend on the right of residence, either now or at some future date in what will be a third country after 29 March.