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Trade Bill - Committee (4th Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:00 pm on 4th February 2019.

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Photo of Lord Bates Lord Bates The Minister of State, Department for International Development 4:00 pm, 4th February 2019

I am happy to do that, and perhaps get some notes—I know we have a group coming up on the mobility framework, to which those points will perhaps be pertinent. I will, if I can, address them there. I also draw the noble Lord’s attention to section 9 of the political declaration, paragraphs 50 to 59 inclusive, which sets out the Government’s position on that.

The noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, and my noble friend Lord Hamilton pointed to or asked a very important question on bilateral services-only trade agreements. There is no precedent for a bilateral services-only trade agreement. Where service agreements exist, they are notified to the WTO alongside a wider agreement that also covers goods. We are leaving the customs union so that we can set our own tariffs and have an independent trade policy tailored to the strengths and requirements of our economy, which therefore includes—by implication and explicitly—the importance of services to our economy. The political declaration sets out a plan for a UK-EU free trade area for goods, including no tariffs, with ambitious customs agreements. This will be the first such agreement between an advanced economy and the EU.

The noble Lord, Lord Purvis, referred to the situation in relation to Northern Ireland. Without wanting to revisit that whole area in this group, the situation is that in Northern Ireland, under the common travel area, the rights to work, study and access social security and public services will be preserved on a reciprocal basis for UK and Irish nationals in the other state.

I turn to the questions raised by my noble friend Lady McIntosh and, in particular, the two questions raised by my noble friend Lady Neville-Rolfe. My noble friend referred to the Chancellor’s speech on liberalising services and looking for a more ambitious way forward. I am sure that is at the core of Government policy, otherwise the Chancellor would not have said it. I do not have the text in front of me, so I cannot comment on its full meaning, but I will write to my noble friend on that point. My noble friend Lady McIntosh also asked a three-pronged question. For a company setting up in the UK, what would its situation be in the event of no deal on day one; in the event of the implementation period; and at the conclusion of a future economic framework? Some of those outcomes will depend on the extent of the negotiation, which we have set out in the heads of agreement in the political declaration. Between Committee and Report, I will write on my noble friend’s specific point relating to that. Again, I thank the noble Lord for giving us an opportunity to raise this very important issue.