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Trade Bill - Committee (4th Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:00 pm on 4th February 2019.

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Photo of Lord Purvis of Tweed Lord Purvis of Tweed Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (International Trade) 6:00 pm, 4th February 2019

I am grateful to the Minister for his characteristically thorough response, except that we still have Clause 6 in limbo to some extent. I am not sure how long the Government can reflect on the language of their Bill, which the Government brought to the House without stating whether they intend to bring forward amendments on Report to change it. I think the noble Lord, Lord Lansley, made a very good point: this is a very significant issue that requires a degree of forewarning on what the Government’s intentions will be. I suspect we may just have to wait; we have pressed the Government enough at this stage with regards to getting some clarity on that point. It is frustrating that we still have some question marks that are being raised over the language of the Government’s legislation.

On the second point, I understand what the Minister says. There will not necessarily be any easy answers to this, but my point was that there can well be a marked difference between co-operation with, and participation in, European institutions—I think this is the point the noble Lord, Lord Lansley, was making, and I share his view. The European Union has been clear on that in the past. Indeed, on the previous day of Committee, my noble friend Lord Foster took part in the debate on communications and the regulatory bodies in the European Union for that. More recently, the European Union has changed its position to make it even harder for third countries to participate in the European agencies. Our bodies co-operate with the Food and Drug Administration in the United States. We have co-operation which is very deep, but when it comes to the key elements of whether medicines or vaccines are licensed, whether the research will be accepted on a reciprocal basis, and whether data is shared and can be legally shared between the two regulatory bodies, there are still issues that need to be identified.

It is reassuring to know that it is the Government’s intent, from the White Paper onwards, that we would have active participation, but at the moment it seems as if the political statement trumps that because it is more recent. However, the Government have reissued their position on active participation and, in advance of waiting to see what they bring forward on Report—if, indeed, they do so—I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment 67 withdrawn.

Amendment 68 not moved.

Clause 6 agreed.

Amendments 69 to 74 not moved.