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Trade Bill - Committee (4th Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:00 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) 7:00 pm, 4th February 2019

I apologise for interrupting the Minister. I want to add perhaps another degree of lunacy to the several mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Kerr. New Section 31 of the taxation Act, which Amendment 77 seeks to rectify, contains the following phrase:

“In the case of a customs union between the United Kingdom and the European Union”.

The Government said that that would not apply because the customs territory they are seeking to have will not be a customs union. So even if just to make the legislation neater, it should be taken out.

On defining the scope of the single customs territory, which we are seeking to do, the Government’s Legal Position on the Withdrawal Agreement, command paper 9747, says it is that,

“under which the UK aligns itself with the Union’s external tariff and there can be no tariffs or quantitative restrictions on imports and exports between the UK and the EU. The single customs territory therefore constitutes a customs union for the purposes of GATT19, but it is not the EU’s customs union as defined in Article 28 TFEU”.

It can either be one thing or the other, but the Government’s own document on the legal position says that the customs territory will be a customs union.