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Trade Bill - Committee (4th Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:15 pm on 4th February 2019.

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Photo of Lord Bates Lord Bates The Minister of State, Department for International Development 7:15 pm, 4th February 2019

It is a challenge when someone with the noble Lord’s intellect begins a sentence by apologising for not being a politician and then asks for clarity at the present time. We are discussing this legislation, but we all know that we are in one of the most fast-moving, dynamic episodes of negotiation that this country has ever entered into. We are gradually working our way through. The White Paper was published at a moment when we were seeking to flesh out exactly what the Government’s position was in response to the Commission saying, “We don’t know what the UK’s position is; we don’t know what they want”. Therefore, the White Paper was introduced at that point. Then there was the clamour for clarity for business—what it would do in the event of no deal—so the technical notices were issued. Then, we got to the position where we reached an outline agreement with the European Commission in December, against many people’s expectations, along with heads of terms for what a future economic partnership might be. That was then presented to the other place and roundly rejected. Therefore, we have now begun another process, so I readily accept that if one wants to score points by stopping the clock at various stages along the process and pointing to certain inconsistencies in it, the Government are pretty easy fare for that.