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Trade Bill - Committee (4th Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 8:00 pm on 4th February 2019.

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Photo of Baroness Neville-Rolfe Baroness Neville-Rolfe Conservative 8:00 pm, 4th February 2019

My Lords, I have some sympathy with my noble friend Lady McIntosh of Pickering but for a quite different reason. As I said all those months ago at Second Reading, we need a highly professional team to look after the UK’s trade interests, but I am not convinced that we need a new authority separate from the trade department. I may be out of date, but my recollection is that the work in Brussels is done by the Directorate-General for Trade, not by a special agency—and it seems to get along very well, as we keep hearing.

I might not be able to convince my noble friend the Minister, but I emphasise that the proposed body must be of a very special type. The agency, if we must have it, should be run by people who are independent-minded with Civil Service values, not representatives of any particular stakeholder sector. Such people must be able to stand up to the vested interests who will approach them in the way that they approach Brussels under the current arrangements. I remember lobbying DG Trade on bra quotas in Brussels. I have to say that I was one of many very fluent stakeholders interested in the cargos that were sitting on the sea and not arriving in the shops in Britain.