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Trade Bill - Committee (4th Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 8:30 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) 8:30 pm, 4th February 2019

My Lords, I wish to make two brief points in this large but important grouping. The first is in response to the point made by the noble Baroness and my noble friend Lord Fox. When the Secretary of State spoke at Second Reading of this Bill in the other place, he indicated that the Government’s position on the anti-dumping remedies regime would be public long before we considered this Bill. We are, to some extent, debating blind in not knowing what the Government’s proposals are. That is regrettable, so if the Minister can give some clarification, that would be very helpful.

The second point is really stimulated by the noble Earl, Lord Kinnoull, and the noble Lord, Lord Lansley: why are the Government continuing with Schedule 4 as it is currently drafted? As the noble Lord, Lord Lansley, said, the proposal would have been that the Secretary of State would appoint the chair of the TRA and then the chair would appoint the chief executive —that is in Schedule 4(2)(1)(a) and Schedule 4(2)(1)(c). If no chair had been appointed, the Secretary of State would appoint. In the Government’s Statement on 26 October, they announced the appointment of both the chair designate and the chief executive designate at the same time. I do not know how that interacts with this legislation, and on what basis the chief executive designate was appointed. I am not questioning those two individuals. If the intention was to have a truly independent body, the fact that the first chair had been the UK Trade & Investment representative raises some questions. I am not questioning the quality of the appointments. However, I am not sure how the fact that the announcement of both appointments was made on the same day interacts with the Bill, and on what basis both the chair and the chief executive were appointed as designate at the same time. As the noble Lord, Lord Lansley, said, either that is not consistent with the Bill, so the Government acted beyond how they said they would act, or perhaps we should just delete this aspect in its entirety for the sake of neatness.