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Trade Bill - Committee (4th Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 9:30 pm on 4th February 2019.

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Photo of Lord Lansley Lord Lansley Conservative 9:30 pm, 4th February 2019

My Lords, I am speaking on behalf of my noble friend Lady Altmann, who is unable to be here and asked me to extend her apologies. I think she would have shared the view of the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, that Amendment 98 would not prevent our exit without an agreement, which is the default situation under the statute law as it remains, but it would certainly enable one to put into the equation consideration of the damage and chaos that would result if one were to leave by default without an agreement and without the statute book and continuity agreements being in place. Both Houses would have to think hard about that. It is a contest between different visions of what kind of chaos might ensue. Unfortunately, that is essentially where we are.

My noble friends on the Front Bench have done a grand job, not least in keeping us on track, wherever possible, in understanding the importance of getting this legislation into the right structure rather than being distracted too often and too far into discussion of Brexit. I think we agreed at Second Reading that the Bill is occasioned by Brexit but is not really about it; nor, technically, is it about the future processes and structures of free trade agreements. Their approach has enabled us to have what I think will be some interesting, positive and constructive discussions on Report, arising out of this Committee, when we can really focus on one or two specifics. My noble friends will have been given an indication of what kinds of considerations will be important to the House in thinking about free trade agreements as they come along.