Eurotunnel - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:34 pm on 4th March 2019.

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Photo of The Earl of Courtown The Earl of Courtown Captain of the Queen's Bodyguard of the Yeomen of the Guard (HM Household) (Deputy Chief Whip, House of Lords) 6:34 pm, 4th March 2019

My Lords, with the leave of the House, I shall now repeat in the form of a Statement the Answer given by my right honourable friend to an Urgent Question in the other place. The Statement is as follows:

“I would like to update the House on the agreement the Government have reached with Eurotunnel which will help to deliver an unhindered supply of vital medicines and medical devices under any Brexit scenario. The best way to ensure a smooth and orderly exit both for the NHS and the wider economy is to support the deal that the Prime Minister has proposed to the House, as amended by the negotiations being conducted by the Attorney-General. Anyone in this House who cares about the unhindered supply of medicines should vote for that deal.

But leaving the EU without a deal remains the default position under the law and it is incumbent on us to keep people safe. It is therefore vital that adequate contingency measures are in place for any Brexit scenario. Preparing for a no-deal exit has required significant effort from the NHS, the pharmaceutical industry and the whole medical supply chain. I want to pay tribute to their work and thank them for their efforts on these contingency measures. The settlement struck between the Government and Eurotunnel last week is an important part of these measures. Because of the legal action taken by Eurotunnel and the legal risks of the court case, it became clear that without this settlement, we could no longer be confident of the unhindered supply of medicines. Without the settlement, the ferry capacity needed to be confident of supply was at risk. As a Government we could not take that risk and I doubt that anyone in this House would have accepted that risk either.

With this settlement we can be confident, as long as everybody does what they need to do, that supply will continue. While we are disappointed that Eurotunnel took this action in the first place, the House will understand why we acted, so businesses and the NHS could plan with confidence. Under the settlement, Eurotunnel has to spend the money to improve resilience, security and traffic flow at the border, benefiting both passengers and business.

The Department for Transport, on behalf of the whole Government, entered into these contracts in good faith. Our duty is to keep people safe, whatever the complications thrown up by legal process, and while we continue to plan for all eventualities, it is clear that the best way to reduce these risks is to vote for the deal in the days to come”.