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Trade Bill - Report (1st Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:15 pm on 6th March 2019.

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Photo of Lord Lansley Lord Lansley Conservative 6:15 pm, 6th March 2019

I am grateful to my noble friend the Minister and indeed to the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, for their contributions to this short debate, and for the discussions that we had, which were not so short but were extremely helpful in clarifying many of the issues; they have enabled us to be brief today. I am grateful to my noble friend for his responses to my questions, which were very satisfactory.

I have two things to say. First, what he described as the role of the Trade Remedies Authority seems an appropriate one and mirrors what would be the case with other countries who are not part of the GSP scheme. I hope he implied that the Secretary of State would follow the TRA’s recommendations on the extent to which the preferential access is suspended or withdrawn; this can lead to a rate of duty that lies between nil and the standard rate—the most favoured nation rate. It is not necessarily in excess of the most favoured nation rate, as my noble friend said, but might fall somewhere between the nil rate and the MFN rate.

On the second point, I completely understand that noble Lords might expect us to start with a preference scheme that mirrors the European Union scheme and then consider the extent to which we can, or need to, change it in order to improve it—to address both the different circumstances of EU industries relative to those of developing countries and some characteristics of the scheme itself. Given that the legislation is structured so that the first regulations get affirmative processes and subsequent regulations do not, I hope that that will not inhibit Ministers from trying to consult proactively, as they have done through the White Paper and otherwise, on how the preference scheme could be improved if and when—there is definitely an “if” as well as a “when”—we come to establish a trade preference scheme that is the UK’s own scheme, rather than one which simply reflects the EU scheme. However, on the basis of the very helpful response from my noble friend, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 9 withdrawn.