Amendment 23

Part of Trade Bill - Report (2nd Day) – in the House of Lords at 4:52 pm on 13th March 2019.

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Photo of Lord McNicol of West Kilbride Lord McNicol of West Kilbride Opposition Whip (Lords) 4:52 pm, 13th March 2019

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Purvis, has outlined the reasoning for and detail of the amendment. I intend, therefore, to be brief as we have a number of amendments of greater importance.

It is a shame that the Government will not accept the amendment or work with noble Lords on this side of the House to bring more detail and clarity to the reporting mechanism and progress analysis on rollover agreements. Suffice it to say, Her Majesty’s Government are woefully behind on negotiating, securing and signing agreements that will need to be rolled over. Only a handful of deals are close to completion. Ministers have admitted that they are struggling to make progress with the other trade agreements that Liam Fox has a number of times promised would be ready for the day after Brexit.

These rollover deals represent trade with approximately 70 countries, which constitute around 13% of our exports and 12% of our imports. So far as we know—and that is telling—only four have been signed, nine are off track, 19 are significantly off track, four cannot be completed before Brexit and two are not being negotiated. The Government have refused to confirm how many separate and distinct agreements must be replicated to ensure continuity of trade on existing terms. This is a sensible amendment allowing Parliament to have oversight of the process, and I fail to see how that would or could undermine our negotiating position as we move forward. If the Minister is going to say that it would, will she explain in detail how? We are happy to support the amendment.