Amendment 24A

Trade Bill - Report (2nd Day) – in the House of Lords at 5:51 pm on 13th March 2019.

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Lord Stevenson of Balmacara:

Moved by Lord Stevenson of Balmacara

24A: After Clause 5, insert the following new Clause—“UK participation in EU and EEA organisations (1) The Secretary of State must seek to negotiate an international trade agreement with the EU which will enable the United Kingdom to continue, after exit day, to co-operate closely with the bodies listed in subsection (2).(2) The bodies are—(a) the European Medicines Agency;(b) the European Chemicals Agency;(c) the European Aviation Safety Agency;(d) the European Maritime Safety Agency;(e) the European Network of Transmission System Operators;(f) the European Food Safety Authority;(g) the European Union Intellectual Property Office.”

Photo of Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Opposition Whip (Lords)

My Lords, those with keen eyesight will have noticed that this is an amended version of an earlier amendment which was tabled in Committee. It reflects the fact that we have been in discussions with the Government on how best to frame an important issue, which is that a duty and obligation should be placed on the Secretary of State in this case and on the Government more generally to ensure that, if we are in a situation where we are negotiating international trade agreements with the EU—in other words, we are not in a no-deal, crash-out situation—the United Kingdom should try to co-operate as closely as possible with the bodies set out in the list.

In moving Amendment 24A, I draw the attention of noble Lords to Amendment 25A which I regard as consequential since it seeks to remove the clause that Amendment 24A is intended to replace.

We can trace the thinking about this back to an amendment moved in the other place at the time the Bill was being considered on Report in the Commons. That amendment inserted into the Bill a requirement that the Secretary of State or an appropriate authority to negotiate an international trade agreement with the EU that includes working closely with the European Medicines Agency, but it stopped at that point. That raises in my mind—and I am sure in others’—why other agencies and bodies of equal importance across a range of issues should not also be the subject of close negotiation. I therefore thought that it would be appropriate to bring forward an amendment at this stage which tries to list some of them.

I noticed that, in the Chequers statement and the White Paper that followed it, there was in fact a much longer list of bodies which were thought to be appropriate in any future negotiated international trade agreement with the EU. They did not appear in my original list, but they could well be considered. I also discovered that the CBI was keen to draw the Government’s attention to its view that the future relationship with the EU would suffer tremendously if a considerable effort was not made to approach bodies such as the European Medicines Agency and then including the European Aviation Safety Agency, the European Maritime Safety Agency and the European Network of Transmission System Operators in the same manner. The version before noble Lords perhaps still does not catch the full attention of the Government, but I hope that, when the Minister responds, he might suggest that we work further on this to make sure that we have reached an agreed position before we get to Third Reading. If so, I would be happy to work with the Government on that.

The Minister will probably raise the question why paragraphs (f) and (g), covering the European Food Safety Authority and the European Union Intellectual Property Office, are on my list whereas they perhaps would not meet the criteria that are going to be raised by the Government. I would be interested to hear his arguments on this, because many Members of your Lordships’ House would think that the European Food Safety Authority meets all the criteria of the others in the list. Moreover, if we are to make a future of our economy in the new modern world, we are certainly going to need to work closely with the European Union Intellectual Property Office, which has a high reputation for all the work that is involved in trying to regulate and bring forward arrangements for new technologies. I beg to move.

Photo of Lord Bates Lord Bates The Minister of State, Department for International Development

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for presenting his amendment, and I particularly thank him for the way that he has engaged with officials and with my noble friend Lady Fairhead on this important issue. I can cut to the chase and say that we are probably not going to be that far apart, but let me put some remarks on the record in the hope that we can agree to keep working on this between now and Third Reading.

Ministers from across Government have carried out an extensive engagement on EU exit with businesses, industry bodies and civil society organisations from all sectors of the economy and all regions of the UK. The Secretaries of State at DExEU and BEIS and the Chancellor of the Exchequer co-chair the EU Exit Business Advisory Group to ensure that business is not only heard but is influential throughout the negotiations. The group involves the director-generals and directors of the CBI, IoD, EEF, BCC and FSB. The meetings take place regularly and are included in transparency returns. Since July 2016, DExEU Ministers alone have organised and attended more than 500 engagements with business and civil society stakeholders from every sector of the British economy.

For goods, the UK and the EU want to be as ambitious as possible. As part of this, both parties have agreed to explore the possibility of UK co-operation with EU agencies such as the European Aviation Safety Agency, the European Chemicals Agency and the European Medicines Agency. In addition, the political declaration sets out that the UK will seek to co-operate with the European Maritime Safety Agency and the European Network of Transmission System Operators. As a specific example of this suggested co-operation in the interests of tackling shared safety and security issues, we will continue to co-operate with the European Maritime Safety Agency, including on exchange of information between the agency and the United Kingdom Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

Let me turn now to the core issue that remains between us, which is the position of the EU Intellectual Property Office. The Government are working to find the best arrangement for the UK regarding EU agencies and bodies, but the decision to seek co-operation with an EU agency or body must be made carefully, bearing in mind the context of the UK’s overall aims for the future relationship and negotiations with the EU. As we negotiate our future relationship with the EU, the Government are determined to agree ambitious provisions to help businesses protect their intellectual property rights. Indeed, in the political declaration the UK and the EU commit to establishing,

“a mechanism for cooperation and exchange of information on intellectual property issues of mutual interest”.

In this regard, the UK would seek an appropriate level of co-operation with the EU and other relevant agencies such as the EU IPO. What we can achieve will be subject to the negotiations. However, since intellectual property is a wide-ranging and dynamic area of law, it would be unwise to stipulate in UK law exactly how we want to co-operate with the EU in this given area, as this could have wider implications for the balance of rights and obligations in the future partnership.

Whatever the outcome of the negotiations, I should like to reassure the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, that trademarks and registered designs are granted on a non-discriminatory basis. That means that, in all circumstances, British businesses will continue to be able to use the EU Intellectual Property Office to protect their trademarks and designs in the EU. The Government want to emphasise that we seek to be ambitious and to obtain the best result possible in the negotiations with the EU on intellectual property. However, as it stands, the amendment would be unhelpful in that it would bind the UK to a particular negotiating approach. The negotiation objectives are complex, and there are vitally important questions which must be weighed in their own right.

In accordance with the commitments made by the Prime Minister, Parliament will have a greater and more formal role in the development of the mandate for the next phase of the negotiations. The Government are more than sympathetic both to the concerns of the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, and to those of businesses. A thorough engagement with stakeholders and the EU has led the UK to saying that it will seek co-operation with five bodies that I mentioned earlier. This work requires thorough and weighted consideration of how active participation in an agency delivers wider negotiation goals in the context of any associated costs and disbenefits.

I thank the noble Lord for his constructive approach to engagement on this. I believe that we are not far apart from each other, particularly in the light of the progress that we have made to date. As a consequence, I can confirm, as has been the case throughout the process, that I and the lead Minister, my noble friend Lady Fairhead, will be happy to have further discussions to see whether we can reach a mutually acceptable agreement. We will therefore return to this matter at Third Reading. On that basis, I would ask the noble Lord to consider withdrawing his amendment.

Photo of Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Opposition Whip (Lords) 6:00 pm, 13th March 2019

My Lords, I thank the Minister for his considerate words and for dealing in detail with some of the issues that I raised in my opening statement. With his agreement, we will see whether we can work further over the next few days to get a common agreement on a wording that can be brought back at Third Reading. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 24 withdrawn.

Amendments 25 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.

Clause 6: UK participation in the European medicines regulatory network

Amendment 25A not moved.