Protecting Against the Effects of the Extraterritorial Application of Third Country Legislation (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 - Motion to Approve

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 9:02 pm on 26th March 2019.

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Photo of Lord Purvis of Tweed Lord Purvis of Tweed Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (International Trade) 9:02 pm, 26th March 2019

My Lords, I do not think there will be any difficulty on these Benches about ensuring the continuity we will require in order that there is certainty for British businesses that they can operate on the correct side of international law. The only areas that I hope the Minister will clarify—her introductory remarks were quite helpful—concern, first, the application process that will be required if we are to have a stand-alone position outside European regulations. The applications for authorisations will have to be made to the Secretary of State, as the regulations state. Will the Minister indicate what process such applications will involve?

The second area, which the noble Baroness will not be surprised that I raise, concerns the matter of another judiciary within the United Kingdom. While, as part of Scottish criminal law, this will be a reserved power, nevertheless the criminal penalties that may well apply on the potential breach of some of these things by Scottish businesses would have to be prosecuted by the Scottish courts. One of the examples the Minister raised, that of Iran, is very relevant for the very large Scottish oil and gas industry that trades across the whole region, including within Iran. It is a relevant point, given the not-so-subtle threats from the United States that it will consider breach of its sanctions policy by those British businesses that continue to trade with Iran under a perfectly legal framework. If we are to have a stand-alone approach, absolute certainty, clarity and reassurance would be very helpful. The Government indicated that no consultation was necessary in bringing forward the statutory instrument. I was slightly surprised about that, given that we have two distinct judicial systems in the UK.

The Government also indicated that before the UK leaves the EU, guidance on how a blocking regulation would apply to the UK would be published. Given that when this instrument was drafted the intention was that, potentially, we would leave on Friday without an agreement, can the Minister say whether this guidance has been published? If it has not, when will it be, to offer that reassurance?

Finally, the Explanatory Memorandum states:

“The Blocking Regulation currently provides that the Commission is to regularly report on the effects of the extraterritorial third country legislation. This will become a requirement on the part of the Secretary of State in the retained version”.

Through what mechanism do the Government intend to do that? Will it be through Written Statements to Parliament, or will a public document be laid before Parliament to provide that transparency? I hope that the Minister can clarify all those aspects.