European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 6) Bill - Second Reading

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:12 pm on 5th September 2019.

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Photo of Lord Callanan Lord Callanan Minister of State (Department for Exiting the European Union) 5:12 pm, 5th September 2019

I am always wary when the noble Lord wants to be helpful, particularly when he quotes things taken straight from “Yes Minister” about being brave. All I can say is that he has not said it in any of the meetings that I have been at with him. Obviously, I am not at every meeting with him and I cannot comment on whether he said it. He says that he did not and nobody else in government has said to me that he did. I know Dominic well and I take his word when he says that he did not say that.

We know that member states want to avoid a no-deal exit. As set out by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in the other place on Tuesday, we have accelerated our preparations for no deal. For example, as I informed the House in repeating the Statement on Tuesday, there is additional expenditure of £16 million to train thousands of customs staff, traders and hauliers, and an additional £20 million to ensure that traffic can flow freely in Kent and that trucks arriving in Dover are ready to carry our exports into the EU. In addition, the Chancellor has made all necessary funds available to support other preparations.

Perhaps I might say a few words about the Bill itself. Although today’s debate has been of the usual high standard, it was remarkable that very few noble Lords addressed the legislation that we are talking about. However, it is true that continued EU membership would cost the UK roughly £1 billion net a month. The Bill, as it currently stands, would require the Prime Minister immediately to accept any offer made by the EU of an extension to 31 January 2020.