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Queen’s Speech - Debate (3rd Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:58 pm on 16th October 2019.

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Photo of Lord Callanan Lord Callanan Minister of State (Department for Exiting the European Union) 6:58 pm, 16th October 2019

I wondered about that during the debate, but it was slightly before my time as an MEP.

The noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, asked whether amendments to the Trade Bill will be retained in the new Bill. The Government welcomed the contribution of your Lordships during its debates on the Trade Bill in the last Session—it says here. No decisions have yet been taken as to the provisions to be included in the legislative package. However, I did hear the noble Baroness’s suggestion about noble Lords’ previous amendments on standards. I refer her to the Secretary of State for International Trade’s statement before the International Trade Committee today. It is the Government’s policy to maintain standards and enhance them where appropriate. We will bring forward legislation that will ensure that we can deliver certainty to business. This will include continuity—for after we leave the EU—of existing trade agreements that the UK currently participates in as a member of the EU, as well as establishing an independent Trade Remedies Authority.

Of course, this trade legislation does not deal with future free trade agreements, and the Government’s position regarding scrutiny of these agreements is outlined in the February 2019 Command Paper. We have not stood still in forging new trade relationships as we stand on the brink of a new era in our trading history, where we are finally in control of how we trade with countries around the world. We have established working groups and high-level dialogues, launched four public consultations on our future trade agreements and are using a range of other instruments, such as joint trade reviews, with a range of key trading partners including the United States, Australia, China, the Gulf Cooperation Council, India, Japan and New Zealand.

I highlight to the noble Baronesses, Lady Tonge and Lady Finlay, that we will not pursue trade to the exclusion of human rights; these can and should be complementary. The UK has a strong history of protecting human rights and promoting our values globally.

Many noble Lords used their great experience and knowledge of international affairs in their contributions on global Britain, including the noble Lords, Lord Anderson, Lord Cormack, Lord Hylton, Lord Jopling, Lord Kerr, Lord Liddle, Lord Ricketts, Lord Sterling, Lord Wallace, and the noble Baronesses, Lady Cox and Lady Tonge. As my noble friend Lord Ahmad set out in his opening speech, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is preparing for our departure from the EU by strengthening our international relationships, reaffirming our commitment to the rules-based international system and championing our values abroad.

The Government want an ambitious free trade agreement with the EU. The details of this partnership, as the noble Lord, Lord Butler, pointed out, are a matter for negotiations after Brexit. The Government are preparing for that negotiation, as I said in response to an intervention earlier, and we will work with a wide range of partners to ensure a successful outcome for UK businesses and citizens.

We are also proceeding with strengthening our partnerships internationally. The noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, and the noble Lord, Lord Wallace, raised doubts about our special relationship with the United States. It is, of course, true that we may not always agree—current examples of that being the Iran deal and the Paris agreement. However, we continue to do more together than any other two countries. Our unparalleled intelligence sharing has undoubtedly saved many lives. Beyond Brexit, we are determined to maintain a close partnership with both the EU and the US. In our view, this is a win-win and not a zero-sum game.