My Lords, I agree with everything that my noble friend Lady Ritchie said. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, also spoke for me and, I suspect, virtually the whole House, as did other speakers who followed him.
I shall speak briefly to Amendment 162 and 163, because we know the Brexit realities will hit Northern Ireland first. The EU has been very clear that the protocol must be implemented in full come
There is nothing of substance in the Bill that helps reduce frictions to trade that will come for goods crossing from Great Britain into Northern Ireland after
The Ireland/Northern Ireland protocol means that Northern Ireland is in a unique position vis-à-vis Britain and there is a strong likelihood that the more trade agreements the UK signs with partners around the world, the greater the differences will be between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK internal market. Indeed, even though the UK Government are committed to seeing Northern Ireland as part of future free trade agreements, there are no firm guarantees that this will happen, or that the other country will agree to it.
The principle of non-discrimination in Amendment 162, also in the name of my noble friends Lady Ritchie and Lord Empey, seeks to ensure that no potential barriers will be added to the movement of goods from Northern Ireland to Great Britain over time. Because Northern Ireland goods will be produced in accordance with EU rules under the Ireland/Northern Ireland protocol, and on the basis of dynamic alignment, there is a risk—if not a likelihood—that divergence between Northern Ireland and Great Britain will grow over time. First, goods in Northern Ireland could be produced to higher standards as the EU increases standards in regulations covered by the protocol and thus the new standards automatically apply to Northern Ireland. Secondly, goods in Great Britain could be produced to a lower standard. Indeed, the Government have indicated that that might be the objective. Therefore, as Great Britain and Northern Ireland standards diverge, there will be increasing barriers to trade and increasing competitive disadvantage for Northern Ireland within the UK internal market.
This amendment would ensure that Northern Ireland goods will not be discriminated against in the UK internal market. Can the Minister therefore explain why on earth the Government would be opposed to that principle?