United Kingdom Internal Market Bill - Committee (5th Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:15 pm on 9th November 2020.

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Photo of Baroness McIntosh of Pickering Baroness McIntosh of Pickering Conservative 6:15 pm, 9th November 2020

My Lords, I am delighted to follow my noble friend Lord Cormack. I pay tribute to his excellent work over many years in the other place, not least in his model chairmanship of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, which I commend today. I shall speak to Amendments 179 and 180, but I will not press them to a vote. Before I speak to them, I endorse what my noble friends Lord Cormack and Lord Howard of Lympne said. It was a privilege to serve as a humble shadow Minister in the Conservative Party under the leadership of my noble friend Lord Howard of Lympne. I also pay tribute to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge. He has set out in his amendments why I shall certainly be voting against this part of the Bill.

On Clauses 42 and 43, the noble Lord, Lord Empey, stated the importance of agri-food and the food industry to Northern Ireland. We should pause for a moment on that point. I pray in aid the evidence that we have heard on the EU Environment Sub-Committee, that all those involved in the production of food in Northern Ireland, and industries such as road haulage and freight, which serve that industry, are distraught at the moment because they all thought that this was done and dusted in the Northern Ireland protocol and under the provisions of the EU withdrawal Act. I regret that we are now discussing those issues again in this context. I have no doubt that this was largely because of a misunderstanding of what the Prime Minister had agreed to in what formed the basis of EU withdrawal agreement.

I cannot support this because I am a non-practising member of the Faculty of Advocates and would be drummed out if I broke my oath. Article 26 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties clearly states that all agreements should be kept and that every treaty

“in force is binding upon the parties to it and must be performed by them in good faith.”

In the words of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, the provisions in Clauses 42 to 47 are offensive and obnoxious, and I wish to have no part in them. I shall follow the lead of my noble friend Lord Cormack in voting against them this evening and on every occasion when I am asked.

I am grateful to the Law Society for briefing me on this and for preparing me to table Amendments 179 and 180, but if the provisions before us in this part were not bad enough, they were compounded as the Bill made its passage through the other place. The provisions in Clause 56(4) provide additional parliamentary scrutiny of the decision to commence in the sections, which, if enacted, would, if anything, compound the breach of international law. Clause 56(4) is defective for those reasons, not least because it is trying to elevate to a matter of process what is offensive and obnoxious in this part of the Bill. It also downgrades the role that we would play in your Lordships’ House by simply taking note of the commencement order for Clauses 44, 45 and 47.

I do not wish to move my amendments, but I am grateful to the Law Society for pointing out the further deficiencies in this part of the Bill. It is largely academic, because I shall be voting against all five clauses in Part 5 of the Bill.