Moved by Lord Grantchester
22: After Clause 2, insert the following new Clause—“Standards affected by international trade agreements (1) The Secretary of State must by regulations made by statutory instrument establish a code of practice setting out how a Minister of the Crown should take steps to maintain standards established by any enactment regarding—(a) food, (b) animal welfare,(c) the environment,(d) human rights,(e) welfare, and(f) labour law,if a proposed international trade agreement is likely to affect such standards.(2) A statutory instrument containing regulations under subsection (1) may not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before and approved by resolution of each House of Parliament.(3) The code under subsection (1) may provide that a Minister of the Crown ensures as far as possible that a future trade agreement is consistent with United Kingdom levels of statutory protection regarding, among other things—(a) human, animal or plant life or health;(b) animal welfare;(c) the environment;(d) food safety, quality, hygiene and traceability;(e) employment and labour standards; and(f) human rights and equalities, including but not limited to—(i) women’s rights,(ii) child rights, and(iii) the Human Rights Act 1998.(4) This is in addition to and does not impact on the provisions in section 42 of the Agriculture Act 2020 (reports relating to free trade agreements).(5) Where a Minister of the Crown decides that it is appropriate and necessary to change standards in pursuit of an international trade agreement, a Minister of the Crown must—(a) send a notification of the necessary changes to primary or subordinate legislation to the relevant Committee in each House of Parliament at the earliest opportunity;(b) consult and seek the consent of the devolved authorities; and(c) take steps to ensure that necessary changes to primary or subordinate legislation have completed their parliamentary processes before the final texts of agreed trade agreements, together with full impact assessments which cover the economic impacts and social, environmental, and animal welfare aspects of the agreement, in advance of such agreements being laid before Parliament under section 20 of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010.(6) In this section, “United Kingdom levels of statutory protection” means levels of protection provided for by or under any—(a) primary legislation,(b) subordinate legislation, or(c) retained direct EU legislation, which has effect in the United Kingdom, or the part of the United Kingdom in which the regulations have effect, on the date on which a draft of the regulations is laid.”
I wish to thank all noble Lords who have spoken in this debate, especially the noble Baroness, Lady Noakes, who said that she finds this amendment extraordinary. I would merely say that making trade agreements has not been specifically undertaken by the UK while a member of the EU and that this is a new area of competence. Thus, new procedures need to be set up and how these agreements will be scrutinised needs to be fully understood—in this amendment, specifically in relation to food standards and other standards. I thank the noble Lord, Lord Purvis, for his remarks in reply to the noble Baroness.
The noble Lord, Lord Curry, asked the Minister how the Government may respond to the existing TAC as it moves through its report. There are many and varied anxieties. We must have certainty regarding standards that must be maintained in trade agreements. I am very glad to hear that the Government have maintained continuity in rolling over more deals, yet it is disappointing to repeatedly hear misleading arguments about how WTA commitments will constrain us or be an unintended consequence. They do not seem to have fettered the laying down of our current standards. Let us make sure that these current standards can continue by supporting this amendment and setting a governance procedure in regulations. I beg to move and wish to test the opinion of the House.
Ayes 290, Noes 274.