Amendment 1

Trade (Australia and New Zealand) Bill - Committee – in the House of Lords at 3:47 pm on 23rd January 2023.

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Lord Lennie:

Moved by Lord Lennie

1: Clause 1, page 1, line 10, leave out subsections (2) and (3)Member's explanatory statementThis amendment prevents regulations being made in relation to cases falling outside the scope of procurement Chapters of the FTAs.

Photo of Lord Lennie Lord Lennie Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and International Trade)

My Lords, Amendment 1 would prevent regulations being made in relation to cases falling outside the scope of the procurement chapters of the free trade agreements. The noble Lord, Lord Purvis, will speak to Amendments 6 and 19 in this group.

Amendment 1 would remove subsections (2) and (3) from Clause 1. Clause 1 provides a power for appropriate authorities to make regulations for two purposes. Subsection 1(a) allows an appropriate authority to make regulations for the purpose of implementing the government procurement chapters in the FTAs. Subsection 1(b) allows an appropriate authority to make regulations for the purposes of making other changes for matters arising out of, or related to, the government procurement chapters in the FTAs.

The Explanatory Notes state:

“Clause 1(2) allows the regulations under subsection 1(b) to be made also for cases falling outside the scope of the government procurement Chapters to provide for general application”,

and that

“Clause 1(3) clarifies that a case is outside the scope of a government procurement Chapter if that Chapter does not impose an obligation on the UK in respect of that case, i.e. it is not an obligation owed specifically in the Chapter … The effect of subsection 1(b) read with 1(2) is that certain changes made to domestic law to implement the UK-Australia FTA, i.e. in respect of the rules in the text of the government procurement Chapter … can apply generally and not only to suppliers from Australia. This will ensure procurement regulations remain uniform and coherent by not imposing different or conflicting procurement procedures on contracting authorities for procurements covered by the FTA, and ensure the UK can implement its obligations in the FTA in a way that is consistent with the UK’s other international procurement obligations.”

This explanation makes sense; it is of course important that procurement regulations remain uniform and coherent.

Our intention with this amendment is simply to probe the scope of this, as it reads as almost limitless. Can the Minister tell me whether any case could be outside the scope of the Government’s procurement chapters? Are there any limits on this? What is a “case” defined as?

Photo of Lord Purvis of Tweed Lord Purvis of Tweed Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (International Trade), Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (International Development), Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)

My Lords, I will speak to Amendments 6 and 19 in this group. The questions posed by the noble Lord, Lord Lennie, in moving Amendment 1 are very sensible. I look forward to the Minister’s reply.

According to today’s press, we are now 15 years behind on the commitment that we would reach £1 trillion of trade within a decade. It is now estimated that the target set by the coalition in 2012 will not be achieved until beyond 2035. This highlights the fact that we are starting to see the consequences of the significant non-tariff barriers introduced by this Government over recent years. Therefore, it is vital that mechanisms are as streamlined as possible for procurement and the rest of the trade agreements.

Amendment 6 is designed to probe the discrepancies in threshold levels in the Government’s procurement legislation, currently going through the House of Commons and which has been through scrutiny in the House of Lords. It probes why they are different for those seeking procurement opportunities for Australia as compared with those seeking them here at home. If you are a business seeking to bid for procurement in the UK, you now have to operate under quite a markedly different approach from that if you are looking for procurement opportunities within Australia.

I welcome the Minister’s letter to noble Lords, which he promised at the end of Second Reading and fulfilled. It highlights what we knew: that, factually, there is a difference in the threshold levels. The letter simply states that Australia was not willing to have the same thresholds as us, and so we simply said that we would have its thresholds. What did we get in return? If this is a concession to Australia then surely we got something in return as far as access is concerned.

The report on the agreement from the Australian Parliament’s treaties committee makes for interesting reading, as does our own report from the House of Lords International Agreements Committee. The Australian report is 225 pages long and can be summarised as: “We got a good deal.” Our House of Lords report, which is 36 pages long, can be summarised from our point of view as: “No, we didn’t.”

The Australian report highlights the fact that the Australians wanted to maintain their levels of thresholds—that was very clear. Thresholds are important; a considerable amount of scrutiny that we did on the procurement agreement was about whether the procurement would be below or above the threshold. If it is below the threshold, the reporting mechanisms, the contracts approach, and the way that schemes or pooled contracts can be put together are different. So we now have a higher rate for Australia.

At Second Reading, I raised the fact that this was done by subcentral contracting bodies. The Minister’s letter to me says that in effect I was wrong in saying that Australia was unique, because Canada has the same approach as Australia’s—but not for subcentral levels. The agreement that we rolled over for Canada for the CETA agreement, has the lower threshold, and we have now gone to the higher one. We are simply trying to find out what we got in return for providing a concession to Australia over the threshold levels. The higher threshold means that there will be extra complexity for businesses.

Amendment 19 is simply a probing amendment on the point that was raised earlier on the Procurement Bill by the noble Lord, Lord Lansley, which was simply trying to seek protections. If we try to change this Bill and its mechanisms for the good, those changes will be protected by the Procurement Bill, which, as the Committee will be aware, will automatically repeal this one. We have the rather ridiculous situation that we are in Committee for a Bill that will be automatically repealed by a Bill that is going to go into Committee in the House of Commons. This is a mechanism to try to protect any of what we do. On that basis, I hope the Government might be minded to accept Amendment 19, or indeed they might have their own mechanisms or commitments, so that we are not wasting our time in Committee.

Photo of Lord Lansley Lord Lansley Conservative

My Lords, three important issues arise from the limited number of amendments here, and I want to say something about each of them.

I shall start with the last amendment, Amendment 19. The noble Lord, Lord Purvis of Tweed, referred to the debates on the Procurement Bill, in which many of us participated. We are in a situation where the Procurement Bill will in due course repeal this legislation. We can see the timing a little more readily now: all being well, we should complete the passage of this Bill and I hope it might reach Royal Assent if not by the end of February then certainly very early in March.

The Procurement Bill in the other place still has a substantial amount of work to be done, and doubtless it will return here with amendments. That being the case, I suspect it would be rash to assume that it would pass before late May at the earliest, especially since the Session is to run longer. The Procurement Bill brings its provisions into force two months after the Bill itself is enacted, so in my view we could be in July at the earliest, and maybe in August or September, before the relevant provisions and the repeal take effect.

That being the case, there seems to be a perfectly good rationale for this Bill being used to create the necessary regulations. One matter that we did not get quite clear in our previous discussion is that this Bill, once enacted, can be used to make regulations. Those regulations will subsist even though this Act will subsequently be repealed by the Procurement Act, as it will become. So there is a purpose in passing the regulations in the meantime. There is a particular purpose, which I will not trespass into, relating to the relationship with Scottish legislation. The fact that this Bill can be used to make those regulations is particularly helpful.

The noble Lord, Lord Purvis of Tweed, knows that I agree with the proposition that, if an amendment were to be made in this House to this legislation, it would be inappropriate for it to be automatically repealed. However, we secured assurances from my noble friend Lady Neville-Rolfe to the effect that the Government under those circumstances would make whatever changes might be necessary to the Procurement Bill in another place. I am hoping that my noble friend Lord Johnson of Lainston will have a similar briefing and a similar reassurance to give us.

As it happens, I do not think we need to amend this Bill. I do not see the case for it and so far the amendments I have seen probably do not warrant it. If we can pass it unamended, it can reach Royal Assent—the sooner, the better. I do not subscribe to the view that our International Agreements Committee’s report can be characterised quite as the noble Lord, Lord Purvis of Tweed, put it. There are things we know could have been asked for and potentially secured that were not secured. My particular hobby horse, as members of the committee will know, was geographical indications. It seems absurd that we are waiting on the European Union to secure GI protections in Australia and then we might have the benefit of them subsequently.

The structure of the FTA shows that we believe in tariff liberalisation and in the liberalisation of and greater market access for services trade and the mobility of persons. We secured some significant progress on that. The overall benefit relatively to the Australian economy is anticipated to be greater than for our economy. It does not mean we have lost out, just that there are limitations on the access and the market benefits we might secure. With the greatest respect to the noble Lord, Lord Purvis of Tweed, I do not think that Amendment 19 is necessary. I hope that the reassurances will show that.

Amendment 1, which was well explained by the noble Lord, Lord Lennie, gives a power for the regulations to extend beyond the cases in the procurement chapters. From what I understand, changes are called for through these two FTAs which would impact the way in which the UK exercises its procurement activities to other countries.

There are three areas. The first is where there are unknown contract values. I have managed to track this down in the Australia deal. It makes it clear that, where there are unknown contract values, it should be regarded as a covered procurement. Secondly, there are notices relating to procurements. I assume that this is about the structure of electronic notices, but it is not very clear what it relates to. Clearly, there is some updating on electronic notices for procurement in any case. I found substantial references to that in both procurement chapters. The third relates to the termination of awarded contracts. I hope that my noble friend, if he has not got it immediately to hand, will reference where the changes to the termination of awarded contracts are. These are required under one or the other of these two FTAs, which would require us to change our overall procurement practices. I cannot see them in either of the two procurement chapters in the FTAs.

I will respond to the noble Lord, Lord Lennie. Since the Government are very clear on the reasons they might want to go beyond the Australia and New Zealand cases and make the rules non-discriminatory, because they will be the same for other treaty state suppliers in due course, that is a logical extension of the power. Of course, if Ministers were to misuse the power—the implication of the amendment is that they have a power and could misuse it—it is our responsibility to look at statutory instruments presented. If they are a misuse of that power and go beyond what is necessary for the purpose stated, we can pray against them. It is not our job simply to pass them, and we might choose to do that. But I suspect that this is not the Government’s intention, nor should we really be that worried that it will happen. What is proposed in the legislation seems very straightforward.

Amendment 6, tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Purvis of Tweed, is about thresholds. Unlike with the other amendments, now things do get complicated. As far as I can see, the point that the noble Lord did not make is that the thresholds set in a procurement Bill are aligned with the thresholds under the government procurement agreement—a WTO agreement. To that extent, they apply in relation to the entities in the parties to that agreement, which are central government entities. It seems to me that the point about the Australia and New Zealand procurement agreements is that they go beyond what is available to us under the WTO GPA; for example, with Australia in particular, that means regional entities.

I cannot speak for the Australians, but it is clear that they decided that they wanted the availability of procurements in their regional entities to have a higher threshold applied to them, to which we would then have access. Of course, the same thresholds would then apply back to our subcentral entities. I do not really need to judge whether that is reasonable on their part; what is sufficient for these purposes is that that is what they asked for and they get the same benefit in relation to us. We therefore all get a benefit in access to procurements below the federal level in Australia—and, to some limited extent, in New Zealand—for additional entities. It would be, in my view, impossible for us, through the legislation, to seek to impose on Australia or New Zealand thresholds that are different from those that were agreed in the FTA. Indeed, if we were to try to do what the noble Lord, Lord Purvis of Tweed, is suggesting, we would effectively constrain ourselves back to what is available under the WTO general procurement agreement and remove a significant part of the available benefit to us—so I just do not think we can go down that track.

Photo of Lord Purvis of Tweed Lord Purvis of Tweed Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (International Trade), Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (International Development), Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs) 4:00 pm, 23rd January 2023

I am very grateful to the noble Lord; as usual, he is extremely perceptive. The point I am seeking to make is that, under the GPA, subcentral and regional bodies are covered. We have existing arrangements under the previous EU rules for subnational bodies, and we currently have subnational special drawing rights with the EU. My question is: what impact will the higher threshold that we have conceded to subregional bodies within Australia have on those businesses? I fear that it means a great deal of complexity, so, for us to say back to the Government that they should be having discussions with Australia to bring the thresholds down, rather than just give up, would make sense for British businesses.

Photo of Lord Lansley Lord Lansley Conservative

Well, obviously, if we were in the course of further discussions through the Joint Committee arrangements on the free trade agreements to modify the agreements so as to reduce the thresholds, I imagine that there would be some benefit to our businesses—but that is not the position we are in at the moment. I certainly do not see that we can arbitrarily and unilaterally impose different thresholds through our legislation. The Minister will have to confirm if I am correct, but I did not understand it to be the case that the WTO general procurement agreement gives us existing access to entities in Australia’s procurement below the federal level. I stand to be corrected if I am wrong about that, and I have no doubt that the Minister will have the briefing to tell me if I am wrong. For those purposes, I just do not agree with Amendment 1 as moved.

Photo of Lord Johnson of Lainston Lord Johnson of Lainston The Minister of State, Department for International Trade

My Lords, I am delighted to be speaking in what is my first Bill Committee in your Lordships’ House. I start by saying how grateful I am for the engagement that I have had with the noble Lords, Lord Lennie and Lord Purvis, since Second Reading of this important Bill. I am also grateful to them for tabling the amendments in this group. I also thank my noble friend Lord Lansley for those extremely helpful interjections.

As we have heard, this group deals with how the Bill impacts on the UK’s procurement rules, both now and under the Procurement Bill, which is currently awaiting Committee in the other place, once it is enacted. I recognise the concerns raised by noble Lords on protecting UK contracting authorities and the importance of the discussions we are having in this Committee. Having listened to the contributions of noble Lords today, I hope to reassure the House that these amendments are not required. Perhaps I may begin by thanking this House’s International Agreements Committee for its valuable scrutiny of the Australia deal, the report on which stated:

“The Government has been broadly successful in incorporating its objectives on procurement into the agreement and we welcome the procurement chapter.”

On Amendment 1, on general effect, in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Lennie, I reassure the House that these powers cannot make changes beyond what is necessary to implement the procurement chapters of the Australia and New Zealand agreements, while ensuring that the UK procurement system continues to function. I think my noble friend Lord Lansley covered that in his comments. Rather than conferring unnecessary powers on the Government, Clause 1(2) and (3) ensure that, when the regulatory changes are made, they do not have the effect of creating a separate, parallel set of regulations for Australia and New Zealand suppliers alone. This is the concept of conformity.

As a member of the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement—the GPA—the UK, as has been discussed, has a most favoured nation obligation to not discriminate in its treatment of businesses from different parties to the GPA. To meet this obligation, the changes needed to the procurement rules resulting from the Bill need to apply to all GPA parties, as I think we have also discussed. This is laid out in the Explanatory Notes, which, for useful repetition, I restate:

“This will ensure procurement regulations remain uniform and coherent by not imposing different or conflicting procurement procedures on contracting authorities for procurements covered by the FTA, and ensure the UK can implement its obligations in the FTA in a way that is consistent with the UK’s other international procurement obligations.”

The Bill will lead to a wider range of protections for tendering parties and, ultimately, better value and choice for our procuring entities. The changes will make the system simpler, which is something all parties desire.

Turning to Amendment 6 on the equalisation thresholds, I understand the concerns of the noble Lord, Lord Purvis, about these agreements placing additional burdens on suppliers—and, frankly, contractors or contracting parties—by having a different threshold to that in the UK’s procurement regulations. I have great sympathy with his objective. However, I hope to persuade the noble Lord that his amendment is unnecessary and, in doing so, show that the UK can meet its market access commitments in both the Australia and New Zealand free trade agreements and can bring these agreements into force.

Amendment 6 proposes that no regulations can be made in respect of subcentral procurements that are valued above the threshold amount specified for such procurement in the Procurement Bill. The value I have here is 200,000 special drawing rights. By not allowing any regulations to be made for subcentral procurement with a value in excess of the threshold amount, the UK would not be able to give effect to its market access commitments—my noble friend Lord Lansley covered this very successfully—for all subcentral procurement under the UK-Australia FTA, because the threshold for subcentral procurement is 330,000 SDR; or any subcentral procurement under the UK-New Zealand FTA, valued at 200,001 SDR or more.

Having different thresholds—after our discussions, I took this away and investigated it—between parties is commonplace in the GPA, as we have discussed. For example, as I believe I mentioned in the letter sent to the noble Lord, at subcentral level the UK has a threshold of 200,000 special drawing rights, as do New Zealand and Japan, while Canada and Australia have a threshold of 355,000 special drawing rights.

On the question of whether the different threshold values between the UK rules and the FTA present a burden to UK contracting authorities, let me reassure the Committee that, under the current UK procurement rules, the only threshold that contracting authorities need to worry about is the one in the UK rules. That is the core point. This is because the SDR thresholds set out in the FTAs themselves determine the contracts that, in the event of an Australian or New Zealand supplier wanting to challenge a UK procurement procedure, are eligible to be addressed by UK domestic courts. So, effectively, this simply allows the concept of challenge.

If the procurement in question is not covered by the UK-Australia FTA, including by not meeting the SDR threshold in the FTA, then an Australian supplier would not be eligible to make a challenge. To explain further, and this is important, the measures involving procurement thresholds do not involve in any way, any changes to the activities of procuring parties. They are simply levels at which Australian suppliers can challenge procurement processes in the event of so-called unfair, or what we may describe as discriminatory, treatment. I think we can assume that procuring parties would not wish to design tenders that need to be challenged in this way, since that would go against any practice of good government in any event.

In our trade agreements, the UK wants other countries to match the threshold level that we have in our domestic system, so where a party keeps a higher threshold in the GPA or in an FTA, as has been discussed, the UK typically raises the corresponding threshold in the trade agreement in response. This is the case in the UK-Australia FTA. To reassure the noble Lord again, this does not increase the burden on UK suppliers or government bodies.

Photo of Lord Purvis of Tweed Lord Purvis of Tweed Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (International Trade), Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (International Development), Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs) 4:15 pm, 23rd January 2023

I am grateful to the Minister for giving that information. I would just like to get this clear in mind. If a local authority in the UK—a combined authority, say, or subnational authority—sets its procurement scheme, operating under the Procurement Bill, at the £213,000 level, which is 200,000 SDRs, it can operate below or above the procurement threshold. Is the Minister saying that an Australian firm can challenge that regional authority on the basis that, under the agreement, for the Australian firm the threshold is higher? Is that understanding correct?

Photo of Lord Johnson of Lainston Lord Johnson of Lainston The Minister of State, Department for International Trade

I thank the noble Lord. I am not 100% clear on the point he is making. Thresholds are set at whatever is negotiated. Any contract above the level of the threshold is protected from discriminating or unfair practices. Any contract below the threshold is not protected in the same way, in terms of challenge in the courts. It would be unusual for any contracting authority to design its tender to make sure it was not allowing an Australian or New Zealand contactor, or indeed any other contractor, to be below the threshold. The point is it does not make any difference to their thresholds.

Photo of Lord Purvis of Tweed Lord Purvis of Tweed Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (International Trade), Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (International Development), Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)

I will not pursue the point much further, but as we discussed during the Procurement Bill, one of the points about thresholds is that companies will not know that the procurement exists; they can be exempted as far as the Procurement Bill is concerned—that is the point of the thresholds. So an Australian firm could challenge an entire scheme on the basis that it would not be aware of the procurement that is happening in that area because of the non-reporting requirements below the threshold. I will not pursue the point any further, but I hope that, as a result of any regulations that come out of the Bill or the Bill itself, there will be guidance to businesses on how to operate with procurement. If those areas could be spelt out in guidance, I think that would be quite helpful. I will certainly read the guidance, because I am finding part of it difficult to understand myself.

Photo of Lord Johnson of Lainston Lord Johnson of Lainston The Minister of State, Department for International Trade

I thank the noble Lord. As I say, this does not change the process in any way. It is simply about protection for people bidding for contracts. In terms of advertising for contracts, the UK threshold levels remain the same—whatever they may be, given the various national or subnational governmental entities. That does not change. So for a local council tendering for, say, printing services, it makes no difference to its actions whatsoever. The only thing it does, from an Australian or New Zealand tenderer’s point of view, is that they may decide the threshold for them that affords additional protection to not incur unfair or discriminatory practices. Frankly, I think it is a highly unlikely situation that any contracting authority would try to bend the rules in order to ensure that Australian and New Zealand contractors could be excluded. That simply would not occur, in my mind. It does not require any additional work; it is simply about the challenge on unfair practices in tendering. That is the reason why the thresholds are set, and they reflect the same thresholds that were offered at national and subnational levels in Australia. That is the reason they are set at that level.

I am happy to go into more detail at a later date. Certainly, I am delighted to work with any Members of the Committee on this but, as I say, it is much simpler than it sounds. It is, in some respects, given the efforts prescribed for local authorities and authorities tendering, not relevant from their point of view.

Amendment 19, in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Purvis, addresses concerns around what would happen to any amendments to the Bill that might be passed during scrutiny by noble Lords. The noble Lord, Lord Purvis, raises an interesting point, and I was extremely pleased that my noble friend Lord Lansley explained the position very clearly and takes a strong interest in this—I am very grateful for his interventions. I have enjoyed the intellectual discussion, by the way, and I think this is precisely the sort of matter that this House is purposed to investigate: these are complex issues and we are absolutely right to be discussing them.

I understand the noble Lord’s point that this may appear, on the surface, an unconventional way to legislate; however, we have pointed out the importance of getting these agreements into force, as my noble friend Lord Lansley mentioned. No one in this House would want to delay the benefits conferred on our consumers, business and government by waiting unnecessarily for a later piece of legislation. It would be unfair to our citizens and also, in my view, against the spirit of the FTAs with our sister nations of Australia and New Zealand. Indeed, I met the Australian Agriculture Secretary and the high commissioner last week and they both expressed their keen desire to see this agreement brought into force as soon as possible. I also know that the Labour Front Bench met these individuals, I believe on the same day, to discuss the agreement.

The sense of urgency is also present within industry. I am sure noble Lords will remember the clear and powerful message from the British Chambers of Commerce during the evidence it presented before the other place’s Public Bill Committee:

“Overall, we want to see the agreements ratified as quickly as possible.”—[Official Report, Commons, Trade (Australia and New Zealand) Bill Committee, 12/10/22; col. 8.]

Returning to the core point, and recognising this novel approach, I repeat again the quotation given earlier. My noble friend Lady Neville-Rolfe made an important commitment that, if noble Lords were to amend this Bill, the Government would look to ensure that any necessary changes might be made to the nature of the repeal during the passage of the Procurement Bill in the other place. I personally reiterate this clear commitment today.

I hope I have provided the noble Lords, Lord Lennie and Lord Purvis, with enough reassurance on the Government’s position on these matters, and I therefore ask them not to press these three amendments.

Photo of Lord Purvis of Tweed Lord Purvis of Tweed Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (International Trade), Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (International Development), Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)

Before the Minister sits down, I ask for a final point of clarification and then I will shut up on this group. If the Bill passes, does that mean that we have implemented our domestic legislation in order to say to the Australians and the New Zealanders, through a diplomatic note, that we have put in place our domestic legislation so that this agreement can come into force? Or is that at the point when the regulations under the Bill are made? If it is the regulations, then, as I understand it, one of them will depend on what the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament will want to do, because there will be a concurrent power. Just for clarification, is it this Bill or the Procurement Bill, whichever the sequencing, or is it the time when the regulations are made?

Photo of Lord Johnson of Lainston Lord Johnson of Lainston The Minister of State, Department for International Trade

I thank the noble Lord for his comments. This is one reason why we are pressing ahead with the Bill: it is part of the process that will lead to the agreement coming into force. I will cover this later in Committee, I am sure, but there are other legislative acts that need to be brought into force, to enable the entire agreement to function, at which point we will have the entry into force of the FTA—a moment we are all, frankly, much looking forward to.

Photo of Lord Kerr of Kinlochard Lord Kerr of Kinlochard Crossbench

Before the noble Lord sits down, can I ask him about his reassurance to the noble Lord, Lord Lennie, on Amendment 1? He said we need not worry about Clause 1(2) because Clause 1(1) can be used only in cases arising from these two trade agreements. I think I follow the Minister’s argument—until I turn to Clause 2. Clause 2 seems extremely permissive and says one can make provision, general or specific, or

“make provision for different purposes or areas”.

Can the Minister expand on his assurance to the noble Lord, Lord Lennie, and assure me that the Bill as a whole, not just Clause 1(2), cannot be used for purposes other than to deal with cases arising as a result of the two free trade agreements?

Photo of Lord Johnson of Lainston Lord Johnson of Lainston The Minister of State, Department for International Trade

I thank the noble Lord for that intervention. I think I have made my position clear that any concomitant actions following on from this Bill will relate specifically to the matters necessary for bringing it into force. Pursuant powers—this is an important commitment—are very much linked to what we would describe as minor and specific issues. They could relate to changes in government departments’ names, such as the Department for Culture, Media and Sport adding “Digital” to its name. The effective implementation of that in the agreements is relevant in these texts, so it would be confined to errors such as that. I know that we will discuss the concept the noble Lord raised regarding Scotland later in Committee, so I will be delighted to go into more detail on that then.

Photo of Lord Lennie Lord Lennie Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and International Trade)

My Lords, the problem is that the Bill does not say that. That is the point being made by the noble Lord, Lord Kerr. I thank noble Lords who have spoken: the noble Lord, Lord Purvis, on his two amendments and the noble Lord, Lord Lansley, for a lot of helpful clarification. Given any future misuse of power through statutory instruments, our super-affirmative proposal later will no doubt be supported, because that will make the scrutiny of the Bill that much more thorough than is intended as we speak. The Minister said that no powers beyond these FTAs are proposed by the Bill, but it does not say that—it indicates that there may be powers in other places that we need to watch for. However, with that, I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment 1 withdrawn.