Trade (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership) Bill [HL] - Second Reading

– in the House of Lords at 3:25 pm on 21 November 2023.

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Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton:

Moved by Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton

Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland Legislative Consent sought.

That the Bill be now read a second time.

Photo of Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton Foreign Secretary, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office

My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lord Johnson of Lainston, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time.

It is truly an honour to stand at this Dispatch Box and make my maiden speech in this House. I have always respected the work that is done here, so often a patient, diligent and considered complement to the other place. I hope to play a full part in your Lordships’ House. Indeed, I was in the other place for only 15 years, 11 of which were as leader of the Opposition or Prime Minister, so I hope that I can look forward to many more years in this House. When I look at the ornate, carved wooden panels that surround us and compare them with my now infamous shepherd’s hut, I can tell your Lordships that this is already a significant upgrade.

I thank my introducers—the Lord Privy Seal, my noble friend Lord True, and the Government Chief Whip, my noble friend Lady Williams of Trafford. I have to admit that I recommended them both for the peerage. Indeed, I am in what Margaret Thatcher described in her maiden speech here as a

“delicate position … responsible as Prime Minister for proposing the elevation to this House”—[Official Report, 2/7/1992; col. 897.] of quite so many of its current Members. I hope that noble Lords will forgive me for my part in putting—how can I put it?—space here at a premium. I note that the Liberal Democrat Benches are particularly full. I always said to my Deputy Prime Minister, partner and friend Nick Clegg that his party would feel the benefit of participating in the coalition for many years to come. I just did not predict exactly how that would manifest itself. I also thank Black Rod, the doorkeepers, the police and other staff for facilitating my introduction yesterday and for warmly welcoming me back to Parliament.

I first set foot in this place as a teenager in the 1980s, when I worked briefly as a parliamentary researcher. I watched from the Gallery as Lord Macmillan, aged 90 and leaning elegantly on a stick, delivered his maiden speech. It was a thoughtful, measured evisceration of the late Lady Thatcher’s Government and their handling of the miners’ strike. I intend no such censure for my successor in 10 Downing Street. Indeed, wanting to serve under Rishi Sunak, whom I believe is a strong and capable Prime Minister, was one of the reasons why I accepted his offer of this role.

I had two former party leaders in my Cabinet, alongside many veterans of Tory leadership campaigns, one of whom was the noble Lord, Lord Clarke, and I valued all their advice. I hope that some of my experience will help the Prime Minister in meeting the vital challenges that we face as a country. That said, it was a surprise to be asked. I have not been sitting like some latter-day de Gaulle at Colombey-les-Deux-Églises waiting to be asked—how shall I put it?—to take back control. Nor am I Cincinnatus, hovering over my plough. I leave all classical allusions—and illusions, for that matter—to another former Prime Minister with whom I shared a number of educational experiences.

There is a strong precedent for Members of this House from all parties serving in the Cabinet—Peter Carington, Alec Douglas-Home and, more recently, the noble Lords, Lord Mandelson, Lord Adonis and Lord Frost, and the noble Baroness, Lady Morgan of Cotes. Like all of them, I respect the primacy of the other place. As tradition dictates, a Secretary of State who sits in the Lords is mirrored by the most senior Minister in their department. That Minister is the right honourable Andrew Mitchell MP, who will deputise for me in the other place. I believe that he will do an excellent job.

I look forward to answering noble Lords’ Questions monthly and will appear before all the relevant committees. I recognise my responsibilities to this House and am happy to consider other appropriate mechanisms so that Parliament is able to scrutinise all the work of my department.

The noble Lord, Lord Mandelson, sent me a particularly charming welcome, but he pointed out that I am a comeback novice, as this is only my first compared with his three. I suppose my response should be to point out that to make three comebacks you need both his prodigious talent and to be sacked twice by the Prime Minister, which is a fate I hope to avoid.

I take my seat bearing the title of Chipping Norton. In fact, the first message I received after my appointment was from the vicar’s wife, making sure that I would take the town’s name, but I am not claiming divine intervention; it was an easy choice. This beautiful place is one of the west Oxfordshire towns I represented in Parliament. It is the place where I brought up my children and the place our family still considers home.

The Chippy Larder food project, where I volunteered for over two years after the start of the pandemic, will have to manage without me for a while. Last year, three of us loaded up a lorry full of food, clothes and supplies, and drove it to the Red Cross centre on the Polish-Ukrainian border. Our leader was Rizvana Poole who, Members will be pleased to hear in a House that values cross-party collaboration, is one of the town’s Labour councillors.

It was a privilege to make my first visit as Foreign Secretary to Ukraine last week. I told the President how much we all admire the bravery and fortitude of the Ukrainian people. We will stand with them for as long as it takes. I was proud to hear him describe Britain as their best partner in their struggle.

His country’s plight is a reminder of the great challenges we face. The things we take for granted— freedom, the rule of law, democracy—are under threat across the world. These are daunting times: invasion in Europe, war in the Middle East, climate change, growing world poverty, illegal migration, threats of terrorism and new pandemics. It has never been clearer that our domestic security depends upon global security.

We must approach these challenges from a position of strength. Our Foreign Office, Diplomatic Service, intelligence services, and aid and development capabilities are some of the finest assets of their kind anywhere in the world, and I have seen at first hand the professionalism, passion and patriotism of the people who staff them. I know that they have been expertly and diligently represented in this House for many years by my noble friend Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, with whom I am proud to work.

As Prime Minister, I learned that the respect we command overseas also depends on success at home. We certainly did not get everything right but, over six years, we smashed some of the big political orthodoxies. We showed that you can grow the economy and cut carbon emissions, cut the deficit and create jobs, achieve the best school results in the poorest areas and start to build a society that is multi-ethnic, multiracial, proud and patriotic. Today, with a British-Indian Prime Minister at our helm, we have a good opportunity to do all those things and ensure that we stand taller and stronger in the world.

I turn to the subject of today’s debate. The UK will join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, otherwise known as CPTPP. This Bill helps to make that happen. This is an age of rapid growth in the Indo-Pacific region, and the political shifts we face are the first reason to support this Bill. Countries in the Indo-Pacific are expected to drive the majority of global growth between now and 2050. I want to continue this Government’s work to deepen our relationships with this region and support shared security and prosperity.

We have signed the AUKUS pact with the US and Australia, and the Hiroshima accord with Japan. We have become a dialogue partner of ASEAN and agreed ground-breaking digital deals with Singapore. Membership of this vast global trade area is the next vital step on this journey, putting the UK at the heart of a group of some of the world’s most dynamic economies. It will bring us even closer on pressing challenges such as climate change, give us a new impetus to influence geopolitical competition around rules and norms, and help diversify our supply chains and therefore support our economic resilience.

The second reason for passing this Bill is the economic benefit this deal brings to the UK. Britain will join 11 countries spanning Asia and the Americas, with a combined population of 500 million people. We will have access to a combined GDP of nearly £12 trillion—15% of global GDP. This deal positions British companies to expand in new markets, giving us, for instance, our first trade deal with Malaysia—an economy worth almost £330 billion last year. It means more than 99% of the UK’s current exports to other members become eligible for tariff-free trade. The deal’s ambitious service provisions should also boost the £32 billion of services that British firms already sold to these countries last year.

UK businesses will be operating more on a par with local firms. Red tape can be cut and data localisation requirements removed. Traders will have more certainty, and it looks set to increase our attractiveness to global finance, even as competition for capital grows ever more intense.

Investors such as Japanese firm Fujitsu, an employer of more than 7,000 people here in Britain, see great promise from the deal. Free trade is good for British businesses, creating new opportunities and spurring innovation. I firmly believe that it benefits British consumers as well. Tariff reductions mean cheaper import prices, better choice and higher quality on a whole range of things, whether it is fruit juice from Peru or vacuum cleaners from Malaysia.

The final reason for deserving your Lordships’ support is the precise scope of the Bill. While the deal itself is wide-ranging, in many areas it does not require comprehensive UK legislation. The Bill therefore focuses on those few areas where we need primary legislation to meet our new obligations.

First, it covers technical barriers to trade. Conformity assessment bodies such as the British Standards Institution exist to assure consumers that a product meets certain standards. The Bill will allow for conformity assessment bodies established in other participating countries to apply for approval here in the UK, but I can assure noble Lords that these provisions will not change British product standards.

Next, on government procurement, the Bill will ensure that suppliers from participating countries have access on an equal footing to those UK procurements covered by the agreement. We have responded to the devolved Administrations’ previous concerns about the use of concurrent powers in such Bills by drafting these provisions in consultation with them. I believe that shows our commitment to working across all nations of the UK to forge a common approach.

Finally, on intellectual property, the Bill will align our approach to copyright with that of other members. For instance, it will expand the basis on which foreign performers can qualify for rights here in the UK. It will also align our approach to geographical indications and designations of origin, which I am happy to say is good news for things such as Lincolnshire sausages, Cheddar cheese and of course Scotch whisky.

In each of these specific areas, UK bodies and businesses will benefit from corresponding treatment in other participating countries. The Bill therefore reduces a whole series of complex obstacles to trade, including copyright, patent, standards and public procurement. These points are often underappreciated, but they will benefit UK businesses and consumers alike.

Noble Lords may well ask whether these benefits come at the expense of things we should hold dear. I believe that this is not the case, and I want to run through some of the concerns that have been expressed. Will it lower our own high standards on food and product safety, animal welfare, the environment or workers’ rights? No, we will change none of these in order to accede, and we will continue to set our own standards here in the UK. What about the issue of undercutting farmers? We have negotiated both quotas and transitional safeguards for agricultural imports. The National Farmers’ Union president, Minette Batters, has spoken of the deal’s potential, as she put it,

“to get more fantastic British food on plates overseas”.

There are often concerns expressed about the NHS and so-called privatisation by the back door. Let me be clear; the NHS and its services were never on the table in these negotiations. If you want to see the Government do more in this Pacific region to end unsustainable palm oil farming or to champion human rights, this agreement will increase UK influence in the region, which we can bring to bear on all of these vital issues.

Ultimately, we retain flexibility with this deal. We will continue to set our standards, determine our foreign policy and make the trade arrangements that best suit us with others in the future.

I look forward to hearing as much as possible of the forthcoming debate. I might have to be excused before it ends, should business continue into the evening, to welcome the President of South Korea at the state banquet hosted by His Majesty the King. The Opposition Front Bench has been very generous and understanding on this point, and I want to thank them. I also thank my noble friend Lord Johnson of Lainston, who has brought enormous private sector experience into the Government. He has led the work on this Bill and will respond to all your Lordships’ questions when closing.

This is a narrow Bill, but the benefits are considerable. With others queuing up to join the CPTPP, the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, has ensured that the UK got in there first. The deal offers possibilities for our whole country, from distilleries in Dorset to AI pioneers in Wales, car part manufacturers in Northern Ireland and digital forensic experts in Scotland. It is an investment in a brighter future—and I should know, because I was the future once.

Photo of Lord Collins of Highbury Lord Collins of Highbury Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Equalities and Women's Issues), Shadow Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and International Development), Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Lords 3:41, 21 November 2023

My Lords, I congratulate the noble Lord on his maiden speech to this House and of course welcome him back to Parliament. I can reassure him on one vital point: the Opposition are at one with the Government on support for Ukraine and that will continue. This Parliament is united and this country is united on that issue.

To pick up one of the points the noble Lord mentioned, in his last PMQs to the other place he reminded MPs that he had once been the future. Of course, now Rishi Sunak has given him a chance to go back to the future without the need for a DeLorean. However, given the recent high turnover in Foreign Secretaries, I fear time might not be on his side.

The noble Lord may not be aware, but I have repeatedly praised his legacy on global international development, following on from the leadership given by Gordon Brown. In his foreword to the international development White Paper, published yesterday, the noble Lord reminded us that, 10 years ago, he co-chaired a panel for the United Nations on the future of development. The subsequent report paved the way for the 2015 sustainable development goals, ensuring that no one was left behind.

I mention this because some of the key concerns we have on this legislation relate to its impact on the world’s ability to achieve those goals by 2030. Although we welcome accession to the CPTPP, it does not make up for the failure to deliver on the trade deal that was due in October for India or the US trade deal promised by the end of 2022. I point out to the noble Lord that the department responsible for the Bill projected that the CPTPP deal would offer less than 1% to our GDP—and even this has been the subject of doubt by the Secretary of State.

Our foremost concern in relation to the deal is the investor-state dispute settlement provisions. We need to understand whether the economic benefits outweigh the risks to jobs, workers’ rights and sovereignty that this association brings. This type of corporate court system allows foreign companies to sue Governments for any actions that they argue could affect their profits—a system used in the past to challenge increases in the minimum wage and countries’ attempts to bring public services back into public ownership. What is astonishing is that the Government did not have to subject themselves to such legal shackles. When New Zealand joined the CPTPP, it opted out of the ISDS system with the countries that invested most in New Zealand. The UK Government asked for no such exemption, which we had with the Australia and New Zealand trade deals. Why not? Surely that is the sort of reassurance that the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary referred to.

The TUC, the Trade Justice Movement and Greenpeace have all argued that its presence poses a threat to rights, jobs and sovereignty. They argue—I draw this specifically to the attention of the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary—that it will undermine SDG 8, on fair labour laws, making it easier for goods that are made with exploited labour to be dumped on the UK market and easier for unethical companies and investors to do business with countries where it is easier to exploit workers. They also argue the ISDS court system means that protections of workers’ rights in the UK, such as those around safe working hours, could be challenged by multinational corporations, which could argue that such protections affect their profits.

We know that jobs in manufacturing in the UK are already being threatened by cheap imports of goods, such as steel and aluminium from Vietnam, some of which, as we have heard, are actually produced in China but routed through Vietnam to avoid the anti-dumping tariffs that the UK has on Chinese goods. According to the TUC, the CPTPP is likely to increase the dumping of goods from Vietnam, by providing it with more access to the UK market. In his response today, will the Minister tell us whether the Government have made any assessment of these risks? How about an assessment of the number of British jobs in steel, aluminium and other UK manufacturing industries that could be put at risk as a result?

Nowhere in any of the intergovernmental discussions on China’s potential membership of the CPTPP has there been any mention of its record on human rights. The text of the treaty itself contains no meaningful, enforceable clauses on this issue. All Members of this House will be aware of the text of the genocide amendment passed to the then Trade Bill, put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Alton. I hope the Minister can tell us in his response whether the Government have assessed China’s application to join the CPTPP against the risks and challenges set out in the integrated review refresh. It is vital that we have transparency on this issue, so that we know the implications. The Opposition have put forward very clearly the need for an absolute long-term strategy on China, and we will potentially see attempts through back doorways to change our strategy on that.

The noble Lord the Foreign Secretary mentioned intellectual property. In advance of the negotiations, the International Agreements Committee highlighted two issues: first, that CPTPP rules directly conflict with the European patent convention, and accepting them could jeopardise the UK’s continued membership of the European Patent Office; and, secondly, that the CPTPP introduces a mandatory procedure for notifying the patent holder when seeking authorisation for a generic or biosimilar medicine. This would, despite what the noble Lord said, result potentially in higher medicine prices for the NHS. It is welcome that the Government listened to concerns in this area and have ensured that their existing international commitments have been protected, as well as protections for geographical indications and performers in other CPTPP countries. However, can the Minister in his response confirm that this means no risk to the NHS in terms of higher medicine prices?

Despite what the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary said in his introduction, concerns remain regarding access to UK agricultural markets, such as Canada’s desire to gain greater access to our beef market. I think we need to hear the specific safeguards that have been secured for UK agriculture. The issue of food standards has been raised by the NFU and the RSPCA among others. I understand that we are expecting an analysis shortly, but I hope again that the Minister will give us reassurances from the Dispatch Box today on these issues. Moreover, what further assessment have the Government made of accession’s impact on the UK’s ability to hit its climate and environmental targets?

As we heard in a Question this afternoon, we want to ensure that we have a proper level of parliamentary scrutiny, which in the past on trade deals has been severely limited. The International Agreements Committee is still undertaking its inquiry into the CPTPP. Witness submissions have closed, but the committee is currently in the middle of collecting oral evidence. I repeat the comment made by my noble friend Lady Hayter during Questions this afternoon: give us a categorical assurance that that report will be fully debated in this House before the agreement is finalised. This is what Parliament means and this is what sovereignty is about. Let us ensure that there is a debate on these issues.

Photo of Lord Lamont of Lerwick Lord Lamont of Lerwick Conservative 3:52, 21 November 2023

My Lords, it is a pleasure to be the first speaker from this side of the House to congratulate my noble friend, as I must call him now, on his excellent maiden speech and to welcome him to these Benches. Time flies: today I am welcoming him to the House but it does not seem so long ago that I was begging him not to resign as Prime Minister. It is a notable day for the House of Lords when we welcome a former Prime Minister who is also the new Foreign Secretary. Whatever the House of Commons may think, it is indisputably good for the House of Lords to have an additional Cabinet Minister in its ranks. He is the first former Prime Minister to return to Cabinet rank since Alec Douglas-Home almost 50 years ago. Before the war, it was quite the norm, with Baldwin, Ramsay MacDonald and Chamberlain all returning to government. It is a mystery to me why, today, we still have this self-defeating idea that former Prime Ministers should never return to front-line politics. I am glad that my noble friend has broken that rule.

Many people were surprised at the appointment of my noble friend. I was not wholly surprised. I hope I am not breaking any confidence, and my noble friend has probably forgotten, but about a year ago we had a conversation in which I asked him whether he would ever be interested in perhaps a big international job or becoming Foreign Secretary. He was not wholly convincing in his denial that he was not remotely interested. What I do know about the noble Lord is that he strongly believes in public service, and that is the reason why he is sitting where he is today.

The noble Lord and I go back quite some way, to when we both worked in the Treasury. He was always my brilliant spad. He was the master of detail and strategy. I always thought that he would go far and would achieve high office, but what I did not foresee was the rapidity with which he did so, becoming leader of the party in 2005, only four years after entering the Commons, and Prime Minister five years later.

We had some difficult times together. There was one moment when the noble Lord gave me a present; he may have forgotten this. It was a mahogany box about a foot long, and it contained the biggest Cuban cigar you could possibly imagine. There was a yellow notelet attached, which had on it in his handwriting the words, “By the time you smoke this, all your troubles will be over”. Well, my Lords, I never smoked it; I still have it. At times, when watching my noble friend as Prime Minister, I was tempted to send it back to him, but he would never have had need of it, because he has huge resilience.

I need hardly say that my noble friend faces huge challenges as Foreign Secretary. It is a dangerous world. One thing we know is that, when you have an unbelievably large number of difficult problems in politics, there is always another unexpected one coming round the corner. My noble friend, however, has the ability and experience to face these difficulties. This House has great experience in global affairs and there is a degree of common ground between the two sides of the House. The whole House will therefore wish to support him and wish him well. As they say, we look forward to hearing him again.

I welcome the Bill before us today. Before I move on to the detail of the Bill, I want to make one general point about trade that worries me considerably: the whole world, including the UK, is slipping back into protectionism. The retreat from globalisation is in danger of going too far. Yes, we have had the shocks of Covid and of the war in Ukraine. The emphasis has been on terms like “resilience”, “security of supply”, “strategic autonomy” and “self-sufficiency”, but too often these words are just disguised protectionism. Every sector considers itself strategic; we have to be self-sufficient in everything from cheese to steel. That is not the way to go. That is the way to becoming uncompetitive and poorer. Of course we have to pay some regard to the risks to supply that have emerged in recent years, but the answer to uncertainty of supply is to diversify your suppliers, not always to reach towards self-sufficiency. We ought to recognise that a policy of self-sufficiency comes at a price: a price to living standards and to the cost of living.

Let us not forget that the globalisation of recent years raised living standards—sure, there were losers in Europe as well as gainers—and the world as a whole gained a huge amount. Freedom of trade is not just an abstract idea; it is a positive instrument for improving the condition of people worldwide. We should also remember that, in the 1930s, the retreat to protectionism was one of the factors that, combined with others, contributed to the Great Depression. Like my noble friend Lord Hannan, who often uses this quote, I very much believe in John Bright’s idea—I think it was him—that “trade is God’s diplomacy”, improving relations between countries and improving the stability of the world. I make this general point because one thing about the CPTPP that I very much approve of is that it incorporates a commitment to furthering the cause of free trade. I think that is extremely important.

My noble friend emphasised all the statistics— I will not repeat them—about the CPTPP area: the growth of population and the extent to which it is supposed to contribute to the growth of the world economy in the next few years. Indeed, I believe, half the world’s middle- class consumers will soon be around the Pacific Rim. When combined with the UK, the area will account for 15% of world GDP, which is roughly the same as that of the EU; but, by 2050, the CPTPP area will account for 25%, whereas the EU will account for only 10%.

The CPTPP is, I need hardly say, very different from the EU. It is not a customs union or a single market. There is no TPP law, no TPP commission and no move towards a single currency. I note with a degree of scepticism that the Government say our commitment to the CPTPP is also furthering free nations, but among our partners there is one communist single-party state and one Islamic absolute monarchy as well. I am not quite sure how those fit in—I am not in any way criticising—but this is a free trade area above anything else. It fits in, of course, with the Government’s political objective of the tilt to the Indo-Pacific region, which was reinforced by the defence White Paper.

A number of commentators, including the noble Lord, Lord Collins, have tried to dismiss the importance of CPTPP a little because of the statistic that it will contribute, as he put it, only less than 1% to growth. This ignores the political context of the region and of joining this organisation, whether or not the 0.08% statistic that is bandied about is right. Perhaps the Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Johnson, will comment on this when he comes to wind up, because I noticed in the Sunday Telegraph that the Secretary of State said she did not believe this figure, which has been officially quoted. But whether the contribution to growth of 0.08% is right or not, it ignores the potential. These are, as my noble friend Lord Cameron said, very fast- growing economies and we cannot predict precisely how trade flows will react to those.

Apart from anything else, this is a very deep free trade agreement. I stress that it is a free trade agreement, not a single market or a customs union. But it is a deep agreement and it has these advantages: it covers services, which are important to the UK, because we are the second-largest exporter of services in the world; for goods, there is a single set of rules of origin, which allows all content to be accumulated, provided that it originates in a CPTPP country; there is a good text also on sectors such as digital services, which are of increasing importance; it also gets rid of the need to have a local office before you can sell services into the market of the bloc. These are considerable advantages but, as I said before, one has to look at this very much in its political context and the tilt to the Indo-Pacific region.

The original TPP, the predecessor of the CPTPP, had the United States in it. Had the United States remained in it and President Trump not withdrawn from it, it would be one of the largest trading blocs in the world, amounting to 30% of world GDP. With 30% of world GDP, we would have been in a strong position with our allies there to play a huge part in influencing the rules governing the world economy. Originally, the United States was hoping that by joining the TPP, as it once stated that it was planning to do, it would be able to constrain the role of China in setting the rules of the world economy. We must hope that the United States will think again. I know that President Biden said initially that he might be interested in rejoining and then has lately tried to distance himself from it, but it would be important if America did join because the CPTPP has strong rules—much stronger than the WTO—about state-owned enterprises, which has been one of the main ways in which the Chinese have been criticised for how they compete unfairly with companies in the West.

In response, the United States has also set up the Indo-Pacific economic framework, a bloc that includes Indonesia. Perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Johnson, would comment when he winds up on how he sees the relationship between the two. To many it appears that the latest one, which America set up, is largely just a high-level discussion forum. It will not really be a rival to the CPTPP, but it would be interesting to know what the US Government have told him about this.

I welcome the Bill and our joining the CPTPP. It points the way to a very exciting future, which we should be very eager to grasp and take our full part in it.

Photo of Lord Razzall Lord Razzall Liberal Democrat 4:05, 21 November 2023

My Lords, I rise as the first speaker from these Benches to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Cameron, on his appointment as Foreign Secretary, and welcome him to this House. In recent years, we have had a tradition of welcoming new, often inexperienced and young Peers. I do not think that any of those adjectives apply to the noble Lord, but I add my congratulations to those of other noble Lords. I particularly congratulate him on what he has done today. Of course, this is a highly technical Bill, and normally only eight or 10 speakers would be speaking on it. When it was rumoured that he was speaking, suddenly we had 27, including a lot of people who had never expressed any interest in trade or trade Bills. So I congratulate the noble Lord on that.

As I said, this is a highly technical Bill, but all the previous speakers have clearly taken the opportunity to make more general comments before getting to the detail of the Bill. We were told in 2016 that a major advantage of Brexit would be our ability to make trade deals ourselves, outside the ambit of the European Union. Liz Truss, when she was the relevant Minister, used to boast that more than 50 to 60 trade deals had been agreed since Brexit. The truth is that, in all but three cases, the deal consisted simply in snowpaking out the word “EU” and substituting the word “UK”. In all other respects, our trading arrangements with the countries in question remained unaltered.

The first two original agreements were with Australia and New Zealand—both of course criticised by the farming community. Nevertheless, we have those deals, and now we have the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, known as CPTPP, which we signed up to in July of this year. The noble Lord, Lord Lamont, has touched on this, but I fear that, as usual, the Government have overblown the potential impact of our joining the CPTPP. As the noble Lord, Lord Collins, indicated, the Government’s own figures said that there would be a minimal impact on our economy: under 1% of GDP.

I take the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Lamont, that we are a member of a club that is in a fast-growing area. Of course, apart from in the cases of Malaysia and Brunei, we already have trade deals with all the other countries, which clearly affects those numbers. But, as the noble Lord, Lord Cameron, indicated, clearly there will be opportunities in due course for Malaysia. So I accept that we are part of a growing economic area, and that being inside the tent may bring future economic benefits, which we may not be able to forecast at present. But it would be helpful, as the noble Lord, Lord Lamont, indicated, if the Minister when he replies could be more specific about what future advantages the Government see in our membership of the CPTPP.

To turn to the technical parts of the Bill—which is, as has been indicated, highly technical, and needs to be passed simply so that we can sign up to this agreement —obviously joining the CPTPP has been criticised from a number of quarters. There are concerns over agricultural risks, including pesticides and palm oil, which have been touched on. There are concerns over labour and human rights, and no doubt other colleagues will touch on these concerns. I would like to focus on the changes to copyright law contained in the Bill, and the criticisms by a number of relevant organisations, including the Alliance for Intellectual Property.

There is no doubt that the treaty has brought little direct benefit to the United Kingdom creative industries. The main achievement, which the noble Lord, Lord Collins, touched on, is that the agreement regarding IP rights enabled the UK to remain complaint with the European patent convention, which was a fear to begin with.

The Bill also provides for changes to copyright laws so that foreign rights holders and performers receive payment where they do not currently. As I read it—and I may perfectly well be wrong, as may the NGO—the Bill as it stands does not limit the extension to CPTPP countries, so it allows the Government to extend the benefits to rights holders and performers in any country, whether or not a reciprocal arrangement is in place. This would be particularly important if there were to be a proposal to extend to the United States.

I understand that the IP Office has said that a consultation on extending the right to all foreign holders and performers will be concurrent with the passage of the Bill. However, if this is the case, it means that the result of the consultation will be too late for proper legislative scrutiny. So I ask, first, why the changes to copyright laws in the Bill are not limited to CPTPP countries’ rights holders and performers? Secondly, do the Government intend to extend the right to all countries, whether or not there is reciprocity? Thirdly, do the Government intend to consult on these wider rights extensions?

As I have said, this is not a trivial issue, as a widening of rights would result in a net loss of revenue retained by UK rights holders, as revenue would shift towards foreign rights holders without reciprocal arrangements. That is particularly of concern vis-à-vis the United States, which is of course a significant player in the whole recorded music industry. How we on these Benches seek to amend the Bill will depend on the Minister’s answers.

Photo of Lord Kerr of Kinlochard Lord Kerr of Kinlochard Crossbench 4:12, 21 November 2023

My Lords, we have a very nice tradition in this House of always warmly welcoming maiden speeches. We usually do it because we are a nice, polite House. In this case, we do it because we genuinely warmly welcome the Foreign Secretary to join us and we greatly admire the maiden speech he has just made. We genuinely do.

There is something wonderfully Alice in Wonderland and ironic about the fact that the noble Lord’s maiden speech is made in a debate on an implementing Bill that will implement a treaty that we have not yet seen; it has not been presented to us. We are going to debate the detail of a Bill that will put on the statute book the necessary changes, because it is assumed that we will agree that we should accede to the CPTPP. Of course, it is not an unrealistic assumption, because we in this House can do absolutely nothing to stop our acceding to the CPTPP—which is again nicely Alice in Wonderland.

Actually, I would not want to stop it—I think it is a very good thing that we are acceding to the CPTPP—but I do hope that the Foreign Secretary will find time to consider the paradox that we are stuck here on pre-Brexit arrangements for scrutinising and approving trade agreements even though, post Brexit, we no longer have as our trade negotiators the Christopher Soameses, the Leon Brittans, the Cathy Ashtons or the Peter Mandelsons. We no longer have the right, in the Council of Ministers, to give them a mandate; we no longer have a European Parliament scrutinising everything they do in a trade negotiation; and we no longer therefore have Select Committees in this House and the other place scrutinising very closely what our Ministers say in the Council of Ministers, with all of this done in public.

Since Brexit, trade policy has been a black box. Westminster is in the dark and Whitehall has taken back absolute control. It does not feel quite right to me. I do not suppose the Foreign Secretary will have the time, or possibly the inclination, to consider amending the CRaG Act 2010, but I hope that successor Foreign Secretaries will. The Alice in Wonderland arrangements are all very funny, but it is not right.

I also hope that the Foreign Secretary might consider why the International Agreements Committee of this House has so regularly called for the publication of a government trade strategy. Most grown-up Governments publish their trade strategies. I am a member of that committee, and we have repeatedly called for one. Not knowing what the Government are trying to achieve makes it quite tricky to work out, looking at each negotiation and its outcome, how far they have achieved their aim. I am not naive; I suspect that I have just described what some Trade Secretaries would regard as the best feature of our arrangement. Since it is not possible to say against any overall guideline whether they have done well, they can tell us that they have done jolly well.

As previous speakers have indicated, some Trade Secretaries have tended to do that a bit. As the noble Lord, Lord Razzall, said, most of the agreements that Ms Truss presented, for example, were simple rollovers of the existing pre-Brexit arrangements, but all her geese were swans. Most of them were perfectly respectable geese, but they had to be presented as swans. I hope the Foreign Secretary will seek to persuade his Trade colleague, who I think is more open to the idea, to listen to the recommendation from this place that the Government should publish an overall trade strategy. But let me reassure him that the task of seeing this Bill through the House will not be onerous and that accession to the CPTPP is a swan—or at least a cygnet that might, over time, grow into a perfectly respectable swan.

I heard what the noble Lord, Lord Lamont, said about what it is worth economically in the short term. The Government’s own impact assessment says that in the short term there will not be much economic benefit. Their economic impact assessment says it has taken full account of the likely dynamic—on which I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Lamont—and how the region is likely to grow. The impact assessment says that

“UK gross domestic product (GDP) could increase by the equivalent of £2.0 billion in the long run” as a result of the CPTPP. It defines “in the long run” as by 2040. I agree with the impact assessment and those who say that all such long-range predictions have extremely wide margins of error, but it is important to remember that the Government thought that the central estimate of the likely financial benefit was £2 billion in the long term—in other words, about a third of 1% of GDP. That is not a lot. The reason is that we have existing free trade agreements with all CPTPP partners except Brunei and Malaysia.

But I believe that, over time, this agreement will deepen, widen and become genuinely significant, so I am glad that the Government have decided to get us on board. I hope that, during the course of our study of this Bill, the Government will set out for us how they see the future of the organisation. Do they believe, as I do—although I think the noble Lord, Lord Lamont, would disagree with me—that, to be effective, it will need to acquire some sort of permanent secretariat, possibly even a site? Do the Government believe that it will need to consider enforcement mechanisms? I do.

What is the government view of CPTPP accession and of the six outstanding applications? These include the Chinese application that, if accepted, which in my view is very unlikely, would be transformative—in my view very undesirably. The noble Lord, Lord Collins, was right to call for transparency on this. We need to know what the Government think is the future of the organisation we are getting into. Of course, it would be a perfect subject to be covered in a trade strategy document, which could also perhaps explore the wider issue of the future of the multilateral rules-based system, and whether it has a future or whether the future is bilateral and plurilateral arrangements like CPTPP.

I am with the noble Lord, Lord Lamont, on this. I am a free trader and I believe that the best for free trade is the widest-possible global rules: simple rules, but as wide as possible. But there are two obvious problems that he and I have to face: first, American protectionism. I warmly agree with what he said. It was free trading Republicans under Robert Dole who got the United States into the WTO, but that breed seems to be extinct, and their successors have destroyed the WTO court. The second problem is China, now the world’s number one trading power. Together with the rest of the global South, it does not mind global rules, but it does not see why they should remain the rules we set 75 years ago, in the very different era of Bretton Woods.

It has a point; we have been very slow to update the structures we built. Why have seven of the 10 heads of the WTO been Europeans, like all 12 heads of the IMF, with all 14 heads of the World Bank coming from America? There is room for new thinking on effective internationalism and on the institutions that should underpin a rules-based trading system. There is a perfect task for an experienced new Foreign Secretary to consider. Meanwhile, let us work on accession to the CPTPP and welcome his arrival in this House.

Photo of Lord Goldsmith Lord Goldsmith Chair, International Agreements Committee 4:22, 21 November 2023

My Lords, it is always an enormous pleasure to listen to and follow the noble Lord, Lord Kerr. I get the pleasure of doing that quite frequently because he sits on the International Agreements Committee, which I have the honour to chair. I want to say something about that, because it explains why I do not intend to say very much in my remarks today. There are two reasons. One is that, as has been pointed out, this is a technical Bill. It deals with some important but quite limited aspects of the CPTPP, and I do not want, as the chair of the IAC, to allow this debate to appear to be the debate on the whole of the treaty, which, as the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, said in the earlier Question, we want to see on the Floor of the House. It is important that we do; it is important that we have scrutiny. I very much hope that the noble Lord, the new Foreign Secretary, agrees with that.

It is also the reason why, and I say this to the noble Lord, Lord Johnson, I did not contribute very much to the briefing that he very kindly held for Peers recently. It was again for the two reasons I am going to adumbrate that I did not think it was right to get too deeply into the subject. One reason is that it is quite a technical Bill. The second is that the Committee I chair is in the middle of an inquiry, as has been mentioned already. I do not want to pre-empt the outcome of that inquiry, or the views that the members will have about the treaty as a result of that.

I will tell the House where we have got to. We called for evidence between July and September. We have had 27 submissions and three oral evidence sessions already, and we intend to have further. We have had specialists in trade and foreign policy give evidence to us already, and we will hear from diplomatic representatives of at least two countries. I am therefore very keen that we should see the full results of the scrutiny we are doing and place that before the House.

We have had interesting evidence already and I invite noble Lords to look at that which has been given. For example, the Government may be interested to note that one of our witnesses, an expert and experienced witness, said that so poor is the Government’s information about free trade arrangements that some businesses look to other countries’ websites to find the answers to questions, including on how to navigate our own arrangements. They have also pointed out that the data is so difficult sometimes that some of it seems to show that a country is a net importer while other data shows that it is a net exporter.

These need to be dealt with as additional matters, but the fundamental point is that, when we complete our scrutiny, we will, I believe, have very clear views on the treaty. I do not want to pre-empt that today, so I will not say anything further about the detail of the Bill, but I will listen very carefully to what is said; I will study that and the rest of the proceedings on the Bill. I look forward to coming back when we are in a position to do as we intend: to present our report, on the Bill and the treaty, to the House fully.

Photo of Lord Vaizey of Didcot Lord Vaizey of Didcot Conservative 4:26, 21 November 2023

My Lords, it is a great pleasure to follow the noble and learned Lord, Lord Goldsmith. I welcome the scrutiny he is bringing to trade policy and look forward to his report being presented to the House; it is a very good example of why this House does such good non-partisan and detailed work behind the scenes that informs government policy.

I am here for a specific reason, but it is a welcome coincidence that I am here at the same time as my noble friend Lord Cameron has made his maiden speech in the House. It was a great pleasure to serve under him when he was Prime Minister. I was in fact his longest-serving Minister, because I was the last “Cameroon” to be sacked by Theresa May—I think that somebody had to remind her that I was still a Minister. When I heard the news that my noble friend was joining your Lordships’ House, I had a bitter-sweet reaction: I was overjoyed that he was joining our House, but I was then fed up with the endless WhatsApps from people asking why Rishi Sunak had not asked me to join his Government. Normally, this House sits out the heady 24 hours of a reshuffle.

My noble friend is joining an absolutely first-class Front Bench. I said to my noble friend Lord Ahmad yesterday that I was amazed that he could still get into the House given the praise that was heaped on him in the foreign affairs debate last week. My noble friend Lord Johnson is proving to be a fantastic and very creative Trade Minister, full of original and exciting ideas. I had a ditty about him, which has unfortunately been overtaken by events: he was introduced on a Monday, made his maiden speech on a Wednesday and was sacked on a Friday, by accident. He is the first comeback kid of the Front Bench; he was reinstated by the Prime Minister, and we are thankful for that.

I think that I am right in saying that my noble friend the Foreign Secretary was the first Prime Minister —or maybe the first Prime Minister for many decades—to visit Vietnam. That was a very big occasion, because, at the time, I became the trade envoy to Vietnam and had not realised quite what an economic powerhouse it is; it is representative of the south-east Asian nations. The CPTPP, which we are debating as part of this enabling Bill, is very important; it is very important that the UK has joined it. It represents part of a continuing strategic pivot—the latest, if you like—to the most dynamic and fastest-growing region in the world, the Indo-Pacific. It puts us in a place where we can have some kind of influence on the future trade policy of that region.

At the heart of the Indo-Pacific is the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The big reveal is that I am the chair of the UK-ASEAN Business Council, so I am tremendously excited about the prospects the CPTPP brings to ASEAN and the wider region. We have an ambassador to the ASEAN region, now Sarah Tiffin, as well as a trade commissioner for the region and, as the Foreign Secretary pointed out, we are a strategic dialogue partner of ASEAN.

To pick up on the excellent points made by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Goldsmith, one reason why the UK-ASEAN Business Council is important, although it is a small organisation, is that it is an opportunity to hear from businesses about what is happening on the ground in the region, and indeed sometimes to hear their frustrations with how opaque some of the guidance and regulations from government are. For example, I was told by one member that the department of trade has a kind of artificial intelligence tool which it has purchased and paid for that would allow individual small businesses to search for their products and which, thanks to artificial intelligence, would throw up the easiest countries in the world with which to trade based on their product and a reading of those treaties.

There is a huge amount of work that can be done to make it easier for businesses to navigate the trade agreements that government puts in place. I know you cannot have an ambassador to a treaty, but it is certainly important for the Foreign Secretary to take from this debate that there is an opportunity to look hard at how we engage on the back of the opportunities that the CPTPP gives us. As he pointed out, it covers some 580 million people in 12 countries, with a combined GDP of £12 trillion. Four of them are members of ASEAN—Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam—while the Philippines and Thailand, also ASEAN nations, have both expressed an interest in joining, and they have seen how others have benefited.

The noble Lord, Lord Kerr, talked about what economic growth this might bring to us, and he is quite right to say that the estimates are always impossible to hold on to. One estimate was 0.08% over 15 years. Obviously, as a die-hard remainer before I became chair of the UK-ASEAN Business Council, I might have derided this and said to the Brexiteers, “Well, this is what you’ve given us in return for leaving the EU”. However, I am now a wiser person. The UK already has free trade agreements with most of the CPTPP members. It is important to note that the CPTPP will grow and expand, regardless of the issue of China, and our being the first non-Pacific country to join encourages economies looking to be a part of a free and open trading club. In that sense, the UK genuinely has led the way.

In this digital world, the connectivity infrastructure already exists which allows British businesses to provide services to anywhere in the world. Therefore, as part of the CPTPP, we can enable our trade infrastructure to connect our businesses to CPTPP members. Our services trade to CPTPP members last year was 43% of our total services trade. We do not need to establish local or regional offices to supply CPTPP countries, and it is very exciting to see companies anywhere in the UK now able to access markets such as Malaysia and Vietnam. In addition, many of those countries look to the UK for guidance and support in terms of digital trade; the agreement we signed with Singapore is ground-breaking. We are seen as a leader in this field, and we should certainly use our influence.

The CPTPP will also bring additional benefits over and above our free trade agreements. For example, we have a free trade agreement with Vietnam, which was the original EU agreement rolled over. That means that, as part of the CPTPP, our tariffs on engines, for example, will come down quicker. I know that the Foreign Secretary will be pleased to hear that the tariffs on chocolate and port will also be lowered at a faster rate, as well as duties on beef—duties will be eliminated. People travelling to do business in Vietnam will now be able to stay for six months instead of three months.

We now have a free trade agreement, thanks to the CPTPP, with Malaysia and Brunei as well. Brunei is an important ally and home to the largest UK military presence in the Asia-Pacific. Although our bilateral trade with Brunei is small, our relationship with Brunei is an excellent example of how we can work with some of the smaller economies in large trading blocs and shape the future of the region.

The real value is also strategic. Last week, our Secretary of State for Business and Trade, Kemi Badenoch, was in San Francisco for the first CPTPP meeting since July. The meeting was held on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders meeting, discussing free trade in the Asia-Pacific. Being part of the CPTPP therefore allows the UK to be there on the sidelines of the APEC meeting. One thing I have learned since I became chair of the UK-ASEAN Business Council is that there is something called the APEC business travel card. I do not want to upset any noble Lords, but it effectively allows free movement within the region; it allows short-term business travel, streamlines the entry process and fast-tracks visitors. You can use an APEC business travel card lane at airports in APEC economies. This is the kind of opportunity that presents itself to the Government to push for now that they have a seat at this table.

The real benefit of joining the CPTPP is just that: being part of a club, if you like, that the UK has not been part of before. By being a part of the CPTPP, the UK has a seat at the table of some of the world’s most dynamic countries, committed—as most of us are—to free and fair trade. The work to shape our future begins now.

Photo of Lord Howell of Guildford Lord Howell of Guildford Conservative 4:36, 21 November 2023

My Lords, like others, I very warmly welcome the return to government, and indeed the entry into our counsels here in this House, of someone with as much deep familiarity with world diplomacy and world politics as my noble friend Lord Cameron. A decade or more ago, I had the privilege of serving in a minor role in his Administration—rather more minor, actually, than I had hoped for, but nevertheless it was extremely interesting—where we were dealing with the Commonwealth, which was all part of the repositioning of Britain. This was pre-Brexit, but many of the forces which are driving us along today existed then. I was Minister for International Energy Security. With hindsight, I do not think I did a very good job there—certainly there have been a lot of problems since. But this is a good moment, and I am very pleased.

My noble friend inherits an appalling set of problems, and there are no immediate solutions to any of the major crises that this nation or the whole world is facing at the present time. There is poison in every chalice. The skill will lie in handling the issues and in deploying new compounds of persuasive soft power and decisive hard power—they go together; they cannot operate separately—and a new understanding of the world of networks in which we now live. This means seeing the world order—or disorder, as it is now—through the eyes of others, as well as our own, and through the eyes of the future, as well as our history. It means ceaselessly creating new alliances, and swiftly, to meet endlessly unfolding new crises. This is the enlightened and agile sort of diplomacy that we will need to survive over the next decades of this century.

In my view, our new Foreign Secretary should not be judged by the instant diplomatic successes that he chalks up—although I suppose the media will have a shot at that—but by whether there is a real understanding that our nation is in an entirely new position, requiring many different sorts of alliances, backed by huge ingenuity and constant resilience, and readiness to recognise the totally new factors at work in the international landscape. We need a restart from a fresh realisation. Nowadays, in this digital age, most nations, large and small, want to be free of too much Chinese hegemony and pressure on that side, with all its traps and dangers, of which we can see a great deal going on, and from too much overassertive leadership and stale ideology, served up on the western side from some parts of the American establishment. It is partners that people want; they do not need overbearing bosses.

I come to the treaty and the legislation needed to bring it into effect. A moment ago, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Goldsmith, described how, in the committee that he so ably chairs, we are scrutinising the CPTPP arrangements, the treaty and the details very seriously indeed. Of course, there is a lot more work to be done, and no doubt we shall have an opportunity in this Chamber to procedure these things—always remembering that the complexity is of just the kind where a committee inquiry is the most effective way of getting at the details. Later on, we can deal with the legal aspects in the Chamber, but, if we really want to go into the depth of the detail, it is in the committee environment where we will succeed in doing so.

I regard the treaty as a step in a strategic shift of the first importance for our nation, and I am glad to see that the impact assessment echoes that sentiment. There are many more steps to be taken in the same direction but this is one that some of us have been urging the UK to move towards for at least the past decade, if not more. The Minister and the Foreign Secretary are quite right to depict membership of the CPTPP as a gateway, or pathway, to high-growth Asian markets as part of our Indo-Pacific tilt. The second version of the Cabinet Office’s integrated review makes this point very clearly indeed—of course, there will now have to be a third version, I am afraid, in the light of more developments in the Middle East. That third review will also need to reinforce the same message: this is part of a clear strategy.

I know that the estimated trade gains look pretty small, as the noble Lord, Lord Kerr, alluded to; I think that the figure is an extra £4.9 billion-worth of trade both ways by 2040, which is not very much. However, that is because, as the noble Lord, Lord Razzall, said, we already have trade agreements with most of the members—although not with Malaysia—and any gains from this treaty will come on top of those existing flows. More than that, the CPTPP is about far more than further increasing our measured volumes of conventional trade with other member states, which is always difficult to estimate anyway. Not only is the group going to expand in number—three more countries have already applied to join; China obviously wants to join, which raises all sorts of tricky developments which we will have to deal with in due course and which we are examining in the committee—but behind the trade deals lie several major new realities about the nature and patterns of trade and exchange in the 21st century that many people still seem reluctant to face or grasp.

The first of these is that, over the next 30 years, most of the growth in consumer markets and investments will be in the Asian region. We are looking here at something that is already as big as the EU single market and at new trade and economic groupings, such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which are already larger in overall GDP than the EU. Then of course there is the liquidity of ASEAN as a whole, which we are developing at the moment. At the same time, there are huge new infrastructure projects across Eurasia, weaving the whole Asian continent together, about which we have hardly any coverage in our media here. That is the first reality.

Secondly, the reality is that trade flows and investment of all kinds—direct and financial, both ways—are welded together, each promoting the other. They are inseparable.

Thirdly, half of what we broadly call trade, and which conjures up visions of thousands of containers on giant cargo carriers, is now trade in knowledge products, digital trade, trade in services, data and technology innovations. Every installed piece of capital equipment comes with a vast package of high-tech procedures, personnel and supporting consultancy. We are informed that 42% of all this country’s trade with CPTPP members is in services of various kinds—it is probably very much higher.

Fourthly, Japan has been of enormous assistance to us on the pathway to membership. Our growing ties with Japan on many industrial and technological fronts, including the enormous Tempest combat aircraft project, are a parallel story, maybe for another day, but are hugely important for our future. People forget that Japan is still the world’s third-largest industrial power and, in terms of underlying stability and conditions, is favourable to competitive enterprise. In a way it is vastly ahead of its Chinese neighbour. We should stick to Japan like glue on every front, security included. Incidentally, I declare an interest in past and present links with Japan and two of its biggest enterprises, Mitsubishi Electric and Central Japan Railway.

Fifthly, it is worth noting that when we join the CPTPP, more than half its membership will be members of the Commonwealth network. People may say, “What has that got to do with trade?” The answer is, “A very great deal”. Not only are matters often settled informally and in the coffee break, rather than over formal transcripts round the negotiating table; the whole trade and investment process works much the best within a broader context of unifying forces and activities, ranging from the cultural and artistic, education and scientific research, to constant new thinking in many fields of professional standards and training. Above all, there is the fact of the English-speaking world and a common business language between us all. English contains its own DNA, which grows and which no amount of official disregard, jealousy or historic dislike can eliminate.

It so happens that the binding values that hold the Commonwealth together today and cause it to grow and attract new members, as now, are just the ones which are of key significance in the digital age of hyper- connectivity—binding links not just between officialdom and Governments, which may seem at times to be at odds, but at every level of society and interest. These are such things as the rule of law, open societies, free speech and free press, independent judiciary, free elections, proper concern for human rights, due process and adherence to international norms and standards, all of which are now becoming part of the survival kits for the planet’s army of independent nations—the so-called “neo non-aligned” states.

We must get out of the patronising habit of bundling so many nations together as the so-called developing world. Every new nation today and every society—maybe even hermit states such as North Korea—are developing in different ways. That includes us, as we embark on the great energy transition which will bring with it a great social development transition as well—on which, incidentally, we have hardly started.

Today, the CPTPP needs a hinterland of support, activity and connection if it is to flourish. I was disappointed that last year, the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia—ERIA, the powerful research wing of ASEAN—wanted to hold a major conference here in London with our leading think tanks and policy groups but was turned away or only offered co-operation, on impossible and ridiculous terms and fees. That is where the FCDO should have stepped in—if it even knew about it.

I hope that this lesson on the need for surrounding activity beyond trade itself in the areas of business, culture, science and all the rest is now understood in Whitehall and Downing Street, and that steps are even now being taken to bring the right groupings together between all the new Asian powers and the United Kingdom, covering all fronts and at the highest possible level. Trade rides with investment, security, culture and values, and with daily connectivity. Please can we not forget that.

Photo of Lord Trees Lord Trees Crossbench 4:50, 21 November 2023

My Lords, I too welcome the noble Lord, Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton, to the Chamber. We shall have to get used to using territorial designations, because these Benches have had a noble Lord, Lord Cameron, here for a number of years.

I also welcome the chance to debate this trade Bill but, as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Goldsmith, alluded to earlier, we are considering the cart before the horse. The Trade and Agriculture Commission report is “due to be completed” by 30 November, so we have no sight of that yet. The Section 42 report required under the Agriculture Act 2020 will be available after that, and formal parliamentary scrutiny under CRaG will follow. So we are being asked to comment on the Bill without the benefit of those important reports and that of the International Agreements Committee.

I am left considering the benefits and costs of this agreement. I acknowledge, as has been ably and eloquently detailed by previous speakers, the benefits of agreements of this type over and above the financial. But the financial benefits are extremely modest: I find the Government’s estimate of £2 billion additional GDP by 2040 rather underwhelming.

So I am left considering the downsides or costs and concerns. Noble Lords are aware of my interest as a veterinary surgeon, and my concerns concentrate on our animal health and welfare, public health, the health of our farming industry, and animal health and welfare in the countries that will be supplying us with animal products more freely under this agreement.

We and His Majesty’s Government are rightly proud of our high animal welfare standards. Ministers regularly assure us that we will not lower our standards in negotiating free trade agreements. With respect, that is the right answer to the wrong question. We should ask whether countries exporting to the UK will raise their standards to our level. The answer in this case is that they have no obligations so to do.

The organisation World Animal Protection, formerly the World Society for the Protection of Animals, a global charity for animal welfare based in London, produced a ranking of 50 countries based on its consideration of 10 indicators covering the most important aspects of animal protection. In its latest, 2020 ranking, all the countries within the CPTPP agreement are lower than the UK. Only New Zealand, arguably, comes close to our overall standards.

In our quest for free trade agreements we have yet to set minimum standards for food imports, with the exception of hormone-treated beef, chlorine-washed chicken and ractopamine in pigs. Ongoing tariff negotiations with Canada and Mexico raise concerns about the potential vulnerability of UK farmers, particularly with regard to eggs, pigs, pigmeat and beef meat products produced at standards that are illegal in the UK. Several CPTPP countries still allow practices such as conventional battery cages—banned in the UK since 2012. Similar concerns arise with pigmeat imports from CPTPP members that employ sow stalls—banned in the UK since 1999.

Of particular concern, nationally and globally, for both animal and public health, is the excessive use of antibiotics in several CPTPP countries, with the attendant risks of importing and spreading antibiotic-resistant bacteria in animal products. I know this will be a matter of concern to the noble Lord, Lord Cameron, who, to his great credit, raised the whole issue of antimicrobial resistance to the top of the political agenda and commissioned the O’Neill commission to report its important findings in 2016 on reducing our use of antimicrobials to prevent the severe downsides of antimicrobial resistance.

At a time when food security is rightly a concern, we should be extremally careful not to handicap, undercut or potentially destroy our own food production capability by importing products produced to lower welfare standards. At a time when climate change is such a dominant political issue, we should guard against exporting greenhouse gas emissions by importing products produced less efficiently than we do. A relevant example concerns beef, a kilogram of which we can produce in the UK with less than half the global average of associated greenhouse gas emissions. We should aim to not import beef from any country unless its carbon footprint is lower than ours.

In joining the CPTPP, we note that the Government’s own environmental impact assessment suggests that an increase in global greenhouse gas emissions will occur, but that it will be slight and negligible. But this does not take into account emissions due to transport, nor the potentially high starting point of the carbon footprint in the countries of origin.

In conclusion, we need to safeguard the UK’s indigenous, high-quality, high-welfare and sustainable food production capabilities. That does not mean that we require self-sufficiency—not at all—but we should ensure that we safeguard the core of essential food production capability.

So, finally, I ask the Minister: when will Parliament see the TAC report? Secondly, in his letter of 8 November to noble Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Johnson of Lainston, stated that

“the Government has ensured that joining will not compromise our high animal and plant health, food safety, or animal welfare standards”.

In view of the fact that we cannot influence current standards in member countries of CPTPP, how will this be achieved?

Photo of Lord Frost Lord Frost Minister of State (Cabinet Office) 4:58, 21 November 2023

My Lords, it is a pleasure to support the Government on this important Bill at Second Reading, and to congratulate my noble friend on his excellent maiden speech. I must say that I cannot claim quite the same experience of the noble Lord’s time as Prime Minister as others who have spoken so far today. I was, for part of the time, a humble bureaucrat in the system, working for Vince Cable on EU trade agreements—so we are none of us perfect—and then as head of the Scotch Whisky Association. I must say that, while I was doing that job, his Government either froze or cut the duty on Scotch whisky, to which he alluded in his speech—a policy which has since, regrettably, fallen into abeyance. Perhaps his return to government will herald a change in that policy as well. Who knows? I guess we are going to find out tomorrow.

In this context, I pay tribute also not just to my right honourable friend the current Secretary of State for Business and Trade, who got this agreement over the line, but to her three predecessors who kept the CPTPP on the agenda when it was not obvious that it would stay on it. I single out in particular my right honourable friend Dr Liam Fox, who kept the prospect of joining the CPTPP alive in a Government who, at times, seemed—how shall we put it?—unduly attached to remaining part of the EU customs union and other trading arrangements. Of course, if they had succeeded in that, it would have precluded CPTPP accession and we would not be having the discussion we are having today—so he deserves to be congratulated on that.

I will say just a word about the process that we are in. I think it is fair to say that I do not always agree with my former mentor, the noble Lord, Lord Kerr, who spoke earlier, but I do agree with the points he made about the process. It is a little strange that, after Brexit, the degree of scrutiny and the ability to comment, shape and, indeed, vote on major trade agreements that this Parliament has in both of its Houses is actually weaker than when this country was a member of the European Union. Obviously, I supported and worked for Brexit and I do not think it is right that we have less ability to shape these things than we did when we were in the EU. I have said that to Select Committees of this House and of the other place. We should look at that in the interests of democratic scrutiny and developing a trade policy that we can all buy into in the future. I hope that can be looked at one day.

We have heard a lot already about the economic benefits of accession to this trade agreement. I will not repeat what has been said already, but I want to highlight a couple of slightly more technical points. First, the rules of origin provisions in this agreement are generous—unusually so. They provide for full accumulation, as has been said. That is potentially of considerable value and will be of particular benefit to firms, perhaps especially SMEs, that seek to diversify and make secure their supply chains, away from China perhaps in particular, because many will need to do that in the coming years. Indeed, many are already doing it. Of course, as the CPTPP enlarges, that will become a more worthwhile provision—so, again, it is very good to see that we will be part of that.

I also want to highlight the value of the arrangements for conformity assessment bodies in Clause 2. I note in passing that the EU refused us these arrangements during the negotiation of the trade and co-operation agreement, so it is good to see that, at least in some of our trade agreements, we are part of them. It is the difference between being part of a trade agreement that is genuinely about facilitating trade and one that is about a power relationship between the two partners. So, once again, it is very good that we are part of that. Of course, it should go without saying—but I do not think it has been said yet—that we get all the benefits of the CPTPP without having to pay in £15 billion a year to the budget or make ourselves subject to a foreign court to get them.

So much for the economics; the key arguments for the CPTPP are more strategic than purely economic. I will briefly highlight three aspects. The first is diversification of our national trade policy. As we all know, increasing openness and competitive forces on our own economy is crucial to boosting productivity and growth, so it is not surprising, although a bit disappointing, to hear from some noble Lords a set of worries about precisely that openness to competitive forces, whether on ISDS, food, agriculture or on much else. The problem we have in this country is not too much competition but too little, and trade agreements are designed to boost that competition, boost efficiency and bring more growth.

Since leaving the EU, we have not pushed as far as we should in this direction. Indeed, our trade policy so far can be seen as in many ways a giant preference scheme in favour of the European Union. That is particularly true in agriculture, where EU goods enter without tariffs and quotas; no other trading partners have that at the moment, so it is vital that we open this up, and begin to open up our trading options globally. The CPTPP is part of this. It is a bit disappointing that in our accession protocol the transition to zero-tariff access for some agricultural products is a little slow, and even includes permanent quotas in one or two places. I understand the political logic that has led to that, because the NFU is a mighty power in the land, but this will defer some of the gains to our consumers. Again, it is something that we might look at one day in the future and take a more liberal approach.

The second strategic aspect of CPTPP is about embedding our engagement with east Asia, particularly with close allies such as Japan. The Indo-Pacific tilt is clearly more than just a tilt, and CPTPP goes with AUKUS and the ASEAN dialogue partner status as one of the three pillars of strategic engagement in the Asia-Pacific region. Indeed, let us hope that there will be a fourth pillar before too long, in the form of an FTA with India.

The third and final aspect is the signal that CPTPP membership gives about this country’s global trade policy aspirations and role. As the noble Lord, Lord Lamont, said, it is to be deplored that we are moving to a world of blocs, industrial policy and protectionism. Although there is room for a little more focus on national security in trade and investment, this development will generally see reduced incomes, reduced growth and probably further international tensions.

By its very existence, the CPTPP can and does already stand for something different. It is a different kind of grouping; it is a group of mid-size but extremely important powers that support open and global free trade. They are an open and free-trading counterweight to set against these broader undesirable global trends. It is absolutely natural for Britain to be part of that arrangement and to push for these things further within the CPTPP at a global level. Maybe in winding up, or later, the Minister could set out a little more what the aspirations to use the CPTPP are, and what ability it gives us to shape and broaden out our own trade policy, now and into the future.

Those who said the UK could never pursue an independent trade policy outside the EU have been proven wrong. With CPTPP accession, we have FTAs covering over 60% of our trade, goods and services, and the only reason we have not reached the 80% target is the reluctance of the US to do new trade agreements with anybody, not just us. This is a big success area, and getting into the CPTPP is a big part of it. That is why I am delighted to support the Government on the Bill and getting it through rapidly soon.

Photo of Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town Labour 5:08, 21 November 2023

My Lords, it is always nice to follow the noble Lord, Lord Frost. We sparred a few times on Brexit, and as he was running the Scotch Whisky Association and I was running Alcohol Concern, noble Lords will not be surprised that we have slightly different views about the duty on whisky. In welcoming the new Foreign Secretary, I assure him, as the first woman to be able to welcome him today, that he will find that we are a quarter of this House and are normally far more in evidence than perhaps we have been. If he thinks he is going to get away with gentlemanly behaviour in the future, he may find that we also have a voice.

I am particularly pleased that the Foreign Secretary made his maiden speech on the CPTPP, as it is the flagship of the post-Brexit policy that followed after he had left No. 10—despite, as we have heard, its very modest impact on our current trade arrangements. That is partly because, as we have heard from a number of speakers, we already have agreements with the majority of the 11 members, particularly Japan of course, but also Australia and New Zealand, the FTAs with which we have looked at the FTAs in this House quite recently.

I know that, in welcoming the new Foreign Secretary, the Lib Dem Benches will be particularly pleased to be reminded by these Benches that they were once in coalition with him in government, something they often fail to declare. However, my Labour colleagues and I of course welcome him. He has a vital role to play, partly in rebuilding trust and confidence in the UK following Boris Johnson’s attempts when he was Prime Minister to break international law by threatening to abrogate part of a treaty he had so recently signed, and today, at a time when the Government are threatening to renege on international law and our own legislation and common law in their desperate desire to fight an election with pictures of planes taking off to Rwanda. I hope that the Foreign Secretary, whom we know is an honourable man, will help to restore trust and decency in the Government and thus re-establish confidence in the bona fides of the country that we all love and want to serve.

The Foreign Secretary will by now have been well briefed—we hear from the usual reliable sources that he is very well briefed and reads everything—on the intricacies of the CPTPP. It was a pre-cooked agreement which involved us merely joining rather than being able to negotiate, as with other agreements. It is, as a number of speakers have said, a significant partnership. It embraces 11 countries stretching from Vietnam to Peru, many of which, if not all, are experiencing growth and—of particular relevance to this country—are increasing potential markets for the products and services for which we are so well known.

However, to make this work for our exporters, which is the important issue, the Department for Business and Trade will have to step up the support which it offers to companies and individuals who want to do business in a CPTPP country. The Bill hardly touches that side of the main part of the partnership agreement, which we trust will be fully debated here, as has been mentioned already. The Bill really just deals with three issues which require some tweaks to our legislation, whereas the majority of the agreement does not need any legislative changes, hence the need for a fuller debate.

When I was still chairing the International Agreements Committee some two years ago, it examined the negotiating objectives and there was very broad support for accession at that moment. Nothing seems to have diminished that, according to the evidence submitted to the new inquiry. Indeed, our committee’s current inquiry, as described by my noble and learned friend Lord Goldsmith, is into the outcome of negotiations. Some of the stuff we have been looking at already suggests that some of the major questions are about the practicalities. Those include whether the lack of a fully functioning and permanent secretariat to this rather complex agreement will suffice to iron out the technical and other issues that are bound to develop not just with our accession but with its continuing growth; and, I am afraid to say, why the department’s recent dialogue with stakeholders appears to been so dismal just when business most needs help to plan for and get help with our accession. The benefits of this agreement will be realised only with considerable assistance from the Government so that businesses can take advantage of what is there in the new trade freedoms.

The British Chambers of Commerce, which supports the “speedy ratification” of the agreement, says that it wants to work with the Government

“to ensure firms get the best possible access” to what it defines as a “thriving market”, but this will depend on the department reaching out to stakeholders and providing the advice, guidance and, indeed, the access that they need.

When we looked at the agreement two years ago, the UK Fashion and Textile Association said that it had not seen much export development take place, while the NFU wanted the Government to put more energy and resources into export promotion and marketing. It would therefore be helpful to hear about the Government’s plans for working with relevant industries and professional associations to make the most of the enhanced business mobility possibilities that have already been touched on.

Indeed, to give just one example, I have had a query from a sector possibly impacted by the Bill, which I will outline here. My concern is less with this particular issue and more that it has not been ironed out by the department talking to the relevant industries. The question relates to Clause 4, which amends the rolled-over EU regulations to enable the Secretary of State to cancel trademarks and geographical indications retrospectively.

The question is: might this new power cause some conflicts with the EU should the Secretary of State remove trademarks that apply in the UK and the EU simply to satisfy a demand from a CPTPP member? Does the Bill really need to make this provision for the CPTPP to apply in UK law, given that GIs are determined on a bilateral basis between CPTPP member countries? Perhaps the noble Lord can clarify this matter and—more importantly—confirm that relevant stakeholders impacted either have been or will now be consulted before we ratify and the procedures come into place.

I turn to broader political issues. There is one early discussion, already touched on, that will involve the Government now that we are members—that is, of course, about the future expansion of the CPTPP. We are the first country to join since it was established by its 11 inaugural members, and we are the first European member—which sort of stretches the definition of “Pacific”. On the agenda for the partnership now is the application for China to join. Needless to say, we will be particularly interested in the Foreign Secretary’s view on this. As my noble friend Lord Collins and the noble Lord, Lord Kerr, have emphasised, this strategic issue is of central concern to the UK and, indeed, to other countries. We look forward to hearing the Government’s views on that in due course.

Most commentators see the importance of the CPTPP as being part of the Indo-Pacific tilt—a diplomatic and security matter as much as a straight economic one—so the Minister’s views on where we sit in that sphere will be of continuing interest to this House. It is particularly good that we have the Foreign Secretary, from the FCDO, sitting alongside the Minister from the Department for Business and Trade. It stresses again the need referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Kerr, for the strategic framework. Trade is part of foreign policy and, indeed, defence policy. Therefore, seeing how this all fits together is an important challenge for the Government.

The new Foreign Secretary has already been warned that there is a lot on his plate; we add this to it. For the moment, this Bill, a small but important part of our accession, is to be welcomed. I wish it well.

Photo of Lord Marland Lord Marland Conservative 5:18, 21 November 2023

My Lords, it is a pleasure and a privilege to follow the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter of Kentish Town. I have sat on the International Agreements Committee with her for a number of years. She chaired it magnificently before handing back to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Goldsmith, who I think has found her a tough act to follow.

It is also a huge pleasure to see my noble friend the Foreign Secretary here. It is a boost for the House of Lords and for the international community. It is also a boost for those who play tennis with him, because during the fallow period his game has improved and we rather hope it will go back to the status quo. I worked closely with him on trade issues. In a moment of brilliance, he made me his trade envoy in his Government, putting trade at the heart of government. Between us we set up what is now the trade envoy network, which has been a successful cross-party network promoting trade across the world. I have therefore seen at first hand how, internationally, his status is so high. I have seen the energy he puts into international matters and the respect he is held in throughout the world, so we are incredibly lucky that he has chosen to give up an extremely comfortable and enjoyable life to return to public service.

It will be more comfortable here, as has been said by other noble Lords, but less comfortable as a lifestyle none the less. We wish my noble friend all the best—and, for heaven’s sake, this country needs a dynamic and vigorous Foreign Secretary. In my role as chairman of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council, I think I have done 45 flights this year—please do not tell the eco lobby this—all in the interest of international trade. Everywhere I go, the Foreign Office’s standing is diminishing. It is therefore critical that we have such a big hitter delivering for us in the world.

I also want to apologise in advance, because another thing that my noble friend made me do when I was working with him was to chair an Armed Forces charity. I am afraid that I am going to have to go to its huge celebration, which has long been in the diary, at the same time as him. I apologise to noble Lords if I have to leave at the same time as he does.

I shall not add to the comments that have been made by the excellent committee members who I have the honour and privilege of working with. I want to enhance the words of our chairman, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Goldsmith, who said that we are still very much scrutinising this matter and intend to give it a full wind. It would therefore be wrong for me to add anything more to those excellent comments, other than to say that it is a good start. As my noble friend Lord Frost says, it is a step in the right direction. It is a modest treaty but none the less a statement of intent.

Curiously enough, of the 12 countries now in the CPTPP, if we include the United Kingdom, seven are Commonwealth countries. I have told the great Trade Minister, my noble friend Lord Johnson, who is also a vigorous and dynamic man, that it is amazing to me that neither his department nor the Foreign Office has shown leadership in establishing a Commonwealth trade treaty. Why are we sitting on our backsides and not showing leadership in the world where we have an open goal, as my noble friend Lord Howell has said—many others would agree—of 56 English-speaking countries sharing so many interests?

When my noble friend the Foreign Secretary was Prime Minister he attended two CHOGMs, so he has been very much involved with the Commonwealth. Why are we not picking up the baton and showing real leadership in the world of international trade where, as my noble friend Lord Lamont ably put it, people are starting to put up trade barriers? As a parting gesture, and to make my speech as short as I possibly can, I put it to the Foreign Secretary and to the excellent Minister of Trade, my noble friend Lord Johnson, that this should become a priority.

Photo of Lord Foster of Bath Lord Foster of Bath Liberal Democrat 5:25, 21 November 2023

My Lords, I am delighted to follow the noble Lord, Lord Marland, who, like a number of previous speakers, have thanked the new Foreign Secretary for posts to which he appointed them. I, too, wish to say my grateful thanks to the new Foreign Secretary for posts to which he appointed me —but I remind him that, on one occasion, he specifically required me to work alongside Michael Gove.

I genuinely welcome the Foreign Secretary to his new post and congratulate him on an excellent maiden speech. I suspect that I am right, although perhaps he will correct me if I am wrong, that, despite all his years in the other place, this is the first time that he has ever led for the Government in introducing a piece of legislation. It is a piece of legislation that we have mixed views about—but certainly, as others have already pointed out, because of the inadequacies of our trade scrutiny arrangements in this place, we are being asked to look at a small piece of legislation that will enable the implementation of a very large trade deal, with which your Lordships’ House has not had a real opportunity to engage.

In the words of the noble Lord, Lord Frost, we have not had the opportunity to all buy into the deal, and we are having to do it in the absence of some quite important information—information, for instance, that would be contained in the report to which the excellent chair of the International Agreements Committee has referred. We have not got access, because it is not yet ready, to the government-requested report from the Trade and Agriculture Commission. We are short of information, yet it is sadly one of the few opportunities that we have to debate the CPTPP, its processes and outcome, because we have this one Bill to look at.

As others have pointed out, on these Benches we are well aware that there are some benefits of the deal—particularly some significant geopolitical benefits, I would accept. But notwithstanding the rhetoric of major economic benefits, or the optimistic predictions of our new Foreign Secretary, the figures on the economic benefit show that it is very limited. After all, it was the Government’s own figures, as we have heard, that show that the increase in GDP will be only 0.1% of GDP—and I remind other noble Lords who earlier said that it was 1%. As the noble Lord, Lord Kerr, reminded us, that is up to a period up to 2040, so it is taking into account all the potential growth that would take place in the region. After all, it is a tiny fraction that we will get back in comparison to the 4% loss of GDP because of our exit from the European Union.

As we have heard, there are many concerns about the deal, such as on weak provisions on labour rights, which some argue could lead us to importing goods made by exploited labour. However, to echo my noble friend Lord Razzall, I want to concentrate on the area of intellectual property, with concerns that I raised some years ago, when I served as a member of the International Agreements Committee. The whole House has accepted on many occasions that our creative industries have become the powerhouse of the economy, and intellectual property rights and their enforcement are their lifeblood.

As the CPTPP negotiations began, the creative industries, recognising that other countries in the group with less developed creative sectors would have less concern about IP issues, made a number of recommendations about what the Government should seek to achieve. One such issue, as we have heard, was in relation to the patent grace period, raised by the noble Lord, Lord Collins, and by my noble friend. The Government were warned that the CPTPP rules require its members to have a grace period for patents, whereas the European patents convention does not. If we agreed to the rules, it would put at risk the UK’s vitally important membership of the European Patent Office. I am genuinely delighted that the Government were successful in enabling us to set aside the CPTPP grace period provisions—but, sadly, few others of the sector’s asks were achieved. I suspect that that was because we were in the position of being a rule-taker rather than a rule-maker.

When, for instance, we were negotiating with New Zealand for a trade deal, it was between equal partners, and as a result of the pressure we were able to put on, New Zealand agreed to increase its copyright term to 70 years after the death of an author. We had clout in those negotiations. But the sections of CPTPP relevant to copyright term are currently suspended, so, as a start, the sector wanted our Government to press for the suspension to be lifted. However, as the Government had no clout in the negotiations, it was not, so our creators, except where we have bilateral deals, lose out.

In the digital environment, content owners rely on a range of measures to prevent piracy and the resulting loss of economic value, but given that the CPTPP provisions that support these protections are also suspended, the sector again wanted the suspension to be lifted. It was not, so there is no protection of UK content owners in important markets such as Malaysia and Vietnam. The CPTPP has no measures in relation to artists’ resale rights, meaning that UK artists and their estates are unable to receive royalties when their work is sold on the secondary market in CPTPP member countries which have not introduced such a right unilaterally. The sector’s request for the inclusion of ARR went unanswered, and our artists lose out.

Of particular concern is that the CPTPP does not have the same firm view as the UK that creators should have almost exclusive rights on their work, underpinning their ability to generate income. The CPTPP, for example, talks of

“a balance of rights and obligations” in the interests or promotion of technological advances. This, the sector believes—maybe the Minister could comment on this when he winds up—means that technology and social media companies could have undue influence in determining the reasonable rights of creators; again, there is the potential for those creators to lose out.

So, overall, it is not a good deal for our creative industries, many of which are worried that, by signing up to it, we have indicated a willingness to accept a lower level of protection for copyright than exists in the UK, and that it will set a worrying precedent for future negotiations. Another country might say, for example, “Well, you were happy to sign up to that level of protection with them, so why not with us?”

Clause 5 introduces a further concern, which has already been touched on. It introduces an obligation on the UK whereby foreign rights holders and performers, for works within the UK, would receive payment where they currently do not. That is fine, and one would assume therefore that the obligations will be limited to CPTPP country rights holders and performers. But the Bill as it stands, bizarrely, does not limit this extension to CPTPP countries; rather, it provides for secondary legislation that will, in due course, specify the countries to be covered. Will the Minister confirm that consultation on which countries are to be included is going to take place during the passage of the Bill? Does he at least accept that we are being asked yet again to make decisions without having all the facts, and certainly without knowing what the implications will be?

I hope that the Minister will make it clear in his response that the Government accept that the IP chapter of the agreement, including the suspension of some of the IP provisions, is deficient, is a real cause for concern among the creative industries and, frankly, is not what the UK expects from future international trade agreements.

Photo of Baroness Lawlor Baroness Lawlor Conservative 5:34, 21 November 2023

My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Foster of Bath, and his trenchant antidote to the enthusiasms we have heard for this enabling Bill. I look forward to the Minister’s response on copyright.

It is also a great pleasure to welcome the Bill and to welcome my noble friend Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton to this House. It is indeed an honour that we have a Foreign Secretary on our Benches; as other noble Lords have pointed out, it raises the stature of the House. I met my noble friend before he entered Parliament—he very kindly came to brief me on Conservative Party policy in advance of a programme I was appearing on. In his typically courteous and patient manner, he expounded on Conservative Party policy on a range of issues, which convinced me that he was very able and intellectually astute. Not only that, he was charming, patient and courteous and asked if I had any views on these matters. When I gave my views, he smiled and paused and said, “Typically robust, as I would have expected from you”. Well, I am delighted with his typically robust introduction of the Bill and the advantages of the CPTPP. I am truly glad that he regards this as a great opportunity not only for the UK, its trade and the lives of its people, but for other peoples in other parts of the world. I am truly delighted.

I welcome my noble friend’s analysis of the Bill, which, as he explains, will ensure that the UK’s legal house is in order for the CPTPP to come into operation, thus opening one of the world’s fastest growing markets to the UK’s people and businesses. I have an interest to declare as the founder and research director of the think tank, Politeia. I have benefited and learned a great deal from working with specialist economic and trade lawyers. In particular, we have published on how best to exploit the opportunities now open to the UK for free trade since leaving the EU and to help shape the framework for world trade in goods and services, as noble Lords have already mentioned today.

The CPTPP already accounts for around 12% of global GDP, covering 11 countries, as your Lordships have heard, that are party to the treaty. The UK will now be the 12th, and that will bring the figure expected as a share of global GDP to 15%. Today, the US accounts for around 15%, as does the EU, but their shares are declining, whereas those of this region are growing. As my noble friend Lord Lamont pointed out, by 2050 the proportions will be 25% for the CPTPP and 10% for the EU.

Not only will UK businesses benefit from building their export trade; so will people themselves—from a trade deal that heralds a more competitive and wider marketplace, with goods and services meeting ambitious common standards in a rules-based system. It will also allow, as noble Lords have mentioned, the UK to be a force in shaping world trade as a historic champion of free trade, a path forged globally over many centuries, and for which it was known to stand and fight its corner. Good laws that were and remain clear and transparent, and which are enforced in our courts and elsewhere without fear or favour, allowed this country in one major area, financial services, to overcome Amsterdam in the 17th century and Paris in the 18th, to be rivalled today only by another common-law area, New York. Now, with the shift in the balance of global GDP to the Indo-Pacific region, we can help shape the appetitive for free trade and, I hope, be a force for stability and the rules-based trading system that the CPTPP champions. We know that its members stretch from Canada to Peru, from Japan and Singapore to Australia and, of course, Vietnam.

This Bill will enable the necessary changes to UK law, which I welcome, so that all is ready when the treaty comes into operation—the changes needed for IP, government procurement and technical barriers to trade here so that the different conformity assessment bodies of the CPTPP, spread across different CPTPP states, will be treated on an equal footing. The impact assessment prepared by the Department for Business and Trade for the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee explains that a new delegated power is envisaged for such conformity assessment bodies and that Clause 5(3) of the Bill amends the existing delegated powers arrangements in Section 206(4) of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. The new Bill gives the Secretary of State powers in Clause 2(1) to make statutory instruments to amend the subordinate legislation which places conditions on the location of the CDPA’s national treatment of conformity assessment bodies.

On IP, I welcome the extension to the eligibility criteria by which performers can qualify for rights in respect of their performances in the UK. The UK welcomes talent, and the digital provisions of the CPTPP have been welcomed as open and enabling by trade lawyers. The CPTPP departs from the trade deal with Europe primarily in its lighter protection of personal data in favour of a free flow of data. This is an area where Britain will be instrumental in championing the reforms needed to meet our data protection needs. That is another reason for bringing our influence to bear when we become the 12th member.

The CPTPP’s modern provisions on digital trade are designed to facilitate trade and underscore its attention to services trade generally. For instance, on legal services, the CPTPP has been described by one legal authority as

“among the most progressive trading arrangements in the world. Many of the barriers to trade in legal services are behind the border, including domestic regulations around licensing, certification and requalification. The CPTPP specifically encourages member countries to allow lawyers to operate on a temporary fly-in, fly-out basis and on a fully integrated basis with domestic lawyers”.

Before I conclude, may I trespass on the patience of noble Lords for a few moments and mention some of the points my noble friend Lord Trenchard would have made had he not withdrawn from the debate to be part of the group welcoming the President of the Republic of Korea? He has a particular interest in Japan and Anglo-Japanese relations. As the House will know, not only is Japan the largest economy in the CPTPP but the UK will be the second largest. If the US had stayed the course, my noble friend suggests, our accession might not have been quite so significant for Japan. He refers to the time when

“our Japanese friends felt a little hurt that some of us spoke as though our closest friend and partner for business and trade in Asia was China … the former Prime Minister … felt deeply that the old and close relationship between Japan and the United Kingdom, which was badly damaged by the events of the middle years of the 20th Century, should be restored”.

He notes that his successor has played a leading role in pushing for Britain’s membership of this trade partnership and that

“Japan was … keen to have us join, for geostrategic as much as for trade reasons … six of the eleven members are Commonwealth countries and with our accession seven”.

With those wise words from my noble friend, I thank noble Lords for their time.

Photo of Lord Curry of Kirkharle Lord Curry of Kirkharle Crossbench 5:44, 21 November 2023

My Lords, I add my congratulations to those of the noble Baroness, Lady Lawlor, and other noble Lords on the Foreign Secretary’s appointment to this House and his maiden speech. It was an excellent speech, as anticipated. I also commend that his first public engagement was the trip to Ukraine. It was such an important signal.

Like others in this House, I welcome this Bill and the CPTPP. It is clearly a hugely important step forward and crucial in opening up trade opportunities for British companies in significant and growing markets, which we absolutely need to do. I congratulate the Government on this agreement.

My primary interest and concerns lie in the potential impact of the agreement on the agri-food sector. I very much welcome the noble Lord’s reassurance that our standards will be protected in trade deals. He may recall that he and I had interactions on agricultural policy in his previous incarnation. I appreciate that, to some extent, I am repeating concerns that many of us raised during the passage of the Trade Bill through your Lordships’ House, but those concerns are still real and relevant. This agreement is much better on agriculture than the New Zealand and Australia deals, but there are still issues of concern.

I was actively involved in the introduction of voluntary assurance standards across the agricultural sector 30 years ago and personally helped draft the standards for beef and sheep farming. This led ultimately to full supply chain assurance and the establishment of Assured British Meat, which was chaired by the noble Earl, Lord Lindsay. It eventually led to the establishment of Assured Food Standards, which still exists and is responsible for monitoring those standards on farms. This huge voluntary initiative eventually covered all sectors of agriculture and was introduced due to a very real concern about the loss of consumer confidence through the late 1980s and early 1990s in our production systems. There was concern about the use of hormones, sow stalls, the random use of antibiotics and a relentless media focus on animal welfare issues which undermined the integrity of our production systems. There was also concern about the level of compliance with animal welfare standards and with legislation and a lack of transparency.

We banned hormones, growth promoters, the use of sow stalls in pig systems and numerous pesticides for environmental and ecological reasons. The majority of farmers have embraced the need for independent inspections of their farms to verify that the highest standards of animal welfare and husbandry are being practised. We now have global leading traceability systems in agricultural production. These measures have been embraced by farmers and growers, often with huge economic consequences. We have led the world in establishing higher standards to restore and maintain consumer confidence. We cannot put that investment at risk. We cannot jeopardise consumer confidence. We should not accept product from any exporter country that is produced to a lower standard than is acceptable and appropriate in our domestic market.

I assure the House that the noble Lord, Lord Trees, and I have not conferred, but I wholeheartedly support his comments. I also absolutely deny that what I am suggesting is protectionism. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Lamont, on the potential benefit of free trade. British farmers are not in the least afraid to compete with any country in the world, including those in this CPTPP, provided that common standards are consistently applied—I am trying very hard not to use the phrase “level playing field”.

We should aspire to be a global influencer, without being arrogant or complacent, in helping establish international standards—on the environment, greenhouse gas emissions, animal welfare and food safety—that could become a meaningful foundation for global trade. We can punch above our weight, as we have done many times in the past, and have a massive influence on global standards of food production.

I know that the Minister will want to reassure us that this is the Government’s intention, and that the CPTPP agreement includes a provision that deals will conform to our internal standards. However, concerns remain about hormone-produced beef from Canada and Mexico entering our market, the use of sow stalls, farrowing crates, tail docking in pigs, and the use of growth promoters in other countries included in the agreement. There are concerns about the high use of antibiotics and regular application of numerous pesticides that are banned here in the UK, added to which there is a continued concern about palm oil.

I do not want to sound negative, but not only have these concerns the potential to undermine our market competitiveness, but they also put at risk the consumer confidence I referred to earlier, which has been hard-won. Antibiotic use of certain pesticides could also have impact on human health. I hope the Minister will be able to reassure us that rigorous auditing systems will be established to verify that equivalent standards are in place from all countries covered by this agreement. I must advise him, however, that supply chains in many countries are nothing like as transparent as our own, and that the signing of an agreement that standards are in place is not sufficient evidence without a credible audit trail.

Finally, many of us in the Chamber were successful in persuading the Government to put the Trade and Agriculture Commission on a permanent footing following an amendment to the Trade Bill, which was very welcome indeed. It has been established to scrutinise trade deals and for its views to be available for us to consider. I concur with the concerns expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Kerr, on the ability of this House to scrutinise deals. It is deeply regrettable, as the noble Lords, Lord Trees and Lord Foster, have stated, that this debate is taking place before the TAC has produced its report on the CPTPP agreement, to help inform our debate today. Hopefully, we will see the report before the Committee stage of this Bill.

Photo of Lord Livingston of Parkhead Lord Livingston of Parkhead Conservative 5:52, 21 November 2023

My Lords, I would like to join others in welcoming my noble friend Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton to this House. Like many others, I am here due to him. I had the great honour of being appointed as Trade Minister, so it is very appropriate we are talking about trade, particularly as my noble friend Lord Cameron was such a great proponent of trade. I joined him on many export missions around the world. Also, if there was ever somebody considering investing in the UK, the Prime Minister, as he then was, would always make time to see them. The UK during that time was the number one by a very long distance for FDI in Europe. I thank him and I welcome him. I would also like to congratulate him on his outstanding maiden speech; it is not a surprise—it is almost as if he has done this sort of thing before.

Turning now to this Bill, it is, as many noble Lords have commented, an unusual Bill, as it relates to technical implementation and there is a lot of scrutiny that still has not happened. However, I think it is important to look at the agreement as a whole and ask: why does it matter? First of all, as my noble friend Lord Lamont referred to, it matters because free trade is being pushed back upon. We have to speak up for free trade in the UK.

Why is free trade important? First, it is good for consumers—the people who seem to be forgotten so often—who get more choice and cheaper products. Competition is good for consumers. Free trade has been, is, will and would be good for consumers.

Of course, free trade is good for our exporters, giving them access to fast-growing markets and inward investment. It also raises the quality of our own industry. Exporters produce better products; they are more competitive. When they compete against other products coming from around the world, they improve their own standards, again, to the benefit of UK productivity —something which we clearly need.

Another area that often gets forgotten is that free trade is important for the development of countries. While most countries in this agreement—though not all of them—are pretty advanced, any trade agreements we do around the world, particularly the number we have in Africa, will raise standards in these countries and also help with their development. This may be even better than straightforward aid. Trade and aid together make a big difference to countries.

The President of South Korea will be speaking here; we can see what this country has done over the last five decades as a result of becoming a trading powerhouse. This agreement is also important for international relations. We will be getting closer to many countries with which we have shared and similar interests in a very important part of the world.

This particular agreement—I will probably it call “this agreement”, rather than CPTPP, as most people seem to be struggling over it no matter how many times we try and say it; it is not the best marketing brand, I have to grant you—is a good agreement. One of the things we forget is that we are acceding to this agreement; we were not part of creating it. To get such a good agreement is a great credit to the Department for Business and Trade and to the civil servants and the Ministers involved in it. I think it is an excellent agreement. We know, of course, that it gets a big reduction in tariffs on goods. It covers data and critically, services, for the UK. The UK, as has been said before, is the second-largest exporter of services in the world. It is a strength, and this, excellently, covers it.

On government procurement, UK government procurement has been reasonably open for some time, but not all other countries are the same. One of the things I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Frost, on—there were not many—is rules of origin. The rules of origin are very helpful, particularly in building up supply chains through various countries, as it can be seen would happen with this trade agreement. It is very helpful to have cumulative rules of origin.

Technical barriers to trade are also being dealt with as part of this agreement. One thing that is often not understood with trade is that tariffs are, frankly, only part of the story. The barriers to trade in areas of conformity are very important as well, and it is excellent that this is being dealt with and will hopefully be taken further from here.

The agreement also protects UK standards. One thing we should remember is that other countries look at the UK and are not happy about certain things that the UK produces. Haggis is banned in the US; they think, for some reason, that it contains things that are not healthy. It is remarkable. Marmite is banned in many countries. So, while we will be able to maintain our own standards, it is important to understand that it is not only the UK that looks at standards. As we are doing a trade deal with countries like Australia, New Zealand and Japan, I would much prefer that we are looking at maintaining standards together with them, rather than, for instance, with China, or others doing it with China. Perhaps we will set a higher world standard than we might otherwise.

The NHS is also being protected. The accusation that the NHS is going to be privatised is a bugbear that always comes around. We have had it with every single agreement. In every agreement that the UK Government have been involved in, it has been front and centre that the NHS is not an area in which privatisation would form any part of the agreement. In fact, I remember in negotiating TTIP, as it was then, the US Government said that they did not want the NHS to be part of it, the EU said the NHS would not be part of it and the UK Government said the same. Yet in every single discussion we heard, “The NHS is going to be part of it”. The NHS is not going to be part of this agreement either.

I would also like to say something about ISDS, because this is something that gets a lot of criticism, like it is just a bad thing. Why do we have ISDS at all? It is because companies invest in a country in the knowledge that, should that country’s domestic legislation attack them or their country in particular, they cannot always, particularly in certain types of countries, rely on domestic courts to protect them. That is why you have some supranational panel.

The UK has about 90 ISDS agreements already. According to the review from the UN’s trade body, UNCTAD, between 1987 and 2020, 90 UK companies took action under ISDS clauses against countries outside the UK. How many were taken against the UK? One. How many has the UK lost? None. The reason why we do not lose these is that we respect laws and treat countries favourably. That is why we should not be that bothered about Australia and New Zealand—but there are other countries where it is more problematic.

Under that UNCTAD review, Argentina has had 62 cases against it. It has been involved in expropriating without compensation, and that is the sort of thing on which people win cases under ISDS. There are some spurious cases under ISDS that people tend not to win, so just quoting cases where people have tried to take action and not won is not sufficient. I am a big supporter of ISDS and it is good that we have access to it, particularly through a modern ISDS clause.

We know that this not a replacement for the single market, so this is a bit of a spurious discussion. Of course, it is not as big or as good, but it is pointless repeating that. If you look at the countries with which we might want to do trade agreements, the US has put up the “closed” sign on trade deals with anyone. That is a great pity and a great failure of the US. It is about the one bipartisan thing you will see in the US; it does not want to do trade agreements. We will talk about China later; it has particular issues. India will be a slow process; of course we would like one with it. Basically, we are hitting most of the next tier of countries: Japan and Canada, for example.

We may be forecasting only a relatively small enhancement to GDP, but if noble Lords use the word “only” followed by a number involving billions, they have to be a bit careful—it is worth billions. These forecasts are based on relatively static assumptions. Their real focus should be on how we can get more from this agreement than these static assumptions would say. The President of South Korea was not far from here earlier, so it is worth reflecting on the agreement with his country. There was trade agreement between the EU and South Korea in 2011, when my noble friend the Foreign Secretary was the Prime Minister. Since then, our trade with South Korea has gone up by a factor of roughly three times, so trade agreements can make an enormous difference.

What the Government need to do is focus on more than this agreement, with all its perfections and imperfections; however you debate it, it is only a very small part. We need two things. First, we need a proper activation programme for the Government. That is what you would do in business: you would say, “I have an agreement; now, how do we take advantage of it?” Secondly, we need a UK education programme. The FSB, in giving evidence to the International Agreements Select Committee, highlighted that small companies do not know about trade agreements and the opportunities arising from them. We have to get out to see them.

UK middle-sized companies are also laggards. When I was Trade Minister, only one in six UK middle-sized companies exported outside the EU. You may say that that was something to do with the EU, but the figure was one in four in Germany and, even more shockingly, one in three in Italy. UK middle-sized companies need to be helped; the big companies can generally do their own thing.

Generally, businesses are also not aware of what is on offer from the Government. The Government provide a lot of help and support, but they do not make businesses aware of it. It was a failure in my time, and it remains a failure. We need to ensure that there are sufficient trade staff at our embassies and consulates. We need to ensure that there are government-supported trade trips to those countries in the sectors that are important: decide what they are and have a focus there. I would like to hear my noble friend the Minister talk about that later. We need support for trade shows, and year after year, not just once. My noble friend Lord Marland talked about trade envoys; they have done a tremendous job, so we need to reinforce their work in these countries.

Remember that trade is not just for the Department for Business and Trade; it is a pan-government effort, so we need, for example, the Ministry of Justice to push legal services, the Treasury to push financial services and Defra to push food exports—although, perhaps we should steer clear of too many speeches about cheese, as they have not always gone well. We also have to ensure that we put a lot of effort into attracting inward investment from these countries. Canadian and Australian pension funds are two of our biggest inward investors; we have to do more. This is a multi-year effort, and we need to move forward with consistency. I would like my noble friend the Minister to talk about whether the Government will set targets for how much we can do for both FDI and exports.

I know I have taken up too much time, but, finally, we also need to strive to make this agreement wider and deeper. We need to work with more countries. China has been talked about, but it should be remembered that this agreement has four of the Five Eyes countries—or eight of the 10 eyes, as you might call them. I suspect that we, along with Japan, will have similar interests regarding the role of China. Many other countries are interested in joining.

We have to work more on services, and we have to do more on product conformity, so I hope that this enabling Bill will move swiftly through the House and that we can move on to the important things. We do not know what the ceiling is on what can be achieved, but we will be better as a country if we look outwards and upwards, rather than downwards, backwards and inwards.

Photo of Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle Green 6:06, 21 November 2023

My Lords, I join many others in offering the Green group’s welcome to the noble Lord, Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton, and will take a moment to reflect on the last time I shared a platform with our new Foreign Secretary. He might recall that it was at the Oval cricket ground in 2016. He was standing in front of a blue Mini, Harriet Harman was in front of a red Mini, Tim Farron was in front of a yellow Mini and I was in front of a green Brompton bicycle. He might take that as a lesson in what to expect from Green scrutiny of foreign issues: we take a different approach and offer fresh, new perspectives. The Green Party is the future.

In reflecting on that, I respectfully disagree with the noble Lord, Lord Lamont of Lerwick. Ideas from the past—from the 19th and 20th centuries—about free trade and the desirability of more and more trade have gravely depleted our planet, heated our climate and inflicted human rights abuses, poverty and suffering on vulnerable communities and individuals, particularly women and indigenous people. The noble Lord counted the pounds in saying that the

“policy of self-sufficiency comes at a price”.

I point out that the policy of free trade at all costs has come perilously close to costing us the earth and has done huge damage to the health and well-being of billions of human beings.

Further, we are now in the age of shocks. I have noticed that, over my four years in your Lordships’ House, fewer and fewer people talk about going back to normal—some age, presumably, before the 2007-08 financial crash. Global, complex, just-in-time supply chains have gone out of fashion, for good reason. Instead of chasing maximum profits—an extra halfpenny if an item is shipped around the world for one bit of processing and then shipped back again—companies are focusing increasingly on resilience. So should Governments, particularly when it comes to food, in both their actions and policies. Rather than focusing on growth at all costs, they need to focus on security.

I turn to some specific elements of the CPTPP, starting with a point made strongly by the noble Lord, Lord Collins of Highbury, about the investor-state dispute settlement procedure, also known as the secret courts. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said last year that this presented a huge risk to essential action on the climate. A study in the journal Science found that Governments could be liable for up to $340 billion of payouts through ISDS, if they take away the essential environmental measures that we need to keep us all safe. High profile cases have seen Governments challenged by private investors over a phase-out of coal-fired power, bans on offshore exploitation of oil and gas, and moves to strengthen environmental assessments.

In reference to the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Livingston, I say that taking cases and dragging through the ISD process over years at a huge cost has what the IPCC and others have identified as a chilling effect on Governments taking action, whatever the final outcome of the case, years and many millions of pounds or dollars later. That has an impact.

The UK has agreed side letters with CPTPP members Australia and New Zealand to disapply the provisions of the secret courts. The key question I put directly to the noble Lord, Lord Johnson, is about Canada, which is a particular concern. Canadian companies have been particularly litigious, having brought 65 ISDS cases, which could have a profound negative impact on the UK’s right to democratically regulate our own conditions. In October, a letter was sent by 30 NGOs and trade unions and 50 professionals from both the UK and Canada calling for an immediate negotiation for a side letter. Will the Government at least consider that, given the Canadian track record?

I also want to pick up on the points raised by the noble Lord, Lord Curry of Kirkharle—and I speak now as a former resident of Thailand with some awareness of the environmental and farming conditions in south-east Asia. When we look across all the CPTPP countries, we see that 119 pesticides that are banned in the UK are allowed for use in one or more of the group’s members. Many of these countries will be keen to export agri-food products to the UK, and, as the noble Lord, Lord Curry, said, this risks further undermining our farmers after the potentially disastrous impact of the Australia and New Zealand deals. Of course there will be huge pressure, again in Canada, where hormone-treated beef is used, and, as he said, there is huge public concern about that in the UK, for good reason.

I also want to pick up a point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Collins, about the end of the tariff on palm oils in Malaysia. Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch said in March in the context of the CPTPP that palm oil was “a great product”. I am afraid it is not if you are an orangutan, a member of a critical endangered species of our close relatives, who have seen their homes destroyed and once-biodiverse rich forests storing masses of carbon turned into serried ranks of sterile plantations. Indeed, it is also not great if you are a consumer of much of that palm oil in ultra-processed products, the damage from which is being set out right at this moment upstairs, as the All-Party Parliamentary Food and Health Forum hears from Dr Chris van Tulleken, author of the best-selling book Ultra-Processed People. That pretty well describes our current diet, and we certainly do not want to make it worse.

Finally, I want to cite the very useful Trade Justice Movement briefing for today’s debate, which said that this is an important opportunity for parliamentarians to debate the flaws in the UK’s trade scrutiny process and to highlight, as the noble Lord, Lord Razzall, did, that using what I would call whiteout—possibly that is an Australianism—on scores of documents to replace “the EU” with “the UK” does not amount to “a benefit of Brexit”.

As I often say, democracy—it would be a good idea. As the noble Lord, Lord Kerr, highlighted, the opportunities for democratic oversight of this Government’s trade policies are severely lacking. We have to take what opportunities we can to hold the Government to account on many issues, not least our relationships with the rest of the world. I finish by promising the noble Lord, Lord Cameron, that I will be doing that particularly on the development part of his portfolio, on which he as Prime Minister had a positive record, as he did on the subject of antimicrobial resistance. I remind him that, as we learned through Covid, no one is safe until everyone is safe. Antimicrobial resistance is very much an issue that it is in our interest to tackle all around the world.

Photo of Lord Holmes of Richmond Lord Holmes of Richmond Conservative 6:14, 21 November 2023

My Lords, it is a pleasure to take part in this debate; in doing so I declare my financial services and technology interest in Boston Ltd and Ecospend Ltd respectively.

It is more than a pleasure to welcome my noble friend the Foreign Secretary to the Front Bench in his new role. I was fortunate enough to work with the then Prime Minister in the run-up to and during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. He was incredibly supportive, to the extent that on International Paralympic Day and with a year to go to the opening ceremony of the Games, he agreed to play in the centre of Trafalgar Square a game of tennis against the then Mayor of London, Boris Johnson. I will not trouble the House with who was the victor of that sporting clash of titans but, due to the sotto voce classical cursing which was taking place, I feared that at any point either player might pull their Achilles. My noble friend’s support, particularly for the Paralympic Games, enabled us in the summer of 2012 to put on not just such a golden summer of sport but to do something which fundamentally changed attitudes and created opportunities for disabled people in a way that has not been rivalled since. That was so much to do with his leadership as Prime Minister at that stage.

I will touch on four areas: inward investment, the role of our regulators, how we look at the IP issues, and the broader geopolitical elements of this agreement. First, to take a step back, there could barely be a more appropriate time than the year of the 300th anniversary of the birth of Adam Smith to look at this agreement. We need to review and reconsider the “wealth of nations” and how we take a broad and deep view of wealth to ensure that we have a group of trading nations which truly delivers economic, social and psychological benefits for all citizens.

We have never been more connected. We are seldom off our screens, with so-called social media taking up so much of our time, yet we see so many issues of retreatism, populism and nationalism rather than the pressing need to come together to get after so many of the existential challenges which we now face. In essence, all the significant challenges are global in nature. If we wanted to recast ESG, we should see it as “existential, seismic and global”. This agreement comes at the right time and has so much potentially to offer in bringing nations together to solve some of the greatest challenges of any time, never mind just our time.

When the Minister comes to respond, can he say something on the Government’s approach to inward investment? We really need to consider the welcome mat that we need to lay down. When people seek to invest in this nation, they need to know so much about the intricacies and the details of many multiple factors. Does he agree that it would make sense if we had a specific team in the department to deal with that issue so that we could enable such a welcome mat in real time, with all our information, to ensure that we optimise the inward investment that we can pull in?

I come to the role of our regulators—not just financial service regulators but all relevant regulators associated with this agreement. Will my noble friend the Minister agree that they have a role to connect internationally to do everything they can to potentially increase trade between all the nations within this agreement as currently set out?

The agreement talks about prioritising digital services, as rightly it should. The great potential of so much in digital is that barriers to entry for new entrants are so low. You can potentially run a global business from your bedroom with a laptop and a decent broadband connection. Would my noble friend say something about how the Government seek to progress what we were able to push through with the Electronic Trade Documents Act? It was a small Act. I was fortunate enough to be a member of the Special Bill Committee, and I have often described it as the most significant law that no one has ever heard of.

It is the most significant law because I think it is the first time that the UK Parliament—or any Parliament—has legislated for the opportunities of these new technologies, tied with our financial services ecosystem and the extraordinary good fortune of English common law, used in so many jurisdictions around the world because of its certainty, flexibility and ability to develop through precedent and case law. Passing the law was significant, but can my noble friend in concluding say something on how we can connect with all the nations in this agreement to enable all our learnings from passing the ETDA to be shared so other jurisdictions can pass similar legislation—because, as we know, it takes two to trade?

To enable physical documents to be held in electronic format and to have the physical goods, having all the customs and legal documentation and all the financials combined in real time is nothing short of transformational when it comes to international trade. Enabling transfer of title to melt from between 10 to 14 days into mere moments: that is a way to transform trade. I believe this agreement is a good opportunity to parlay with those nations to convey the benefits of passing similar electronic trade document legislation in their jurisdictions.

There is a lot in the agreement concerning IP and copyright. I specifically ask the Minister: as currently drafted, does the agreement offer equal rights for UK performers to assert their copyright and other IP rights in other nations as it does for internationals to assert such rights in the UK? I am not sure it is entirely clear in the current draft.

In conclusion, I support this agreement. In terms of international agreements, it certainly makes the heaviest use of the letter “P”, but it is none the worse for that. As other noble Lords have mentioned, we have had extraordinarily impactful international agreements in the past and they have served us well, but many of them are well in the past in their formulation and construction. It seems an opportune moment to review all these agreements to see how we can achieve the optimum for nations and for all citizens around the world, because the challenges are global and we can solve them only if we work together collaboratively, truly connected, using all our good offices and all that we have learned in the UK, connecting with all our global friends so we can all move forward and truly deliver on wealth, in the deepest, broadest sense, for all nations.

Photo of Viscount Waverley Viscount Waverley Crossbench 6:23, 21 November 2023

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Kerr, referred to the lack of a published trade strategy by this and former Administrations. I am delighted he did so, as many times over I have attempted to have the Government at the very least publish quarterly regional trade commissioner reports. That would go a long way to assist an understanding of the opportunities and challenges that exist in any particular region.

CPTPP is rightly a cornerstone of the UK’s global trade strategy and serves useful as a prompt to be replicated with equal vigour with the important EU relationship-building exercise. Benefits of CPTPP accession can be readily identified: yes, but with qualification, to access to dynamic new markets; yes to ground-breaking digital and data provisions; yes to tariff reductions on goods; and yes to supply-chain diversification, for example. However, when scrutinised, an immediate boost for UK exports for the UK by CPTPP membership is not so immediately apparent, given that much of UK services exports already are to four major CPTPP members, and the UK having bilateral FTAs with three others.

I should state before continuing that I have never had any dealings with China and do not expect to do so. The noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, said the question of China is of central importance, but it is in the future that substantial gains could come, should future CPTPP expansion include China. I recognise that, for the UK, it could present dilemmas on the grounds of geopolitics, human rights and China’s economic system, with prolonged accession negotiations having consequential delay for others waiting in line to join. My view is that participation would be a good thing for China, leading to domestic reform and strengthening its role in the global supply-chain cycle, in addition to creating a more stable and open regional investment environment, with the additional benefits that derive from closer partnership with a family of nations.

That is important to us all, but let there be no doubt that China would have to be fully compliant with all the terms and conditions set out in the terms before us. But better China be de-risked without constant belligerence and be at the table. There are, after all, many shared experiences on which the UK and China could work together. The UK wrote a chapter of history with our past and, without wishing to be perceived as overly self-critical and accused of double standards, ensuring that others consider history and lessons learned is something from which we could all benefit, including China. China’s strategy and practices towards Africa, Sri Lanka and, more latterly, the Solomon Islands are examples.

The UK should not be caught out on a limb. The Government have a well-rehearsed backwards and forward series of strategies over China, which include geopolitical and human rights challenges, with some suggesting that the Government might frustrate China’s CPTPP accession aspirations. There are, however, many in and from China who view the state of the world and believe China may be on the verge of adjusting policies more favourably towards the West. This shift of tides can be felt internally, with indications that China is showing more interest in its bid for CPTPP membership, does not wish to be left behind by major trading partners and is recognising that its bid will require policy changes. This should be encouraged.

It is right however, that the UK be promoting a regional vision, focusing on an open and rules-based trading system, but in lockstep with our economic security. There are many in China of the view that the UK is a country with influence with other stakeholders, such as Japan. It should be remembered that President Xi has pursued improved relations with Japan’s Prime Minister Kishida, placing emphasis on shared economic interests and giving rise to hope that China might be preparing for a degree of flexibility in its talks on CPTPP membership. That preceded the more recent, equally positive, meeting with President Biden in San Francisco.

I suggest that we all watch with keen interest what transpires from the upcoming EU-China summit. We live in a complex world, with world powers not currently aligned on many values. While ideological change can be a long journey for the UK and US, by contrast, China’s power structure can allow for change to happen more quickly. It will be hard for some, but the UK should not be blind to a policy reset and recognise that a by-product of peace and coexistence is international trade. As the noble Lord, Lord Howell, pointed out, it is all about diplomacy and tolerance. That is surely why we are gathered here today.

Photo of Lord Udny-Lister Lord Udny-Lister Conservative 6:29, 21 November 2023

My Lords, I add my congratulations to my noble friend Lord Cameron on taking on the role of Foreign Secretary. Let us never underestimate overseas Governments: they know who has influence in foreign affairs and who does not. They also know when they meet somebody who has influence in this country and overseas, so it is really great news. I have also had a lot of opportunities to see my noble friend Lord Johnson at work on the investment side. I can tell your Lordships that it is mightily impressive.

I welcome this Second Reading, as the CPTPP provides the UK with a truly unrivalled opportunity to deepen our economic ties with some of the world’s most dynamic and progressive economies. Like others here, I am a true believer in free trade. I have therefore felt a lot of excitement in following the UK’s accession to the CPTPP as it has progressed through your Lordships’ International Agreements Committee; the noble and learned Lord, Lord Goldsmith, went into that in some detail.

There are a couple of points that I want to pull out. I think we need—and I welcome clarity on—rules of origin, specifically in areas where existing FTAs are in place, so that UK businesses can ascertain more easily whether there would be more benefit in them trading under localised bilateral agreements or through the CPTPP itself. Further to this, I have highlighted that the Government need to take bolder action in securing more generous local content thresholds in order to protect UK manufacturers. I would be grateful if the Minister could provide some reassurance that mitigating industry’s concerns in these important areas will remain a priority for this Government as the Bill progresses.

By fostering an environment of free and open trade, the CPTPP promotes economic growth and encourages innovation, benefiting UK businesses both large and small. It opens doors for collaboration in areas that are important to the UK economy, such as innovation, technology and research. It is my hope that, through connecting with economies that are at the forefront of technological advancement today, the CPTPP will allow the UK to stimulate innovation and create high-skilled jobs, and allow us to remain a competitive force in the global marketplace.

Picking up on conformity assessments, I am pleased that the Bill will enhance regulatory co-operation between the UK and other countries, for trade agreements of any kind are pointless if they do not seek to reduce costs and bureaucracy for our domestic businesses at every possible opportunity.

We have touched a little on consumer rights. It is important to acknowledge that, as we are acceding to an existing agreement, the Government were limited in seeking the types of amendments that some would have sought; many people have made this point. I, for one, remain entirely satisfied that the Government have proven that they remain committed to ensuring that our high standards and protections, and the rights of the consumer, will be safeguarded in this agreement. However, I urge the Government to seek further joint statements on a bilateral basis, like the joint statement on sustainable agricultural commodity trade with Malaysia, to demonstrate that the United Kingdom’s reputation as a socially responsible and forward-thinking trading partner remains intact.

That is all the good stuff. Now, if I may, I will offer a bit of criticism; the noble and learned Lord, Lord Goldsmith, picked up on this point. We live in an era when technology is advancing at an unprecedented rate. Business needs quick access to the latest information for trade. It is therefore disappointing that our Government’s website, GOV.UK, falls well short in providing easy, accessible trade-related information. My request to my noble friend Lord Johnson is that he will get his department to ensure that our website equals the gold standard of other countries’ websites. I am sure that my noble friend Lord Frost will not be happy to hear this, but even the EU is better than the UK at this—but the accepted gold standard seems to be Australia. Trade agreements are absolutely pointless if businesses are not able to go through the door and trade. It must be easy to trade and get information; it is essential for SMEs that this is the case. This is a real plea that we make sure that all the information we need is easily accessible and understandable.

As we attempt to navigate the choppy waters of international affairs and the increasing complexities of global trade in an increasingly dangerous world, it is important to acknowledge the strategic importance of our accession to this agreement. Although, by the Government’s own assessment, the economic benefits of the UK’s accession will initially be small, our accession to the CPTPP signals our long-overdue tilt to the Asia-Pacific region and, in my view, the starting point of forging stronger bilateral economic and security ties with other major economies, including Japan, Canada and Australia. For the United Kingdom, the CPTPP ensures that our businesses will have increased access to markets that were previously characterised by high tariff barriers. By reducing these barriers, promoting regulatory co-operation and leading the CPTPP nations in promoting innovation and sustainability, our accession offers a significant opportunity for this country. I therefore very much support what I believe to be an exciting journey that we are on.

Photo of Lord Grantchester Lord Grantchester Labour 6:37, 21 November 2023

I begin by joining others in welcoming the Secretary of State to his new position and congratulating him on his maiden speech. His standing can only enhance the reputation of your Lordships’ House.

This trade agreement is one of the residues left from the Department for International Trade, now disbanded and currently within the Department for Business and Trade. The department could well have been characterised then as rather reticent to stand up for UK interests, especially British livelihoods and the prevailing standards to which all domestic production must adhere. It seemed to rush through deals with all countries that trade with the UK. It also persisted in maintaining the extraordinary executive principle and stuck to the CRaG process of endorsing trade deals, originally set up before Brexit, when authority and jurisdiction ultimately rested with the EU. The noble Lord, Lord Frost, was correct in his assessment of the continuing appropriateness of the CRaG process. What prominence does international trade now have within the wider business department, with what budget and what headcount?

I join others in calling on the Secretary of State to outline the timetable and process for the ratification schedule that your Lordships’ House will have following this legislation. As well as being opaque, the CRaG process allows for a vote in the Commons only, following a debate outlining specific concerns. Will the Government at least mirror this process in your Lordships’ House? I thank your Lordships’ Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee for its report on the Bill and ask the Secretary of State to reply further on these technical issues.

The department’s impact assessment does not seem to examine critically the effects of this trade deal on existing trade with others—most notably members of the Commonwealth, seven members of which are in this agreement. In that regard, the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Marland, were well made. The UK has concluded a side letter with Australia and now New Zealand, as CPTPP parties, to disapply these provisions. What percentage of the estimated benefits from concluding the deal will now no longer apply? Of course, the UK has concluded a separate and possibly damaging one-sided trade deal with both Australia and New Zealand. Do this and other agreements rather undermine the merits of this treaty? Will this lead towards preference access arrangements being eroded on certain foods, such as bananas, that are vital to the interests of certain Commonwealth cultures? Certain other provisions, such as investor state dispute settlement provisions, have also raised alarm. Can the Minister commit the Government to seeking a side letter with Canada to disapply the use of such provisions between Canada and the UK and to maintain the UK’s right to regulate in its public interest?

When the House previously debated this agreement following ministerial statements, many questions were asked around the potential membership of China. Can the Minister expand on the process that China would need to follow and what procedures exist for the UK to take a full role to veto such an application if it was required and should it still be necessary to safeguard the integrity of existing relationships? Australia has already said that it would not endorse China’s application while China continues to block the import of Australian goods.

On one of these previous occasions, I asked the then Minister—not the noble Lord, Lord Grimstone, I hasten to add—whether the Government would give a commitment to safeguard trade with Taiwan. As the Minister will know, the UK has an enhanced trade partnership arrangement with Taiwan. I cannot say that my confidence was raised by the reply. Taiwan is one of the most advanced places in its innovations and skills in the technology and communications sector. Can the Minister now give the House confidence that the UK will continue to support the continuing independence of Taiwan from interference from China and safeguard present and future trade with Taiwan in all circumstances? What effect will the CPTPP have on trade with Taiwan?

The noble Lord, Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton, in his opening remarks, greatly emphasised that UK standards would be maintained across all food, animal welfare and environmental conditions. Here I declare my interest as having a dairy farm which is still receiving some residues of payments under the basic payment scheme. I do not entirely share the continuing endorsements that standards will be maintained, since all Ministers repeat this mantra rather too glibly. As my noble friend the shadow Minister asked, what safeguards will there be to follow up on these statements? The Government have already resisted amendments to underpin this commitment on a statutory basis, insisting that present agencies such as the Food Standards Agency exist for this purpose.

During the passage of the then Trade Bill, the Government conceded the appointment of a Trade and Agriculture Commission, opposed by the noble Lord, Lord Curry, who spoke about this well in his remarks. However, the then Secretary of State requested advice from the TAC only in mid-July this year. The TAC call for evidence concluded only in mid-August, and its report on this trade deal has yet to be published. That report will be important for your Lordships’ House to consider carefully. Can the Minister commit to replying to that report, publishing that reply immediately and, most notably, it being available for this House to study in Committee, to inform our deliberations?

As has been noted, your Lordships’ International Agreements Committee also has an ongoing inquiry. Surely it is important that all these committees and agencies be engaged in the process before the Government fully endorse any trade deal. Full transparency of all evidence and effects is paramount in all legislation and should be included in all impact assessments. In this regard, the geographical indicators provisions in the agreement are important and have some alarm attached to them.

Are there any independent inspection regimes that will be conducting investigations on the various countries party to the deal? Will the UK rely only on the exporting countries’ institutions to undertake certification of standards? Will any authority in this country be set up to assess these agencies for recognition and be able to inspect and assess the relevant countries’ assessments of their standards and whether these are necessarily sufficient and accurate? How would such arrangements work? In this, I recognise the lengths that the EU pursues in its assessment of standards that would be needed to qualify access in the EU. What powers would the Food Standards Agency have once a complaint was received regarding an imported product? I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Trees, for his remarks on this point. What protections will be written into the final agreement —that no divergence of supplies from countries outside of this agreement, such as China, can be re-routed to the UK, via intermediaries such as Vietnam? There are still many concerns to be addressed.

In concluding, I welcome all opportunities to increase trade and any advantages that this country can gain through exports and improving the choice and quality of goods that can be imported into this country. However, let us get the process right and be sustainable. The terms of trade must be beneficial and allow for greater prosperity for everyone, including our footprint on the planet. The Department for Business and Trade needs to enhance present support for business to secure these benefits—and that includes agriculture.

Photo of The Earl of Effingham The Earl of Effingham Conservative 6:46, 21 November 2023

My Lords, I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton, on his excellent maiden speech.

I am speaking at Second Reading because I support this Bill and the sensible changes that it makes to our domestic laws, which will enable us to take full advantage of this agreement. I am particularly keen to talk about the benefits to our SMEs, both exporters and importers, how it will enhance our trading relationship with Peru, and the multiple ancillary benefits to the wider UK community. I refer the House to my entry in the register of interests.

Prior to having the honour and privilege of joining your Lordships’ House, I spent over 20 years advising and winning business from around a third of the companies in the FTSE 100. I greatly enjoyed my trips to Derby to see Rolls-Royce and Farnborough to see BAE, two of our leading UK exporters. For the past few years, my attention has migrated to SMEs. This focus has made me realise that while our large, listed businesses of course make amazing contributions to the economy and employment, SMEs are the lifeblood of our nation. I speak daily to these firms and am constantly dazzled by their entrepreneurial spirit, their determination, their grit and their ability to innovate and adapt on what can often be a very bumpy ride. It is these enterprises which we hope will grow to be the future Rolls-Royces and BAEs. We should do everything that we can to support them. The Bill and the agreement behind it aim to achieve that.

The Minister—my noble friend Lord Johnson of Lainston—enjoys statistics, so please allow me to share some. UK exports are now at the highest level that we have seen in our history, £882 billion year on year as of September 2023. The Government’s strategy is to achieve £1 trillion of exports by 2030, so we are comfortably on track to exceed that target. In 2023, 84% of the businesses directly supported by our excellent UK Export Finance—some 529 companies—were SMEs. This is the highest annual figure on record and represents a steady uptrend in UK Export Finance’s support for SMEs since 2019.

These numbers are significant and to be proud of, but I will give you what I believe is the most important statistic of them all. If you were to go to Companies House today, you would find around 5.4 million firms registered. Of those, only 8.8% export at all. Through the Bill and agreement, we have an opportunity to increase that number significantly. We are starting from a low base, so it is much easier to incrementally grow that 8.8% to, let us say, 20% and higher in the longer term. This will deliver major benefits to the UK economy and workforce.

CPTPP membership will give us access to 15% of global GDP and to some of the world’s most material markets in the Americas and Asia-Pacific. I can see only upside to helping our great UK companies export, and the Bill and agreement will play an important part in that. The Institute of Directors’ feedback on the Bill was:

“Anything that makes it easier for British businesses to export is good news”.

I should also flag the benefits to our importers. Only a few weeks ago, I was speaking to a business owner who is investigating how to import chemicals from one of the CPTPP countries to manufacture his product in the UK. He needs to diversify his supplier base and the Bill will help give him greater access to the global supply chain.

Finally, due to my involvement with Peru, allow me to give you some examples of how both the UK and Peru will benefit from this agreement. Tariffs of 11% will be eliminated on UK exports of beef and tariffs of mostly 6% will be eliminated on UK exports of poultry. At the same time, we in the UK can take advantage of cheaper import prices for Peru’s incredible and diverse array of fresh fruit and juices, which I personally enjoy, as well as chemical and manufacturing inputs to name but a few. UK business visitors will enjoy an extended length of stay in Peru and we will enjoy greater transparency for British investors in Peruvian companies and their directors.

Our exports to Peru were £370 million in 2022, which represented a 46% increase year on year. There is no reason why we cannot continue to grow strongly. I hope, as part of the CPTPP, we will expand and continue to work together in sectors such as mining, energy, finance and tourism.

I truly believe that we have an opportunity here to help our FTSE and AIM companies, our SMEs, our exporters and our importers to create large amounts of new UK jobs over time and collaborate with our partners in the CPTPP, so that everyone benefits.

Photo of The Earl of Sandwich The Earl of Sandwich Crossbench 6:53, 21 November 2023

My Lords, trade has always been a subtle and underrated form of foreign policy and, before he leaves, I welcome the new Foreign Secretary to the House for this debate, and I wish him well. He has just returned from Ukraine and I hope that, as a by-product of the war with Russia, this Government will work more closely with Europe, not only in defence but in trade and international development.

I recognise that this legislation is technical but, like others, I have questions about where the Bill fits within the UK’s trade scrutiny policy, and I wish to seek clarity on certain aspects of the agreement. I particularly acknowledge the help of Trade Justice Movement.

It is nearly a year since I left the International Agreements Committee, but I well remember our first meetings with the Minister—he is very friendly—which were chaired by the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter. I am glad to see her, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Goldsmith, back today. I also welcome back the Trade Minister as one of the Government’s survivors from the last 12 months. Today I shall take him back to some of our previous conversations about scrutiny, deforestation and food standards. I must also say that we all miss the unique personality of the late noble and learned Lord, Lord Morris, who was nothing less than a stalwart on the subject of agriculture and especially the too often ignored interests of the Welsh uplands.

With regard to scrutiny, as others have said, I regret that the CRaG process by which the CPTPP and other trade treaties are ratified remains unfit for purpose. Parliament should have more input into shaping the UK’s negotiating objectives and should have sight of negotiating texts as talks progress. That is important behind-the-scenes business. There is international precedent for this in the US Congress. I agree with my noble friend Lord Kerr that we need a debate on trade strategy. That point has been made already.

I understand that accession to the CPTPP is a little different from the negotiation of a new trade treaty, but increased scrutiny will improve and not hinder our trade outcomes. Red lines established by Parliament could strengthen the hands of negotiators, so I hope the Minister will give us some reassurance that there will be a vote on a substantive Motion on accession and that it will be held in another place during the CRaG period.

As the noble Lord, Lord Foster, said, there is also a procedural question regarding timing, given that CRaG has not yet commenced. We are debating legislation that implements an agreement to which Parliament has not yet consented and on which the committee is still taking evidence. It does not have to be like this; is it not rather illogical? Can the Minister explain why the Government have introduced the Bill so far ahead of CRaG? It could have been the other way round.

On NGOs, the Minister may recall his response to a Written Question that he gave me in July: that the department had carried out one of the most thorough consultation exercises ever. But this is not the story I hear from the NGOs. They refer to the system set up originally by the DIT to generate dialogues, such as the trade advisory groups or TAGs, which are still not working properly. Does the Minister agree that these systems must be improved if we are going to have outside opinion?

On specific aspects of the agreement, there is still widespread concern about the effect of reduced tariffs, for example on expanding palm oil imports leading to deforestation. The noble Baroness, Lady Bennett, mentioned this. It is occurring in several member states, notably Indonesia and Malaysia. I have read the joint declaration on sustainable agriculture with Malaysia, which is obviously —at least potentially—a notable advance. I expect that the Minister will mention that.

I have also read the impact assessment, which says:

“The agreement is not expected to have a significant impact on wider environmental issues, such as biodiversity” and “deforestation”, but it admits that Malaysia has suffered a huge 29% fall in tree cover over the last 20 years, owing to agricultural commodities such as palm oil and, of course, international trade. Can the Minister explain how the department can monitor British companies and the many supply chains that are engaged in those giant operations? Does he know of companies practising due diligence in the CPTPP countries? It may be an unequal agreement. In the countries concerned, such as Malaysia, should the Government work more closely with local NGOs, which often have experience on the ground and the capacity to work in partnership?

As for food standards, we shall have to wait for the TAC and the FSA. I do not envy them examining so many countries. The noble Lord, Lord Trees, mentioned veterinary standards, and the noble Lord, Lord Curry, and the noble Baroness, Lady Bennett, mentioned divergent standards on pesticides. Are the Government concerned that other member states will gain a competitive advantage from these divergences? The noble Lord, Lord Collins, mentioned earlier that there is also deep disquiet from the Canadian meat industry regarding the UK’s regulations on hormone-treated beef. What are the prospects of the UK making concessions in this area?

I turn to human rights. I heard the new Foreign Secretary’s reassurance, but I have to take the Minister back to the India free trade agreement, on which the committee took evidence during the previous year. We had an interesting session with the department’s negotiating team and I vividly recall the lead negotiator’s attitude to human rights. It was simple: this agreement is about trade, not human rights. Human rights was not in his vocabulary, and he was the negotiator. I do not think he had even read the impact assessment. In case this negotiator is still representing the UK, I think I must repeat what some of us said at the time: trade is not just about finance and investment. It is a relationship between states based on a range of criteria such as climate, standards and moral values. These issues are constantly discussed between friends. They are important even when the UK economy badly needs—as we know it does—support from trade agreements such as the CPTPP. They are not in contradiction with one another.

Finally, on 16 July there was a joint statement with five members of the CPTPP on the environment and sustainable development. It ignored human rights. It mentioned labour rights and indigenous rights in passing, but there was nothing about governance or the rule of law, let alone supply chains and minority rights.

There is a lot to catch up with, and we look forward to subsequent debates at the stages of the Bill. I thank the Minister for his listening powers and I look forward to his answers to at least some of these questions.

Photo of Lord Lansley Lord Lansley Conservative 7:02, 21 November 2023

My Lords, I apologise that I was required in other meetings for much of the afternoon; I look forward to reading many of the contributions. I did have the pleasure of hearing my noble friend the Foreign Secretary and the opening speeches. It is 34 years since he and I first worked together, and I look forward to resuming the pleasure of working with him in this House.

One of his actions as Prime Minister was to nominate me to chair the UK-Japan 21st Century Group, so I declare my registered interest as co-chair. While I was listening to my noble friend Lord Lamont, I thought, happily, that I could reduce the scope of my speech by simply saying that I agree with him about the benefits that accrue to this country from free trade agreements, of which this is one, and the particular benefits associated with the opportunities in such a fast-growing part of the world in terms of services trade and digital trade. The CPTPP is the most advanced regional agreement on digital trade, but countries within it with which we have bilateral agreements, such as Singapore, give us hope that CPTPP will be, once more, a leader in developing digital trade. I very much look forward to that. That will, no doubt, be even more advanced if we bring Korea into the CPTPP in future. With the President of the Republic of Korea here today, I am sure that will have featured in our discussions.

I will not detain the House very long, and there is a risk of me repeating what has been said by others, but I want to say a number of things about the process, and the technical characteristics of the Bill, which I hope we will return to at subsequent stages.

First, on the process, I was rather heartened by the discussions we had last week; I am grateful to my noble friend the Minister for those discussions and his subsequent letter. It is important for us—I speak as a former member of the International Agreements Committee and following the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, who was also a member of that committee—to recognise that we had an opportunity to report in preparation for the negotiations on the negotiating mandate. That led, as the noble Lord, Lord Collins of Highbury, rightly said, to some steps in the negotiating process that managed to deal with one or two of the problems that would otherwise have been in the document—the treaty itself—and that is rather important for us. I must confess that I have to depart from the noble Lord; I think the fact that we are not seeking to derogate from the investor-state dispute settlement provisions is a very good thing. We are a country that invests very widely, and is invested in very widely. My Japanese friends invest substantially here and around the world, and our accession to the CPTPP would have been much more difficult if we had sought to depart from ISDS provisions. As a country, we have never been successfully challenged on an investor-state dispute settlement, but I think many British companies that invest around the world would wish us to be participating in and promoting ISDS.

On the ratification process, we are still getting used to this after we left the European Union; part of the structure of that is waiting for the Trade and Agriculture Commission to report. On the assumption that it does so in the next few weeks and the Government respond relatively promptly, that should then—after a delay of maybe up to 10 days—permit the Government to notify the accession to CRaG under the legislation and give an opportunity for the International Agreements Committee, the chair of which I can see in his place, what it expects, which is an opportunity to report on the treaty and to ask the House either to consider it or to have a debate. That might reasonably all be completed before 16 July 2024, which is one year after the signature and, therefore, within the timeframe to which we have committed ourselves to complete the ratification process.

It is not easy to work out how these things work, but I think it is quite helpful for both Houses to decide whether they support ratification at a point when they have heard from the Trade and Agriculture Commission and their relevant Select Committees, and when the House has decided whether it is happy to put the necessary domestic legislation in place. That is what this Bill is about: putting the necessary domestic legislation in place. In that respect, when we come to debate it on Report and particularly in Committee, I hope we can explore a few issues.

First, as my noble friend knows, the provisions on procurement in Schedule 2 go wider than what is presently in the Procurement Act. Noble Lords who were involved in that Act will think it was not very long ago that we wrote all that stuff, and now we are having to change it. I think we will need to know why we are changing it and appear to be widening it. I am not concerned with the timing because, if that Act does not come into force until October 2024, we already have amendments to the Public Contracts Regulations that allow the necessary steps to have been taken. I think that is a legitimate question for us to debate on this Bill, because the language is different.

Secondly, noble Lords involved in these negotiations will be aware that we secured commitments on the part of Japan and Australia to enable us to have geographical indicators accepted in those countries. In this legislation we are extending what is in effect geographical indicator status to other CPTPP countries. I hope this will be an opportunity for us to ensure that we are making progress in a reciprocal fashion, because geographical indicators are very important, whether it is Lincolnshire sausages or any other product.

The final issue I want to mention is copyright. It is a difficult area, but I hope noble Lords who are perhaps more expert in it than I am will be able to explore why we again seem to be extending a power for Ministers to enable a country to be treated as the qualifying country, which will then allow rights holders to access what is called equitable remuneration in this country as though they were UK rights holders, in a way that appears to be wider than necessary for CPTPP countries and rather wider than has been the case in the past.

Those are simply issues that I hope we will have the opportunity to turn to in Committee, but I do not want any of them to detract from the fact that I very much welcome the CPTPP accession and all that goes with it, and the potential it offers. I am very glad that the Government have brought this legislation forward for that purpose.

Photo of Lord Ashcombe Lord Ashcombe Conservative 7:10, 21 November 2023

My Lords, I am very grateful to be able to speak in the gap. The UK’s accession to the CPTPP is a golden opportunity to usher in a new era of trade relations in some of the world’s more dynamic and fast-growing economies. This Bill is to be welcomed.

I will focus on the specialty insurance sector, and I refer to my interest as an employee of Marsh, as stated in the register. Without insurance, much of this trade would not be able to happen. The capital which comes into the London market of specialty insurance and reinsurance is highly international and highly mobile. Almost 70% of it is foreign owned and 85% of market income is earned by companies domiciled outside the UK.

Now, at the advent of this new trading frontier, is the time to consider what more government, regulators and industry could do together to both access these fast-growing markets and encourage and welcome investment from these countries to the UK. The UK has a unique offer to CPTPP nations, many of which are at heightened risk from natural disasters and other risks. We are the only market that has the concentration of capital and expertise to protect nations against existential threats to their economies and people. Our offer is not replicated anywhere else in the world.

The financial regulators were given an international competitiveness objective within the Financial Services and Markets Act. CPTPP membership now offers us the chance to put theory into practice, but this will happen only if the financial regulators play an active role in deepening the UK’s relationships with our CPTPP partners, co-ordinating with regulators and businesses to promote cross-border trade.

What the industry would like to see is a welcome mat, as described by my noble friend Lord Holmes and alluded to by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Goldsmith: a dedicated and joined-up function within government that can create a coherent and co-ordinated pathway—a one-stop shop—for overseas investors wanting to come to the UK, set up businesses, create jobs and invest across the country. This is not some untried and untested idea; many of our closest competitors have teams with similar arrangements, including the Bermuda Business Development Agency and the Monetary Authority of Singapore. My home was in Ireland originally, where its foreign direct investment agency is making notable progress in encouraging high levels of inward investment and consequent employment—modest, maybe, by UK standards, but very important to Ireland.

Business as usual is no longer good enough. Let us seize the opportunity as the first new joiner of this dynamic trading bloc to welcome new and emerging economies to industries such as the London insurance market and show them exactly why we are a world leader in risk. I therefore ask my noble friend the Minister two questions. First, will he comment on what discussions he is having with UK regulators and what expectations he is setting about the role they will play within CPTPP structures to encourage cross-border trade in financial and professional services as our relationships within the bloc deepen? Secondly, will he look at how we can build this welcome mat approach, as it will require cross-departmental working between his department and others?

Photo of Lord Fox Lord Fox Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Business) 7:14, 21 November 2023

My Lords, as my noble friend Lord Razzall alluded to, this has been a longer debate than it probably would have been had not the Secretary of State, who has now departed the Chamber, been involved. However, it has been a very interesting debate, and I dare say never have so many “t”s, “p”s and “c”s been used in your Lordships’ House—most of them in the right order, so very well done all of you.

Despite the clumsy branding, this really is an important development in UK international trade. It must have been important because the noble Lord, Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton, chose it for his charming, graceful and amusing maiden speech, for which he has received universal plaudits, to which I add my name. It is a shame that he had to leave before the denouement of this debate, but I am sure he will be beating a path to Hansard in the morning. We look forward to many opportunities to hear from him and ask him questions in your Lordships’ House.

We heard from the chair of the International Agreements Committee, of which I am also a member, about how we should be scrutinising this treaty, and we heard many other pleas from your Lordships about how we have an opportunity to have meaningful and proper scrutiny. One thing that has not been noted is that the change in the machinery of government, to which the noble Lord, Lord Grantchester, referred, has changed the Select Committee structure, which means that we no longer have a designated trade Select Committee, which further dilutes the amount of scrutiny we are getting.

This has been a proxy debate: we have been debating the treaty without any of the proper information we need, and many of us have been somewhat ignoring the actual substance of the debate. We thank the noble Lord, Lord Lansley, for belatedly pushing our nose to the grindstone while looking at the technical issues in the Bill, which we are supposed to be debating. However, the debate we are having about this Bill is more of a debate than the Commons got on the Australian deal. That was promised and never given, so we have to take the opportunities when we can get them, but we should not be begging Ministers and the Government for Parliament’s right properly to scrutinise this really important trade deal.

I turn to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. The name is an indication of the journey it has taken: with every step it has made, another letter has been added to its acronym. We should also note that it is, uniquely, a trade organisation designed by the United States but of which the United States is likely never to be a member. However, it was interesting to hear last week the US Chamber of Commerce—its largest business organisation —berate successive US Governments for not doing trade deals, so you never know; maybe something will turn up.

However, we should bear in mind that design hand that went into this organisation, because there are differences between a bloc with essentially US systems and processes, and us, with essentially EU systems and processes. It was interesting to hear the noble Lord, Lord Trees, set out the gradient between those two ways of looking at standards. I believe that we will see more of this. The noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, also referred to those differences and disparities. It is something we should be very concerned about and, if we have the opportunity to scrutinise it, we should get under the skin of it.

We know that the Government’s projected benefits for this treaty are relatively tiny—everybody has mentioned that. Frankly, if they were aiming to meaningfully boost trade the Government would have been better employed reversing our decline in exports to Germany, where we have fallen from number two to number nine. Perhaps, given the dexterity of our Minister, he could even try to do both at once.

With this backdrop of only a small nudge in trade, it is no wonder that so many in your Lordships’ House have emphasised the politics and the new focus on Asia-Pacific. I see this point and recognise its importance; I think we all do. We look forward to further discussions on this and its implications—politically, economically and in security terms.

Going back to the case at hand, during the run-up to the accession to the Australian FTA, there was much concern regarding agriculture. There were and are still significant concerns that in order to get that deal, the UK conceded too much on animal welfare and environmental concerns. As we have heard from the noble Lords, Lord Trees and Lord Curry, there are similar concerns that UK farming standards could and would be compromised by this agreement. Additionally, UK pesticide standards could and would be undermined. There are 119 pesticides that are banned in the UK that are allowed to be used in one or more CPTPP member states. We are back to this gradient again—to the differences in the way standards are operated in our respective organisations.

The Australian deal kicked off this spring. What have we learned so far from the Australian experience? Perhaps the Minister could set out how he sees reciprocal opportunities for British farmers, not just in Australia but in the whole of the CPTPP, and what his department and Defra will be doing to organise themselves so that we can take advantage of those opportunities and get some British food on CPTPP plates. As many noble Lords have noted, this will need a bit of export oomph.

Many of us watched with admiration how Australia stood up to the Chinese when China launched politically motivated and punitive tariffs on some of its products. The Aussie response was not to launch tit-for-tat tariffs against the much bigger China; instead, it weathered the storm by getting out and selling its products to other places and other countries. Now China has started to withdraw those tariffs.

Looking beyond agriculture, this country needs to be able to be on the front foot, like Australia was, when it comes to trade. There seems to be a lot of work to do. We have heard from the noble Lord, Lord Udny-Lister, and others about what needs to be done and the inadequacy of where we are now. As we have heard, small and medium-sized companies make up half the economy. When we were taking evidence from their representatives, it was clear that they do not feel they are getting the support and the help they need to get the activation energy they need to export things.

It was hard enough when Brexit happened; indeed, many small businesses have stopped exporting because they have not got over that barrier. But getting their products to Vietnam is a whole order of magnitude harder, and the Government need to be at least one order of magnitude, if not two, better at giving them the help they need. So can the Minister acknowledge that there is a huge amount of work to be done by his and other departments? If he does not, the export opportunities will not be taken up and, frankly, what is the point of a trade deal if you do not trade?

The risks of inadequately exploiting the opportunities extend beyond domestic farmers. The first thing I will point out is the treatment of workers, which was mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Collins. While the Government are flirting with ILO violations with their strikes Bill, these infractions pale in comparison with those seen in countries such as Brunei, Mexico and Vietnam. How do the Government intend to deal with non-ILO-compliant economies and their products?

Meanwhile, there is a real danger to the UK’s commitment to the sustainable development goals, in that they could be undermined by the CPTPP. Since Brexit, the UK has been mindful of developmentally sensitive products, including bananas—here we are in “fruit territory”. We have to be careful to maintain the value of trade preferences when designing unilateral trade policies, including the UK’s global tariff and the recently launched developing countries trading scheme.

In recent bilateral and multilateral trade negotiations, however, there has been a less consistent approach. The market access schedules for bananas—I am using bananas as one example of such products—negotiated as part of the UK’s accession to the CPTPP included concerning concessions. As I am sure the noble Earl opposite knows, the UK granted a reduced tariff to both Peru and Mexico, and slightly lowered concessions for other CPTPP members. While at present Peru and Mexico are relatively marginal suppliers to the UK market, the change threatens to set a precedent. The same point was made earlier—if they do it for one, when we are negotiating another deal, perhaps with a central American country that has a much stronger and larger banana export market, we are undermining the market access provided via economic partnership agreements to least developed countries. This jeopardises our sustainable development goals. Will the Minister comment on how that is being addressed and what his department expects to happen in that area?

The UK economy has a much larger service sector, as we have heard, than its manufacturing sector. FTAs traditionally stumble when it comes to the services part of exports and imports; I would like the Minister to reflect a little on that. In particular, I would like to look at where we stand on future mutual recognition of qualifications, because services are driven by things such as mutual recognition of qualifications. It would be good if the Minister could explain where we are. Will that be dealt with through CPTPP or will there need to be bilateral or other ways of actually delivering that?

Another way that services work is through short-term visits by our professionals into those territories. It is not 100% clear to me where we are on short-term visas to facilitate that kind of work.

The noble Lord, Lord Lansley, set out some issues on data localisation. It is important to have some idea of how far we can take this, because that will be the blood that makes services flow through the system.

My noble friends Lord Razzall and Lord Foster set out really important concerns regarding the IP and GI sections of this Bill. I hope the Minister has been listening and takes on board the concerns we have here.

The noble Lord, Lord Lansley, is also correct on procurement. We spent a lot of time talking about procurement; we suffered more amendments from a Government than I think has ever happened before, yet straight away the Government are turning their backs on some of what we decided. That is not unique, by the way—in the negotiations for the Swiss free trade agreement for mutual recognition of qualifications, they also turned their backs on aspects of the Professional Qualifications Bill that we also worked on. There is a disconnect along the line here sometimes; we spend many hours scrutinising legislation and then a bunch of trade negotiators go off and ignore the legislation. Why and how is this allowed to happen? There is a bigger question, as well as the individual question that the noble Lord, Lord Lansley, raised.

I look at the time and I have already talked for too long, so I will sit down. I look forward to the Minister’s response to this debate and to Committee stage. But, most of all, I look forward to us having meaningful scrutiny of this treaty.

Photo of Lord McNicol of West Kilbride Lord McNicol of West Kilbride Shadow Spokesperson (Business and Trade), Shadow Spokesperson (Scotland) 7:29, 21 November 2023

My Lords, it is always the detail. This afternoon we have had many thoughtful and detailed contributions for which I thank your Lordships. Let us have a look at the detail but, before I start, I first welcome the new Foreign Secretary to his place—or maybe not to his place, but we understand why he is not with us for these closing remarks. My only interaction with the new noble Lord, Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton, was through the National Citizen Service, which he set up when Prime Minister. I had the privilege of replacing my noble friend Lord Blunkett on the NCS board and of working with it, its chair Brett Wigdortz, the CEO and the staff to deliver many fantastic programmes and opportunities for young people across the country. NCS worked and continues to do so, and I wish it all the best.

As Nick Thomas-Symonds MP, then our shadow Trade Minister, said when debating the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership earlier this year:

“We on the Labour Benches are pro-trade, pro-business and pro-worker. Accessing new markets is essential, and it is particularly welcome because of the Government’s dreadful record on trade. The Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts that UK exports are due to fall by 6.6% this year, which is a more than £51 billion hit to the UK economy”.—[Official Report, Commons, 17/4/23; col. 44.]

It is not a great starting point when, on the Government’s own measures, as we have heard, the economic benefits of joining the CPTPP are negligible, adding a projected £2 billion, or less than 0.08%, to UK GDP over the next 10 years, so it is no wonder that we have rightly concentrated on some of the political benefits which we share. No amount of minor trade agreements will make up for this Government’s economic mismanagement.

In saying that, like many across the House I welcome the economic ties with Canada, east Asia and the Pacific. In line with the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Lamont, earlier, I say that it is vital that the UK plays a role in ensuring that development in one of the fastest-growing regions in the world benefits British business, British consumers and British workers. Lowering barriers to trade is good news, but there is a balance to be struck, and we have heard some of that across the House. Hearing from business organisations, it is clear that CPTPP membership will bring some noticeable improvements, particularly around digital trade and rules of origin for manufacturers.

I welcome the opportunity to speak today, but I am conscious of the fact that what we are discussing in the Bill is not the agreement itself but rather a handful of changes in domestic law to facilitate what has already been signed up to by the Government. I join my noble and learned friend Lord Goldsmith in calling for a full debate across your Lordships’ House. It seems clear to me that, in this day and age, Parliament needs and deserves a greater role in structuring, scrutinising and ratifying trade deals.

A number of the clauses in the Bill pertain to the devolved Administrations. It is always a bit strange when winding up trying to find something new. I do not think we have had many questions about the devolved Administrations, so they are possibly something new for the Minister. What engagement has his department had with the Welsh Assembly and the Scottish Government? What stage are we at with seeking legislative consent from the devolved authorities? Are we seeking concurrent powers? Are His Majesty’s Government listening and responding to any of the devolved authorities’ concerns?

Without such powers for all the Parliaments of the UK, trade will remain reserved for members of the Cabinet and, as we have seen in recent years, too often trade policy has been dictated by Conservative leadership hopefuls looking for a quick, but ultimately insubstantial, win. Just look at the free trade agreements with New Zealand and Australia which predated this. Our farmers in a decade’s time will suffer as a result of the hastily negotiated FDAs—I use “negotiated” in the loosest possible sense. At these very Dispatch Boxes, when discussing the FTAs with New Zealand and Australia we were told not to worry and that there would be no detriment to British farmers or our manufacturers. That is now patently untrue.

While the Tories are looking for the headlines, we need to look at the detail, and your Lordships’ House is particularly good at going through the fine print. What do we find there? In most of the areas, CPTPP membership does not in itself represent an improvement on pre-existing bilateral deals. Multiple organisations have pointed to potential issues with regard to the environment, food standards and workers’ rights. Let me take them in order.

With regard to the environment, the impact assessment of the Government’s Department for Business and Trade states on page 79 that:

“Deforestation in CPTPP countries, where it occurs, has been driven by production of commodities such as cattle, timber and palm oil. The majority of CPTPP members are not considered to be at risk of deforestation, except Malaysia which has experienced a 29% reduction in tree cover over the last 20 years. This has been driven by agricultural commodities which accounted for 93% of Malaysia’s tree cover loss since 2001, implying that international trade plays a key role in the country’s deforestation”.

What protections are being put in place to ensure that Malaysia’s deforestation is not exacerbated?

Like many civil society organisations, environmental groups and trade unions, I also have concerns over signing up to the outdated ISDS mechanisms which the Government have thus far wisely avoided in most free trade agreements. We must ensure that the right to regulate in the public interest for the sake of environmental protections, food standards and workers’ rights is protected by excluding ISDS terms through side letters. It is not too late, as the Secretary of State seemed to argue a few months ago, to seek similar agreements with countries such as Canada. British businesses will surely be asking why, if the Government can cut the red tape on imports from Brunei, they cannot cut the red tape that is strangling many SMEs and their exports, or attempted exports, to the European Union.

I turn to workers’ rights and ILO standards. Many unions globally have expressed concerns that the CPTPP has no effective mechanism to enforce fundamental ILO standards. Can the Minister share with your Lordships whether there are mechanisms? If so, what are they, as a number of CPTPP members have widespread labour rights abuses violating ILO conventions on freedom of association and collective bargaining, as we have heard? As the noble Lord, Lord Trees, said, it is not our standards or our protections that are the issue. It is the protections and the standards of other countries and them being used to undermine and undercut businesses within the UK.

What we need is a consistent and thought-through approach to reassure the public and companies, both here and abroad, that we are truly a nation open for business. As my friend the shadow Secretary of State for Business and Trade said last week:

“The next Labour government will finally publish the Trade White Paper this Government have failed to do, one that businesses will have shaped so they can have confidence when exploring new markets, and crucially that strategy will be connected to our industrial and foreign objectives”.

What we need is a Government with an industrial strategy that not only lowers the barriers to trade worldwide but supports and facilitates British companies in their desire to export abroad. I disagree with many of the comments made by the noble Lord, Lord Livingston of Parkhead, but a number of his points hit the nail on the head. We need to support more trade shows; through the Department for Business and Trade, the Government need to support our manufacturing abroad. We need to take advantage of these trade deals and accessions but, as he rightly said, that needs to come through support from the department.

While we are discussing trade, I would like to put another myth to bed. The Government have argued that the non-binding memorandums of understanding signed with individual American states are some kind of Brexit benefit. This is patently not true—they could have been signed anyway—but, as the FT senior trade writer Alan Beattie wrote last week:

“Mind you, when it comes to signing pointless pieces of paper there are few countries to touch the UK. Conservative ministers love agreeing non-binding memoranda of understanding (MoUs) with individual US states and pretending that they’re Brexit dividends (they aren’t)”.

With that, I welcome the new noble Lord, Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton, and look forward to the Minister’s response.

Photo of Lord Johnson of Lainston Lord Johnson of Lainston Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade) 7:41, 21 November 2023

I thank the noble Lord for the segue into my closing address. It is an enormous pleasure to conclude this debate. Before I do so, I draw Members’ attention to my entries in the register of interests. I have investments in companies that operate in CPTPP member countries but, as often in these debates, I do not believe they represent a conflict given the nature of this Bill.

I would like to join the very long line of Peers who complimented the opening and maiden speech made by my noble friend the Foreign Secretary, Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton. At one point I thought it was the popularity of my enthusiasm for free trade that encouraged so many people to sign up to speak in this debate. Only later did I realise that I had delegated the opening—as was heard earlier—to the newest Member of the House, of which I am extremely proud.

I reinforce my own message that to have my noble friend Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton on these Benches, and in this House, is an enormous testament to the importance of this Chamber. I think we all believe strongly that, as an individual, he is absolutely the right person to take forward our foreign policy agenda at such a perilous time in the state of the world, and such an important time for the United Kingdom. I am very proud to have sat next to him during this debate. I hope noble Lords realise that he took the debate extremely seriously, given the other pressures on him relating to the state visit from the President of Korea, dedicating himself to almost the entirety of the debate. I know he would want me to ensure that there was some element of recognition for the seriousness with which we take the important issue of the CPTPP.

I want to praise and pass thanks on to the IAC, which I believe to be one of the most important entities in this House, in ensuring that we reach strong conclusions as we prosecute our post-Brexit vision of Britain through our free trade agreements. The interlocution with the noble and learned Lord, Lord Goldsmith, has been particularly valuable for me over the past few weeks; I welcome him back to his usual place as chairman of the committee. It would be remiss of me not to pay homage to the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, who has been a powerful representative of independent-minded Peers in ensuring that the Government are held to strong account when it comes to talking about our trade ambitions. I am extremely grateful to her that she remains highly active in this area.

We have heard a number of extremely insightful points raised by many Peers. Listening to this debate, I am heartened by the seriousness with which we take this important subject and the key points that people wish to raise. I will try to respond to as many as possible. It is a very long list. It would have taken me the time that it has taken to discuss the Second Reading in this debate to fly to most of the countries in the CPTPP. But I believe that free trade genuinely gives us longer, happier and wealthier lives so, just through this debate on such an important subject, our lives have been extended and we have become personally richer.

I hope your Lordships know that I will inspect the Hansard account of the debate afterwards and, if I have not covered everyone’s comments, ensure that Members of House are written to specifically. As a number of Members have mentioned, there is a sensible and lengthy journey around this process, which, as I will come on to, will include proper scrutiny of the CPTPP treaty itself.

I will start by talking briefly about some of the benefits of the treaty, which can get lost in the details. I am particularly grateful to my noble friend Lord Vaizey of Didcot, whom many Members will know as a celebrity on the radio but whom I know as an important advocate of free trade. Some of the points that he raised on the specifics—which, as I said, often get lost in the detail—are extremely valuable: business mobility, the ability to trade, the ability to increase our exports and our imports, and, of particular interest to me as Investment Minister, the essential nature of bringing in more investment to the United Kingdom.

This country is not a member of CPTPP but, today alone, we announced in conjunction with the President of South Korea’s visit to this great nation over £20 billion of investment into the UK. This is the value of trade writ large in pounds sterling. Imagine what we can do with countries with which we have an even closer relationship, through a treaty such as this.

One point raised by a number of noble Lords—my noble friends Lord Lansley, Lord Howell and Lord Udny- Lister, and my noble friend Lord Lamont in particular—was the strategic importance of our membership of the CPTPP, which gives us this crucial presence in the Indo-Pacific region strategically, economically, philosophically, culturally and for reasons of alignment through defence. It is not simply a pounds, shillings and pence trade agreement but an essential component of how we as a nation wish to define ourselves when it comes to ensuring our security and wealth creation into the future. I was very glad that so many Members, even Members who rightly had issues to raise on the specificity of the CPTPP, were fundamentally behind the crucial mission of this trading nation that is the United Kingdom. Fundamentally, the positive comments from noble Lords across the House I find extremely heartening.

I want to bring to bear some of the comments that we have had from businesses and representative groups across the country. I will go on to touch on some of the consultations that we engaged in. I am very aware of the comments made by Members across this House on the importance of both promoting consultation as we go into the trade deal and promoting its benefits as we come out. We have consulted wide and extensively and the feedback that we have had has been overwhelmingly positive. Minette Batters said that

“the government continues to maintain its commitment to our food safety standards”— something that I ask noble Lords to bear in mind as I touch on that subject later on. She added that the UK achieved a

“balanced outcome, particularly with respect to managing market access in our most vulnerable sectors”.

This is very important. I hope that all Members of the House will hear those points from the celebrated president of the NFU.

William Bain, a former Member of the other place and now at the British Chambers of Commerce, said that the agreement was

“good news for UK business” and offered

“new prospects in a fast-growing region”.

The Federation of Small Businesses—which the noble Earl, Lord Effingham, was right to point out is an essential component of all our trade deals—has said that it was

“very pleased to see the UK officially join the CPTPP trade agreement”.

I turn now to some of the specific points raised. I will go through these relatively quickly, but I invite your Lordships to intervene if I miss a point; I am sure they will. As I said, there will be some instances where I will be obliged to write with further information.

On issues of technical barriers to trade, a number of noble Lords raised questions as well as support. I was particularly grateful to my noble friends Lord Udny-Lister, Lord Frost and Lady Lawlor. This is important as it will enable us to certify conformity assessment bodies in CPTPP countries so that they can perform the relevant checks, which will enable trade to flow more efficiently. I have looked into this personally in some depth and I do not see there being an issue. The noble Lord, Lord Grantchester, raised a point on this. These arrangements are reciprocal, which enables us to have our conformity assessment bodies assessed by CPTPP members. It is common practice.

I would like to stress that CABs established in CPTPP parties do not receive automatic approval in the UK; they have to be assessed. All this really does is to enable us to rightly ensure that CABs can be properly accredited as CABs in the UK. I really do not personally see any issue, other than something that is positive, around that.

We touched on government procurement and I am very comfortable discussing further any specifics. My noble friend Lord Lansley has raised some particularly pertinent points. I hope that I answered those in my letter to him, which I am sure has been lodged in the Library for everyone to read. If not, I would be delighted to circulate it to interested Peers. Ultimately, I agree that bringing in some of the procurement changes when we will introduce them under the Procurement Act, which comes into force next October, so that we can comply with our 17 July obligations under CPTPP, seems a bit unnecessary. It is not unnecessary but extremely necessary for us to comply; clearly, it is not a specific or seismic issue. As I said, unfortunately we are obliged to fulfil those requirements of our obligations.

On intellectual property, it is important that the CPTPP provisions commit parties to a minimum level of IP standards. This is not uncommon in plurilateral trade agreements, which often seek to set a baseline on which parties can build, and the UK’s accession to CPTPP will not limit our ability to seek more ambitious trade agreements with others, including those that are CPTPP members. We intend to be a constructive member and to champion our values and priorities, particularly through the committees and councils set up by the agreement.

A question was raised on generic medicines to the UK market. Just to reassure noble Lords across the House, there will be no delays in the entry of generic medicines to the UK market as a result of the UK joining CPTPP and no increase in the cost that the NHS pays for medicines. We have made no domestic changes to our rules regarding the marketing of generic medicines and are committed to ensuring patient access to medicines and affordable medicine prices for the NHS, while also supporting the UK’s world-class life sciences sector. Our future trade agreements will not change this.

I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Foster, asked a question around grace periods. The UK has signed up to the IP provisions in CPTPP, which is required of all members. We have agreed with the CPTPP parties that the UK will comply with Article 18.38 on grace periods only once the necessary amendments to the European Patent Convention and Strasbourg Patent Convention have been made, in line with Article 18.38 of the CPTPP, and not before. There is a process that we are going through on this point to ensure that all the necessary grace periods relating to IP provisions are aligned.

The noble Lord, Lord Razzall, raised some justifiable points around the principles of copyright, as did the noble Lord, Lord Holmes, who asked whether there are reciprocal rights for our artists in CPTPP countries. There absolutely are; I reassure him that this is the whole point of signing up to this trade agreement. It is a free trade area rather than a country-specific free trade zone, so the reciprocity of the membership is entitled fundamentally to all the members. I am extremely keen to promote that. However, there will be a change in the artists’ rights paid for performances broadcast over media in the UK—not over the internet—and we are applying this to all countries which sign up to these measures in the World Trade Organization. As the noble Lord, Lord Razzall, rightly raised, we are embarking on a consultation which will enable us to ensure that we set the right level of protection for our music industry and for our artists. But fundamentally, the idea of giving our artists half their royalties, as we do here for UK artists and broadcast artists of many other countries, strikes me as a very fair and equitable thing to do and very much part of the spirit of the agreement. However, the consultation will inform us appropriately whether we have that right and I look forward to it being reviewed.

I turn briefly to geographical indicators. The noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, raised this, as did a number of noble Lords. These provisions would allow the Secretary of State to cancel future geographical indicators, not current existing ones, if it is felt that they are confusing or not appropriate. It is important to note that as part of our withdrawal agreement with the EU, we cannot cancel geographical indicators so any relationship between those indicators and other CPTPP members will be direct, rather than through us. I hope the House will be reassured by that.

I turn to the important point of parliamentary scrutiny in the two minutes or so that I have left. I totally agree with the views of noble Lords: we must have a good debate on both the Bill, which contains relatively specific technical provisions, and the essence of the CPTPP, which is such a wonderful thing. I look forward to having these debates with noble Lords and it is not unusual for the CRaG process to run in parallel to the Bill since, as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Goldsmith, will be aware, they are two completely different things in the essence of parliamentary activity.

I have made very clear to the noble Lords, Lord Kerr, Lord Trees, Lord Foster and Lord Grantchester, and to the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, the importance of a strong, open and wide-ranging general debate on an FTA. That is right and I abide by the Grimstone principle—my formidable predecessor, whose immortality is secured by having a principle named after him; it is my own ambition to also work one into our future trade debates—to ensure that there is, as I say, a general debate. I think we have to go through a process when that is requested and I would be delighted to respond positively to that. I am also extremely available to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Goldsmith, and his committees, and to any noble Lord who wishes to spend time with me or the officials in my department to go through the intricacies of the Bill. We are waiting for the report from the Trade and Agriculture Commission, which I am told will come soon—certainly before the next part of this piece.

I will just cover a few brief final points because, quite rightly, the screen is flashing at me. The noble Lord, Lord McNicol, touched on devolution, the one area that had not been covered. I am pleased to say that we are not trying to run concurrent powers through the Bill but looking for legislative consent Motions. I have written to the Trade Ministers of Wales and Scotland and look forward to having strong interlocution with them, but the feedback that I have had from my officials so far has been extremely positive. I welcome that; there is no doubt that the benefits to Wales and Scotland from this deal are enormous. Scottish whisky alone is worth over £1 billion and the Malaysian opportunities, since we will see import tariffs cut from 80% down to zero, will be significant. That is just one commodity item.

If I may briefly touch on the agricultural side before I come to a conclusion, this is very important and clearly will be the subject of a great deal of the debate in the coming sections of this discussion. It is essential to understand one key point: that there is no derogation of our standards on account of signing up to the CPTPP. We have also introduced a number of clear tariff-rate quota mechanisms to ensure that we are protecting our industries from excessive levels of import. I reassure noble Lords in this instance that actual imports of beef, poultry, eggs and sheep meat from the non-Australia/New Zealand CPTPP countries are extremely low in terms of the pressures on our own agricultural sector. In fact, we have not imported an egg from Mexico, for example, since 2015. It is important to stress that sensational statistic, which I picked up this morning. I was very keen to get my knowledge of it into the debate. I should rephrase that: we have not imported a hard-shell egg in its entirety—we do import egg powder from Mexico, as noble Lords will know.

I turn to my final point before I come to a conclusion. In fact, there are two final points that I would like to cover briefly on China. It is very important in relation to China that we are clear, as are all CPTPP members, that decisions are taken by consensus. Applicant economies must be willing and able to meet the high standards of the agreement, demonstrate a pattern of complying with their existing trade commitments and be able to command consensus. Further to this, and importantly, we will join CPTPP first, so we will be on the inside, judging other applications, not vice versa. An entry into force of the accession protocol will permit us to be a party to the CPTPP, which is why it is so crucial that we ratify this agreement and become a party.

I have one last piece for noble Lords, if I may be indulged by the House, on investor-state dispute settlements. I was extremely grateful to my noble friends Lord Livingston and Lord Lansley for the vocal support for these principles. From my historic experience, running investments in many of these countries, the investor-state dispute mechanisms are very important for allowing British businesses to invest safely and build in these economies. We feel, from the UK side, very protected by the fact that we run and operate a strong degree of rule of law and, as a result of which, we are protected by our own systems. I would not be keen to see us derogate our responsibilities and links to investor-state dispute settlements, because they are important—and, in this instance, they will represent strong protections for our companies operating in CPTPP, resulting in more investment both ways.

To conclude, this Bill represents the continuation of our policy of expanding our horizons to the four corners of the world, being party to the crucial liberalisation of trade which has played such an important part in the economic well-being of our citizens and is an essential component of our strategy to truly immerse ourselves among the faster growing economies of the Asia-Pacific regions. As William Seward said in 1852—and this is my favourite quote—

“the Pacific Ocean, its shores, its islands and the vast regions beyond will become the chief theatre of events in the world’s great hereafter”.

He was correct, and I celebrate this new opportunity afforded us by our fellow nations in the CPTPP to join them in this new stage of development. We should be grateful to them, particularly to countries such as Japan, which led such an important campaign to encourage us to accede—but all the countries of the CPTPP. The Secretary of State for Business and Trade has stated:

“As CPTPP’s first ever new member, and the only European member, we are linking the UK to some of the world’s most dynamic economies, giving British businesses first-mover advantage in some of the fastest-growing markets in the world, and supporting jobs and economic growth right across the country”.

I would also like to thank the former Secretary of State, Dr Liam Fox, who started these negotiations, Elizabeth Truss, the previous Secretary of State, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Kemi Badenoch, the current Secretary of State, and all the civil servants and officials who have been so hard working in this process. This is an issue that transcends party politics: it is intrinsic to our way of life and our prosperity, not just here in the UK, but across the world. I commend the Bill to the House.

Bill read a second time.