“(1) The Secretary of State shall, before exit day, lay before Parliament a report on the application of this Act during any transitional period agreed between the UK and the European Union in connection with the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.
(2) “Exit day” shall have the meaning accorded by section 14 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018.”—
This new clause would require the Secretary of State to lay a report before Parliament ahead of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union on the application of this Act during any transitional period agreed between the UK and the European Union
I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.
The new clause is about how the Bill will be managed through the transitional period upon leaving the EU. To date, the Government have not clarified how a transitional period will affect the various legislation related to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. To be fair to the Government, there is an obvious reason why they have not clarified that: as yet, there are no arrangements in place in terms of a transitional agreement, so they do not know what form a transitional period will take, how long it will be or if there will actually be one.
Assuming that the extreme Tory Brexit is averted and a deal concluded with the EU that includes an agreement on a transitional period, the new clause requires the Secretary of State to lay a report before Parliament ahead of the UK’s EU withdrawal on the application of this Bill during such a transitional period. The Minister might argue that the Bill relates only to existing EU agreements and to bringing legislation over. There have already been discussions about what happens if deals are signed but not ratified or further deals come on board with the EU. Those matters might need to be considered in terms of a transitional period, because they all relate to the terms of that period. This new clause aims to ensure that Parliament fully understands the impact of the transitional period and how the legislation will work.
In any case, new clause 9 would require the Government to report to Parliament on how the Bill will be applied during the implementation period. I recognise the desire for clarity on how an implementation period will work and, specifically, how the powers in the Bill will be used in that period.
Irrespective of the exact terms of the implementation period, which need to be negotiated with the EU, as it stands the UK will no longer be part of existing EU FTAs or the government procurement agreement on leaving the EU. We will need the powers in the Bill to ensure continuity in our trading arrangements.
I also recognise the desire for clarity specifically on how trade remedies will work during an implementation period. We want to provide continuity to British industries, including retaining meaningful access to trade remedies.
Parliament will have plenty of opportunity to scrutinise an agreement between the UK and the EU, including on an implementation period. We have already committed to a vote on the final deal, and major policies in the withdrawal agreement will be enacted through primary legislation in the form of the withdrawal agreement and implementation Bill. I therefore ask the hon. Member for Kilmarnock and Loudoun to withdraw his new clause.
The idea that the official Opposition have nothing to say on the matter is entirely wrong, but we have little to say because we agree with the new clause that is being proposed. We believe that it is eminently sensible. We are entering into a transition period, and it is right that Parliament should be brought up to date with what the Government’s intentions are. The new clause would do that. It is perfectly sensible.
I listened to the Minister, who says that there will be lots of opportunity to debate the implementation period elsewhere and that, ultimately, we will have the take-it-or-leave-it vote in Parliament, but I would rather have security on these matters in the Bill. For that reason, I will press the new clause to a vote.
TB15 Tom Reynolds, British Ceramic Confederation (Supplementary to oral evidence)
TB16 Dr Angela Polkey
TB17 Amnesty International UK
TB18 James Dippie
TB19 BioIndustry Association (BIA) and the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI)
TB20 Scotch Whisky Association (Supplementary to oral evidence)
TB21 British Sugar
TB22 Leslie and Patricia Mackay
TB23 Tracy Roche
TB24 Dr Holger Hestermeyer (Supplementary to oral evidence)
TB25 Which? (Supplementary to oral evidence)
TB26 Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming
TB27 Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp, CEO, Business for Scotland (supplementary to oral evidence)