UK Chemical Industry: Regulatory Divergence

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:29 pm on 26th February 2020.

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Photo of Bill Esterson Bill Esterson Shadow Minister (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Shadow Minister (International Trade) 4:29 pm, 26th February 2020

My hon. Friend has explained well that the problem goes across the economy because chemicals are crucial to every manufacturing process.

I was talking about the problem of having to comply with two different sets of regulations and the impact the industry predicts, including a loss of exports and jobs in the UK. Products cross borders multiple times during manufacturing. The integrated nature of supply chains in manufacturing is a big reason why it would be difficult to manufacture in the UK for the EU market in the event of different chemical regulations.

Despite the Government’s presumption in favour of regulatory divergence in general, the Minister may want to say that the Government do not intend to change the regulations that are introduced with a UK REACH. I am interested to hear her comments on that point. The suspicion that divergence is likely has been reinforced by part 8 of the Environment Bill, which gives the Secretary of State the powers to diverge. If the Government do not intend to change the regulations, why have that in the Bill? In his speech on Second Reading this afternoon, the Secretary of State did not mention the section of the Bill that deals with regulation of the chemical industry, which is disappointing because the industry is so vital to the wider economy. Likewise it is disappointing to the industry and those who rely on it that there is no news about a sector deal for the chemical industry.