All 4 contributions to the European Union (Future Relationship) Act 2020 (Ministerial Extracts Only)

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Wed 30th Dec 2020
European Union (Future Relationship) Bill
Commons Chamber

2nd reading & 2nd reading: House of Commons & 2nd reading
Wed 30th Dec 2020
European Union (Future Relationship) Bill
Commons Chamber

3rd reading & 3rd reading: House of Commons & 3rd reading
Wed 30th Dec 2020
European Union (Future Relationship) Bill
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3rd reading & 2nd reading (Hansard) & 2nd reading (Hansard): House of Lords & 3rd reading (Hansard) & 3rd reading (Hansard): House of Lords & Committee negatived (Hansard) & Committee negatived (Hansard): House of Lords & 2nd reading & Committee negatived
Wed 30th Dec 2020
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European Union (Future Relationship) Bill

(Limited Text - Ministerial Extracts only)

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2nd reading & 2nd reading: House of Commons
Wednesday 30th December 2020

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This text is a record of ministerial contributions to a debate held as part of the European Union (Future Relationship) Act 2020 passage through Parliament.

In 1993, the House of Lords Pepper vs. Hart decision provided that statements made by Government Ministers may be taken as illustrative of legislative intent as to the interpretation of law.

This extract highlights statements made by Government Ministers along with contextual remarks by other members. The full debate can be read here

This information is provided by Parallel Parliament and does not comprise part of the offical record

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister (Boris Johnson)
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I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

May I begin by thanking you, Mr Speaker, and the House authorities and all your staff for their hard work in allowing us to meet today? I also welcome the outstanding news that AstraZeneca is now rolling out a new UK-made vaccine, approved by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, that offers hope to millions in this country and around the world.

Having taken back control of our money, our borders, our laws and our waters by leaving the European Union on 31 January, we now seize this moment to forge a fantastic new relationship with our European neighbours based on free trade and friendly co-operation.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP)
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Will the Prime Minister give way?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
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In a minute. At the heart of this Bill is one of the biggest free trade agreements in the world: a comprehensive—

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
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On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I seek your clarification. I am just wondering how on earth the Prime Minister can talk about taking back control of waters when Scottish fishermen are going to have less access and less fish to catch as a consequence of his con deal.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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May I just say, first of all, that that is not a point of order? We are very limited on time. Can we please try to keep to a tight agenda to allow everybody the time to contribute?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
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Although that was not a valid point of order, I must none the less correct the right hon. Gentleman. In fact, under this deal we have taken back control of our borders. Indeed, Scottish fishermen from the get-go will have access to bigger quotas of all the relevant stocks. From the end of the transition period, as he knows full well—

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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. I understand that this is an important day and it is important that we all get on the record. It is also important that I get to the leader of the SNP. What I would not like to do is run out of time because of the number of times he stands for interventions. If the Prime Minister gives way, he will give way straight away, but please let us try to get the debate under way. At least give yourself time to hear what the Prime Minister has to say before you disagree.

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
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With great respect to the right hon. Gentleman, I feel I must correct him. Not only will we take back control of our waters, we will increase Scottish fishermen’s share of all the relevant stocks: cod, for instance, going up by 47% to 57%; North sea haddock going up by 70% to 84%. That is just next year, Mr Speaker. In five and a half years’ time, we take control of the entire spectacular marine wealth of Scotland. It is only the Scottish nationalist party that would, with spectacular hypocrisy, hand back control of the waters of this country to the UK.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
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On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Could you point out to the Prime Minister that the name of my party is the Scottish National party?

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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In fairness, I have pointed that out in the past. It is the Scottish National party.

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
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Mr Speaker, I wish the right hon. Gentleman to know that I am using the word “nationalist” with a small “n”. I do not think he would disagree with that, which is semantically justifiable under the circumstances. Yet in spite of that nomenclature, they would hand back control of Scotland’s waters and go back into the common fisheries policy. What the Bill does is take back control—

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
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Will the Prime Minister give way?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
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Absolutely not.

What the Bill does is take back control of the spectacular marine wealth of Scotland and the rest of the UK.

Anthony Mangnall Portrait Anthony Mangnall (Totnes) (Con)
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Will my right hon. Friend give way?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
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In a moment.

At the heart of the Bill is, as we have discussed in this Chamber many times, Mr Speaker, one of the biggest free trade agreements in the world: a comprehensive Canada-style deal worth over £660 billion, which, if anything, should allow companies to do even more business with our European friends, safeguarding millions of jobs and livelihoods in our UK and across the continent. In less than 48 hours we will leave the EU single market and the customs union as we promised. British exporters will not face a sudden thicket of trade barriers, but rather, for the first time in the history of EU agreements, zero tariffs and zero quotas. Just as we have avoided trade barriers—

None Portrait Several hon. Members rose—
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Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
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Mr Speaker, I think that plenty of Members want to speak. I have already taken plenty of interventions and points of order. I am going to make some progress.

Just as we have avoided trade barriers, so we have also ensured the UK’s full control of our laws and our regulations. There is a vital symmetry between those two achievements. The central purpose of the Bill is to accomplish something that the British people always knew in their hearts could be done, yet which we were continually told was impossible. We were told that we could not have our cake and eat it—do you remember how often we were told that, Mr Speaker?—namely, that we could trade and co-operate as we will with our European neighbours on the closest terms of friendship and good will, while retaining sovereign control of our laws and our national destiny. That unifying thread runs through every clause of the Bill, which embodies our vision, shared with our European neighbours, of a new relationship between Britain and the EU as sovereign equals, joined by friendship, commerce, history, interests and values, while respecting one another’s freedom of action and recognising that we have nothing to fear if we sometimes choose to do things differently.

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP)
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The devil is in the detail in anything that is before us today. Can the Prime Minister confirm—I hope that this is the case—that we see the end of discrimination and that the Hague preference is away, in the bin? The Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation is expressing dismay from the Republic of Ireland. Will UK quotas be shared with Northern Ireland? Will there be tariffs for our ports of Portavogie, Ardglass and Kilkeel landing the fish that they catch in Northern Ireland, and will the £100 million for fishing organisations be shared equally across the whole United Kingdom? Those are real, practical issues for us in Northern Ireland.

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
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I can assure the hon. Gentleman that the entire UK will share in the programme of investment in our fishing industry. To get ourselves ready across the whole UK for the colossal uplift in fish that we will obtain, and even before the end of the transition period, the hon. Gentleman should know that we will fish about 130,000 tonnes more fish in the UK a year than we do at present. Currently, that is an opportunity that we must work to seize. [Interruption.] No.

We have much to gain from the healthy stimulus of competition, and the Bill therefore demonstrates how Britain can be at once European and sovereign. You will agree, Mr Speaker, that our negotiators published their feat at astonishing speed. It took nearly eight years for the Uruguay round of world trade talks to produce a deal; five years for the EU to reach a trade agreement with Canada; and six for Japan. We have done this in less than a year, in the teeth of a pandemic, and we have pressed ahead with this task, resisting all the calls for delay, precisely because creating certainty about our future provides the best chance of beating covid and bouncing back even more strongly next year. That was our objective.

I hope that the House joins me in commending my noble Friend Lord Frost and every member of his team for their skill, mastery and perseverance in translating our vision into a practical agreement. Let me also pay tribute to President Ursula von der Leyen, Michel Barnier and all our European friends for their pragmatism and foresight, and their understanding that it is profoundly in the interests of the EU to live alongside a prosperous, contented and sovereign United Kingdom. The House understands the significance of the fact that this agreement is not EU law, but international law, so there is no direct effect—EU law will no longer have any special status in the UK.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
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Will the Prime Minister give way?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
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I have already given way quite a few times to the right hon. Gentleman.

There is no jurisdiction for the European Court of Justice.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
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On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I feel that I have to point out to the House the historic principle in Scotland, as established by law, is that it is the people of Scotland who are sovereign, and it is the people of Scotland who will determine to take them back into the European Union with independence.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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As the leader of the SNP knows, that is not a point of order. I am desperate to hear what he has to say in his contribution. Rather than use it up now, why does he not save it so that others can get in? Prime Minister.

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
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I am grateful, Mr Speaker. Of course, it was the people of Scotland who took the sovereign decision, quite rightly, to remain in the UK—a once-in-a-generation decision. I think it highly unlikely that the people of Scotland will take a decision to cast away their new-found freedoms and new-found opportunities, not least over the marine wealth of Scotland.

We will be able to design our own standards and regulations, and the laws that the House of Commons passes will be interpreted—I know that this is a keen interest of hon. and right hon. Members—solely by British judges sitting in British courts. We will have the opportunity to devise new ways to spur and encourage flourishing sectors in which this country leads the world, from green energy and life sciences to synthetic biology.

Greg Clark Portrait Greg Clark (Tunbridge Wells) (Con)
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Some of us had different views on Brexit, but those debates are now for the history books. Everyone in the House and the country should recognise the benefits of an agreement that goes beyond free trade, from science to energy to security. However, will the Prime Minister capitalise on the excellent news that we have had today on the vaccine by pursuing an industrial strategy that puts science and technology at its heart, so that we can grasp the opportunities that come as the world bounces back from covid during the year ahead?

--- Later in debate ---
Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Thank you, Sir Bernard. Prime Minister.

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
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I am grateful to my right hon. Friend the Member for Tunbridge Wells (Greg Clark). I remember well working with him on his industrial strategy and his ideas for championing green technology and biosciences, and I can tell him that those ideas remain at the heart of this Government’s agenda. We will certainly be using our new-found legislative freedom to drive progress in those sciences and those investments across the whole UK. We will be free of EU state aid rules; we will be able to decide where and how we level up across our country, with new jobs and new hope, including free ports and new green industrial zones of a kind I am sure my right hon. Friend would approve of.

I must make an important point. If, in using our new freedoms, either Britain or the EU believes it is somehow being unfairly undercut, then, subject to independent third-party arbitration, and provided the measures are proportionate, either of us can decide, as sovereign equals, to protect our consumers, but this treaty explicitly envisages that any such action should be infrequent.

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
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However, the treaty banishes the old concepts of uniformity and harmonisation, in favour of the right to make our own regulatory choices and deal with the consequences. Every modern free trade agreement includes reciprocal commitments designed to prevent distortions of trade. The true significance of the agreement embodied in the Bill is that there is no role for the European Court of Justice, no ratchet clause on labour or environmental standards, and no dynamic alignment with the EU state aid regime or, indeed, any other aspect of EU law. In every respect, we have recovered our freedom of action.

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
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I give way with pleasure to the hon. Gentleman, who has been up and down many times.

Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi Portrait Mr Dhesi
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Many hon. Members will face a dire dilemma because they will feel that our country has been sold short. On the one hand, we have the Prime Minister’s thin, terrible, burnt oven-ready deal. On the other hand, we face the prospect of an even more damaging and destructive no-deal Brexit. Can the Prime Minister advise us why, given that services account for almost 80% of our economy, there is so little for that sector in this deal? In particular, why could he not negotiate equivalence and passporting rights for the all-important financial services sector?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
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It was not quite clear from that intervention which way the Labour party is going to go on this—whether the hon. Gentleman is going to go with the leader of the Labour party and vote for the deal, or whether he is going to join other members of the Labour party and continue to dither and delay. We on the Government Benches are going to get on; we will be free of the strictures of the common agricultural policy, and we will be able to conserve our landscapes and support our farmers exactly as we choose.

On Friday—I am coming to a point that has been raised several times, but I will repeat it because it is a wonderful point—for the first time in 50 years, the UK will once again be recognised as an independent coastal state, regaining control of our waters and righting the wrong that was done by the common fisheries policy throughout our EU membership. Of course I have always recognised—

None Portrait Several hon. Members rose—
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Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
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I have answered the point from Opposition Members quite a lot. I will give way to my hon. Friend the Member for Totnes (Anthony Mangnall).

Anthony Mangnall Portrait Anthony Mangnall
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The Prime Minister will know that Brixham, the most valuable fishing port in England, wants to see our waters regained, with access and control, and a rebuilding of the fishing industry in the UK. This deal delivers that. Can he assure my fishermen and fishermen around the country that that is what this Government are delivering on?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
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That is absolutely right, and the voice of Brixham should be heard up and down the country because that point is entirely correct and might be registered with advantage by the right hon. Member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber (Ian Blackford).

I have always recognised that this was going to be a difficult period for our European friends and partners, because they have been fishing in these waters for decades, if not centuries. At first, as the House will know, they sought an adjustment period of 14 years, but our negotiators whittled that down to five and a half years, during which the UK’s share—[Interruption.] In that five and a half years, the UK’s share of our fish in our waters will rise from over half today, to around two-thirds. Of course we would like to have done that more quickly, but it is also true that once the adjustment period comes to an end there will be no limit, other than limits that are placed by the needs of science and conservation, on our ability to make use of our marine wealth.

Fifteen per cent. of the EU’s historic catch from our waters will be returned to this country next year alone. To prepare our fishing communities for that moment, we will invest £100 million in a programme to modernise their fleets and the fish processing industry—[Interruption.] The hon. Member for Glasgow East (David Linden) should listen to this, because we will be restoring a great British industry to the eminence that it deserves, levelling up communities across the UK, particularly and including Scotland where, in my view, those interests have been neglected for too long.

I find it extraordinary that on the eve of this great opportunity, the declared position of the Scottish National national/nationalist party—with a small “n”—is to hand control of the very waters we have just reclaimed straight back to the EU. That is its policy. It plans to ensnare Scotland’s fishing fleet in the dragnets of the common fisheries policy all over again. In the meantime, guess what SNP Members will do today, Mr Speaker. They are going to vote today for a no-deal Brexit! [Interruption.] Perhaps the hon. Member for Glasgow East will tell me that he is going to vote for the deal.

David Linden Portrait David Linden (Glasgow East) (SNP)
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I am immensely grateful to the Prime Minister for briefly pausing that monologue that was designed for the European Research Group. On fish, he is waxing lyrical about how amazing this deal is, but I would like to read him a quote from Andrew Locker, chair of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, who says:

“I am angry, disappointed and betrayed. Boris Johnson promised us the rights to all the fish that swim in our exclusive economic zone and we have got a fraction of that.”

Is he wrong?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
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I am afraid that yes, he is. We will take back control not only by becoming an independent coastal state from 1 January, but in five and a half years’ time, we will be able to fish every single fish in our waters, if we so choose. That is the reality. In the meantime, as I say, and the hon. Gentleman did not deny it—I don’t think I heard him deny it—the Scottish National party is going to vote against the deal. It is effectively going to vote for no deal, which it campaigned against and denounced, proving once and for all, that the interests of Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland are best served by a one-nation party serving one United Kingdom.

This deal was negotiated—the hon. Gentleman should know this—by a big team from every part of our United Kingdom, and it serves the whole of the UK, not least by protecting the integrity of the United Kingdom single internal market, and Northern Ireland’s place within it. Our points-based immigration system will end free movement and give us full control over who enters the country. By the way, on that point I want to thank my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster for all he did to protect the interests of Northern Ireland.

At the same time, the deal provides certainty for airlines and hauliers who have suffered grievously during this pandemic. It guarantees the freedom of British citizens to travel to and from the EU and retain access to healthcare. It provides certainty for our police, our border forces, and our security agencies to work alongside our European friends to keep our people safe, and the SNP are going to vote against that, Mr Speaker. The deal provides certainty for our partnerships on scientific research, because we want our country to be a science superpower, but also a collaborative science superpower. It provides certainty for business, from financial services to our world-leading manufacturers, including our car industry, safeguarding highly skilled jobs and investment across our country. As for the Leader of the Opposition, I am delighted that he has found yet another position on Brexit, and, having plunged down every blind alley and exhausted every possible alternative, he has come to the right conclusion—namely, to vote for this agreement, which this Government have secured.

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
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I hope very much that the hon. Gentleman is going to tell us that he, too, is going to join his right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Keir Starmer) and vote for this agreement. Is that the case?

Peter Kyle Portrait Peter Kyle
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I am very happy to confirm for the Prime Minister that I will be voting for this agreement. He mentioned several times his levelling-up agenda, but financial services and those working in the sector have been left entirely out of it, so does he not agree that every city and every town that is dependent on financial services, from Leeds to Manchester to Edinburgh, and many in between, have been levelled down and left out of this deal?

--- Later in debate ---
Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
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It is great to hear a member of the Labour party not only backing the bankers and backing financial services—a fantastic development—but also backing this deal. The hon. Gentleman is quite right because, actually, this deal does a great deal for services, for financial services, for the legal profession and many other professions. But, alas, the good news about the Labour party stops there, because I am told that the right hon. and learned Gentleman intends to ask the British people for a mandate to rewrite the deal in 2024—that is what he wants to do. I think, frankly, we got Brexit done; let’s keep Brexit done. And let’s press ahead with this Government’s mission to unite and level up across our whole country and grasp the opportunities before us, because I have always said—

None Portrait Several hon. Members rose—
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Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
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I am going to make some progress because many Members want to speak. I have always said that Brexit is not an end but a beginning, and the responsibility now rests with all of us to make the best use of the powers that we have regained and the tools that we have taken back into our hands. We are going to begin by fulfilling our manifesto promise to maintain the highest standards of labour and environmental regulation, because no caricature can be more inaccurate than the idea of some bargain-basement Dickensian Britain, as if enlightened EU regulation has been our only salvation from Dickensian squalor. Our national standards have always been among the very best in the world, and this House can be trusted to use its new freedom to keep them that way without any outside invigilation.

We are going to open a new chapter in our national story, striking free trade deals around the world, adding to the agreements with 63 countries we have already achieved and reasserting global Britain as a liberal, outward-looking force for good. Detaching ourselves from the EU is only a prelude to the greater task of establishing our new role, and this country is contributing more than any other to vaccinate people across the world against covid, leading the way in preventing future pandemics. We will continue to campaign for 12 years of quality education for every girl in the world, and I thank my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary for what he is doing on that. We will continue to lead the drive towards global net zero as we host COP26 in Glasgow next year.

I hope and believe—and I think, actually, the tone this morning has given me encouragement in this belief; the mood in the House this morning seems on the whole to be positive—[Interruption.] In spite of the as-usual synthetic and confected indignation that we hear from some on the Benches opposite, I hope and believe that this agreement will also serve to end some of the rancour and recrimination that we have had in recent years and allow us to come together as a country to leave old arguments—old, desiccated, tired, super-masticated arguments—behind, move on and build a new and great future for our country, because those of us who campaigned for Britain to leave the EU never sought a rupture with our closest neighbours. We never wanted to sever ourselves from our fellow democracies, beneath whose soil lie British war graves in tranquil cemeteries, often tended by local schoolchildren, testament to our shared struggle for freedom and everything we cherish in common. What we wanted was not a rupture but a resolution—a resolution of the old, tired, vexed question of Britain’s political relations with Europe, which has bedevilled our post-war history. First we stood aloof, then we became a half-hearted, sometimes obstructive member of the EU. Now, with this Bill, we are going to become a friendly neighbour—the best friend and ally the EU could have, working hand in glove whenever our values and interests coincide, while fulfilling the sovereign wish of the British people to live under their own laws, made by their own elected Parliament. That is the historic resolution delivered by this Bill. I commend it to the House.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Before I call the Leader of the Opposition, the House will want to be aware that I have accepted a request from the Government for an additional statement from the Secretary of State for Education on education return in January. This will be the second statement after the covid-19 update and before the business statement. The ballot is already open in Members’ Hub.

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Keir Starmer Portrait Keir Starmer
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That was about a year ago. Then it was supposed to be ready in July, then September, then November and finally it arrived on Christmas eve. That matters, because businesses have had no chance to prepare for the new regulations. Talk to businesses about their concerns. They have real difficulties now. Many of them have already taken decisions about jobs and investment because of the uncertainty, and of course that is made worse by the pandemic.

Let me now go to the deal itself and analyse some of the flaws in it. Let us start with the Prime Minister and what he said on Christmas eve in his press conference. He said:

“there will be no non-tariff barriers to trade.”

His words. He was not being straight with the British public. That is plain wrong. It is worse than that. It was not an aside, or an interview or an off-the-record remark. It was a scripted speech. He said that there would be no non-tariff barriers to trade. The Prime Minister knows that it is not true. Every Member of this House knows it is not true. I will give way to the Prime Minister to correct the record. Either stand up and say that what he said was true, or take this opportunity to correct the record. I give way.

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
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The right hon. and learned Gentleman knows perfectly well that this is a zero tariff, zero quota deal. He says that he would have negotiated a different and better deal. Perhaps he can tell us whether he would have remained within the customs union and within the single market. Perhaps he will also say a little bit about how he proposes to renegotiate the deal, build on it and take the UK back into the EU, because that remains his agenda.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Let us get on with the debate.

--- Later in debate ---
Keir Starmer Portrait Keir Starmer
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In just one minute.

The deal will make it harder to sell services into the EU and will create a huge disincentive for businesses to invest.

The very thin agreement on short business travel will make things much harder for artists and musicians, for example. Prime Minister, they want to hear what the answers to these questions are, not just comments from the Front Bench.

On financial services, even the Prime Minister himself has accepted—I do not know whether he will stick to this, or if it is one that he will not own now—that the deal does not go as far as we would have liked, so pretending that it is a brilliant deal just is not on. We have to rely on the bare bones of equivalence arrangements, many of which are not even in place, that could be unilaterally withdrawn at short notice. That is the reality of the situation. We are left to wonder: either the Prime Minister did not try to get a strong deal to protect our service economy, or he tried and failed. Which is it?

Let me turn to security. The treaty offers important protections when compared with the utter chaos of no deal, such as on DNA and fingerprints. There are third-party arrangements to continue working with Europol and Eurojust. I worked with Europol and Eurojust, so I know how important that is, but the treaty does not provide what was promised: a security partnership of unprecedented breadth and depth. It does not, and anybody today who thinks that it does has not read the deal. We will no longer have access to EU databases that allow for the sharing of real-time data, such as the Schengen information system for missing persons and objects. Anybody who thinks that that is not important needs to bear in mind that it is used on a daily basis. In 2019, it was accessed and consulted 600 million times by the UK police—600 million times. That is how vital it is to them. That is a massive gap in the deal, and the Prime Minister needs to explain how it will be plugged.

Let me turn to tariffs and quotas. The Prime Minister has made much of the deal delivering zero tariffs and zero quotas. It does—

Keir Starmer Portrait Keir Starmer
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Thank you, Prime Minister. It does, or rather it does for as long as British businesses meet the rules of origin requirements. It does as long as the UK does not step away from a level playing field on workers’ rights and environment—

Keir Starmer Portrait Keir Starmer
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The Prime Minister says rubbish—[Interruption.] I have read it. I have studied it. I have been looking at nothing else than this for four years. The Prime Minister pretends that he has got sovereignty, and zero tariffs and zero quotas. He has not: the moment he exercises the sovereignty to depart from the level playing field, the tariffs kick in. This is not a negotiating triumph. It sets out the fundamental dilemma that has always been at the heart—

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
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Well, vote against it then!

Keir Starmer Portrait Keir Starmer
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The Prime Minister says vote against it—vote for no deal. As my wife says to our children, “If you haven’t got anything sensible to say, it’s probably better to say nothing.”

The situation sets out the fundamental dilemma that has always been at the heart of the negotiations. If we stick to the level playing field, there are no tariffs and quotas, but if we do not, British businesses, British workers and British consumers will bear the cost. The Prime Minister has not escaped that dilemma; he has negotiated a treaty that bakes it in. This poses the central question for future Governments and Parliaments: do we build up from this agreement to ensure that the UK has high standards and that our businesses are able to trade as freely as possible in the EU market with minimal disruption; or do we choose to lower standards and slash protections, and in that way put up more barriers for our businesses to trade with our nearest and most important partners?

For Labour, this is clear: we believe in high standards. We see this treaty as a basis to build from, and we want to retain a close economic relationship with the EU that protects jobs and rights, because that is where our national interest lies today and tomorrow. However, I fear that the Prime Minister will take the other route, because he has used up so much time and negotiating capital in doing so. He has put the right to step away from common standards at the heart of the negotiation, so I assume that he wants to make use of that right as soon as possible. If he does, he has to be honest with the British people about the costs and consequences of that choice for businesses, jobs and our economy. If he does not want to exercise that right, he has to explain why he wasted so much time and sacrificed so many priorities for a right that he is not going to exercise.

After four and a half years of debate and division, we finally have a trade deal with the EU. It is imperfect, it is thin and it is the consequence of the Prime Minister’s political choices, but we have only one day before the end of the transition period, and it is the only deal that we have. It is a basis to build on in the years to come. Ultimately, voting to implement the treaty is the only way to ensure that we avoid no deal, so we will vote for the Bill today.

But I do hope that this will be a moment when our country can come together and look to a better future. The UK has left the EU. The leave/remain argument is over—whichever side we were on, the divisions are over. We now have an opportunity to forge a new future: one outside the EU, but working closely with our great partners, friends and allies. We will always be European. We will always have shared values, experiences and history, and we can now also have a shared future. Today’s vote provides the basis for that.

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Michael Gove Portrait The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office (Michael Gove)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

It is a real pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Leeds West (Rachel Reeves). While we disagree on much, she gave a characteristically thoughtful and punchy speech, and she is a great credit to her party. I wish her and her family well as they wrestle with covid.

I thank you, Mr Speaker, the staff of the House of Commons and everyone who has allowed us to come back for this debate today. I also thank the negotiators on both sides who concluded this historic agreement: Lord Frost and his team; and Michel Barnier and his. I thank the thousands of civil servants who have been working for years now to bring us to this moment.

I thank everyone who has spoken in this debate—some 59 Members. In particular, I want to pay tribute to those who have been arguing for our sovereign future outside the European Union for many years, in particular my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Sir William Cash), and my right hon. Friends the Members for Chingford and Woodford Green (Sir Iain Duncan Smith) and for North Shropshire (Mr Paterson). Again, our hearts go out to Owen and to his family.

I also want to thank those who argued in the referendum that we should remain in the European Union, but who, in this debate, gave considered and thoughtful speeches expressing their support for the deal in front of us and clear pointers for the way forward. My hon. Friend the Member for Winchester (Steve Brine), the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr Sheerman), my right hon. Friend the Member for Tunbridge Wells (Greg Clark), the right hon. Members for Warley (John Spellar) and for Leeds Central (Hilary Benn) and my hon. Friend the Member for Tonbridge and Malling (Tom Tugendhat) all made impressive speeches, recognising the importance of democracy.

Democracy is why we are here. In the 2016 referendum, more people voted to leave the European Union than have ever voted for any proposition in our history. Now, four and a half years later, we can say that we have kept faith with the people. This deal takes back control of our laws, our borders and our waters, and also guarantees tariff-free and quota-free access to the European market as well as ensuring our security. It is a good deal for aviation, for haulage, for data, and for legal and financial services, and it leaves us as sovereign equals with the EU.

Patrick Grady Portrait Patrick Grady (Glasgow North) (SNP)
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Will the Minister give way?

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Michael Gove Portrait Michael Gove
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No.

The deal also builds on the withdrawal agreement concluded by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. It is important to remember that there are now 4 million EU citizens who have chosen to make their home in this country—a vote of confidence in Britain. It is also the case that we have concluded the Northern Ireland protocol, an imperfect instrument certainly, but one that ensures that we leave as one UK, whole and entire, so that we can begin a new special relationship with our friends in the European Union.

I want to turn now to some of the arguments that were made in the debate, turning first of all to those made by the Leader of the Opposition.

Conor Burns Portrait Conor Burns
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Will my right hon. Friend give way?

Michael Gove Portrait Michael Gove
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Not quite yet.

The Leader of the Opposition spoke eloquently, as usual, but not perhaps with 100% conviction this time. That is no surprise: he argued that we should stay in the European Union; he argued for a second referendum; he argued that we should stay in the customs union; and he argues still for a level of ECJ jurisdiction. At every turn, over the course of the last four years, he has tried to find a way of keeping us as closely tied to EU structures as possible.

The Leader of the Opposition now says that he will not put opposition to Brexit on his leaflets at the next general election. Given the result at the last general election, when he did put opposition to Brexit on his leaflets, I can well understand that. His attitude to the European Union is rather like his attitude to his former leader, the right hon. Member for Islington North (Jeremy Corbyn)—he spent years trying to keep as close as possible, and now he wants us to forget all about it. His time in the shadow Cabinet, when he was arguing for the right hon. Member for Islington North to be Prime Minister and for the UK to be under EU structures, presumably, in the words of the right hon. Member for Islington North, was a period when the right hon. and learned Gentleman was “present but not involved”. But, as a good former Director of Public Prosecutions, I know that he does not want us to take account of any of his previous convictions. Indeed, I am grateful for his support today.

The Leader of the Opposition was also right in calling out the leader of the Scottish National party, because, of course, what SNP Members are doing today is voting for no deal—he is absolutely right. What have they said in the past? Nicola Sturgeon said that no deal would be a “catastrophic idea”, that the SNP could not “countenance in any way” no deal, and that SNP MPs will do “everything possible” to stop no deal—except, of course, by actually voting against it today.

Indeed, so opposed to no deal was the SNP that the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh South West (Joanna Cherry) went to court to ensure that if the Prime Minister took us out of the European Union without a deal, he would go to jail. Now the leader of the SNP is voting to take us out of the EU without a deal—something that his own party said should be an imprisonable offence. So what is he going to do now? Turn himself in? Submit to a citizen’s arrest at the hands of the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh South West? If his party follows through on its previous convictions, I, of course, will campaign for him. The cry will go out from these Benches: “Free the Lochaber one!”

After the 2014 referendum, the SNP became the party that just would not take no for an answer. Now we have the deal that it asked for, it is the party that will not say yes for an answer. Inconsistent, incoherent, and even at risk of self-incarceration, SNP Members are indeed prisoners—prisoners of a separatist ideology that puts their narrow nationalism ahead of our national interest.

The leader of the SNP did, of course, touch on fish, but he did not give us the figures. I have them here. We can look at the increase in stocks: North sea hake up relatively by 198%; west of Scotland saithe up by 188%; west of Scotland cod up by 54%; and North sea sole up by 297%. That is all because we are out of the common fisheries policy, which he would take us back into.

The Bill opens a new chapter. The people of Britain voted for not just a new settlement with the EU, but a new settlement within the UK, with freeports and FinTech, genetic sequencing and investment in General Dynamics, a fair deal for farming and fish stocks for coastal communities. Of course, this deal also allows us to regulate more smartly and more effectively for the future. Whether it is artificial intelligence, quantum computing, or machine learning, our participation in Horizon 2020 and our investment in science will make us a science superpower. Of course, this deal also allows us to regulate more smartly and more effectively for the future. Whether it is artificial intelligence, quantum computing, or machine learning, our participation in Horizon 2020 and our investment in science will make us a science superpower.

It is appropriate that we should think of that today, the day on which the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine—a UK initiative as part of global Britain collaborating with others in the pursuit of knowledge and the relief of pain—is approved by the MHRA. Let us remember the difficulties and the challenges of this year. Let us also remember how important it is that we should all now come together and recognise that there are no such things anymore as remainers or leavers. We are all Britons dedicated to a brighter future—stronger together, sovereign again—and dedicated to ensuring a future of sharing, solidarity and excellence. That is why I commend this Bill to the House.

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14:30

Division 190

Ayes: 521


Conservative: 359
Labour: 162

Noes: 73


Scottish National Party: 44
Liberal Democrat: 11
Democratic Unionist Party: 8
Plaid Cymru: 3
Labour: 3
Social Democratic & Labour Party: 2
Independent: 2
Alliance: 1
Green Party: 1

The list of Members currently certified as eligible for a proxy vote, and of the Members nominated as their proxy, is published at the end of today’s debates.

European Union (Future Relationship) Bill

(Limited Text - Ministerial Extracts only)

Read Full debate
3rd reading & 3rd reading: House of Commons
Wednesday 30th December 2020

(1 year, 7 months ago)

Commons Chamber
3rd reading Page Read Hansard Text Amendment Paper: Committee of the whole House Amendments as at 30 December 2020 - (30 Dec 2020)

This text is a record of ministerial contributions to a debate held as part of the European Union (Future Relationship) Act 2020 passage through Parliament.

In 1993, the House of Lords Pepper vs. Hart decision provided that statements made by Government Ministers may be taken as illustrative of legislative intent as to the interpretation of law.

This extract highlights statements made by Government Ministers along with contextual remarks by other members. The full debate can be read here

This information is provided by Parallel Parliament and does not comprise part of the offical record

14:45

Division 191

Ayes: 521


Conservative: 359
Labour: 162

Noes: 73


Scottish National Party: 44
Liberal Democrat: 11
Democratic Unionist Party: 8
Plaid Cymru: 3
Labour: 3
Social Democratic & Labour Party: 2
Independent: 2
Alliance: 1
Green Party: 1

Bill read the Third time and passed.

European Union (Future Relationship) Bill

(Limited Text - Ministerial Extracts only)

Read Full debate
3rd reading & 2nd reading (Hansard) & 2nd reading (Hansard): House of Lords & 3rd reading (Hansard) & 3rd reading (Hansard): House of Lords & Committee negatived (Hansard) & Committee negatived (Hansard): House of Lords & 2nd reading & Committee negatived
Wednesday 30th December 2020

(1 year, 7 months ago)

Lords Chamber
3rd reading Page Read Hansard Text Amendment Paper: Committee of the whole House Amendments as at 30 December 2020 - (30 Dec 2020)

This text is a record of ministerial contributions to a debate held as part of the European Union (Future Relationship) Act 2020 passage through Parliament.

In 1993, the House of Lords Pepper vs. Hart decision provided that statements made by Government Ministers may be taken as illustrative of legislative intent as to the interpretation of law.

This extract highlights statements made by Government Ministers along with contextual remarks by other members. The full debate can be read here

This information is provided by Parallel Parliament and does not comprise part of the offical record

Moved by
Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park
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That the Bill be now read a second time.

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Evans of Bowes Park) (Con)
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My Lords, in moving that the Bill be now read a second time, I want to thank in advance all noble Lords who will speak in today’s debate.

This Bill, which passed its stages in the other place with a substantial majority, will implement the historic trade and co-operation agreement negotiated with the European Union and marks the beginning of a new chapter for our country. This comprehensive Canada-style agreement, worth more than £660 billion, delivers on the commitments made to the British people in the referendum and in last year’s general election. It takes back control of our money, borders, laws and waters, ends any role for the European Court, and protects the Good Friday agreement. It provides certainty for business —from financial services to the life sciences industry, food producers and our world-leading manufacturers, including the car industry—safeguarding highly-skilled jobs and investment across our country.

I am sure that the whole House will join me in thanking our negotiating team, led by my noble friend Lord Frost, for their professionalism, skill and perseverance. Of course, we also pay tribute to President von der Leyen, Michel Barnier and our European friends for the part they have played in ensuring we reached the deal we have today.

This agreement is the beginning of our new relationship with our European neighbours. It is a deal based on friendly co-operation between sovereign equals, centred on free trade and inspired by our shared history, interests and values, while respecting one another’s freedom of action. Crucially, it fully upholds our rights as a sovereign country, meaning we will have political and economic independence to assert global Britain as a liberal, outward-looking force for good.

However, this is not just a free trade agreement; it is much more. This broad and unprecedented settlement reflects our historic, close relationship with our European neighbours. It is a relationship and partnership which will continue, albeit in a new form, once the transition period ends tomorrow.

I know the strength of feeling across this House when it comes to this subject. For decades, this House and its work have played a pivotal role in forging our relationship with our European neighbours and allies. While this workload may have increased since 2016, the quality has never been diluted, and your Lordships’ commitment and focus in scrutinising the 17 Brexit Bills we have enacted over the past four and a half years have been unwavering. In particular, I pay tribute to the EU Select Committee and its sub-committees for the work they have carried out on behalf of the whole House since the referendum. The committees have published in excess of 70 reports, thanks to the efforts of their members, staff, clerks and legal advisers. The scrutiny of this House has been better for their work and dedication.

As Leader of this House throughout this often difficult and turbulent time, I want to thank noble Lords from across the House for their commitment and dedication to our important role during this long and, at times, frustrating process. I hope that, with consideration of this Bill, the House can close this particular chapter and look forward to opening a new one which focuses on our new domestic and international agendas as we move on to build a great future for our four nations.

The transition period will end at 11 pm tomorrow. I know that Members across the House will want to ensure that the legislation that gives effect to the treaty is in place so that people and businesses can rely on it. We will provisionally apply the agreement from 1 January, but we still need to have legislation in place for provisional application and implementation to happen, and to ensure that we can ratify the agreements.

I now turn to the contents of the Bill. Part 1 implements the relevant provisions of the agreement that will protect our citizens and continues our long-standing commitment to joint co-operation on security matters. The Government have negotiated a comprehensive package of operational capabilities that ensure that we can work with counterparts across Europe to tackle serious crime and terrorism. Among a series of security measures, the agreement facilitates the continued transfer of passenger name record data from the EU, exchange of data via the Prüm system and streamlined extradition arrangements based on the EU’s surrender agreement with Norway and Iceland. This is the first agreement of its kind that the EU has negotiated with a non-Schengen third country, and it means that our security and border agencies will be able to continue working with our EU neighbours to protect the British public.

Part 2 of the Bill addresses trade and other matters, implementing arrangements to keep goods flowing in and out of our country. This deal maintains zero tariffs and zero quotas on trade in goods between the UK and the EU—the first time the EU has ever agreed to complete tariff-free and quota-free access in an FTA. The Bill provides for streamlined customs arrangements, including recognising our respective trusted trader schemes. The schedule on technical barriers to trade means that our exporters will not face unnecessary obstacles or discriminatory regulatory regimes.

The Bill implements our deal for UK hauliers as well as bus and coach companies that can continue to operate to, through and within the EU, making sure that critical cross-border services can continue to operate on the island of Ireland. These passenger transport provisions give people the freedom to travel to and from the EU easily for work, holidays and to visit loved ones.

We have also agreed a comprehensive protocol on social security co-ordination that is unmatched by any other between the EU and a third country. This agreement will ensure that UK nationals have a range of social security cover when working and living in the EU, including access to an uprated pension and extensive healthcare arrangements. The Bill gives effect to these provisions.

The Bill also gives effect to an unprecedented agreement reached on energy trading and Euratom, and reasserts our shared priority of tackling climate change through sources such as solar and wind. The measures that I have outlined demonstrate that this historic agreement is wide ranging and designed to provide certainty to our citizens, businesses and hauliers through trade, tax and transport measures.

The Bill also makes other arrangements that are related to our agreement with the EU but not directly related to its implementation.

The United Kingdom’s commitment to protecting the Belfast/Good Friday agreement in all respects is unwavering. That is why this Bill will enshrine funding to the Peace Plus programme to promote peace, reconciliation and economic development in Northern Ireland and the border region of Ireland.

Part 3 of the Bill ensures that we can meet our legal obligations under the agreements, including those emanating from the governance architecture they contain. The House will understand the significance of the fact that the basis of this agreement is not EU law but international law. EU law will no longer have any special status in the UK, nor is there any direct effect of this agreement in UK domestic law. Crucially, the Court of Justice of the European Union will have no jurisdiction, delivering on one of our core objectives in the negotiations.

In the agreement, we have made reciprocal commitments to high-level principles but not to common laws, and we will retain flexibility to tailor our approach for the United Kingdom. These are fair and balanced measures, which ensure that there is no constraint on either side’s autonomy and sovereignty. Our Parliament will regain its freedom to make or unmake law as it sees fit. We shall begin by fulfilling our manifesto promise to maintain the highest standards of labour and environmental regulation.

A significant agreement has been achieved for our fisheries industry, although this is not included in the Bill. For the first time in nearly 50 years, our country will be free to decide who can access our waters and on what terms. There will be an adjustment period of five and a half years during which the UK’s share of fish in our waters will rise from over half today to around two-thirds. After this adjustment period, any access by non-UK vessels to fish in UK waters will be a matter for annual negotiations, with no automatic access granted to the UK exclusive economic zone.

The Government are committed to upholding the Sewel convention. We have sought legislative consent Motions from each of the devolved legislatures where necessary for the Bill. My right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster has sought consent from each of the Administrations, and we look forward to receiving their responses. My noble friend Lord True will update the House with any developments in his closing speech.

This Bill delivers what the British public voted for in last year’s general election and the referendum, and marks the start of a new chapter—one where we can take advantage of freedoms outside the EU to boost our efforts to level up opportunity; reform our approach to support farmers and improve the environment; encourage new, innovative sectors to develop; strike trade deals; and play a leading role on the world stage.

For these reasons and many more, I beg to move.

Amendment to the Motion

Moved by
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Lord True Portrait The Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Lord True) (Con)
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My Lords, when you have been sitting for seven hours in the same place, you begin to learn how old you are. I thank the noble Lord opposite for his kind remarks at the start and I appreciate his engagement. I also appreciated the preamble to his speech about looking to the future. Unfortunately, most of the rest of his speech seemed a lament that we still do not have more Europe than the public have voted for. As for the Liberal Democrats, I must say that, at a time of national gloom, their unremitting pessimism throughout the debate represents a clear and present danger to the national weal.

In opening, I declare my interest, as ever, as a long-term resident of Italy. As a European, I affirm the abiding genius of the diverse nations and cultures of Europe, inside the EU and out: Proust and Dostoevsky, Goethe and Ibsen, Dante and Shakespeare—all part of a glorious common European culture that we must cherish and never allow, in this age of political correctness, to be washed out of our minds. There was good news this morning, and we celebrate the achievements and genius of scientists born in Hungary, Britain and Germany —again, part of our great European scientific tradition.

I agree with those who say that we will always be European, but the genius of Europe and the United Kingdom did not spring from any international institution. However sad some are at leaving that institution—we heard a lot about it today—will that genius be dimmed after we leave the EU? I believe a great future lies before this country, as some noble Lords who spoke today told us with confidence and pride.

I thank all noble Lords who have taken part in the debate today—125 of them. I counted them all in and counted them all out with, I regret, the exception of the noble Lord, Lord Alderdice, to whom I apologise. It is quite difficult to bolt down a plate of fish and chips in 10 minutes, but I am sorry I missed his speech. There were exceptions. The noble Lord, Lord Hannay of Chiswick, was scarcely rapturous in his reaction, but I welcomed the overall tone set at the start by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge. The noble Lord, Lord Butler of Brockwell, the noble Earl, Lord Kinnoull, and many other noble Lords said, as did the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer, at the end, that it was time to move on. Many of those who had set themselves against Brexit recognised that but, none the less, there was clear opposition and anger from the Liberal Democrat Benches and a deep undertone of hostility from Labour.

As we close the book on our membership of the EU, 57 years after de Gaulle’s first veto—which I remember watching on black and white television—we can truly say that this was a historic debate. I know that more wish to have taken part, to have spoken for longer or to have had more time to scrutinise the agreement. I recognise that abiding theme of the debate. On a night like this, the House should have been full and the air ringing with challenge and counterchallenge, with conflict across the House, which forges common parliamentary wisdom. We all long for that day to return.

That the Lords of Magna Carta look down on a House so empty is not the Government’s choice, nor is the timing of this debate and Bill on the day before the end of the transition. It was not the United Kingdom’s choice that the negotiations ran so long and late, but who is to say that my right honourable friend the Prime Minister was wrong to go so long and aim so high, when the prize is so great: a historic Canada-style deal with the EU, worth over £650 billion to the United Kingdom, containing zero tariffs and quotas—the first such trade deal that the EU has ever entered into with an independent country?

I pay tribute to my noble friend Lord Frost and his team for their brilliance in the negotiation. As almost all said—with the notable exception of the noble Lord, Lord Kerr of Kinlochard—they were outstanding in ways that many said were impossible. They broke through barriers in the talks with a sonic boom that scattered the naysayers and doubters. There are some, including the Front Bench opposite, who say that it was not necessary to act today. We could have dithered and dallied; we could have acted provisionally. “Never now” and “not yet”, they say, but who is to say that my right honourable friend the Prime Minister was wrong to act so decisively, when the prize that he has won is ending the transition period with a deal implementing our future relationship, providing that much-needed certainty to citizens and businesses across the United Kingdom, for which your Lordships have rightly asked for so long? The deal agreed with the EU means that we have achieved what the British people twice demanded.

This deal is based on friendly co-operation between sovereign equals, centred on free trade and shared values: a new partnership that builds on our common bonds of friendship and co-operation—but, as I say, as sovereign equals, with a clear, independent voice for Britain to speak and act in the world on the things that matter to us. I say to my noble friend Lady McIntosh that we are not entering a deal to terminate it; termination clauses are standard in trade agreements. The Bill ensures that our goods and services can continue to flow to the European Union, but also that our businesses can prosper mightily outside the EU by enabling them to trade freely, widely and ever more widely across the world and in the fastest-growing corners of the world.

Many questions have quite properly been raised in the debate. As your Lordships’ Constitution Committee has said, the pace of passage will no doubt call for considerable ongoing scrutiny—as, frankly, what EU treaty ever signed might not have? The Government will co-operate with that and we are carefully considering what scrutiny processes should be put in place to assist it. I give an assurance to the noble Earl, Lord Kinnoull, that the Government will work with his committee. I share the tribute paid by the Leader of the House to the work of the noble Earl and the European committees of this House.

The noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer, said that it was not necessary to act. But the UK and the EU need to exchange notification of completion of procedures for provisional application early on 31 December. This exchange cannot be done until the Bill has received Royal Assent, as the passing of legislation is a necessary procedure for provisional application.

I was asked about security. The EU was never ready to allow us access to SIS II. That was not a matter of ECJ jurisdiction. However, as the noble Lord, Lord Hogan-Howe, reminded us, we have reached a far-reaching agreement to protect the British public in areas including evidence, extradition and the sharing of passenger and criminal records data. Control of our borders will enhance our security, allowing the UK to remain safe and secure. The Bill gives us the tools to achieve this.

I was asked about Northern Ireland. I acknowledge that the terms of the Northern Ireland protocol mean that the position of Northern Ireland is not as the rest of our kingdom. But we will guarantee unfettered access for Northern Ireland goods. This deal means that there will be no tariffs on UK goods destined for Northern Ireland. Ulster and its businesses will be able to benefit from the free trade deals that we strike across the world, and the long-term future of the protocol rests on the democratic consent of the people of Northern Ireland.

I was asked about impact assessments. The Government’s number one priority must be to pass this implementing legislation before the end of the transition period, to ensure certainty and clarity for businesses and citizens alike. Of course the Government recognise the value of conducting impact assessments in normal circumstances but, in light of the tight turnaround time to introduce and pass the Bill following the agreement on Christmas Eve, we did not consider it feasible to produce an impact assessment this week in advance of the Bill being introduced. The Government will of course continue to produce impact assessments for relevant future secondary legislation in the usual way.

I was asked about financial services. This agreement provides a stable foundation for us to develop our future relationship with the EU and facilitate new arrangements to promote international financial services trade. In addition to the trade negotiations, both sides are carrying out equivalence assessments. Equivalence is an autonomous mechanism by which one jurisdiction can recognise relevant standards in another.

Leaving the EU means that the Government now have full control over the UK’s legal and regulatory regime and, as my noble friend Lord Trenchard noted, it can make the best decisions about what is right for the United Kingdom and for one of its most productive and innovative sectors. We have agreed a joint declaration on regulatory co-operation that sets out our intention to address shared challenges by discussion, information exchange and wider co-operation.

I was asked about Gibraltar and the overseas territories. Although an agreement has not yet been reached on Gibraltar’s future relationship with the EU in line with the conclusion of the UK-EU deal, we are fully committed to continuing to work together with the Governments of Gibraltar and Spain to reach a political agreement as soon as practicable. Continuing to work together with Spain and the EU to mitigate the effects of the end of the transition period on Gibraltar and ensure the well-being and prosperity of people in the region is an absolute priority for the Government. This includes ensuring border fluidity, which is in all parties’ best interests. The UK has always been, and will remain, steadfast in our support for Gibraltar.

I was asked about data adequacy. The UK will regain full autonomy over its data protection rules from 1 January. Regrettably, the EU left too little time to ratify data adequacy decisions by the end of the year. We have therefore agreed a bridging mechanism for no more than six months. It will allow personal data to flow as it does now while EU adequacy decisions are adopted. We are confident of the outcome and do not expect the bridging mechanism to be in place for more than four months.

I was asked about Erasmus. I recognise the attachment of many to this programme, and I can confirm that we will stay in EU programmes such as Horizon Europe and Copernicus. But we consistently said that we would join Erasmus only if it was in line with UK interests and if we could agree fair terms for participation. Ultimately, the EU could not meet those objectives, and we do not consider participation to be in the interests of the United Kingdom. As has been announced, we will therefore proceed with our own UK-wide programme. This will be a scheme that is global in outlook—not limited to the EU—and focuses on UK priorities, such as supporting social mobility. The Turing scheme will be backed by over £100 million, providing funding for around 35,000 students in universities, colleges and schools to go on placements and exchanges overseas, starting in September 2021. Under the withdrawal agreement, the UK will continue to participate fully in the current Erasmus+ and European Solidarity Corps programmes.

I was asked about fishing. As a descendant of fisher folk, I share the attachment of so many to this harsh and often heroic calling. The deal that we have, backed by £100 million of investment to rebuild our industry, might not be as swift as some would wish, although it is much swifter than the EU wanted, but it points the way to growth after years of foreign control and ends the injustice of the CFP. From day one, the UK will again be an independent coastal state and manager of our own waters.

I was asked about the so-called level playing field. There is no dynamic alignment, no role for the ECJ and no block on our divergence from the acquis, although we freely aim for the highest standards on the environment and in the workplace. I, for one, look forward to an end to the cruel export of live animals, which has been protected by Brussels for far too long.

I was asked about the devolved institutions. The UK Government respect the devolution settlements and we are committed to working with the devolved Administrations on implementation of the agreements. I must report that we were disappointed to hear today that the Scottish Parliament voted against granting legislative consent and that the Northern Ireland Assembly carried a Motion amendment that called, among other things, for the Assembly to decline legislative consent. The Welsh Parliament today voted to note the introduction of the Bill, regretting that it is not in a position to determine legislative consent. We regret the results of those votes. However, the timing is challenging and the Bill must proceed so that the UK can meet its international obligations to implement the agreements by 31 December and ensure that all parts of the UK can benefit from their excellent terms.

I was asked about musicians. The UK pushed for a more ambitious agreement with the European Union on the temporary movement of business travellers that would have covered musicians and others, but our proposals were rejected by the European Union. However, I have obviously heard the remarks made by many noble Lords in the debate.

We will have a further full debate next Friday, when I understand that the House of Commons will be somewhere else, to engage again with these and other detailed questions. I have no doubts that there will be many other occasions. I will welcome that scrutiny, as I know my ministerial colleagues will. But I plead with your Lordships in your wisdom not to impede the Bill, which will answer the expectations of the majority of our countrymen and countrywomen, as is our duty.

I was surprised to read in the name of the Official Opposition not the simple word “yes” that the British people voted for in last December’s election, but 151 words of mudge and fudge, grumble and mumble. The noble Baroness opposite, as always, spoke with great grace and from a personal position that I deeply respect and understand, but I am afraid that her Motion is not one of a party that sees opportunity for our country. How ironic it is that a European debate that began in 1975 with a referendum aimed to paper over the cracks in a disunited Labour Party should end with this rambling Motion from a disunited Labour Party that is fearful of the future, lacking, as the noble Lord, Lord Howarth of Newport, said, any confidence in the genius of the British people. You cannot lead a nation forward if you have no faith in the path it has chosen.

We are told that this is a “thin” deal at 1,250 pages —too heavy for me to lift up. The Labour Motion condemns bureaucracy and regulation. How many more pages of the bureaucracy and regulation that this Bill enables us to escape form would we need before a deal would be thick enough for the Labour Party? A thicker deal must logically be a closer deal; a thicker deal means more institutional ties, not fewer. Are we to hear a promise next election from Sir Keir Starmer, as some have called for today, to renegotiate us back closer to Brussels? “Get Brexit undone”: is this to be the Labour cry?

Lord True Portrait Lord True (Con)
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The noble Lord, Lord Adonis, is ready to lead the charge. He has always been honest on that. I do not normally give advice to my opponents, but I do not think that that particular trumpet call will bring the blue wall tumbling down in some new miracle of Jericho.

I think that the Labour Party finds itself in a strange position, going one way in a couple of minutes to divide against the deal on Second Reading and then sidling the other way a few minutes later to vote for it on Third Reading. They become more like the Liberal Democrats every day, except that my Liberal Democrat friends have always remained honourably committed to their eccentric belief that Britain’s destiny is as a province of a European super state—although having heard the noble Lord, Lord Newby, say that he will vote for no deal later tonight, I confess I remain a little confused.

I agree with those who say that we should close the book, not keep it open as some noble Lords have said today, on 47 tempestuous years in which the European question bedevilled British politics and confined our horizons—years in which the common market those of us who voted for in 1975 thought we were joining morphed into an ever more constricting would-be single state without the British people ever being asked to give their assent. The British people never agreed to that and when asked in 2016 and in 2019 they said “no”.

The noble Lord, Lord Austin of Dudley, in a remarkable maiden speech—how much I look forward to hearing more from him—recalled something that all too many who have spoken in a negative tone today still seem to have forgotten. Many people—17.4 million and more—brought us to this place tonight. In reclaiming our borders, our laws and our destiny, the true movers are the common man and woman—the extraordinary people of these islands. They were told that they must not break with the EU, but they determined, “Yes, we must.” They were told in Project Fear that they could not break with the EU, that house prices would crash, pensions would be slashed and jobs destroyed. But in that quiet, British way, with 17.4 million pieces of paper pushed purposefully into ballot boxes in village, church and school halls across the land, they said, “Yes, we could.” They were even told after they had voted that in fact they had not known what they were doing, they had not understood what they were doing, and even—the memory of this should shame us all—that they were too stupid to understand. But last December they said again, firmly, “Yes, we had.” I ask your Lordships not to doubt or divide against that firmly expressed wish tonight.

I will not list all those who worked for this outcome, as it is time to draw to a close, but they were not always so many in your Lordships’ House. One of them was my noble friend Lord Cavendish of Furness, whose valedictory speech, so typical in its classical clarity and humanity, we sadly heard tonight. Who will ever forget, however, the rolling of so many eyes, the shaking of heads, the audible sniggers and groans when a few in this House ventured to speak over the last four years of the will of the people? Now let the people’s will finally be done. In saying that, I pay particular tribute to my noble friend Lord Callanan, who led so much enabling legislation through this House, for all he bore and forbore.

But above all, the credit for vindicating the will of the people goes to the grit, guile and negotiating skill of one who has so often been unfairly vilified in this House, and who was vilified again tonight—the Prime Minister, my right honourable friend, right on this great issue of our time, honourable in keeping his promise to get Brexit done, and those of us on this side are proud to call him our friend. With tens of millions of our fellow citizens, we say, “Thank you, Boris. You done good.”

The nature of any compromise is that not everyone gets what they wish for. We have heard this from both sides of the debate. My right honourable friend stuck at it, but he also compromised, and I too pay tribute to the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, who played a distinguished role in writing the final chapter of the skilled and dedicated Mr Barnier’s seemingly never-ending roman fleuve. This outcome is good for the UK and it is good for Europe, so let this agreement end the jabbing and parrying that have gone on for too long in Parliament and outside. Let us vote now. I urge all noble Lords to vote positively for the future, for a vote against this Bill, as the Liberal Democrats propose, is a vote for no-deal and for nihilism. A vote for the Labour Motion is a vote to prolong uncertainty—a vote for doubt over hope.

Every lesson of history is that freedom and free trade are the greatest engines of human happiness and prosperity. To turn our backs on the opportunity in the wider world before us would be an act of folly. To embrace it will redeem your Lordships and bring prizes yet untold. This is a Bill for freedom and free trade, for opportunity and control of our country’s own great destiny. Those are ideals which should appeal across all parties and unite all of us, after all the old divides. I have no hesitation in commending it, and commending the future, to this House.

--- Later in debate ---
22:57

Division 2

Ayes: 213


Labour: 142
Crossbench: 47
Independent: 15
Bishops: 5
Green Party: 2
Conservative: 1

Noes: 312


Conservative: 236
Crossbench: 55
Independent: 12
Democratic Unionist Party: 5
Bishops: 1
Ulster Unionist Party: 1
Labour: 1

--- Later in debate ---
Moved by
Lord True Portrait Lord True
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That the Bill do now pass.

Lord True Portrait Lord True (Con)
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My Lords, many words have been said. It is agreed on all sides, I think, that this should not be the occasion for a renewed debate. I know that the noble Lord, Lord Newby, wishes to press a Division against the passage of the Bill, so the only thing I want to say is to join noble Lords in thanking and paying tribute to the staff and clerks of the House and all those who have made it possible for us to return and have this Sitting.

It may seem odd to do so when a Bill has been with us for such a short time but I must thank the Bill team because, in fact, this Bill has been tracking the negotiations for a long time and people have been engaged in the very difficult task of getting a Bill together in a short time. They deserve our thanks.

With those short thanks, I beg to move.

Amendment to the Motion

Moved by
--- Later in debate ---
23:18

Division 3

Ayes: 101


Liberal Democrat: 80
Labour: 7
Crossbench: 5
Independent: 4
Green Party: 2
Plaid Cymru: 1

Noes: 466


Conservative: 236
Labour: 117
Crossbench: 79
Independent: 22
Bishops: 9
Democratic Unionist Party: 1

Royal Assent

(Limited Text - Ministerial Extracts only)

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Royal Assent & Royal Assent (Hansard) & Royal Assent: Royal Assent (Hansard)
Wednesday 30th December 2020

(1 year, 7 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Royal Assent Page Read Hansard Text Amendment Paper: Committee of the whole House Amendments as at 30 December 2020 - (30 Dec 2020)

This text is a record of ministerial contributions to a debate held as part of the European Union (Future Relationship) Act 2020 passage through Parliament.

In 1993, the House of Lords Pepper vs. Hart decision provided that statements made by Government Ministers may be taken as illustrative of legislative intent as to the interpretation of law.

This extract highlights statements made by Government Ministers along with contextual remarks by other members. The full debate can be read here

This information is provided by Parallel Parliament and does not comprise part of the offical record

Moved by
Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park
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That the House do now adjourn.

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Evans of Bowes Park) (Con)
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My Lords, may I take this opportunity to wish everyone in the House of Lords—the staff, the clerks and everyone who has been fantastic in having us here today—a very happy new year? On that note, I beg to adjourn.

House adjourned at 12.31 am.