All 16 contributions to the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 (Ministerial Extracts Only)

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Fri 20th Dec 2019
European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill
Commons Chamber

2nd reading & 2nd reading: House of Commons & Money resolution: House of Commons & Programme motion: House of Commons & Ways and Means resolution: House of Commons & 2nd reading & 2nd reading: House of Commons & Money resolution & Money resolution: House of Commons & Programme motion & Programme motion: House of Commons & Ways and Means resolution & Ways and Means resolution: House of Commons & 2nd reading & Programme motion & Money resolution & Ways and Means resolution
Tue 7th Jan 2020
European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill
Commons Chamber

Committee stage:Committee: 1st sitting & Committee: 1st sitting: House of Commons & Committee: 1st sitting & Committee: 1st sitting: House of Commons & Committee stage
Wed 8th Jan 2020
European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill
Commons Chamber

Committee stage:Committee: 2nd sitting & Committee: 2nd sitting: House of Commons & Committee: 2nd sitting & Committee: 2nd sitting: House of Commons
Thu 9th Jan 2020
European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill
Commons Chamber

3rd reading & 3rd reading: House of Commons & 3rd reading & 3rd reading: House of Commons & 3rd reading
Mon 13th Jan 2020
European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill
Lords Chamber

2nd reading (Hansard) & 2nd reading (Hansard): House of Lords & 2nd reading (Hansard) & 2nd reading (Hansard): House of Lords & 2nd reading
Tue 14th Jan 2020
European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill
Lords Chamber

Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard) & Committee stage:Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard): House of Lords & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Tue 14th Jan 2020
European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill
Lords Chamber

Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard continued) & Committee stage:Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard continued) & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard continued): House of Lords & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard continued) & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard continued): House of Lords
Wed 15th Jan 2020
European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill
Lords Chamber

Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard) & Committee stage:Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords & Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Wed 15th Jan 2020
European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill
Lords Chamber

Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard continued) & Committee stage:Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard continued) & Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard continued): House of Lords & Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard continued) & Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard continued): House of Lords
Thu 16th Jan 2020
European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill
Lords Chamber

Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard continued) & Committee stage:Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard continued) & Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard continued): House of Lords & Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard continued) & Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard continued): House of Lords
Mon 20th Jan 2020
European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill
Lords Chamber

Report stage & Report stage:Report: 1st sitting & Report stage (Hansard): House of Lords & Report: 1st sitting: House of Lords & Report: 1st sitting & Report: 1st sitting: House of Lords
Tue 21st Jan 2020
European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill
Lords Chamber

Report: 2nd sitting (Hansard) & Report stage:Report: 2nd sitting (Hansard) & Report: 2nd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords & Report: 2nd sitting (Hansard) & Report: 2nd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Tue 21st Jan 2020
European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill
Lords Chamber

Report: 2nd sitting (Hansard - continued) & Report stage:Report: 2nd sitting (Hansard continued) & Report: 2nd sitting (Hansard - continued): House of Lords & Report: 2nd sitting (Hansard - continued) & Report: 2nd sitting (Hansard - continued): House of Lords
Tue 21st Jan 2020
European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill
Lords Chamber

3rd reading (Hansard) & 3rd reading & 3rd reading (Hansard): House of Lords & 3rd reading (Hansard) & 3rd reading (Hansard): House of Lords
Wed 22nd Jan 2020
European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill
Commons Chamber

Consideration of Lords amendmentsPing Pong & Consideration of Lords amendments & Ping Pong: House of Commons & Ping Pong & Ping Pong: House of Commons
Wed 22nd Jan 2020
European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill
Lords Chamber

Consideration of Commons amendmentsPing Pong (Hansard) & Consideration of Commons amendments & Ping Pong (Hansard): House of Lords & Ping Pong (Hansard) & Ping Pong (Hansard): House of Lords

European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill

(Limited Text - Ministerial Extracts only)

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2nd reading & 2nd reading: House of Commons & Money resolution: House of Commons & Programme motion: House of Commons & Ways and Means resolution: House of Commons & Money resolution & Programme motion & Ways and Means resolution
Friday 20th December 2019

(4 years, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Hansard Text

This text is a record of ministerial contributions to a debate held as part of the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) 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.

I also beg that we come together, as a new Parliament, to break the deadlock and, finally, to get Brexit done. Now is the moment, as we leave the European Union, to reunite our country, and allow the warmth and natural affection we all share for our European neighbours to find renewed expression in one great new national project of building a deep, special and democratically accountable partnership with those nations we are proud to call our closest friends. Because this Bill, and this juncture in our national story, must not be seen as a victory for one party over another or one faction over another; this is the time when we move on and discard the old labels of “leave” and “remain”. In fact, the very words seem tired to me as I speak them—as defunct as “big-enders” and “little-enders” or as “Montagues” and “Capulets” at the end of the play. Now is the time to act together as one reinvigorated nation, one United Kingdom, filled with renewed confidence in our national destiny and determined, at last, to take advantage of the opportunities that now lie before us. The whole purpose of our withdrawal agreement is to set this in motion and avoid any further delay.

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
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In the hope that the hon. Gentleman does not wish to have any further delay, I give way to him.

Jonathan Edwards Portrait Jonathan Edwards
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The Bill contains provisions not to extend the transition phase—phase 2 of Brexit. Is there not a danger of that strengthening the hand of the European Union in those negotiations? Why has the Prime Minister boxed himself into a corner?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
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On the contrary, I think that most people would agree that this strengthens our negotiating position; if we have learnt anything from the experience of the last three years, it is that drift and dither means more acrimony and anguish. There would be nothing more dangerous for the new future that we want to build than allowing the permanent possibility of extending—

None Portrait Several hon. Members rose—
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--- Later in debate ---
Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
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I think I am coming to the point that hon. Members wish to discuss. There would be nothing more dangerous than extending the implementation period, in a torture that, as we all remember, came to resemble Lucy snatching away Charlie Brown’s football or Prometheus chained to the Tartarian crag, his liver pecked out by an eagle and then growing back, as hon. Members on both sides of the House will recall, only to be pecked out again, with the cycle repeated forever. This Bill, unlike Opposition Members, learns the emphatic lesson of the last Parliament and rejects any further delay. It ensures that we depart from the EU on 31 January, and at that point Brexit will be done—it will be over. The sorry story of the last three and a half years will be at an end and we will be able to move forward together. The Bill ensures that the implementation period must end on 31 December next year, with no possibility of an extension, and it paves the way for a new agreement on our future relationship with our European neighbours, based on an ambitious free trade agreement—

None Portrait Several hon. Members rose—
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Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
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No, I will not give way. This will be with no alignment on EU rules, but instead with control of our own laws, and close and friendly relations. This vision of the United Kingdom’s independence, a vision that inspires so many, is now, if this new Parliament allows, only hours from our grasp. The oven is on. It is set at gas mark 4; we can have this done by lunchtime—or a late lunchtime. The new deal that I negotiated with our European friends will restore our great institutions to their rightful place as the supreme instruments of British self-governance. Once again, this House will be the only assembly able to legislate for this United Kingdom, and British courts will be the sole arbiters of those laws, and above them all will be the sovereign British people, masters of their own fate, controlling their own borders, laws, money and trade.

Throughout our new immigration system, we will not only welcome those with talent, but go out of our way to attract people of ability, regardless of nationality or background. We are able to do this only because the freedoms offered by leaving the EU allow us, once again, to control overall numbers and bear down on unskilled immigration with our new points-based system.

Joanna Cherry Portrait Joanna Cherry (Edinburgh South West) (SNP)
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Will the Prime Minister give way?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
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If the hon. and learned Lady is against control of immigration, I would like to hear her explain why.

Joanna Cherry Portrait Joanna Cherry
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The Prime Minister has spoken about welcoming people to these islands. Clause 37 of his Bill removes the Government’s existing obligations with regard to unaccompanied children seeking asylum in the European Union who want to join their family members in the United Kingdom. Lord Dubs has described this removal of a right as “mean-spirited and nasty”. Can the Prime Minister tell me why he is making this mean-spirited and nasty move?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
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I am afraid that the hon. and learned Lady has totally misunderstood, or possibly misrepresented, the purpose of what we are doing here. We remain proud of our work in receiving unaccompanied children. We will continue to support fully the purpose and spirit of the Dubs amendment, but this is not the place—in this Bill—to do so. The Government remain absolutely committed to doing so.

Among the many other advantages of this deal is, of course, the fact that we will be able to sign free trade deals with the booming markets of the world, a power that no British government have enjoyed for the past 46 years. We will cast off the common agricultural policy, which has too often frustrated and overburdened our farmers. We will release our fishermen from the tangled driftnets of arcane quota systems.

Owen Paterson Portrait Mr Owen Paterson (North Shropshire) (Con)
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I offer my heartiest congratulations to my right hon. Friend. No communities will be more keen to get control back than fishing communities. Will he guarantee that we will not make the mistake of the 1970s and allow the allocation of fishing resources to be a bargaining chip in the treaty negotiations? Will he guarantee that we will become a normal independent maritime nation and conduct negotiations on an annual basis for reciprocal deals to mutual advantage?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
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My right hon. Friend perfectly understands what we need to do to restore to this country the advantages of its spectacular marine wealth, and that is exactly what we will do, once we become an independent coastal state. I remind the House and Opposition Members that one party in this House of Commons is committed to not just reversing the will of the people, but handing back control of Scotland’s outstanding marine wealth to Brussels, and that is the Scottish National party—that is what they would do. I look forward to hearing them explain why they continue to support this abject policy and abject surrender.

Under this Bill, this House also regains the authority to set the highest possible standards, and we will take advantage of these new freedoms to legislate in parallel on the environment, and on workers’ and consumers’ rights. I reject the inexplicable fear—

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
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I give way, with pleasure, as I think the hon. Lady may want to talk about this inexplicable fear.

Lisa Nandy Portrait Lisa Nandy
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The Prime Minister is right to say that he has won a mandate to get Brexit done, but what he has not earned is the right to shoehorn into this legislation measures that are a direct attack on some of the most vulnerable children in the world. If he thinks that people in towns such as mine, who believe that we should deliver Brexit, want to see us turn our back on decency, tolerance, kindness, warmth and empathy, he is wrong. Will he take these measures about child refugees out of this Bill?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
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I understand where the hon. Lady is coming from but, like the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh South West (Joanna Cherry), she is wrong on this point. We remain absolutely committed to ensuring that this country will continue to receive unaccompanied children. We have led Europe and received thousands already—this country has a proud record—and we will continue to do so.

I thought that the hon. Member for Wigan (Lisa Nandy) was going to say that this House would be unable to legislate or regulate on the environment in a way that is superior to the European Union, but that is what we will now be able to do. I reject the idea that our proceedings must somehow be overseen and invigilated by the EU and measured against its benchmarks. The very essence of the opportunity of Brexit is that we will no longer outsource these decisions; with renewed national self-confidence, we will take them ourselves and answer to those who sent us here. It was this Parliament, and this country, that led the whole of Europe and the world in passing the Factory Acts and the clean air Acts of the 19th century, which improved industrial working conditions by law.

This House should never doubt its ability to pioneer standards for the fourth industrial revolution, just as we did for the first.

That epoch-making transformation, as with all the pivotal achievements of British history, reflected the combined national genius of every corner of this United Kingdom. In this new era, our success will once again be achieved as one nation. This new deal in the Bill ensures that the United Kingdom will leave the EU whole and entire, with an unwavering dedication to Northern Ireland’s place in our Union.

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
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On that point, I will happily give way to the hon. Gentleman.

Gavin Robinson Portrait Gavin Robinson
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I am grateful to the Prime Minister for taking my intervention—I almost thought we had fallen out. He knows that he now has the strength from the election to deliver Brexit. He also knows that we want to deliver Brexit, but we want to do so as one nation, so I am glad that that phraseology is being re-injected into the debate. However, he needs to understand the concerns about the customs arrangements for Northern Ireland, the tariff differentials and the potential for checks, and he needs to understand the concerns we share because we want to ensure that we leave as one nation. We are not going to resolve those issues today, but will he commit to proper, thorough and detailed reconsideration, using the strength that he has to deliver for the entirety of this country?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Of course, I understand the point that the hon. Gentleman raises, but let me remind him that the deal commits to unfettered access, but in all parts of the UK. It respects the territorial integrity of the UK, and it ensures that Northern Ireland is part of the UK customs territory and would therefore benefit immediately from any of our new free trade deals as soon as they are in force.

Let me remind the House that the special provisions applying to Northern Ireland, which ensure a very important thing—that there is no hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland—are subject to the consent of the Northern Ireland Assembly. Unless the Assembly specifically withholds its consent, and unless it insists on continuing with this approach, then those arrangements would automatically lapse into full alignment with the rest of the UK. I believe that these arrangements serve the interests of Northern Ireland and the UK as a whole. It is a great deal for our whole country.

None Portrait Several hon. Members rose—
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Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
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No, I will not give way.

We must now begin building our future relationship with the EU. Our aim is to provide a close friendship between sovereign equals, to promote our common interests, inspired by pride in our European heritage and civilisation. Clause 3 of the political declaration invokes that spirit, establishing

“the parameters of an ambitious, broad, deep and flexible partnership”

rooted in our shared “history and ideals” and

“standing together against threats to rights and values from without or within”.

I am absolutely determined that this great project will be the project not of one Government or one party, but of the British nation as a whole, so Parliament will be kept fully informed of the progress of these negotiations.

Caroline Lucas Portrait Caroline Lucas (Brighton, Pavilion) (Green)
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Will the Prime Minister give way?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
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No. We should be fortified by a renewed sense of confidence. [Interruption.] In all fairness, I think that I have given way quite a few times.

The policy of the Liberal Democrats is now to have another referendum. They have abandoned revoke and now want another referendum. When they have worked out their policy, I will give way.

We should be fortified by a renewed sense of confidence that while our democratic institutions have been tested as never before, if this House comes together now to support the Bill, as I hope it will, history will record that the first act of this new Parliament, in its earliest days, was to break the ice floes and find a new passage through to unsuspected oceans of opportunity. So now is the moment to come together and write a new and exciting chapter in our national story, to forge a new partnership with our European friends, to stand tall in the world and to begin the healing for which the people of this country yearn. And it is in that spirit of unity that I commend this Bill to the House.

--- Later in debate ---
Steve Barclay Portrait The Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union (Stephen Barclay)
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I join the right hon. and learned Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Keir Starmer) in welcoming new Members to the House, and in reflecting on the positive tone of the debate, which is in marked contrast with debates in the previous Parliament. I also join him in congratulating my hon. Friend the Member for Fareham (Suella Braverman), a new mum returning to make her valued contribution to this House.

The general election delivered a clear instruction to this House that we should leave the European Union. Parliament must now reflect the will of the country and make good on that democratic decision by backing this Bill. The Bill is not a victory for one side over another. The time has come to discard the old labels, to move from the past divisions and to come together as one United Kingdom.

Our country produced a mandate to leave the EU in 2016, but the previous Parliament rejected it time and again. It has taken a second vote to ensure that the mandate to leave is finally honoured. It is clear that the people did know in 2016 what they were voting for after all. Despite the efforts of those determined not to accept the referendum result, the House now has the opportunity to end the delay and to forge a new relationship, both with our neighbours in Europe and, indeed, within this House. In reflecting that spirit, I very much welcomed the speech of the hon. Member for South Shields (Mrs Lewell-Buck), who said that she would support the Bill in the Lobby today.

Before I turn to the substance of the Bill, may I congratulate the hon. Member for Belfast South (Claire Hanna) on her very impressive maiden speech? She showed that she will contribute greatly to the work of the House, and her point about reconciliation was timely. The hon. Member for North Down (Stephen Farry) also made an excellent maiden speech, as indeed did the hon. Member for Stirling (Alyn Smith), who spoke powerfully of his opposition to Brexit, albeit after leaving an EU institution to come here. He has started his own Brexit as we vote on the Bill.

The Bill delivers certainty for our citizens living in Europe, and EU citizens living here in the UK, by guaranteeing their rights as set out in part 3, including through an independent monitoring authority, which will rightly hold the Government to account. There will be a grace period to ensure that nobody is left behind in registering for the EU settlement scheme. The Bill also protects frontier workers. It recognises professional qualifications and, indeed, provides for fair rights of appeal. That is because we value the contribution of EU citizens who have built their lives in our country, and the Bill will guarantee their right to continue to do so.

John Hayes Portrait Sir John Hayes
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My right hon. Friend is right to draw attention to the value that has been given to this country by those who have travelled here, but the point about that, as he said when he spoke of accountability, is that such decisions should be made by this Parliament, which is accountable to the British people. That is why I anticipate our policies on migration, which we will now have a chance to effect as a result of the passage of this Bill.

Steve Barclay Portrait Stephen Barclay
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My right hon. Friend has always been a champion of the sovereignty of the House, and I will come on to how the Bill indeed champions the very sovereignty that I know he cares so passionately about.

The Bill also unlocks confidence for our businesses by ending dither and delay, which in turn will unlock huge new investment in our economy, ensuring more and better jobs. As my right hon. Friend has just reflected, the Bill provides control for our Parliament. Clause 1 reinforces the repeal of the Act, which brought European law into the UK. The Bill ensures parliamentary scrutiny through the European Scrutiny Committee in clause 29 and asserts parliamentary sovereignty through clause 38. The whole House will recognise the work of my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Sir William Cash) on this and on so many other issues reflected in the Bill. The very essence of Brexit is that we will no longer outsource our decisions to others in Brussels.

Ben Bradley Portrait Ben Bradley
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We have heard much from the Opposition about their fear of bringing such decisions back to the United Kingdom, particularly those around workers’ rights. Will my right hon. Friend absolutely confirm that this Government have every intention of protecting and improving the rights of workers in this country, who overwhelmingly backed the Conservatives in this election?

Steve Barclay Portrait Stephen Barclay
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend is a champion for workers’ rights and his constituents, and he will know that not only did our manifesto make that clear commitment—on page 5—but did so in parallel with the Bill. The Bill is about implementing in domestic law the international agreement that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has reached with the EU. This House does not need other people to tell us how to protect the rights of workers and others. As my hon. Friend well knows, in many areas this Parliament goes further than the EU in safeguarding rights, not least in areas such as maternity and paternity rights. Following the manifesto commitment to high standards, I look forward to the House continuing that tradition and maintaining good standards.

Bob Seely Portrait Mr Seely
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One thing that concerns folks on the Isle of Wight and the south coast is seeing super trawlers hoovering up 250 tonnes of fish a day off Shanklin and Eastbourne. Is not one of the great benefits of the Bill, our leaving the EU and our getting a new fisheries Bill that we will be able to stop super trawlers coming into our seas, which we are not allowed to do at the moment because of our membership of the EU?

Steve Barclay Portrait Stephen Barclay
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend is right. One of the key features of taking back control of our waters is this Parliament making those decisions for itself. One of the mysteries about Opposition Members is that those representing Scotland do not seem to have the self-confidence to take back those decision-making powers, but rather want to give them back to Europe.

David Evennett Portrait Sir David Evennett
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I am listening with great interest to my right hon. Friend. Can he also confirm that when we leave the EU we will have control over our taxes again and the ability to make decisions on them, including VAT?

Steve Barclay Portrait Stephen Barclay
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My right hon. Friend is right. One has only to look at what our manifesto commits us to do once we have control of our taxes and at what the Government have already done to raise the amount people can earn before they pay tax. We believe in backing those who wish to work and provide for their families, and our tax system will do exactly that.

Along with the terms of our withdrawal, the Bill reflects the political declaration, which sets out the framework for our future relationship. Now we need to get on with negotiating on this basis so we can agree our future relationship by the end of the implementation period on 31 December 2020. The shadow Brexit Secretary referenced clause 33. That clause reinforces the Government’s commitment in their manifesto not to extend this period. Part 5 of the political declaration is clear: we are committed to developing in good faith agreements that give effect to our future relationship, the cornerstone of which is a comprehensive free trade agreement by the end of 2020.

The shadow Brexit Secretary said that clause 33 was ridiculous. It is not ridiculous to act on manifesto commitments that we have given to the electorate. It is not ridiculous when the EU itself, in the political declaration, has agreed to the timetable of the end of December 2020. If that is the central concern of Opposition Members, it would have been better reflected in talks on previous deals, when the Labour party raised many other objections that underlined the fact that it simply did not want Brexit delivered at all.

We now have a deal that reflects both the referendum—the single largest democratic exercise in British history—and the defining issue of the general election. It is time to end the delay, to come together and heal our divisions and, above all, to listen to the people we serve. The British public have given their instruction. This Bill delivers Brexit. I commend it to the House.

Question put, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

The House proceeded to a Division.

Roger Gale Portrait Mr Deputy Speaker (Sir Roger Gale)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I ask the Serjeant at Arms to investigate the delay in the Aye Lobby.

--- Later in debate ---
14:14

Division 1

Ayes: 358


Conservative: 353
Labour: 6

Noes: 234


Labour: 164
Scottish National Party: 45
Liberal Democrat: 11
Democratic Unionist Party: 7
Plaid Cymru: 4
Social Democratic & Labour Party: 2
Alliance: 1
Independent: 1
Green Party: 1

Bill read a Second time.
--- Later in debate ---
14:34

Division 2

Ayes: 353


Conservative: 352
Labour: 1

Noes: 243


Labour: 175
Scottish National Party: 43
Liberal Democrat: 11
Democratic Unionist Party: 7
Plaid Cymru: 4
Social Democratic & Labour Party: 2
Alliance: 1
Independent: 1
Green Party: 1

European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill (Money)

European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill

(Limited Text - Ministerial Extracts only)

Read Full debate
Committee stage & Committee: 1st sitting: House of Commons & Committee: 1st sitting
Tuesday 7th January 2020

(4 years, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Hansard Text Amendment Paper: Committee of the whole House Amendments as at 7 January 2020 - (7 Jan 2020)

This text is a record of ministerial contributions to a debate held as part of the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) 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

Steve Barclay Portrait The Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union (Steve Barclay)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I begin by wishing you, Sir Roger, and all Members of the House a happy new year.

The Bill implements the withdrawal agreement negotiated by the Prime Minister. It fulfils the will of the British people and will set the stage for our bright future outside the European Union. It lets us take back control of our laws, our money, our borders and our trade policy, and it delivers on the overwhelming mandate given to us by the British people to get Brexit done by the end of January.

Sir Roger, as you have just informed the Committee, I am, under your guidance, speaking to this group. I will speak to clauses 1 to 6, clause 33 and new clauses 4 and 36, noting that new clause 19 and amendment 25 have not been selected.

Clause 1 gives legal effect to the implementation period in domestic law. The implementation period ensures that common rules will remain in place until the end of this year, meaning that businesses will be able to trade on the same terms as now until a future relationship has been agreed. This provides certainty and stability for the duration of this time. During the implementation period, the effect of the European Communities Act 1972 will be saved and modified on a temporary basis to provide the necessary continuity. It will have a new purpose: to give effect to EU law as set out in the withdrawal agreement, to provide for the implementation period. As a result, businesses and citizens need prepare for only one set of changes as we move into our future relationship with the EU.

John Redwood Portrait John Redwood (Wokingham) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Can my right hon. Friend give us an estimate of how much the implementation period will cost us, and will he reassure us that once we are out properly at the end of this year, there will be no future payments thereafter?

Steve Barclay Portrait Steve Barclay
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

This will secure our membership for the period. One of the costs for businesses—one of the greater costs—would result from two sets of changes, without the comfort of an implementation period. The business community itself—of which I know my right hon. Friend is a great champion—said that it wanted an implementation period while the negotiation on the trade deal was being conducted to avoid the higher cost of two sets of changes.

The saving of the ECA will be repealed at the end of the implementation period, at which point the repurposed ECA will cease to have effect. Clause 1 is essential to achieving the terms agreed in the withdrawal agreement and ensuring the proper functioning of European Union law during the implementation period, and for that reason it must stand part of the Bill.

Caroline Lucas Portrait Caroline Lucas (Brighton, Pavilion) (Green)
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I still do not think that the Secretary of State has made a clear enough case for why he would wish to tie the Government’s hands in such an unnecessary way and risk the disaster of no deal. Also, there could be perfectly constructive negotiations going ahead, which he would be prepared to throw away if they could not fit into the arbitrarily short time of 11 months. Will he tell us why he thinks it is worth running that risk, which is such a big risk for our businesses and for our economy?

Steve Barclay Portrait Steve Barclay
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I know that we have two days for the Committee stage, but it is very odd for someone who wants us to remain a member of the European Union to complain about the fact that we have an implementation period so that the business community does not face two sets of changes and so that we give businesses confidence for the rest of the year.

Clause 2 saves EU-derived domestic legislation for the implementation period. The last one and a half decades have seen a substantial amount of EU legislation that has required domestic legislation, both primary and secondary. That domestic legislation constitutes a large body of law, and to ensure that the law continues to work properly during the implementation period, we need to take several important steps. First, we must preserve the legislation to avoid its being impliedly repealed following the repeal of the ECA. If we do not save it, there will be a risk that it will either fall away or be emptied of meaning, which could mean that citizens and businesses were no longer protected by, or indeed able to rely on, existing rules.

The second essential purpose of the clause is to maintain the proper functions of the statute book for the duration of the implementation period. During that period, we will continue to apply this law, but we will not be part of the European Union. To ensure that that is reflected in the statute book, the Bill provides for time-limited glosses, or modifications, to new and existing EU-derived legislation. Those glosses make clear the way in which EU law terms and UK legislation should be read so that our laws continue to work during the implementation period. Let me give one example. All references to European Union citizens in the UK statute book will, as a general rule, be read as including UK nationals during the implementation period. These provisions will automatically be repealed at the end of the year when they are no longer needed.

Chris Bryant Portrait Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab)
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I hope that the Secretary of State will be able to clarify whether that also applies to the European arrest warrant. Obviously, we will remain subject to it and able to take advantage of it during the implementation period, but at the end of that period, as a third party, we will simply not be able to enter into it. During the implementation period, will British subjects still be subject to the arrest warrant overseas?

Steve Barclay Portrait Steve Barclay
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Under clause 1, the implementation period ensures the continuity of the law. That is why it is saved, but modified. Clause 2, and the others in the group, deal with the technical terminology. Where there is a change in meaning, it means continuity. I see that the hon. Gentleman is frowning. The substance of my reply is yes, in that the Bill ensures continuity. The purpose of terms such as “European Union citizen” will have ceased because we will have left, but, on the other hand, the implementation in EU law will continue, allowing those terms to continue to be applied and any tidying up—any technical changes—to be applied. So this is a technical glossing and that is its purpose.

Catherine West Portrait Catherine West (Hornsey and Wood Green) (Lab)
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While the Secretary of State is on his feet discussing this, could he set out the exact position for EU nationals, because those of us who have up to 42,000 living locally are extremely concerned? There have been lots of discussions and tweets about this, so could he please just lay out exactly what the position will be not only during the next 12 months of the implementation plan but going forward?

Steve Barclay Portrait Steve Barclay
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The hon. Lady raises an important point. I do not want to stray too far into the second grouping in Committee, which is indeed on citizens’ rights and which the Security Minister will address, but what this Bill is doing is securing the rights of EU citizens within the UK and indeed the rights of UK citizens in the European Union, because we value the contribution that those EU citizens make to the UK. They have chosen to make their homes here and to bring up their families here, and their rights are protected. That is one of the reasons that I urge Members on both sides of the House to support this Bill.

William Cash Portrait Sir William Cash (Stone) (Con)
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During the transitional period, laws will be made in the European Union that we will be expected to obey. Does my right hon. Friend agree, however, that clauses 29 and 38—one of which deals with the review of legislation through the auspices of the European Scrutiny Committee, where we will be affected by our vital national interests being undermined—provide good protection for the United Kingdom’s national interests? Secondly, does he agree that the question of parliamentary sovereignty in clause 38 will complement that by ensuring that the whole process of legislation under the withdrawal agreement will not affect the continuing sovereignty of the United Kingdom Parliament, and that this therefore effectively provides a double lock on the rights of this House as we leave the European Union?

Steve Barclay Portrait Steve Barclay
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend is absolutely right to signpost those two safeguards being put in place, in which he played a significant part, but I would say that there are three. I will come on to the third, if I may slightly push him by making that correction. He is right to say that the European Scrutiny Committee, under his chairmanship, will have the right to trigger debates and scrutiny. Secondly, he has championed the clause dealing with the sovereignty of Parliament, which is set out clearly in the Bill. The third element that I would draw to his attention, which is within this grouping, is our legislating for the Government’s manifesto commitment not to extend the implementation period. That will ensure that there is no extension of the implementation period and will therefore ensure that there is no risk of a further one-year or two-year period during which the issue about which he was concerned in relation to those two other clauses could arise. So there are three protections, and not just the two that he mentioned.

William Cash Portrait Sir William Cash
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Very, very good!

Steve Barclay Portrait Steve Barclay
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I am pleased that my hon. Friend signals from a sedentary position that he is content with that.

Ultimately, clause 1 will ensure that there is continuity in our laws during the implementation period and that our law continues to operate properly. It is therefore essential and must stand part of the Bill.

Karin Smyth Portrait Karin Smyth (Bristol South) (Lab)
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The Secretary of State has commented about the sovereignty of this United Kingdom Parliament across the whole United Kingdom. At all stages in the future, as marked out by the Northern Ireland protocol and the exceptions to this Bill, the people of Northern Ireland will be subject to European Union law for a long time into the future, as far as we can see, so it is not correct, is it, to say that the sovereignty of the entire United Kingdom will be placed in this place?

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Steve Barclay Portrait Steve Barclay
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We will debate at length tomorrow the provisions relating specifically to Northern Ireland, but there is a further sovereignty within the Bill in respect of Northern Ireland. I do not want to stray too far into that debate now, but there is a consent mechanism that pertains specifically to the Northern Ireland protocol, so there is a further sovereignty lock in that regard. However, that is a matter for the groupings that we will address tomorrow.

Turning to clause 3, we are confident that the list of so-called glosses set out in clause 2 works in all the cases that we have examined, and I pay tribute to the officials who have trawled the statute book in that regard. However, it is right that we, as a responsible Government, reserve the ability to nuance the impact of those technical changes should unforeseen issues arise during the implementation period. The power set out in clause 3 provides for that. The Bill gives five different applications for that power. Three relate to the glosses. The power can add to the glosses; it can make exceptions; and it can be used to make different provisions from the list, if for any reason we need to change a gloss in a specific case or set of cases. The power has two further applications: it can be used to tidy up the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 and to cover any specific technical inoperabilities that may occur that have not been foreseen. It is appropriate, prudent and sensible that the Government are prepared in this regard, which is why those five elements are in the Bill.

Joanna Cherry Portrait Joanna Cherry (Edinburgh South West) (SNP)
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Analysis by the Scottish Parliament Information Centre, which is the equivalent of the House of Commons Library and is therefore independent, notes that clause 3 empowers UK Ministers acting alone to make provision in devolved policy areas. The Government’s delegated powers memorandum states that they will not normally do so without the agreement of the relevant devolved Administration, but as the Secretary of State will be aware, the Sewel convention does not apply to delegated legislation. Does he therefore agree that this power shows that the Bill is indeed the power grab that the Scottish National party has always said it is? If it is not, why is it there at all?

Steve Barclay Portrait Steve Barclay
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The hon. and learned Lady is incorrect in saying that. First, this is an international agreement, which is a reserved matter—a matter for the United Kingdom. Secondly, these are glosses—technical issues—in terms of the tidying up that I set out, and they are tightly defined. Thirdly, the devolved elements are addressed by giving the devolved Assemblies the power, through clause 4, to do further glosses themselves.

Joanna Cherry Portrait Joanna Cherry
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I am sorry, but the Secretary of State is simply wrong about that. On any legal analysis, it is quite clear that clause 3 gives UK Ministers acting alone the power to make regulations in relation to areas of devolved competence. I reiterate my question: why is that power there at all if the Government are not intending to use it to take powers away from the Scottish Parliament and other devolved Administrations?

Steve Barclay Portrait Steve Barclay
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Again, with great respect to the hon. and learned Lady, she is over-reaching in the interpretation that she is applying to clause 3. It is a technical provision that allows for technical changes—glosses to terminology —such as the example that I gave the Committee a moment ago of how EU citizens may be defined. The clause is for technical changes in unforeseen areas, rather than fundamental changes of powers. Indeed, we have given an equivalent power through clause 4, in respect of the ability of the devolved authorities to do exactly the same thing or very similar.

Clause 3 must stand part of the Bill to ensure that the statute book is maintained and that any unforeseen technical issues that arise in future are addressed. That is why clause 3 is required. It is not as the hon. and learned Lady characterises it; it is a technical provision for glosses for any issues that were unforeseen at the time of the Bill’s passage.

Joanna Cherry Portrait Joanna Cherry
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Could I probe that a bit further? In clause 4, proposed new paragraph 11B specifically provides that Scottish Government—and indeed Welsh Government —Ministers cannot make any provision outwith devolved competence. However, there is no equivalent provision in clause 3 saying that the British Government cannot not use the powers to make regulations about devolved matters. If this is just technical, as the Secretary of State says, why will he not agree to include a similar qualification in relation to the British Government’s powers? If he will do so, could that perhaps be addressed in the House of Lords?

Steve Barclay Portrait Steve Barclay
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That is not something that I would urge the other place to address, because this is a provision to address unforeseen areas in which technical changes may be required in the tightly constrained areas set out in clause 3. The hon. and learned Lady turns to clause 4, which confers on the devolved authorities a broadly equivalent power to that set out in clause 3. Where legislating for the implementation period falls within devolved competences, it is right that legislative changes can be made by the devolved authorities, with which I am sure she would agree. Therefore, the change in clause 4 provides the devolved authorities with corresponding powers to those set out under proposed new section 8A(1) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, as outlined in clause 3, so far as they are exercised within the devolved authorities’ competences.

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Catherine West Portrait Catherine West
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Will the Secretary of State explain in clear language how he believes that will be played out at airports? Will there be several queues? Will there be one queue for everybody from European countries? I ask because many people ask me these questions in my surgery.

Steve Barclay Portrait Steve Barclay
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We will go into more detail on citizens’ rights when we discuss the second group of amendments, but clause 5 secures the legal effect to the protections that apply to citizens within the EEA EFTA states. One of the big questions on the Brexit discussions that we have heard repeatedly in this place has been, “To what extent will people’s rights be protected?” This Bill is doing that for EU nationals through clause 5, and clause 6 mirrors those protections in law for citizens of the EEA EFTA states. The hon. Lady touches on the arrangements for citizens’ rights, which are a separate issue, but this is about how legal protection will apply to those nationals.

Clause 6 gives effect in domestic law to the EEA EFTA and Swiss separation agreements in a similar way to the withdrawal agreement. This ensures that a Norwegian citizen living in the UK can rely on their rights in a UK court in broadly the same way as a Swedish citizen. It does so in the same way as clause 5.

We do not want a Norwegian, Liechtenstein, Icelandic or Swiss national to have any less certainty on their rights than an EU national here or, indeed, a UK citizen in Europe. Clause 6 also enshrines the legal certainty for businesses and individuals covered by the EEA EFTA agreement that article 4 of the withdrawal agreement provides. This clause, as presented, is vital to the UK’s implementation of the EEA EFTA and Swiss agreements, and it must stand part of the Bill.

Clause 33 prohibits the UK from agreeing to an extension of the implementation period. Page 5 of the Conservative manifesto says:

“we will not extend the implementation period beyond December 2020”,

and clause 33 says:

“A Minister of the Crown may not agree in the Joint Committee to an extension of the implementation period.”

It could not be clearer. This Government are determined to honour our promise to the British people and to get Brexit done.

Both the EU and the UK committed to a deal by the end of 2020 in the political declaration. Now, with absolute clarity on the timetable to which we are working, the UK and the EU will be able to get on with it. In sum, clause 33 will ensure that we meet the timetable set out in the political declaration and deliver on our manifesto promise. For that reason, the clause must stand part of the Bill.

Chris Bryant Portrait Chris Bryant
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I understand why clause 33 is in the Bill. As much as I am a remainer—I remain a remainer, and I will remain a remainer until my dying day—I none the less accept that the second referendum has now happened. That is the end of it.

My anxiety, however, was first expressed, in a sense, by the previous Prime Minister when she wrote the first letter of intent with regard to article 50, which stated that we would have trouble on security issues if we did not have a full deal by the end of the implementation period. I ask the Government to think very carefully about how we ensure that, by the end of this year, we have a security deal covering the whole range of security issues that face this country. I would argue that that is as important as the trade-related issues.

Steve Barclay Portrait Steve Barclay
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I welcome the constructive way in which the hon. Gentleman raises his concerns about security while recognising the general election mandate and how it plays into this clause and its reflection of the manifesto.

I draw the hon. Gentleman’s attention to two things. First, the withdrawal agreement commits both sides, including the European Union, to using their best endeavours to reach agreement. Secondly, the political declaration commits to a timescale of the end of 2020. That is why we are confident that this can be done to the timescale, and it is a reflection of the commitments given by both the UK and the EU in the withdrawal agreement and the political declaration.

Kevin Hollinrake Portrait Kevin Hollinrake (Thirsk and Malton) (Con)
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Does the Secretary of State agree that all things are possible when both parties to a negotiation are willing to proceed in good spirit? Indeed, in a briefing to EU politicians in November 2019, Michel Barnier said the timescale would normally be far too short but that Brussels would strive to have a deal in place by the end of 2020. It is clearly possible to do this deal for the end of 2020. Does my right hon. Friend agree that is the right approach to take?

Steve Barclay Portrait Steve Barclay
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I very much agree with my hon. Friend. Indeed, the Commission President will be meeting the Prime Minister tomorrow, and I will be meeting Michel Barnier, to act on that constructive spirit. Both sides have committed to the timescale.

I am conscious that the House is now in a different place, but many Members will recall that it was often said it was impossible to reach an agreement before, indeed, the agreement was reached.

Sammy Wilson Portrait Sammy Wilson (East Antrim) (DUP)
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I welcome the fact that the Government are determined to bring this process to an end by December 2020, and I hope that that does concentrate minds in the EU. If the EU and the Government cannot come to an agreement by then, what are the implications for, first, the future arrangements and, secondly, the current withdrawal agreement, especially the provisions in Northern Ireland?

Steve Barclay Portrait Steve Barclay
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First, I believe we can and will do this, and, as I have indicated to the House, so does the EU, because it has committed, in the political declaration, to doing it. Secondly, a number of issues are addressed through this Bill: citizens’ rights, which the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas) asked about in relation to her constituents, are protected through this Bill. People used to talk about a no-deal outcome, and one thing this Bill does is secure the protection of the 3 million EU citizens within our country, who are valued, and of the more than 1 million UK citizens there. The right hon. Gentleman has concerns about the Northern Ireland protocol, and I stand ready, as do my ministerial colleagues, to continue to discuss issues with him. We will debate that in more detail in Committee tomorrow, but, again, the Northern Ireland protocol is secured through the passage of this Bill. That puts us in a very different place from where many of the debates were in the previous Parliament in respect of concerns about no deal.

Caroline Lucas Portrait Caroline Lucas
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I remind the Secretary of State that just last month the Commission President said that she has serious concerns about this timetable. All experts in trade are concerned that an 11-month period simply does not necessarily give the time to get a good deal done, so why is he signing up now to something he could postpone until at least June, when he will have a better sense of how negotiations are going? Why is he cutting off his nose to spite his face by saying now that he will not extend the implementation period?

Steve Barclay Portrait Steve Barclay
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I will move on, because new clauses 4 and 36 speak to the same point, but, in short, this is being done partly for the reasons I have already given the House in respect of what is set out in the political declaration, where there is a shared commitment, and partly because Members on my side of the House gave a manifesto commitment to stick to this timetable. I am sure the hon. Lady would be the first to criticise the Government if they made a manifesto commitment and then decided not to stand by it. So we are committed to the commitment we gave on the timescale, which is why we want to move forward with clause 33.

Steve Barclay Portrait Steve Barclay
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I will make a little progress and then, of course, I will come back to the hon. Gentleman.

New clauses 4 and 36 stand in the names of the Leader of the Opposition and the acting leader of the Liberal Democrats respectively. New clause 4 has been tabled by the Leader of the Opposition in an attempt to force the Government to extend the implementation period if a deal has not been agreed with the EU by 15 June. The new clause would also give Parliament a vote on any such extension. New clause 36 is similar in effect to new clause 4, but it would do this without having any parliamentary vote. It states that a deal is required on both economic and security matters by 1 June or an extension is mandated as a consequence of this legislation. The Opposition parties therefore want to amend the Bill to force further delay.

Gary Sambrook Portrait Gary Sambrook (Birmingham, Northfield) (Con)
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Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is astounding that so many Opposition Members did not listen to the call in the recent general election from the people, who are fed up with continuous delays and extensions? The message they gave us on the doorstep was to get Brexit done so that we can all move on and start talking about other things, such as our NHS, schools and policing.

Steve Barclay Portrait Steve Barclay
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend is right to say that a very clear message was reflected in our mandate. To be fair to Opposition Members, I should say that I watched the shadow Brexit Secretary on “The Andrew Marr Show” and he did accept the need to move on. [Interruption.] I am giving credit to him, although I appreciate that he is engaged on other matters in his own party at the moment. My hon. Friend is absolutely right that there was a clear desire from the British public to get on to the other priorities to which he refers.

Jonathan Edwards Portrait Jonathan Edwards
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Is not the danger in setting this fixed date that the British Government will quickly have to make a decision about what they want to achieve in the second phase of Brexit? Are they going to go for close alignment? If so, they could possibly get the deal done in the year. But if they decide they are going to disalign, that will create difficulties, and the best we can hope for will be, if not a no-deal cliff edge, a bare-bones free trade agreement. That could be very bad news for the economy.

Steve Barclay Portrait Steve Barclay
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With respect to the hon. Gentleman, we see it as a win-win. The EU wishes to trade with the UK; we wish to trade with the EU. They are our neighbours and we want to have a constructive relationship, but at the same time people voted for change and they want to see change. The Government are committed to delivering, through the Bill, the change that the British public voted for.

Vicky Ford Portrait Vicky Ford (Chelmsford) (Con)
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Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is not only the British people who are fed up with seeing Parliament going round and round in circles on Brexit, which is why they voted for the Conservative party in the general election? People in many European countries just want to get on and get past Brexit. They want a trade deal with us; we should agree one quickly and move on.

Steve Barclay Portrait Steve Barclay
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend, who always speaks with authority as a former Member of the European Parliament, is absolutely right to understand that this is a desire not just of the British public but of many of our friends and neighbours in Europe, who want to see the debate move forward and therefore want to see this legislation delivered. That is why it is right that we have clause 1 and why the new clauses are inappropriate.

Bob Blackman Portrait Bob Blackman (Harrow East) (Con)
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Does my right hon. Friend agree that the negotiations with the European Union on the free trade agreement will be relatively easy on goods, but the negotiations on services will be much more complicated? That is mainly because on goods we have a balance of trade deficit with the European Union, but on services we have a balance of trade improvement.

Steve Barclay Portrait Steve Barclay
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I refer back to the remarks I made a moment ago about this being a win-win for both sides. Let me take a portfolio that I used to deal with as a Minister: financial services. It is in the interests of EU businesses to be able to access capital at the cheapest possible price. I see in his place my hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon (Stephen Hammond), who has expertise in this regard; he knows that the expertise in respect of the global markets and the liquidity that London offers is of benefit not just to the rest of the world but to colleagues in European businesses. They want access to the talent of the constituents of my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow East (Bob Blackman) and many others, which is why it is in both sides’ interests to reach agreement. That is the discussion that the Prime Minister will have with the President of the Commission tomorrow.

Stephen Hammond Portrait Stephen Hammond (Wimbledon) (Con)
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For those of us who have been clear about our opposition to no deal, the problem with new clause 4 is that in effect it takes away some of the certainty and benefits to business, because it opens up the possibility of an unended extension, and the problem with new clause 36 is that it is anti-democratic. Any colleagues who think that such provisions may need to be in place should recognise that they would undermine the whole purpose of the withdrawal agreement. The best way to stop no deal is to secure a deal.

Steve Barclay Portrait Steve Barclay
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. I know that he engages extensively with the business community, and what the business community wants is the clarity and certainty that the Bill delivers, and it also wants an implementation period that has a clear demarcation in terms of time. That is what the Bill will deliver.

None Portrait Several hon. Members rose—
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Steve Barclay Portrait Steve Barclay
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I shall give way one further time to the right hon. Member for Leeds Central (Hilary Benn), who was the Chair of the Exiting the European Union Committee.

Hilary Benn Portrait Hilary Benn (Leeds Central) (Lab)
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The Secretary of State has expressed enormous confidence that a deal will be done by December; may I test that confidence a little further? Will he give the House an assurance today that there is no prospect whatsoever of the UK leaving without an agreement in December this year?

Steve Barclay Portrait Steve Barclay
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I have set this out very clearly. The right hon. Gentleman will have studied the Bill—he always does—and will know exactly what is in clause 33, which is a commitment to stick to the timetable set out for the implementation period, which we committed to in our manifesto. I would hope that he, as a democrat, would want a Government to adhere to their manifesto.

The reality is that, on 12 December, the British public voted in overwhelming numbers to get Brexit done by 31 January and to conclude the implementation period by December 2020, so that we can look forward to a bright future as an independent nation. Page 5 of our manifesto explicitly states that we will negotiate a trade agreement by next year—one that will strengthen our union—and that we will not extend the implementation period beyond December 2020. We are delivering on these promises that the British people have entrusted us to deliver, and the Opposition are interested only in further delay and disruption. I urge Labour and the Liberal Democrats not to press new clauses 4 and 36.

I look forward to hearing from Members across the House as we take the Bill through Committee. This Government are committed to delivering Brexit, and this Bill will enable us to do so.

Roger Gale Portrait The Chairman of Ways and Means (Sir Roger Gale)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Order. I should probably have indicated for the benefit of new Members, and will indicate now, that clause 33 will not be decided today. Although it is grouped with these amendments, it will be taken as a Committee of the Whole House decision tomorrow and may or may not be divided on. To make that clear, it will not be that we have forgotten it.

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Stuart C McDonald Portrait Stuart C. McDonald
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I fully support that decision, and I will come to the court case in a moment. Another example I found when searching for cases is that parents have to choose which child will become a British citizen. They cannot afford to pay for two or three, so they have to pick which child will benefit from citizenship. It is a really appalling and cruel game.

It is therefore welcome, as my hon. Friend pointed out, that the fees have been found unlawful in the High Court because they do not properly take into account the best interests of children. I pay tribute to the Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens, Amnesty International and others for their work on that case. Instead of appealing against that decision, the Home Office should listen to the reasoned arguments and stop this absolute scandal. Among the victims of this scandal are many EU and European Economic Area nationals—for example, a young Belgian girl born in the UK to Belgian parents just after they moved here and before they were settled. She becomes entitled to British citizenship automatically after 10 years, or if the parents become UK citizens or settled themselves, but she or her family quite simply may not be able to afford the £1,000 fee. She, along with many others, will be forced to register under the settlement scheme, when they have a far stronger right to citizenship. As the Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens and Amnesty pointed out in a letter to the Minister’s predecessor, children and young people in the care system are especially at risk.

There are many things that need to be done to allow children and young people to access their right to British citizenship, but one key aspect is ensuring that all who have that right through registration can afford it. That is why new clause 18 sets out to limit the fee that can be charged for the administrative cost and to provide for free exemptions and waivers in appropriate circumstances. I do not want this to be limited to EU citizens, but it has to be because of the scope of the Bill. However, there is a far bigger job of work to be done in ensuring that these things are done right across the board. As my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow Central (Alison Thewliss) pointed out, we should look to reimburse those who have had to break the bank, take loans or do whatever else simply so that their children can become British citizens or register the right to British citizenship that they are entitled to under statutes passed in this place. It seems a simple matter of justice to me. I cannot understand how any Government or MP would want to continue to deprive de facto British citizens of the legal British citizenship they are entitled to, and that is why new clause 18 should be put to a vote this evening.

In conclusion, many EU citizens are having an incredibly difficult time, to put it mildly. They were hurt again by the lazy rhetoric coming from the Conservative party during the election about the cost of benefit payments to EU migrants, and by the Prime Minister’s remarks about EU citizens daring to treat the UK like their own country. Instead of occasional platitudes in this Chamber, we need consistent and vocal support for EU nationals. More than that, we need action, not words, and these amendments and new clauses are exactly the action that is needed to improve the lives of those people.

Brandon Lewis Portrait The Minister for Security (Brandon Lewis)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

It has now been over three years since the referendum, and we are here today because the Conservative party can finally break the deadlock and ensure that there is no more delay. This Bill means that the UK will leave the EU on 31 January, delivering on our pledge to get Brexit done. Our Prime Minister, standing right here at the Dispatch Box, laid out a powerful vision for a rejuvenated, forward-looking, optimistic United Kingdom. This Bill will allow us to unite the whole country and take advantage of the opportunities that lie ahead for us.

Throughout the negotiations, our first priority has been to safeguard the rights of EU citizens, those who have built their lives here and contributed to the UK. The clauses laid out in the citizens’ rights part of the Bill are essential to implementing the withdrawal agreement so that EU citizens’ rights to live, work, study and access benefits in the UK are protected. We have delivered on that commitment, and this Bill provides certainty to EU citizens and their family members who are covered by our implementation of the withdrawal agreement.

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George Howarth Portrait The First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means (Sir George Howarth)
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Order. I draw Members’ attention to the fact that interventions should be brief and to the point. I am not necessarily saying the hon. Gentleman’s was not, but for further reference I think that advice should be taken.

Brandon Lewis Portrait Brandon Lewis
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Thank you, Sir George. As my right hon. and hon. Friends will outline, we are working with our colleagues and friends around Europe, and they are all very happy with the scheme. In fact, as I will come to in a few moments, our scheme is far more generous than what many countries around Europe offer to UK citizens. I hope that will change, but this programme does deliver—I will come to some specifics in further clauses, but I am sticking to the clauses that are before us today. It is delivering a scheme that, as I say, has had over 2.8 million applications already, and nearly 2.5 million people have already been granted status. That is a success. EU citizens in the UK also have until the end of June 2021 to apply.

Stuart C McDonald Portrait Stuart C. McDonald
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I have two quick questions for the Minister. First, how many individuals have applied? I note that some may have made several applications. Secondly, and more importantly, does he dispute my estimate that hundreds of thousands of EU citizens will fail to apply in time? Has the Home Office made such an assessment?

Brandon Lewis Portrait Brandon Lewis
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I disagree with the hon. Gentleman. In fact, I disagreed with quite a lot of what he said when he was on his feet a few moments ago, when he gave some clear misrepresentations of what is happening with this system. Over 2.8 million people have already applied, with nearly 2.5 million applications being granted, so that shows that the scheme, which has not been running for a year and still has at least a year and a half to run, is working.

On the second part of the hon. Gentleman’s question, I remind him and other colleagues who are unaware that not only have we said that if somebody has a good, reasonable reason for not applying earlier, we will still process their EU settled status application—even after June 2021—but we are doing specific work with groups around the country to reach the most vulnerable people. We have the road shows and our online work, and the phone centre is working around the clock, seven days a week, to deal with people’s queries. We have put in some £9 million to work with voluntary groups around the country to reach everyone, so, yes, I disagree with him in the sense that I think that we will get to these people.

Brandon Lewis Portrait Brandon Lewis
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I will in a moment.

If EU citizens do not apply through the EU settlement scheme, it may prove difficult to distinguish them from those who arrived after the end of the implementation period. The hon. Member for Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East (Stuart C. McDonald) ignored that fact completely earlier. It is essential that EU citizens have the evidence that they need to demonstrate their rights here in the UK.

Philippa Whitford Portrait Dr Whitford
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Will the Minister give way?

Brandon Lewis Portrait Brandon Lewis
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Not at the moment. Such an approach could also lead to EU citizens who have not applied for documentation suffering inadvertent discrimination compared with those who have. That is exactly what happened to the Windrush generation, and the Government are adamant that we must avoid a repeat of that dreadful situation.

Stephen Doughty Portrait Stephen Doughty
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Given that the Minister mentions the Windrush generation, he will surely recognise that many of the amendments relate to concerns that the hon. Member for Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East (Stuart C. McDonald), others and I raised during Select Committee on Home Affairs sessions that examined the EU settlement scheme and, of course, the Windrush scandal. There is no malign intent behind the amendments. They are about ensuring that people have their rights and are able to exercise them. What lessons has the Minister learned from the Windrush scandal and, indeed, the evidence taken by that Committee?

--- Later in debate ---
Brandon Lewis Portrait Brandon Lewis
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The hon. Gentleman makes a good point. It is clear, as I have just said, that we all want to ensure that we avoid the problems that we had with the Windrush generation. One of the key issues—

Stuart C McDonald Portrait Stuart C. McDonald
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Will the Minister give way on that point?

Brandon Lewis Portrait Brandon Lewis
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I will finish answering the first intervention before I consider taking any others. Part of the problem with a declaratory scheme is that it leads to the problems of Windrush. This scheme means that people have evidence of their rights, which means that they cannot be contestable in future, avoiding that problem in the first place. Moreover, this scheme is already more generous in its scope than the agreements themselves require, which the hon. Member for Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East did outline earlier. For example, some people do not meet all the current requirements of free movement law and therefore are outside the scope of the agreement. As a matter of domestic policy, we have decided, nevertheless, that such people should be in scope of the EU settlement scheme, so we have granted them residence rights.

I will go a bit further on physical documentation. We are developing a new border and immigration system that is digital by default for all migrants, not just EU citizens. It is being rolled out incrementally and, over time, we intend to replace all physical and paper-based documents, which can be lost or stolen. Eventually, all migrants, not just those from the EU, will have digital status only, so amendment 5 would impede our ability to deliver an improved, equal and fair digital status.

Philippa Whitford Portrait Dr Whitford
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Does the Minister not understand that someone getting to the end of the settled status process may be told that an email is meaningless and they will not have a document, which will not be reassuring? Part of the Windrush issue was that the Home Office destroyed records, so people who are depending on the Home Office to keep digital records are naturally pretty nervous. They would keep their records quite safe at home.

A declaratory system does not prevent registration. We can register people, but we can automatically say that they have a right. This is an application system, and people are being turned down or given pre-settled status—it is not the same.

Brandon Lewis Portrait Brandon Lewis
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

It is important that I clarify some of the hon. Lady’s misrepresentations. Her point argues for and against her colleague’s earlier comments. We want to ensure that people have a status, and a digital status means that it is there for ever. It means that employers, landlords or anybody can access it in future. It is not reliant on somebody keeping any documentation or ensuring that it is not stolen. As for her comments about the process, it is fast and easy—

Philippa Whitford Portrait Dr Whitford
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Not for everyone.

Brandon Lewis Portrait Brandon Lewis
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Let me finish the point. It takes five to 10 minutes online—the same as renewing a driving licence or passport.

The hon. Lady should be aware that, as of the last set of official figures, only two[Official Report, 13 January 2020, Vol. 669, c. 1MC.] people have been actively refused settled status, and both refusals were on serious criminality grounds. I stand by this country’s right to protect the security and safety of people in this country by refusing settled status to people with a serious criminal record.

Pre-settled status is granted only to people who have not been living in the country for five years. I will come back to the process around that in a moment, but anyone who has lived in the country for five years or more—we are helping them with ways of evidencing that—is entitled to full settled status.

Alison Thewliss Portrait Alison Thewliss
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Will the Minister give way?

Brandon Lewis Portrait Brandon Lewis
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I will just finish my point. Protections for those who do not apply by the June 2021 deadline are already built into the agreements. There will be no cliff edge for vulnerable people who are unable to make an application due to circumstances beyond their control. As with all aspects of the EU settlement scheme, we will adopt a flexible and pragmatic approach and exercise discretion in applicants’ favour. I urge hon. Members to withdraw their amendments, but I will take the hon. Lady’s intervention.

Alison Thewliss Portrait Alison Thewliss
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

What the Minister is saying is not accurate. I have a constituent who has a national insurance number card, which are not even issued anymore, who was only given pre-settled status. That constituent was able to prove that they had been here, and everything they submitted was correct, yet they have pre-settled status. How many more people have been given that?

Brandon Lewis Portrait Brandon Lewis
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

As I said, anybody who has lived in the country for five years or more is entitled to settled status. I am very happy—[Interruption.] Will the hon. Lady listen to the answer? If hon. Members have individual cases in which somebody has been granted pre-settled status when they feel that they should have received full settled status, I will personally look at those cases. Every such case that has come forward so far has turned out to involve an issue. In one case, the person had not actually even applied for settled status and had gone through an entirely different system. In other cases, applicants had not been able to provide evidence. However, our teams are working with people—that is why we are doing the road shows—to ensure that anything that people can provide as evidence of their being in this country for more than five years will allow them to be granted settled status. With nearly 2.5 million settled statuses already granted out of 2.8 million applications, I think that highlights the success.

Stephen Doughty Portrait Stephen Doughty
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Will the Minister give way again?

Brandon Lewis Portrait Brandon Lewis
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

No, I will not give way on that point any further.

Clause 8 enables the Government to protect frontier workers and means that we can establish a registration scheme providing certainty to such workers about their rights going forward. Clauses 9 and 10 go hand in hand, enabling us to continue to apply EU deportation thresholds when assessing conduct committed before the end of the implementation period for the purposes of restricting a person’s right to enter or reside here in the UK. Conduct committed after the end of the implementation period will be assessed according to UK rules on criminality and behaviour non-conducive to the public good. That creates a fair and even system for all that does not benefit any foreign nationals over others.

Clause 11 provides a power to put in place various rights of appeal in connection with citizens’ rights and immigration decisions, including refusals under the EU settlement scheme, which are an essential and important part of our commitments.

I ask hon. Members to not to press amendments 3, 2, 20, 21, 7 and new clause 34 because they are unnecessary. Thanks to the power contained in clause 11, EU citizens who are appealing a decision on residence will be able to do so under the EU settlement scheme. Individuals who have been granted pre-settled status who believe they should have been granted settled status can also appeal.

The amendments would also potentially do damage. The situations requiring the right of appeal under the agreements are numerous, and the applications of existing rules relating to appeal rights are complex. Putting a right of appeal into the Bill would mean that none of that detail could be properly reflected.

The amendments would make it harder for EU citizens to appeal against an exclusion decision. They would actually remove our ability to provide EU citizens with access to the special appeals immigration commission when challenging an exclusion decision through judicial review. They would also prevent the Government from treating EU citizens in the same way as third country nationals when it comes to removals during an appeal process. Furthermore, the amendments create a perverse incentive for individuals to launch appeals and would mean that people who have applications that have absolutely no chance of succeeding could access social security benefits. I am concerned that this would open our immigration system to potential benefits abuse, which is something we should not allow. I hope what I have said assures hon. Members that these amendments are not only undesirable but unnecessary, so I urge them not to press them.

--- Later in debate ---
Stuart C McDonald Portrait Stuart C. McDonald
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

That is exactly why new clause 18(5) would allow Ministers to extend the reduced fees and the waiver scheme to everybody else. It would be entirely within the Minister’s gift to make sure such discrimination does not arise. What is discriminatory is the horrendous fee, which prohibits some kids from getting the British nationality to which they are just as entitled as the children of everybody in this place.

Brandon Lewis Portrait Brandon Lewis
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

New clause 18, as drafted, would discriminate by nationality because, as I said, it would give EU citizens preferential fees for citizenship.

My next sentence would have negated the need for the hon. Gentleman’s intervention, because I was about to say that new clause 18 would also undermine the legislative structure that is already in place. This Bill is not the place to set fees, including specific fee exceptions, as that is done in different legislation.

Part 2 of the Bill honours our obligation to EU citizens who are living in the UK by ensuring they have the certainty they need as our country moves forward. Frankly, it is disappointing that not all European countries have provided the same assurances to British nationals living in the EU, which is something we hope will change. We will continue to work towards that for our citizens.

This Government have always put citizens’ rights first and foremost, and we will continue to do so. EU citizens are our friends, our family members and our colleagues. They have made and continue to make a hugely important contribution to our country, our economy, our communities and our society, and we want them to stay. This Bill will ensure we can deliver that unequivocal guarantee, both now and in the future.

Paul Blomfield Portrait Paul Blomfield
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I rise to speak to new clause 5 on the system for providing settled status, on which we will be seeking a vote, and to amendments 2, 3, 20 and 21 on the right of appeal, as well as amendment 37 on the Independent Monitoring Authority.

I regret the Minister’s combative response to the hon. Member for Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East (Stuart C. McDonald), who made a typically thoughtful and considered contribution that did not reflect division across the Committee because, when these issues have previously been debated in Parliament, considerable concern has been expressed on both sides about the consequences of getting this wrong. If we do get it wrong, it will have a significant impact not only on EU citizens in the UK and on Brits in Europe but, frankly, on our caseload as Members of Parliament.

I believe it is possible to reach agreement on some of these issues, and it is in that spirit that I address our amendments. On new clause 5, the Minister said that providing certainty for EU citizens is central to the Government’s agenda. The Prime Minister said:

“under this Government they”—

EU citizens—

“will have the absolute certainty of the right to live and remain.”—[Official Report, 25 July 2019; Vol. 663, c. 1459.]

That seems clear, but the reality of applying for settled status is different. It is a constitutive system in which EU citizens acquire settled status or pre-settled status only by successfully applying for their right to live and work in the UK post Brexit. New clause 5 seeks to avoid that by making the scheme declaratory, meaning that EU citizens and family members who meet the eligibility criteria would automatically have the right to continue to live and work in the UK and would simply need to register for the purpose of proving their status.

We believe our approach would avoid a repeat of Windrush. The Minister suggested that the Government’s objective is to avoid such a Windrush situation and that a declaratory system could encourage a repeat. The Windrush scandal was caused by a number of factors: the changing legal environment for people who had lived here for decades; the 2012 introduction of the hostile environment; the lack of record keeping by the Home Office both under this Government and when we were in power—I am not trying to score party points; and by Home Office staff being incentivised by targets and bonuses to reach deportation targets. But for the Windrush victims, crucially, there was at least the legal safety net of the Immigration Act 1971, so they could seek recourse against their treatment.

What the Government are saying is that making the EU settlement scheme declaratory would create a second Windrush. They are perversely blaming the scandal—it was a scandal, as the Minister recognises—on that safety net, which is a fundamental misunderstanding. They are saying that the way to avoid another Windrush is to remove the safety net that the Windrush victims faced.

No system will get 100% of those eligible to apply, and I recognise the Minister’s point about the Government’s efforts to ensure that as many apply as possible. I take his point that 2.8 million have already done so, and I am sure many more will apply by the deadline of June 2021, but not everybody will. The Government do not even have a target for how many people they think should be eligible to apply. If only 3% of the estimated 3.5 million EU nationals living in Britain fail to apply, which is not beyond the bounds of possibility, it will leave 100,000 people facing a hostile environment and facing possible deportation. I have talked to many EU citizens who, despite all the Government’s publicity efforts, are unaware that the rights they have enjoyed for 30 years need to be applied for, and I have had to explain to them about how to apply for settled status. The Government have recognised that, as has the Minister. In an interview with the German newspaper Die Welt, he said:

“If EU citizens have not registered”

by the deadline for settled status

“without an adequate justification, the immigration rules will apply,”

When pressed on whether that would mean deportation, he said:

“Theoretically, yes, we will apply the…rules.”

The possibility of people whom we describe as our neighbours, friends, taxpayers and colleagues being deported exists while we pursue the same approach to settled status as the Government are now.

It is not too late to correct course. In our view, and that of others proposing similar amendments, a declaratory system is the only way to prevent hundreds of thousands of people from potentially being criminalised and deported. Under a declaratory scheme, if somebody does not register for settled status before June 2021, they will not lose rights; they will simply need to register for the Government to provide them with the proof of their status.

Paul Blomfield Portrait Paul Blomfield
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right to say that there would be every incentive to apply, because without the proof these people will not be able to exercise their rights. We are simply seeking to ensure, through our new clause, that they do not lose their rights. The approach we are suggesting is explicitly allowed under the withdrawal agreement. The Government had a choice about what kind of system they would implement and, in our view, they chose wrong. We need to remember that this is not just about EU citizens in the UK; the largest national group affected by Brexit are the 1.2 million British citizens in Europe. The EU and the individual member states, not all of which have met our expectations, have been clear that rights granted to UK citizens will be based on reciprocity. The Minister is right to want to see other countries stepping up to the mark, but that will not be assisted if we reduce rights of citizens within the UK, because that will risk a reduction of rights of citizens across the EU27. So a declaratory scheme for EU citizens will be good not only for those here, but for UK citizens living in Europe.

I wish to move on to another aspect of the problems with the settlement scheme. The Minister said that 2.8 million have applied and he went on, unintentionally, I am sure, to give the wrong impression about the granting of status, because he said that 2.5 million had been granted status—that is correct, but it is not the status they had applied for. The most recent statistics show that almost half of the applicants for settled status are being granted pre-settled status, which comes with substantially fewer rights; it is a temporary form of leave lasting up to five years—[Interruption.] It is not indefinite leave to remain.

Brandon Lewis Portrait Brandon Lewis
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

You are misleading people—

Paul Blomfield Portrait Paul Blomfield
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

In a moment, I will ask the Minister to come back on me on some of these points and he might want to respond on that. In addition to the cliff edge at the end of 2021, when anyone who has not applied to the settlement scheme will face possible deportation, pre-settled status creates hundreds of thousands of individual cliff edges when people come to the point of confirming their individual position, because it does not provide—[Interruption.] I see my friend and former Committee colleague the hon. Member for Worcester (Mr Walker) looking puzzled about that, but if pre-settled status does not provide a permanent right to remain, that is granted only at the point at which settled status is gained. We are creating hundreds of thousands of individual cliff edges.

The campaign group the3million has shared one case with me that illustrates many of the problems with settled status. It involves an older Dutch woman who has been living in the UK for decades. Despite her living at the same address for more than 30 years, and paying council tax, income tax and NI, the online system could not find a trace of her, so she was forced to trawl through paperwork to provide evidence of seven years of residency. For some of those years she had saved council tax bills, but she had to find at least six bank statements for each of the other years. She then faced huge difficulties scanning and uploading the documents. After she had eventually sent them off, she waited several weeks for a response, only to be told that the Home Office required more evidence. After another difficult process of finding and submitting documents, she was finally granted settled status, but this woman has said that she could not have done it without help, and her journey shows that although the app may be simple for the most straightforward of cases, as soon as somebody faces difficulties, it can be immensely difficult to resolve them and secure the right status.

--- Later in debate ---
Bambos Charalambous Portrait Bambos Charalambous
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend makes an excellent point. We need to have safety nets in place, and these new clauses would provide the safety nets needed to ensure that people’s rights are protected, no matter how few people might be affected.

In short, EU citizens who have been here lawfully and qualify for settled status should not have their rights limited by any barriers, such as time limitation or fees. If the Government do not to listen to these warnings, there is a very real risk of another Windrush. The Government will then be found to have been asleep at the wheel, because another scandal is avoidable. This situation is unacceptable, totally avoidable and easily remedied. I therefore invite the Minister to accept new clauses 5, 18 and 34.

Brandon Lewis Portrait Brandon Lewis
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I will be brief; I just want to respond to a couple of points that have been raised during the debate. The hon. Member for Sheffield Central (Paul Blomfield) quoted me during an interview some time ago—with a German journalist, if I recall correctly. Sadly, he did not give the whole quote, so colleagues are probably not quite aware of the point I was making, which was that the whole point of the settled status scheme is to ensure that nobody is left behind and all rights are properly protected. That is why not only are we running the scheme until the end of July[Official Report, 13 January 2020, Vol. 669, c. 2MC.] 2021, but we have also said—as I said at the Dispatch Box again today—that we will be looking to grant settled status to anybody who comes forward after that stage who has not acquired settled status because they have not applied for it for a good, reasonable reason. This scheme is based on a very different principle.

Yasmin Qureshi Portrait Yasmin Qureshi
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Will the Minister give way?

Brandon Lewis Portrait Brandon Lewis
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

No, I will not be giving way at the moment.

The hon. Member for Cardiff South and Penarth (Stephen Doughty) said that the whole process is different from previous systems. We are looking to grant status. I give great credit to the superb team of Home Office civil servants, particularly in Liverpool, who have delivered this scheme—a scheme that, as the hon. Gentleman said, is unprecedented in now having taken more than 2.8 million applications and processed some 2.5 million of them. To be clear with colleagues, of the almost 2.5 million applications that have been processed, I can confirm that only five have been refused—all on grounds of serious criminality. It is right that we do those checks and ensure that there is proper evidence.

Let me go a bit further in response to the comments of the hon. Member for Sheffield Central regarding the difference between pre-settled status and settled status. What he said at the Dispatch Box risks creating a scaremongering regime that has been portrayed in a couple of other speeches this evening. Pre-settled status is a pathway to settled status, ensuring that people who have lived in this country for five years or more have their rights fully secured. There is no cliff edge. When somebody has lived in this country for five years or more, having got pre-settled status, they can move straight to full settled status; their rights will be the same. They will be protected from the moment they have pre-settled status, and the evidence is an important part of that.

The hon. Gentleman asked a very specific question about appeal rights. Yes, appeal rights apply to all cases under the new settlement scheme. That also goes to the point raised by the hon. Member for Edinburgh West (Christine Jardine). My hon. Friend the Member for Fareham (Suella Braverman) is absolutely right: we are determined to make sure that we are delivering on the rights of EU citizens and that we in this country play our part in delivering on the promises we made.

Paul Blomfield Portrait Paul Blomfield
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

When the Minister says that this will apply to all citizens, does he include those who came under the Zambrano and Surinder Singh routes?

--- Later in debate ---
Brandon Lewis Portrait Brandon Lewis
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Yes, absolutely.

I say to my right hon. Friend the Member for New Forest West (Sir Desmond Swayne) that we are always reviewing the outreach work. The Home Secretary and I are particularly focused on this work to make sure that it is not just giving good value for money for the taxpayer but is also reaching the hardest-to-reach places and communities in the country. We are working with some 57 voluntary organisations around the country and with commercial and public sector organisations that employ large numbers of EU citizens, and we will be looking to continue that work and drive it further and further.

It is important that we encourage people to apply for this settled status. It is simple, quick and easy; it delivers on people’s rights; and it delivers on our promises. That is why we will not accept any amendments or new clauses this evening.

George Howarth Portrait The First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means (Sir George Howarth)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Order. I say for the benefit of new Members in particular that although the Minister has responded to the debate, I am now going to call the mover of the lead amendment to conclude and respond to the debate.

--- Later in debate ---
20:24

Division 3

Ayes: 252


Labour: 189
Scottish National Party: 45
Liberal Democrat: 11
Plaid Cymru: 4
Social Democratic & Labour Party: 2
Alliance: 1
Green Party: 1

Noes: 342


Conservative: 340
Democratic Unionist Party: 2

New Clause 18
--- Later in debate ---
20:42

Division 4

Ayes: 255


Labour: 191
Scottish National Party: 43
Liberal Democrat: 11
Plaid Cymru: 4
Social Democratic & Labour Party: 2
Alliance: 1
Green Party: 1

Noes: 341


Conservative: 339
Democratic Unionist Party: 2

--- Later in debate ---
20:58

Division 5

Ayes: 251


Labour: 191
Scottish National Party: 45
Liberal Democrat: 9
Plaid Cymru: 4
Social Democratic & Labour Party: 2
Alliance: 1
Green Party: 1

Noes: 343


Conservative: 341
Democratic Unionist Party: 2

To report progress and ask leave to sit again.—(Mike Freer.)

European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill

(Limited Text - Ministerial Extracts only)

Read Full debate
Committee stage & Committee: 2nd sitting: House of Commons & Committee: 2nd sitting
Wednesday 8th January 2020

(4 years, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Hansard Text Amendment Paper: Committee of the whole House Amendments as at 8 January 2020 - (8 Jan 2020)

This text is a record of ministerial contributions to a debate held as part of the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) 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

Thangam Debbonaire Portrait Thangam Debbonaire
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I do agree with the hon. and learned Lady on that. I say again that that shows why we need this amendment, because it is about the scrutiny of the process. If we are to accept this ridiculous idea that there must be no extension to the transition period, even if it is for just days, at least we should have the right to scrutinise that process, on behalf of the people we were sent here to represent. This is not about whether there is good or bad faith on the part of the EU member states. I am sure that they will, as we all hope, negotiate in good faith, but there are practical implications here about the sheer volume of work to be done to reach agreements on all these vital aspects of our future relationship and secure the parliamentary approval of 27 other countries by the end of this year.

I am saddened, but no longer shocked, that the Government rejected our sensible proposal yesterday, but I hope that today they will consider our sensible proposal on scrutiny. It is not too much to ask that we, the elected representatives of the United Kingdom—of all parties, including the Government party—have the right to hear from our Ministers on the aims and objectives of the negotiations, the progress made and the outcome. It is not too much to ask that we be guaranteed that right, with the opportunity to debate and discuss, rather than having to wait for possible a ministerial statement or being forced to beg for information via an urgent question.

Surely, Government Members can see the wisdom in our proposal. They, too, were elected to represent their constituents, not just to be lobby fodder for their Prime Minister. If they have a business in their constituency on which jobs depend, and the ability to trade relies on the continuation of an agreement between the UK and the EU, do they not want to be able to ask their Government about whether that is included in the negotiating objectives and to be able to find out how that is going? If they have a constituent whose life depends on the movement of a medical device from one EU country to the UK, do they not want to be able to find out whether that is part of the negotiations and how that is going? Surely, they will want to be able to represent their constituents.

Members may not realise that the Law Society has recommended reinstating the scrutiny role. They may have forgotten that the Supreme Court judgment in the 2017 Gina Miller case made it clear that the Government cannot make or withdraw from a treaty that amounts to a major change to UK constitutional arrangements without parliamentary oversight. Or maybe this does not count. I ask all Government Members to consider pushing their Government, and I ask the Minister—I say again that I know him to be an honourable man—to consider restoring the full process of parliamentary scrutiny. I ask them to commit today to doing that. They could choose to adopt the Opposition amendment, or they could achieve it in some other way. I do not mind; I just believe that, as elected representatives, we should be able to represent the people who sent us here on the most important change to our way of life, our jobs, our businesses and our security in our lifetimes.

Robin Walker Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr Robin Walker)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Before I address the provisions we are debating, I wish to acknowledge the enormous hard work and professionalism of officials in the Department for Exiting the European Union, in which I had the privilege to serve for more than two years, and in the territorial offices in which I have served since, in bringing this Bill and the withdrawal agreement to the position they are in today. I pay tribute to all those in the devolved Administrations and the Northern Ireland civil service who have contributed to our work on EU exit and to ensuring that the whole UK is able to leave the European Union in an orderly way. The Bill may have been a long time in coming, but it is delivering on a mandate for the whole United Kingdom. It has been a privilege to work with colleagues from every part of the United Kingdom in preparing and delivering it.

I agree with the hon. Member for Bristol West (Thangam Debbonaire) about the importance of the Good Friday Belfast agreement. It is absolutely right that it has been a central focus of the exit process from the start. We do not need amendment 1 to state our firm commitment to both the Good Friday agreement and the principle of consent, or, indeed, my party’s absolute commitment to the United Kingdom.

I shall talk briefly to the purpose of clauses 18 to 37 and schedules 3 and 5 before I go into the detail of the amendments. As a Northern Ireland Minister, I make no excuses if most of my focus in respect of the amendments is on Northern Ireland. I am sorry not to have heard from more Northern Ireland colleagues so far; I shall try to make time to ensure that I can.

First, the clauses set out how EU law will be wound down at the end of the implementation period. Secondly, they enable the UK to fulfil its international obligations under the financial settlement. Thirdly, and crucially, they implement the regulatory, customs and other arrangements contained in the Northern Ireland protocol; protect rights and arrangements contained in the Belfast Good Friday agreement; and avoid a hard border. Fourthly, they update the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 so that it operates as intended in the light of the withdrawal agreement. Fifthly, they allow UK courts to interpret UK laws and not to be inadvertently bound by historic European court cases. Sixthly, they provide a mechanism for Parliament to consider EU legislation that raises a matter of vital national interests, thereby increasing parliamentary scrutiny. Seventhly, they ensure that the Government are properly accountable for their work in the withdrawal agreement Joint Committee, and that Parliament should be informed on formal dispute proceedings that arise from the withdrawal agreement. Eighthly, they guarantee that we can ratify the withdrawal agreement on 31 January by ensuring that once the Bill receives Royal Assent there are no further parliamentary hurdles to ratification. Ninthly, they repeal unnecessary or spent enactments relating to EU exit.

I shall now address the amendments—

Robin Walker Portrait Mr Walker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am happy to take interventions as I address the amendments; perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will let me move on to that first.

I agree with what the right hon. Member for Lagan Valley (Sir Jeffrey M. Donaldson) said in an intervention about the importance of every part of the UK being heard. I recognise that many of the amendments are focused on securing Northern Ireland’s interests in the next phase of the Brexit process, and we absolutely recognise the support they have received from across the Northern Ireland business and political community. If and when the Executive are restored, the UK Government will be ready to consider commitments concerning the Executive’s role in future discussions with the European Union and to engage with them as we safeguard Northern Ireland’s integral place in the UK. The Government cannot accept any of the amendments to the clauses that implement the protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland, for a number of reasons.

First, let me address new clauses 14, 15, 39 and 40, all tabled by the right hon. Member for Lagan Valley, as well as new clauses 63 and 13. At the outset, I should confirm that the protocol does not affect the constitutional status of Northern Ireland, which remains part of our political and economic union.

Stephen Timms Portrait Stephen Timms
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Government’s impact assessment for the Bill states:

“Goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland will be required to complete both import declarations and Entry Summary (ENS) Declarations”.

Is that statement correct?

Robin Walker Portrait Mr Walker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

It is clear that there are reporting requirements in the functioning of the protocol, but, as is clearly set out in article 6 of the protocol, we want to ensure that we use the Joint Committee to reduce them and make sure that we have the absolute minimum burden. The protocol itself clearly gives the Government the ability to provide unfettered access. I shall address that in more detail as I go on.

Northern Ireland remains in the UK customs territory and can benefit from future trade deals that we strike with the rest of the world. The Prime Minister has repeatedly made it clear that the deal is good for businesses and individuals in Northern Ireland.

Simon Hoare Portrait Simon Hoare (North Dorset) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Does the Minister agree that it would be enormously helpful if the Government’s stance ensured that whatever regulatory regime is required, it is not only of the lightest touch but is as cost-neutral as possible? Therefore, there needs to be detailed discussion with Treasury colleagues to see what mechanisms may exist for reclaiming, either through the VAT process or offsetting against personal or corporation tax, in order to make it cost-neutral, with the understanding that we need to be able to do something.

Robin Walker Portrait Mr Walker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend raises an interesting and important point. As he will appreciate, I cannot necessarily make commitments on behalf of Treasury colleagues at this stage, but I have no doubt that he will assiduously press for Northern Ireland’s interests with the Treasury.

Robin Walker Portrait Mr Walker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I will give way to the hon. Gentleman, but I will need to make some progress so that he and his colleagues can speak.

Gavin Robinson Portrait Gavin Robinson
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Minister is humble enough to recognise that he cannot make commitments on behalf of the Treasury, but he should go a step further and say that he cannot make commitments on behalf of the European Union, either. That is our fundamental problem with the withdrawal agreement and its implications for Northern Ireland. There is no point asserting sovereignty and indicating that Northern Ireland is fully in compliance with the customs territory of United Kingdom, only to hand that power to a Joint Committee with the European Union.

Robin Walker Portrait Mr Walker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

As he always does, the hon. Gentleman makes his point powerfully. It is clear from the protocol that Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom customs territory, and that we want to make sure that we maintain unfettered access between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom. There are powers in the protocol for the Government to do that.

Let me make a little progress. The Government are committed to ensuring that the Belfast Good Friday agreement is upheld throughout our departure from the European Union. The protocol is clear that it protects rights contained in that agreement, and the Bill gives effect to the UK’s commitments in that regard. We are confident that the new functions conferred on the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland are sufficient for them to carry out their roles in the dedicated mechanism. It will be of particular interest to some Opposition Front Benchers who have raised concerns with us that the Bill confirms the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission’s “own motion” standing under the Human Rights Act 1998, as well as providing for such standing under the protocol. I direct Members’ attention to paragraph 5 of schedule 3. The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland will form the bedrock of the dedicated mechanism established under article 2(1) of the protocol. All the powers necessary for these bodies to perform their necessary functions are provided in schedule 3. I therefore urge the hon. Member for North Down (Stephen Farry) to withdraw amendments 32 and 34, which are unnecessary, so that we can allow for the dedicated mechanism.

Stephen Farry Portrait Stephen Farry (North Down) (Alliance)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am happy to withdraw my amendments in the light of the Minister’s comments, but I ask him to respond further on the need for both the Human Rights Commission and the Equality Commission to receive the same notification as the Attorney General on human rights or equality issues that come before the courts or tribunals.

Robin Walker Portrait Mr Walker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I hear the hon. Gentleman’s point, which I am happy to look into, but my understanding is that under the Bill those bodies have the powers they need to acquire the necessary information. I am grateful to him for his gracious withdrawal.

New clauses 11 and 12 were tabled by the right hon. Member for Lagan Valley. I want to make it clear from the outset that the Government’s commitment to the Northern Ireland Act 1998 and the Belfast agreement, which it implements, is unfaltering. The consent mechanism contained in the protocol, for which the Government will legislate before the first vote is required in 2024, operates on the basis of a majority of democratically elected representatives in Northern Ireland being able to continue or end alignment with EU law. I am certain that this is the right mechanism. The right position in principle is not to hand a veto to any one party—not to Brussels, not to Dublin and not to any one party or community in Northern Ireland. That is what our consent mechanism does. I therefore urge the right hon. Gentleman to withdraw his amendments and back this arrangement.

Sammy Wilson Portrait Sammy Wilson (East Antrim) (DUP)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Does the Minister not recognise the incompatibility of the two statements he has made? He wants to adhere to the letter and the spirit of the Belfast agreement, yet he is prepared to set aside one of its most fundamental parts—that, on controversial issues and issues that one community feels threatens its identity and the things it values, there should be a mechanism whereby there is a difference in the majority vote. He seems not to understand that the protocol and the terms of this Bill set that very vital safeguard aside.

Roger Gale Portrait The Chairman of Ways and Means (Sir Roger Gale)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Order. Before we proceed, let me provide this clarification. The Minister referred to withdrawing an amendment, as did the hon. Member for North Down (Stephen Farry). At this stage, there is no need to withdraw amendments, because none of them has been moved. It is only the lead amendment that has been moved.

Robin Walker Portrait Mr Walker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I apologise, Sir Roger. I stand corrected.

I absolutely recognise the principle in the agreement on contentious domestic matters in Northern Ireland. We are talking about a consent mechanism that is being given to the Assembly uniquely in the case of an international agreement, because we recognise the importance of the issue. We also recognise the benefits of cross-community consent, which is why our approach would mean that a vote recurs more often if a decision is taken without that cross-community consent.

It is the responsibility of the Northern Ireland Executive and the Irish Government to develop consultation, co-operation and action within the island of Ireland—including through implementation on an all-island and cross-border basis—on matters of mutual interest within the competence of the Administrations north and south and not the responsibility of the UK Government. That is why clause 24 ensures that the UK cannot agree to the making of a recommendation by the Joint Committee, which would alter the arrangements for north-south co-operation. As the protocol ensures these aims and the Bill give effect to those commitments, I urge the hon. Members for Belfast South (Claire Hanna), for Foyle (Colum Eastwood) and for North Down to withdraw amendment 36 as it is not necessary to achieve the aims that it seeks.

Robin Walker Portrait Mr Walker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I will take the hon. Lady’s intervention, and then I will have to limit interventions.

Karin Smyth Portrait Karin Smyth
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am grateful for the Minister’s comments on clause 24. I am a favoured, seasoned bureaucrat, and I do like a bit of transparency around governance and process. I am struggling to understand how the relationship works between the proposals from the Good Friday/ Belfast agreement bodies, particularly the North South Ministerial Council, to this specialised committee, which has no enforcement power but has an ability to recommend to the Joint Committee, which apparently has a supervisory power. We are not sure whether that body can then take action, or whether it just makes recommendations back to the North South Ministerial Council. We are in an ever-moving circle of recommendations, but with no action. The real concern with clause 24 is that it is in aspic in 2020. The ability to move on relationships seems to be lost, and the ability to do that with democratic accountability back to the people across Ireland and the United Kingdom is lost, and that is a serious governance point that the Government need to address.

--- Later in debate ---
Robin Walker Portrait Mr Walker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I hear the hon. Lady’s point and I have great respect for the work she does in this space, but I think she misunderstands. Clause 24 simply means that, as a result of the protocol and the UK Government’s role in the Joint Committee, there will not be decisions taken to change north-south co-operation. It does not prohibit or restrict in any way a restored Executive from taking decisions on that within the confines of the North South Ministerial Council. I have to move on now, but, in fairness, I think that that addresses the point.

The Government urge the hon. Member for North Down and the hon. Member for Foyle to withdraw amendment 33 and new clause 61 as they risk creating legal uncertainty for businesses and individuals in Northern Ireland, which is unacceptable to the Government. Our departure from the EU requires the Government to ensure that the statute book is able to function post exit, and these amendments put that at risk.

I wish now to turn to the important amendments 12, 19, 50 and 51 and new clauses 44, 52, 55 and 60. As Members can see from article 6 of the protocol, nothing in the withdrawal agreement prevents the Government from ensuring access for Northern Ireland goods to the market in Great Britain. The Prime Minister has been absolutely clear that, beyond our obligations under international law, there will be no new checks and processes on the movement of such goods. Our manifesto commitment is absolutely clear: the Bill gives us the power to deliver this. We recognise the strong voice with which Northern Ireland’s businesses have been speaking on the importance of unfettered access and of protecting Northern Ireland’s position within the internal market as a whole and the cross-party, cross-community support for this to be delivered. It can be delivered through clause 21 and through the opportunity to follow up through the Joint Committee, as we discussed earlier. We will, of course, continue to engage with businesses and stakeholders, but I none the less urge the right hon. Member for Lagan Valley and the hon. Member for Foyle to withdraw these amendments.

Robin Walker Portrait Mr Walker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I will take an intervention from the hon. Lady on one of her own amendments.

Owen Paterson Portrait Mr Owen Paterson (North Shropshire) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am listening very carefully to my hon. Friend’s comments. Does he agree that, as expressed in the DUP’s amendments, there is very widespread concern across Northern Ireland and among business groups about the proposal of the protocol? He is trying to explain the details, but it is still going to be complex and it is still going to cause unhappiness and concern. Does he agree that it would be best if, in the course of this year, the Government committed to a comprehensive free trade agreement in which Northern Ireland comes out absolutely on a level pegging status on every issue with the rest of the United Kingdom? All the problems with the detail of the protocol would disappear, because Northern Ireland would be on a level pegging with the rest of the UK as part of a free trade agreement.

Robin Walker Portrait Mr Walker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My right hon. Friend speaks with considerable experience and passion on these issues. Of course I agree with him, but what we want is a free trade agreement for the whole of the UK that addresses these issues and allows us the most frictionless access to our neighbours and good trade for all of us. For Northern Ireland, that would be an excellent result. We have to focus on the fact that this Bill is about the withdrawal agreement, and that includes the protocol. We need to take through the protocol to ratify the withdrawal agreement and move forward into that negotiation.

The Government are committed to maintaining the highest levels of transparency and scrutiny in relation to this Bill and to the implementation of the withdrawal agreement. We have been clear on that, but the exact form of accountability needs to be appropriately framed, so the Government cannot accept new clauses 53, 54 or 65, which would place an undue burden on the Government but not provide the transparency and scrutiny that they purport to achieve. It is no surprise that the Opposition, through amendment 1, seek to place hurdles in the way of our exit, but the result of the general election across the United Kingdom shows that they lack the mandate to do so and that we have a clear mandate to proceed. We should do so without the hurdles that the previous Parliament consistently threw in the way of progress.

William Cash Portrait Sir William Cash
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I wish to ask my hon. Friend to reflect on one point. Under this Bill, the European Scrutiny Committee, both in the Commons and the Lords, will have the power to examine certain matters. I know that he knows about that, but there is also the question of interpretation, which comes up in this set of proposals. I wish to reinforce the exchange that I had with my hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Sir Robert Neill), which is that clause 5 has not been addressed, and that reaffirms the supremacy of EU law before exit day. We need to keep an eye on the question of the quashing and disapplication of Acts of Parliament as we proceed.

Robin Walker Portrait Mr Walker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I absolutely take on board my hon. Friend’s comments. As we are discussing parliamentary scrutiny, I am sure that he will welcome the clauses that set out a role for the European Scrutiny Committee.

Robin Walker Portrait Mr Walker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I will come to the hon. Lady’s new clause shortly, so perhaps I can give way to her then.

Robert Neill Portrait Sir Robert Neill
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Will the Minister give way?

Robin Walker Portrait Mr Walker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I will also come back to the issue raised by my hon. Friend.

As is standard in international agreements, the withdrawal agreement sets out procedures for dealing with disputes concerning compliance with the agreement. Amendment 24 would require parliamentary approval for the payment of any fines or penalties under the withdrawal agreement. The withdrawal agreement is a binding agreement that will place the UK under a legal obligation to make those payments. We have to be clear that we will honour our international legal obligations, and we therefore cannot accept any conditionality on payments.

I turn to amendments 38 and 46 in the name of the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh South West (Joanna Cherry). It is essential that the powers in clauses 18 to 22 can be used to enable all appropriate measures required by the withdrawal agreement to be implemented by the end of 2020. Restricting the power in the manner proposed would limit the Government’s ability to implement the withdrawal agreement in the most sensible way. I remind the hon. and learned Lady that the use of “appropriate” in statute is not at all new. There are myriad examples elsewhere on the statute book of powers that use the term “appropriate” to describe the discretion available to Ministers when legislating. I remember well that we discussed the question of “appropriate” versus “necessary” many times during the passage of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, and Parliament accepted the use of the word “appropriate”. There is no persuasive reason why we should depart from that approach here.

Joanna Cherry Portrait Joanna Cherry
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

In the Scottish Parliament’s legal continuity Bill—which of course was struck down by the Supreme Court after the Conservative party retrospectively changed the law in the House of Lords—the power that Scottish Ministers afforded themselves for making delegated legislation used the word “necessary” rather than “appropriate”, so it is not the case that all Governments in these islands afford to themselves the sort of sweeping powers that the Minister is planning on affording himself. There are very legitimate concerns about this issue that are shared not just by politicians but by members of the judiciary. What does he have to say in response to the points raised not just by me, but by the hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Sir Robert Neill), who was the Chair of the Select Committee on Justice in the previous Parliament?

Robin Walker Portrait Mr Walker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I obviously pay heed to those points when they are raised, but I am told that the term “appropriate” actually better allows us to take better steps to ensure that multiple options can be explored when the legal changes are complex and interact with numerous pieces of existing legislation; so there are other elements to take into account.

Robert Neill Portrait Sir Robert Neill
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I have three points to make. First, perhaps the Minister could set out what those “better steps” are. Secondly, will he address the issue of consideration under the affirmative resolution procedure as opposed to the negative resolution procedure, which might put some of my concerns to rest? Thirdly, before he finishes, will he tell us why we moved from the formulation of the Supreme Court in clause 26 to the lower courts?

Robin Walker Portrait Mr Walker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I will absolutely come back to my hon. Friend on the latter point. There are a number of places in the Bill where it is very clear that there will be active consideration by the Commons of the secondary legislation. That is an important part of the parliamentary scrutiny process.

I turn to amendment 10 in the name of the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Dr Whitford). It would inhibit our ability to implement part 3 of the withdrawal agreement and the protocol, particularly with regard to the ability to legislate for the consent mechanism and the provision of unfettered access. However, I reassure the Committee—this picks up from the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Sir Robert Neill)—that any amendment to primary legislation through clauses 18 to 21 would have to be actively approved by votes of Parliament.

Philippa Whitford Portrait Dr Whitford
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

But this changes clause 8 in the original European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, which included limitations meaning that these sweeping powers without a sunset clause could not be used in relation to the Human Rights Act, the Government of Wales Act, the Scotland Act or the Northern Ireland Act. What changes exactly does the Minister feel he would need to make to the Scotland Act to meet the relevant aspects of the Northern Ireland protocol? Why is the legislation being changed? The Minister should justify why those protections and limitations existed in the original Act but he now feels bound to take them out. What is he planning to change in the other devolved settlements, for Scotland and Wales?

Robin Walker Portrait Mr Walker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The hon. Lady is making a comparison between two separate pieces of legislation. We have no dastardly plans to change the devolution settlement. However, we want to ensure that we are able to take the necessary steps to implement the protocol, including providing unfettered access across all parts of the UK, in the limited period available. We will want to engage with the devolved Administrations and legislatures about the most effective way of achieving that.

Philippa Whitford Portrait Dr Whitford
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Will the Minister give way?

Robin Walker Portrait Mr Walker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I will not, I am afraid.

The Government cannot accept amendment 49, as it would mean that we could be inadvertently bound by European Union rulings for many years. Instead, clause 26 ensures that we and our courts will be able to determine the extent to which courts are bound by historic Court of Justice of the European Union decisions after the implementation period. This will be done sensibly, so I can provide some reassurance to my hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst. The Bill commits us to consult the senior judiciary across the UK before making regulations, and we do not intend this in any way to upset long-standing constitutional principles such as the structure and hierarchy of the court system. This clause simply enables us to take back control of our laws and disentangle ourselves from the EU’s legal order, but in a way that will be consulted on carefully with the judiciary, recognising the structures and hierarchies that exist there.

New clauses 1, 6 and 17 and amendment (a) to new clause 6 all seek to introduce various statutory roles for Parliament, and for the devolved Administrations and legislatures, in the future relationship negotiations. These are unnecessary requirements that risk impeding and delaying negotiations. New clause 6 in particular imposes onerous requirements for consultation and impact assessments, but would make it very challenging indeed to conclude negotiations by the end of 2020.

Caroline Lucas Portrait Caroline Lucas
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Does the Minister recognise that what he refers to as “onerous requirements” are precisely what our colleagues in the European Parliament enjoy right now? Does he not find that there is a rather ironic point here, which is that we are supposed to be taking back control—although we assumed that meant to elected representatives, not just to No. 10—but we actually have less control than the colleagues we have left behind in Brussels?

Robin Walker Portrait Mr Walker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I fundamentally disagree. The purpose of the Bill is to deliver on the withdrawal agreement and take that forward. It is not to set out the future of negotiations. This legislation is focused on allowing us to move forward into those negotiations. It would be a profound mistake to tie the hands of the Government in achieving the best result for the whole United Kingdom.

Debbie Abrahams Portrait Debbie Abrahams (Oldham East and Saddleworth) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Given that we have flatlining life expectancy and an increasing infant and child mortality rate—the worst in western Europe, which is quite staggering—will the Minister explain why he is not prepared to introduce an assessment of the impact on health of the trade deal, because there will be a significant impact? I really would like an adequate response.

Robin Walker Portrait Mr Walker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The hon. Lady talks about assessments of future deals. The place in which to do that is not legislation that is focused on implementing the withdrawal agreement. I am afraid that it is simply not the case, as it was in the last Parliament, that the political arithmetic means that the Opposition can tie the Government up with all sorts of commitments and assessments. We need to ensure that we get the best deal for our economy, our health and our country, and it is right that we move forward by accepting the withdrawal agreement, legislating through the Bill and focusing on the next stage.

Hilary Benn Portrait Hilary Benn (Leeds Central) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

As the Minister will be well aware, new clause 1 bears a marked resemblance to clause 31 in the previous version of the Bill. The Prime Minister said to the House on 22 October, talking about the now disappeared clause 31, that

“the intention is to allow the House to participate actively and fully in the building of the future partnership”—[Official Report, 22 October 2019; Vol. 666, c. 840.]

and the clause set out a whole process for doing that, so why was it a good idea to have that in the version of the Bill produced in October, but now it has apparently become completely unnecessary and terribly onerous for the Government?

Robin Walker Portrait Mr Walker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The answer to the right hon. Gentleman’s question is perhaps in some of the exchanges we had during that debate, when I was reaching out to him to suggest that he ought to support our orderly withdrawal from the European Union so that we could get on to the next phase of negotiations. Since then, we have had a general election that provides a clear mandate for this Government to take us forward, to deliver the withdrawal agreement, and to get into that next phase of negotiations. I think we need to focus on that.

We have are already engaged extensively with the devolved Administrations in our preparations for the negotiations, and we will of course continue to involve all parties, including those in Northern Ireland, as we begin those negotiations. Indeed, this speaks to the absolute necessity and the vital urgency of restoring a functioning Executive in Northern Ireland as soon as possible. The Government will support Parliament in scrutinising the negotiations. We have made a clear commitment in this Bill to Parliament’s scrutiny of the withdrawal agreement Joint Committee. To that end, clause 30 provides that when disputes arise, they must be reported to Parliament. Further, clause 34 states that only a Minister will be able to act as the UK’s co-chair of the withdrawal agreement Joint Committee, and clause 35 ensures that all decisions must be made by a Minister in person. That Minister will be accountable to Parliament. We therefore believe that new clause 47 should not be pressed.

The Government fully recognise the important role that devolved Administrations will play in ensuring that our independent trade policy delivers for the whole of the UK. It is the responsibility of the UK Government to negotiate on behalf of the United Kingdom, and it is vital that we retain appropriate flexibility to proceed with negotiations at pace. However, we have been clear that the devolved Administrations will remain closely involved. Therefore, there is no need to make provisions in statute when the Government are already working tirelessly to ensure that the views and perspectives of devolved Administrations are given full consideration in the United Kingdom’s trade policy. As such, I would urge hon. Members not to press new clause 64.

Liz Saville Roberts Portrait Liz Saville Roberts (Dwyfor Meirionnydd) (PC)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

There is something deeply ironic about the fact that if we were to remain in the European Union, trade negotiation objectives would have to be agreed with individual nation states. Indeed, in Belgium, the devolved legislatures for Wallonia, Flanders and the Brussels region would have an individual say. Does the Minister not agree, therefore, that in this situation, given the different nature of the economy of Wales, with its manufacturing, farming and services to people, Wales’s devolved legislature, alongside the devolved legislatures of Scotland and Northern Ireland, should have a say in the objectives of the trade agreement negotiations as a very minimum?

Robin Walker Portrait Mr Walker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

We have always taken the interests of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland very seriously in this process. We have always engaged. I have personally been to the Welsh Assembly on a number of occasions to give evidence.

The conduct of international relations is reserved to the UK Government, so representation at the Joint Committee, the specialised committees and the joint consultative working group is a matter for UK Ministers. However, I recognise the particular interests of the Northern Ireland parties given the role of these committees in the protocol, and this is a matter we would like to discuss further with the parties in a restored Executive. However, it would be wrong to pre-empt such discussions in this legislation. As such, I would urge hon. Members not to press new clauses 22, 26 and 42.

New clause 66 would require the Government to report to the devolved Administrations—

David Linden Portrait David Linden (Glasgow East) (SNP)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Will the Minister give way?

Robin Walker Portrait Mr Walker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am afraid I will not at the moment, but I will come back the hon. Gentleman if I can.

David Linden Portrait David Linden
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

On this point?

Robin Walker Portrait Mr Walker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

No.

New clause 66 would require the Government to report to the devolved Administrations on maintaining alignment with EU law, but devolution settlements already lay out the terms under which devolved Administrations can make law, while the common frameworks provide a forum for intergovernmental deliberation on the use of these powers. This new clause is therefore unnecessary.

John Redwood Portrait John Redwood (Wokingham) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Will the Minister make sure, in the discussions with the devolved Governments, that the interests of England are also central to his considerations? We do not have a devolved Administration, but we have a very strong wish to see Brexit through, because we think there are a lot of gains from Brexit.

Robin Walker Portrait Mr Walker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My right hon. Friend is of course right that people across the whole of the United Kingdom, including in England, voted for Brexit, but we should not forget the large numbers of people in Scotland, the almost 1 million people in Northern Ireland and those in Wales who also voted for Brexit.

Robin Walker Portrait Mr Walker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I will give way to the hon. Gentleman and that is the last intervention I can take, I am afraid.

David Linden Portrait David Linden
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am most grateful. Earlier, the Minister talked about respecting the devolved Administrations and listening to what they were saying, so can he tell me what the Government have actually done with regard to the words in the 2016 document, “Scotland’s Place in Europe”?

Robin Walker Portrait Mr Walker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I have answered that question many times. I am very happy to talk about many of the aspects of the political declaration that reflect some of the concerns raised in “Scotland’s Place in Europe”, but that is not a matter for this debate.

On the important question of child refugees, which the hon. Member for Bristol West spoke about at length and with commendable passion, this Government are fully committed both to the principle of family reunion and to supporting the most vulnerable children. Our policy has not changed. Although she said that she had heard no whisper of negotiations, I can confirm that the Home Secretary wrote to the Commission on 22 October to start negotiations with the European Union on future arrangements. We will also continue to reunite children with their families under the Dublin regulation during the implementation period. As my hon. Friend the Member for East Worthing and Shoreham (Tim Loughton) made clear, there is very strong support on the Government Benches for the principle of family reunion.

John Howell Portrait John Howell (Henley) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Perhaps I can help the Minister out. Is he aware that in 2017 the UK signed up to the Council of Europe’s action plan on protecting refugees and migrant children, which, among other things, enhances the integration of children into host societies, and that that commitment remains, regardless of what happens to these amendments?

Robin Walker Portrait Mr Walker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend makes a very important point. Of course we have to take action on this across a number of areas, but the right place to do that is not in this legislation. We do not need further reporting requirements such as would be required by amendment 4, unilateral measures such as those set out in amendment 26, or legally binding negotiating objectives.

In new clause 21, my right hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis) shows his admirable ambition for the UK’s independent trade policy enabled by leaving the European Union. We absolutely share those ambitions. I can assure my right hon. Friend, who was a privilege to work with, that the Government will be working in the national interest to kickstart the UK’s international trade policy in both bilateral and multilateral fora. I know that he has discussed this with the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union. However, he will know, perhaps better than almost anyone else in this Chamber, how important it is that the Government do not have their hands tied in negotiation, so I would ask him not to press his amendment.

David Davis Portrait Mr David Davis (Haltemprice and Howden) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank my hon. Friend for that undertaking, but will he give me one other undertaking, which is that the United Kingdom will take its place in the World Trade Organisation immediately we leave the European Union, which will be, after all, on 1 February?

Robin Walker Portrait Mr Walker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I hesitate to give that from the Dispatch Box because I am not a Trade Minister, but I am pretty sure that if my right hon. Friend asked a Trade Minister that question, the answer he would get is yes.

The Government have been given a mandate following the UK general election to get Brexit done. That is what this Bill aims to achieve. The withdrawal agreement and the protocol deliver a good deal for the United Kingdom and leave the door open to improving their operation in the Joint Committee to minimise disruption to businesses and individuals right across the United Kingdom, including in Northern Ireland. I urge hon. and right hon. Members to withdraw their amendments and progress this Bill so that we can get on with delivering on our commitments to the whole country. This will kick-start a bright new future for the people of all four nations of the United Kingdom.

Sammy Wilson Portrait Sammy Wilson
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

It is a great pity that the time is restricted in this debate because there are so many amendments and so many people want to take part in it.

The amendments that we have tabled are designed to be positive—to ensure that the promises that the Government have made are honoured, as is the manifesto commitment that they have made in relation to Northern Ireland, which states:

“Guaranteeing the full economic benefits of Brexit: Northern Ireland will enjoy the full economic benefits of Brexit including new free trade agreements with the rest of the world. We will ensure that Northern Ireland’s businesses and producers enjoy unfettered access to the rest of the UK and that in the implementation of our Brexit deal, we maintain and strengthen the integrity and smooth operation of our internal market.”

All our amendments are intended to ensure that that promise is delivered on. I am sure the Minister will understand, given the experience of the withdrawal agreement, that we wish to see some of these things secured within the Bill rather than in the promises that are made here.

--- Later in debate ---
14:38

Division 6

Ayes: 262


Labour: 191
Scottish National Party: 44
Liberal Democrat: 11
Democratic Unionist Party: 8
Plaid Cymru: 4
Social Democratic & Labour Party: 2
Alliance: 1
Independent: 1
Green Party: 1

Noes: 340


Conservative: 339

Clauses 21 to 23 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
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14:56

Division 7

Ayes: 252


Labour: 187
Scottish National Party: 46
Liberal Democrat: 11
Plaid Cymru: 4
Social Democratic & Labour Party: 2
Alliance: 1
Independent: 1
Green Party: 1

Noes: 348


Conservative: 339
Democratic Unionist Party: 8

Clause 37 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
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15:12

Division 8

Ayes: 251


Labour: 189
Scottish National Party: 46
Liberal Democrat: 9
Plaid Cymru: 4
Social Democratic & Labour Party: 2
Alliance: 1
Independent: 1
Green Party: 1

Noes: 347


Conservative: 339
Democratic Unionist Party: 8

New Clause 55
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15:27

Division 9

Ayes: 262


Labour: 192
Scottish National Party: 45
Liberal Democrat: 11
Democratic Unionist Party: 7
Plaid Cymru: 4
Social Democratic & Labour Party: 2
Alliance: 1
Independent: 1
Green Party: 1

Noes: 337


Conservative: 337

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Thangam Debbonaire Portrait Thangam Debbonaire
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

One of the things that interests me about the right hon. Gentleman’s argument is what we will do when we are trying to resolve a dispute over a trade agreement at a supranational court—[Interruption.] They will not be elected representatives. The World Trade Organisation court of dispute does not consist of elected representatives. Government Members seem quite happy to hand over control to the WTO court of dispute resolution and pretend that that is somehow more democratic. [Interruption.] Calling me silly is not worthy of the right hon. Gentleman.

We have been sovereign all this time. On our money, we have always had our sovereignty. We set our own budgets. We are represented at EU budget setting by our democratically elected representatives. As I have said, we have even had opt-outs, negotiated by Tory Governments, from some of those financial agreements. We have negotiated opt-outs, variations, rebates and all sorts of specific conditions for the UK.

The phrase used is “money, laws and borders” and I cannot remember which way around they are, but on borders we chose, rightly or wrongly—and we can decide for ourselves whether it was right or wrong—how we interpreted the requirements on the free movement of people, one of the four freedoms of the single market, which, I remind hon. Members, a Tory Government took us into. Other EU nations have interpreted that freedom differently. We chose, as a sovereign nation, not to participate in the Schengen area. We decide how we police our borders and whether or not there are enough border police.

We have also chosen to benefit from freedom of movement, which I acknowledge will end after 31 January. It is a freedom that I wish we had valued more and whose passing I will truly mourn, but it never undermined our sovereignty. That is implied even in the wording of the clause, because it states that “sovereignty subsists notwithstanding” various provisions. Of course, we agree—and will continue to agree after debate, scrutiny and amendment—to many other rules beyond our borders. International treaties, trade agreements and security co-operation arrangements all carry commitments to shared rules and to abiding by the rules of supranational bodies of dispute resolution, most of which are not elected, but Parliament’s sovereignty will remain intact.

I ask the Minister respectfully if he will explain the legal and practical purpose of clause 38. Even the phrase, “It is recognised”, has the feel of a political rather than a legal statement. The purpose of the Opposition’s amendment 11 is to discover the Government’s intention. We think that stating that Parliament is sovereign

“and has been so during the period since the passage of the European Communities Act 1972”

is entirely consistent with what the Government themselves said in their White Paper only a few months ago. We have been sovereign all that time.

I am sure that Members know this, but our sovereignty was never in doubt and was not diminished. I could spend a long time asking what this non-argument about sovereignty has all been about, but I am pretty sure that a lot of it—perhaps most of it—has been a false argument to distract attention from the desire to deregulate this country and turn us into a bargain basement nation with no attention given to workers’ rights, environmental protections, health and safety or any of the other regulations in which we played a part in Europe, which we have implemented and which have helped us help the people we represent. I would like the Government to explain the point of clause 38.

James Duddridge Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union (James Duddridge)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Parliament is sovereign, was sovereign and will be sovereign, and the clause recognises that fundamental principle in our constitutional arrangement, which is of great significance to many hon. Members. Membership of the European Union has felt as though we have ceded control. We cannot pull back sovereignty piece by piece—Conservative Back Benchers mentioned a number of examples. Anybody who has sat on a delegated legislation Committee will have been told by the Minister, “We cannot change this because it has gone through the European processes and we have to rubber stamp it.” The presumption was that we were full members, and that was made worse by qualified majority voting; previously, we had the ability to come back to each individual matter.

William Cash Portrait Sir William Cash
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

A very simple example of what my hon. Friend mentions is the EU’s port services regulation, which was opposed by every trade union, by the Government and by every one of the 47 port employers but went through this House simply because it had been passed by a majority vote in the Council of Ministers. That regulation was imposed upon us by the abdication of our sovereignty under section 2 of the European Communities Act 1972.

James Duddridge Portrait James Duddridge
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend is right. We could not do anything about that law or any other specific issue without coming out of the European Union, taking back control and asserting our sovereignty. Clause 38 reaffirms that sovereignty going forward and, crucially, during the implementation period.

Geraint Davies Portrait Geraint Davies
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Does the Minister accept that our sovereignty is diminished, because we currently have a veto on many votes? Some of them are subject to majority voting, as the former Chair of the European Scrutiny Committee said, but we are one of 27 nations. Now, under World Trade Organisation terms, we will be one of 164 countries and unable to change the rules. Those terms will jack up the cost of drugs and stop us nationalising things, which will constrain our sovereignty much more. The idea that we will have more sovereignty rather than less is wrong, and the clause is therefore misleading.

James Duddridge Portrait James Duddridge
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I disagree with virtually all the hon. Gentleman’s points. We will take back control, hold that sovereignty, take our seat as an independent nation state on WTO rules, and engage in international forums to look globally, rather than looking within Europe in European forums.

Clause 39 relates to interpretation. This type of clause is standard practice in primary legislation and contains key definitions. Subsection (1) lists items used in the Bill with accompanying definitions, such as the relevant agreements with the EU, the EEA, EFTA and Switzerland. Given the possibility of a change in EU summer-time arrangements, the clause provides for consequential changes in the exact time of the implementation period on 31 December in the United Kingdom. Let me be very clear: this power cannot be used to change the time and date of the implementation period for any other purpose. The clause is fundamental to ensuring the operation of the Bill.

Clause 40 and schedule 4 make further provision for regulations to make powers under the Bill, which is of interest and importance to Members of Parliament. Schedule 4 provides for the parliamentary scrutiny procedure for secondary legislation under the powers in the Bill. We recognise that our exit from the EU is momentous and Parliament will want to scrutinise any changes that we make to the statute book as part of that process.

John Redwood Portrait John Redwood
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am very much in favour of clause 38, which reasserts our sovereignty. If the European Union wanted to legislate punitively against us during the implementation period, can I take it from the Minister that we would use this clause to prevent such legislation from having effect?

James Duddridge Portrait James Duddridge
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Yes. Clause 38 not only restates the historical position but reasserts our sovereignty during the implementation period. Parliament will be given extra powers, such as the powers being taken by the European Scrutiny Committee, which is important because we will not be participants in the decision-making process.

William Cash Portrait Sir William Cash
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

In a nutshell, laws are democratic when they are made in line with a manifesto following a general election. The bottom line, therefore, is that decisions taken by the European Scrutiny Committee on vital national interests will also go through departmental Select Committees, and then there will be a vote on the Floor of the House. That means this House will decide whether it wants to obey a legislative arrangement that has come out of the European Union, which is completely different from anything that happened since 1972.

James Duddridge Portrait James Duddridge
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the Chair of the European Scrutiny Committee. As he knows, the powers will also extend to the House of Lords, allowing for an additional check.

Geraint Davies Portrait Geraint Davies
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Does the Minister agree that if we must have a certain level of equivalence to sustain a reasonable level of trade, we will be obliged to accept the EU’s changes, which will be made without our consent because we will be outside the room, or else take the economic cost? That is not sovereignty; it is just self-harm for the sake of opposing things. If we just agree to the changes, what is the point of it?

James Duddridge Portrait James Duddridge
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

If we were taking the hon. Gentleman’s version of Brexit, of staying in dynamic alignment, he would be right, but we are not doing that. We are taking back control, so we will be an independent nation state.

Under schedule 4, the general position will be that the affirmative procedure will apply when the Bill’s core powers are exercised so as to modify primary legislation or retained direct principal EU legislation. Although not all the modifications will be substantial, this approach has been adopted given the exceptional context and the uniqueness of the matters dealt with in this Bill. Clause 40 recognises that Parliament wants a greater place in scrutinising legislation.

There is one exception to this rule, and it relates to the exercise of powers to make provision by regulation for citizens to appeal against immigration decisions. That exception is made to ensure such provision can be made in time for 31 January, and the made affirmative procedure is therefore adopted for that exceptional process.

Parliament has a duty to provide the British people with a functioning statute book. Clause 40 and schedule 4 provide essential further provision on the powers in the Bill, and I urge hon. Members to support their standing part of the Bill.

As hon. Members know, consequential provisions are standard, even in legislation of great constitutional importance. Equally, transitional provisions are a standard way to smooth the application of a change in the UK statute book. Schedule 5 already makes many consequential amendments, but there will be more. As is standard practice, we are therefore taking a power to amend those constitutional amendments.

I understand Members’ concerns about delegated powers in this Bill, and I would like to allay those fears and concerns today. This power is naturally constrained. It can be used only to make provisions that are consequential to the Bill. Transitional, transitory and saving provisions are equally standard in smoothing the introduction of a change to the statute book. As we implement the withdrawal agreement, it is in everyone’s interest that we ensure legal continuity for businesses and individuals. Again, schedule 5 introduces some of those measures, but we will need the flexibility to ensure that the withdrawal agreement can operate smoothly and efficiently for the people of the UK.

Patrick Grady Portrait Patrick Grady
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Is the European Statutory Instruments Committee, which operated so effectively in the last Parliament, expected to be re-established in this Parliament to scrutinise statutory instruments made under this Bill?

James Duddridge Portrait James Duddridge
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank that Committee for the work it has done, although I must admit that my focus has been on the work the European Scrutiny Committee is doing during the implementation period. I am more than happy to get back to the hon. Gentleman later on the specific point about the Committee he mentions. As hon. Members will know, case law and an array of legal authorities provide a very narrow scope for Governments to exercise powers of these types. They are standard provisions to permit “housekeeping” modifications.

Philippa Whitford Portrait Dr Whitford
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Minister is talking about the delegated powers, which are sweeping and extensive throughout this Bill. Why are the Government so reluctant to have limitations that protect key primary legislation such as the Human Rights Act and the devolved Acts, which were just voted against by Government Members?

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James Duddridge Portrait James Duddridge
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Our withdrawal from the EU does not impinge on our human rights commitments. That issue is dealt with in later new clauses. I will make some more detailed comments on human rights then, but our commitments to human rights are unaffected by this Bill.

Clause 42 provides for the extent and commencement of the Bill and sets out its short title. It sets out that the Bill will extend to England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, save for a limited number of exceptions, with one being that section 1 extends to the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands and Gibraltar. The European Communities Act currently extends to the Crown dependencies and Gibraltar in a limited way. This means that the saving effect of the European Communities Act to allow for the implementation period must similarly extend to these jurisdictions—in effect, we will be continuing as we are during the implementation period. The Government have regularly engaged with the Crown dependencies throughout the EU exit process to keep them apprised of developments and to provide a forum for ongoing dialogue. That has been an important aspect of ensuring that this clause is fit for purpose.

The clause also sets out which parts of the Act will commence immediately at Royal Assent, and provides a power for the Minister to commence other provisions at different times by regulation. Provisions such as the consequential and transitional powers, and certain definitions, will commence immediately. It is also usual practice for the Bill to allow provisions to be commenced at different times through commencement regulations. This is an essential part of how the Act will come into place in an orderly manner.

On schedule 5, the House will remember the debates on section 8 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 and the power to fix deficiencies in retained EU law. It was written so that in the event that the UK left the EU without a deal, deficiencies arising from our withdrawal would be corrected. Since that Act was passed, the Government and the devolved authorities have laid secondary legislation under the 2018 Act and other primary legislation to ensure a functioning statute book on exit day in the event of no deal. We do not want this legislation to come into force on exit day—rather, we want to defer these bits of secondary legislation en masse so that they come into effect at the end of the implementation period. This schedule provides for the mass deferral of this secondary legislation so that it comes into force by reference to “IP completion day” rather than “exit day”.

The schedule also contains the power to make exceptions to the mass deferral. It also covers the devolved Assemblies’ use of this power, and provides for a similar deferral of commencement, and a power to make exceptions in respect of certain primary legislation made by the devolved authorities. In addition to the provisions I have just set out, the schedule also expands the consequential power in the 2018 Act so that it can be used to make fixes in consequence of amendments that this Bill makes to that Act. A number of Acts now need to be updated to reflect the terms of the withdrawal agreement, including the implementation period. These amendments alter previous changes made by the 2018 Act to other legislation. The provisions contained in this schedule are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of the statute book for the whole of the implementation period and beyond, so it must stand part of this Bill.

Amendment 11 was, I believe, a probing measure to allow us to discuss sovereignty. It has been a good place-setter, enabling us to have a robust discussion of what is meant by “sovereignty”. We have been able to confirm that the UK has been able to do things while inside the EU. We have strongly confirmed that we have felt constrained, and have been constrained, as part of the EU in not disagreeing with things that have been put through by the EU. We now have a closer understanding of what Conservative Members mean by parliamentary sovereignty and why we asserted ourselves during the Brexit debate and the general election, which we won resoundingly.

Geraint Davies Portrait Geraint Davies
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Will the Minister give way?

James Duddridge Portrait James Duddridge
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

With pleasure.

Geraint Davies Portrait Geraint Davies
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The pleasure is all mine.

Does the Minister agree that the United States is undermining the WTO by not appointing judges to the appellant court? The Americans do not want a rule-based system; they want a power-based system—their power, and they put most of the money into the WTO. The body has 164 members, so the idea that on our own, rather than as part of the EU bloc, we will have influence in the WTO that compares to our influence by virtue of our population in the EU is surely not credible. We will simply have less sovereignty.

James Duddridge Portrait James Duddridge
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

We will have more influence: we will have influence with the Americans, who want to do a trade deal with us early on, and we will work with other international partners. The WTO has been of immense value in liberalising trade, and in many ways the EU trading within itself has been a block on the liberalisation of global trade, although it has opened out trade within the EU. I have made that point around Parliament and I think Members support the principle.

John Redwood Portrait John Redwood
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Let me elucidate the point. I sometimes think the Opposition do not seem to understand that we are in the WTO through the EU anyway. The whole EU is governed by WTO rules and the WTO court, yet the Opposition say that we would sacrifice control by going into the WTO. That bit of it already applies to us. We will get our vote and our voice, so we will actually get some power.

James Duddridge Portrait James Duddridge
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My right hon. Friend is right. I disagree with some of the points made by the hon. Member for Swansea West (Geraint Davies), but if he was right we would be suffering those problems at distance through the EU; if indeed it was the problem that he describes, it would not be a new problem.

James Duddridge Portrait James Duddridge
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am going to make some progress on amendment 9. I look forward to hearing the hon. Gentleman’s speech as a trade rep; I shall listen carefully to his remarks and intervene on him if that is appropriate and helpful to the debate.

The House will be aware that the Government previously published an impact assessment in support of the Bill. It is a standard assessment of the direct costs and benefits to businesses of elements of the Bill, and is available to Parliament and the public.

The assessment is in addition to the Government’s analysis, which was published in November 2018. It is detailed and robust and covers a broad range of scenarios.

In his letter to the Treasury Committee on 21 October last year, the Chancellor of Exchequer committed the Government to provide continued analysis of the appropriate points through the next stages of the negotiations. Hopefully, that will reassure the hon. Member for Bristol West (Thangam Debbonaire), in addition to the reassurance she received from my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, who spoke on issues of parliamentary scrutiny in the debate on the previous group. The Government remain committed to providing that analysis and will inform Parliament with the best analysis on which to base decisions. We will do so at the appropriate time, and so that it does not impede our ability to strike a good deal. I do not think that Members of Parliament or the British public would want us to do otherwise.

The British people have voted to get Brexit done and we must honour that by leaving with a deal. Fundamentally, amendment 9 is sadly another attempt to delay Brexit. We do not want to test the people’s patience further by adding another step to the process, so I urge the SNP to withdraw the amendment. An impact assessment already exists and is there for everyone to see.

I thank the hon. Member for North Down (Stephen Farry) for tabling amendment 35, but unfortunately we cannot accept it. The clause recognises a principal fundamental to our constitutional relationships: that Parliament is sovereign. Nothing in the Bill derogates from the sovereignty of Parliament, as the clause makes clear. In passing legislation to give effect to the withdrawal agreement, Parliament is exercising that sovereignty. Clause 5 is a critical component of the Bill: it provides individuals and businesses with some clarity, such that they can rely on the withdrawal agreement. It also provides for the withdrawal agreement to take priority over domestic law where it is incompatible. That is consistent with parliamentary sovereignty. Parliament is giving effect to the priority of the withdrawal agreement. The effect of the hon. Gentleman’s amendment would go beyond that. It would be novel and it would bind Parliament’s hands in exercising its ability to make and unmake law. He should be assured that such an amendment is entirely unnecessary, so I hope that he does not press it to a vote.

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