All 20 contributions to the United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020 (Ministerial Extracts Only)

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Mon 14th Sep 2020
United Kingdom Internal Market Bill
Commons Chamber

2nd reading & 2nd reading & 2nd reading: House of Commons & Money resolution & Money resolution: House of Commons & Programme motion & Programme motion: House of Commons & 2nd reading & Programme motion & Money resolution
Tue 29th Sep 2020
United Kingdom Internal Market Bill
Commons Chamber

Report stage & 3rd reading & 3rd reading: House of Commons & Report stage & Report stage: House of Commons & Report stage & 3rd reading
Mon 19th Oct 2020
United Kingdom Internal Market Bill
Lords Chamber

2nd reading & 2nd reading (Hansard) & 2nd reading (Hansard): House of Lords
Tue 20th Oct 2020
United Kingdom Internal Market Bill
Lords Chamber

2nd reading (Hansard) & 2nd reading (Hansard)
Mon 26th Oct 2020
United Kingdom Internal Market Bill
Lords Chamber

Committee stage & Committee stage:Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Wed 28th Oct 2020
United Kingdom Internal Market Bill
Lords Chamber

Committee stage:Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Mon 2nd Nov 2020
United Kingdom Internal Market Bill
Lords Chamber

Committee stage:Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Wed 4th Nov 2020
United Kingdom Internal Market Bill
Lords Chamber

Committee stage:Committee: 4th sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 4th sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 4th sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Mon 9th Nov 2020
United Kingdom Internal Market Bill
Lords Chamber

Committee stage:Committee: 5th sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 5th sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 5th sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Wed 18th Nov 2020
United Kingdom Internal Market Bill
Lords Chamber

Report stage & Report stage:Report: 1st sitting & Report stage (Hansard): House of Lords & Report: 1st sitting & Report: 1st sitting: House of Lords
Mon 23rd Nov 2020
United Kingdom Internal Market Bill
Lords Chamber

Report stage:Report: 2nd sitting (Hansard) & Report: 2nd sitting (Hansard) & Report: 2nd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Wed 25th Nov 2020
United Kingdom Internal Market Bill
Lords Chamber

Report stage:Report: 3rd sitting (Hansard) & Report: 3rd sitting (Hansard) & Report: 3rd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Wed 2nd Dec 2020
United Kingdom Internal Market Bill
Lords Chamber

3rd reading (Hansard) & 3rd reading & 3rd reading (Hansard) & 3rd reading (Hansard): House of Lords
Mon 7th Dec 2020
United Kingdom Internal Market Bill
Commons Chamber

Consideration of Lords amendmentsPing Pong & Consideration of Lords amendments & Ping Pong & Ping Pong: House of Commons
Wed 9th Dec 2020
United Kingdom Internal Market Bill
Lords Chamber

Consideration of Commons amendmentsPing Pong (Hansard) & Consideration of Commons amendments & Ping Pong (Hansard) & Ping Pong (Hansard): House of Lords
Thu 10th Dec 2020
United Kingdom Internal Market Bill
Commons Chamber

Consideration of Lords amendmentsPing Pong & Consideration of Lords amendments
Mon 14th Dec 2020
United Kingdom Internal Market Bill
Lords Chamber

Consideration of Commons amendmentsPing Pong (Hansard) & Consideration of Commons amendments
Tue 15th Dec 2020
United Kingdom Internal Market Bill
Lords Chamber

Consideration of Commons amendmentsPing Pong (Hansard) & Consideration of Commons amendments
Tue 15th Dec 2020
United Kingdom Internal Market Bill
Commons Chamber

Consideration of Lords amendmentsPing Pong & Consideration of Lords amendments
Wed 16th Dec 2020
United Kingdom Internal Market Bill
Commons Chamber

Consideration of Lords amendmentsPing Pong & Consideration of Lords amendments

United Kingdom Internal Market Bill

(Limited Text - Ministerial Extracts only)

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2nd reading & 2nd reading: House of Commons & Money resolution & Money resolution: House of Commons & Programme motion & Programme motion: House of Commons
Monday 14th September 2020

(3 years, 8 months ago)

Commons Chamber
United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020 Read Hansard Text Amendment Paper: Notices of Amendments as at 11 September 2020 - (14 Sep 2020)

This text is a record of ministerial contributions to a debate held as part of the United Kingdom Internal Market 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

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I inform the House that the amendment in the name of Keir Starmer has been selected.

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—and that this House act to preserve one of the crucial achievements of the past three centuries, namely our British ability to trade freely across the whole of these islands.

The creation of our United Kingdom by the Acts of Union of 1707 and 1801 was not simply a political event, but an act of conscious economic integration that laid the foundations for the world’s first industrial revolution and the prosperity we enjoy today. When other countries in Europe stayed divided, we joined our fortunes together and allowed the invisible hand of the market to move Cornish pasties to Scotland, Scottish beef to Wales, Welsh beef to England, and Devonshire clotted cream to Northern Ireland or wherever else it might be enjoyed.

When we chose to join the EU back in 1973, we also thereby decided that the EU treaties should serve as the legal guarantor of these freedoms. Now that we have left the EU and the transition period is about to elapse, we need the armature of our law once again to preserve the arrangements on which so many jobs and livelihoods depend. That is the fundamental purpose of this Bill, which should be welcomed by everyone who cares about the sovereignty and integrity of our United Kingdom.

We shall provide the legal certainty relied upon by every business in our country, including, of course, in Northern Ireland. The manifesto on which this Government were elected last year promised business in Northern Ireland

“unfettered access to the rest of the UK”.

Stephen Doughty Portrait Stephen Doughty (Cardiff South and Penarth) (Lab/Co-op)
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I am listening carefully to what the Prime Minister is saying, but why did one of his own distinguished Members describe his policy this week as “Nixonian Madman Theory”? Is the Prime Minister not deeply worried that his policies and approach are being compared to those of the disgraced former US President Richard Nixon, rather than someone like Winston Churchill?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
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Actually, I think that this Bill is essential for guaranteeing the economic and political integrity of the United Kingdom and simply sets out to achieve what the people of this country voted for when they supported our election manifesto: not only unfettered access from NI to GB and from GB to NI, but also—I quote from the manifesto—to

“maintain and strengthen the integrity and smooth operation of our internal market.”

Wes Streeting Portrait Wes Streeting (Ilford North) (Lab)
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Will the Prime Minister give way?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
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I will not.

The Bill is designed to honour that pledge and maintain those freedoms. When we renegotiated our withdrawal agreement from the EU, we struck a careful balance to reflect Northern Ireland’s integral place in our United Kingdom, while preserving an open border with Ireland, with the express and paramount aim of protecting the Belfast/Good Friday agreement and the peace process. In good faith, we accepted certain obligations in the Northern Ireland protocol in order to give our European friends the assurances they sought on the integrity of their single market, while avoiding any change to the border on the island of Ireland. We agreed to conduct some light-touch processes on goods passing between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, in case they were transferred to the EU.

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
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I give way to the hon. Gentleman, who knows a great deal about the subject.

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon
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This is a very important debate, as the Prime Minister and I know and as everyone in the House knows. Does he accept that the EU’s determination to use Northern Ireland as a stick to beat the UK with as punishment for daring to leave an institution that had no respect or concern for our people has been underlined by the behaviour of MEPs, and indeed of some in this House, as they seek again, against the will of the majority of people, to stop Brexit instead of doing the honourable thing: respecting the vote and the recent general election validation, taking care of the UK and putting our people first, as the Prime Minister has said he will do? This legislation is a way of doing that.

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
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The intention of the Bill is clearly to stop any such use of the stick against this country, and that is what it does. It is a protection, it is a safety net, it is an insurance policy, and it is a very sensible measure.

In a spirit of reasonableness, we are conducting these checks in accordance with our obligations. We are creating the sanitary and phytosanitary processes required under the protocol and spending hundreds of millions of pounds on helping traders. Under this finely balanced arrangement, our EU friends agreed that Northern Ireland—this is a crucial point—would remain part of the customs territory of the United Kingdom, able to benefit from free trade deals with other countries, which we are now beginning to strike. It ensures that the majority of goods not at risk of travelling to the EU—and that is the majority of goods going from GB to Northern Ireland—do not have to pay tariffs.

But the details of this intricate deal and the obvious tensions between some of its provisions can only be resolved with a basic minimum of common sense and good will from all sides. I regret to have to tell the House that in recent months the EU has suggested that it is willing to go to extreme and unreasonable lengths, using the Northern Ireland protocol in a way that goes well beyond common sense simply to exert leverage against the UK in our negotiations for a free trade agreement. To take the most glaring example, the EU has said that if we fail to reach an agreement to its satisfaction, it might very well refuse to list the UK’s food and agricultural products for sale anywhere in the EU. It gets even worse, because under this protocol, that decision would create an instant and automatic prohibition on the transfer of our animal products from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. Our interlocutors on the other side are holding out the possibility of blockading food and agricultural transports within our own country.

Andrea Jenkyns Portrait Andrea Jenkyns (Morley and Outwood) (Con)
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Does the Prime Minister agree that there is no greater obligation for MPs than to our voters, that the British people were told that no deal is better than a bad deal and we would prosper without a deal, and that given that the EU refuses to negotiate in good faith, we have no alternative but to legislate to protect our internal market?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
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My hon. Friend is entirely right. Absurd and self-defeating as that action would be, even as we debate this matter, the EU has not taken that particular revolver off the table. I hope that it will do so and that we can reach a Canada-style free trade agreement as well.

It is such an extraordinary threat, and it seems so incredible that the EU could do this, that we are not taking powers in this Bill to neutralise that threat, but we obviously reserve the right to do so if these threats persist, because I am afraid that they reveal the spirit in which some of our friends are currently minded to conduct these negotiations. It goes to what m’learned friends would call the intention of some of those involved in the talks. I think the mens rea—

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
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I give way to my right hon. and learned Friend.

Robert Neill Portrait Sir Robert Neill
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I never object to another promotion.

I have listened carefully to what the Prime Minister says, but does he accept that were our interlocutors in the EU to behave in such an egregious fashion, which would clearly be objectionable and unacceptable to us, there is already provision under the withdrawal agreement for an arbitrary arrangement to be put in place? Were we to take reserve powers, does he accept that those reserve powers should be brought into force only as a final backstop if we have, in good faith, tried to act under the withdrawal agreement and are then frustrated? The timing under which they come into force is very important for our reputation as upholders of the rule of law.

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
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My hon. Friend is absolutely right in what he says. He knows a great deal about this matter, and it is of great importance that we go through the legal procedures, as we will. As things stand, however, in addition to the potential blockade on agricultural goods, there are other avenues that the EU could explore if it is determined to interpret the protocol in absurd ways, and if it fails to negotiate in good faith. We must now take a package of protective powers in the Bill, and subsequently.

For example, there is the question of tariffs in the Irish sea. When we signed the protocol, we accepted that goods “at risk” of going from Great Britain into the EU via Northern Ireland should pay the EU tariff as they crossed the Irish sea—we accepted that—but that any goods staying within Northern Ireland would not do so. The protocol created a joint committee to identify, with the EU, which goods were at risk of going into Ireland. That sensible process was one achievement of our agreement, and our view is that that forum remains the best way of solving that question.

I am afraid that some in the EU are now relying on legal defaults to argue that every good is “at risk”, and therefore liable for tariffs. That would mean tariffs that could get as high as 90% by value on Scottish beef going to Northern Ireland, and moving not from Stranraer to Dublin but from Stranraer to Belfast within our United Kingdom. There would be tariffs of potentially more than 61% on Welsh lamb heading from Anglesey to Antrim, and of potentially more than 100% on clotted cream moving from Torridge—to pick a Devonshire town at random—to Larne. That is unreasonable and plainly against the spirit of that protocol.

The EU is threatening to carve tariff borders across our own country, to divide our land, to change the basic facts about the economic geography of the United Kingdom and, egregiously, to ride roughshod over its own commitment under article 4 of the protocol, whereby

“Northern Ireland is part of the customs territory of the United Kingdom.”

We cannot have a situation where the boundaries of our country could be dictated by a foreign power or international organisation. No British Prime Minister, no Government, and no Parliament could ever accept such an imposition.

Sarah Dines Portrait Miss Sarah Dines (Derbyshire Dales) (Con)
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How will my right hon. Friend ensure that Derbyshire Dales lamb, grown in our country, can be enjoyed by our fellow citizens in Northern Ireland, which is part of our country?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
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I thank my hon. Friend very much. The best way for us all to be sure that such lamb can be sold throughout the whole United Kingdom is to vote for this Bill, and to protect the economic integrity of the UK. [Interruption.] To answer the questions that are being shouted at me from a sedentary position, last year we signed the withdrawal agreement in the belief, which I still hold, that the EU would be reasonable. After everything that has recently happened, we must consider the alternative. We asked for reasonableness, common sense, and balance, and we still hope to achieve that through the joint committee process, in which we will always persevere, no matter what the provocation.

Jeremy Wright Portrait Jeremy Wright (Kenilworth and Southam) (Con)
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I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for giving way, and I want to ask him, if I may, about the ministerial code. When I was the Attorney General in the previous Government, I was happy to confirm that the ministerial code obliged Ministers to comply with international as well as domestic law. This Bill will give Ministers overt authority to break international law. Has the position on the ministerial code changed?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
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No, not in the least. My right hon. and learned Friend can consult the Attorney General’s position on that. After all, what this Bill is simply seeking to do is insure and protect this country against the EU’s proven willingness—that is the crucial point—to use this delicately balanced protocol in ways for which it was never intended.

The Bill includes our first step to protect our country against such a contingency by creating a legal safety net taking powers in reserve, whereby Ministers can guarantee the integrity of our United Kingdom. I understand how some people will feel unease over the use of these powers, and I share that sentiment. I say to my right hon. and learned Friend that I have absolutely no desire to use these measures. They are an insurance policy, and if we reach agreement with our European friends, which I still believe is possible, they will never be invoked. Of course, it is the case that the passing of this Bill does not constitute the exercising of these powers.

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
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If the powers were ever needed, Ministers would return to this House with a statutory instrument on which a vote—perhaps this is the question to which the hon. Gentleman is awaiting an answer—would be held. We would simultaneously pursue every possible redress—to get back to the point I was making to my hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Sir Robert Neill)—under international law, as provided for in the protocol.

In addition to our steps in domestic law, if we had to make clear that we believed the EU was engaged in a material breach of its duties of good faith, as required and provided for under the withdrawal agreement and the Vienna convention on the law of treaties, we would seek an arbitration panel and consider safeguards under article 16 of the protocol.

It is a question not of if we meet our obligations, but of how we fulfil them. We must do so in a way that satisfies the fundamental purpose of the protocol, the Belfast Good Friday agreement and the constitutional position of Northern Ireland. We will work with the EU on all of these issues. Even if we have to use these powers, we will continue to engage with the joint committee so that any dispute is resolved as quickly and as amicably as possible, reconciling the integrity of the EU single market with Northern Ireland’s place in the UK’s customs territory.

What we cannot do now is tolerate a situation where our EU counterparts seriously believe that they have the power to break up our country. If that is what hon. Members on the Opposition Benches want them to have, then I am afraid that they are grievously mistaken. That illusion must be decently dispatched, and that is why these reserve powers are enshrined in the Bill.

In addition, the Bill will help deliver the single biggest transfer of powers to the devolved Administrations since their creation, covering a total of 160 different policy areas. Each devolved Administration will also be fully and equally involved in the oversight of the UK’s internal market through a new independent body, the Office for the Internal Market. The Bill will maintain our common cause of high standards, where we already go beyond the EU in areas ranging from health and safety to consumer and environmental protections.

Chris Bryant Portrait Chris Bryant
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May I take the Prime Minister back to the question asked by the former Attorney General, the right hon. and learned Member for Kenilworth and Southam (Jeremy Wright)? It seems to me quintessential to the way we do our business that Ministers abide by the law. Indeed, the Justice Secretary is required by law to swear that he will uphold the rule of law. How, therefore, can the Prime Minister seriously advance a piece of legislation that says:

“regulations…are not to be regarded as unlawful on the grounds of any incompatibility or inconsistency with relevant international or domestic law”.

That is just gobbledegook, isn’t it? It is complete and utter nonsense.

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
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I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman was listening, but I made it very clear that we do not relish the prospect of having to use these powers at all. We hope very much, as I said, that the EU will be reasonable, but any democratically elected Government of this country—indeed, I would say any MP representing the people of this country—must be obliged to do whatever he or she can to uphold the territorial integrity of this country. That is what we are doing. Furthermore, instead of UK taxpayers’ money being disbursed by the EU, this Bill, which is an excellent Bill, will allow the Government to invest billions of pounds across the whole of the UK to level up.

A year ago, this Parliament was deadlocked, exasperating the British people by its failure to fulfil their democratic wishes and, worst of all, by undermining our negotiators, as the right hon. Member for Leeds Central (Hilary Benn) will recall. Effectively, Parliament told the EU that if it played hardball, this House would oblige it by weakening our country’s hand and legally forbid our representatives from walking away from the negotiating table. I hope that this House will never make that mistake again. Instead, let us seize the opportunity presented by this Bill and send a message of unity and resolve. Let us say together to our European friends that we want a great future relationship and a fantastic free trade deal.

Steve Brine Portrait Steve Brine (Winchester) (Con)
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The Prime Minister will remember that we have some history in this regard. I did not want us to leave with no agreement last year, and we fell out over that. But he was true to his word and we had an agreement.

We said in our manifesto:

“We will ensure that Northern Ireland’s businesses and producers enjoy unfettered access to the rest of the UK”.

Is it not the truth of the matter that the way to do that is either through this Bill or by agreeing the free trade agreement—the Canada-style deal—that the EU said was on the table and of which the Prime Minister said when he came into office, “Okay, they now seem to have stepped back from that”?

I thank the Prime Minister for saying that tonight is difficult for some of us, but this is an important piece of legislation. Will he assure me that it is still his policy and the policy of his Government to secure that FTA with the EU that it said it wanted and that we know we want?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
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I thank my hon. Friend for the spirit in which he asked his question and made that important point. He is absolutely right to focus on where we are now in our talks on the free trade agreement. It is by passing the Bill tonight and in subsequent days that we will make the possibility of that great free trade agreement more real and get it done sooner.

Therefore, with this Bill we will expedite a free trade agreement not only with our European friends and partners, but with friends and partners around the world; we will support jobs and growth throughout the whole United Kingdom; we will back our negotiators in Brussels; and, above all, we will protect the territorial integrity of the UK and the peace process in Northern Ireland. I urge the House to support the Bill and, as my hon. Friend the Member for Winchester (Steve Brine) rightly said, to get back to the business of securing a free trade agreement with our closest neighbours that we would all wish to see. I commend the Bill to the House.

--- Later in debate ---
Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
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The right hon. Member makes a very good point. There are policies that we are very proud of introducing in Scotland, such as minimum alcohol pricing, which was so critical in dealing with misuse of alcohol in Scotland, but there is no guarantee that we would be able to bring in such initiatives in the future. We would have to go cap in hand to Westminster for authority. The days of us being “too wee, too poor, too stupid” are well and truly over.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
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The sneering contempt that we get from the Minister for the Cabinet Office—he really ought to be ashamed of himself.

In part four, provision is made for the establishment of a new unelected monitoring body called the Office for the Internal Market. The Bill proposes to hand that unelected body—we often hear about unelected bureaucrats, but here we are—the power to pass judgment on devolved laws, directly over the heads of the Scottish people’s chosen Government. It will also lead to an open invitation for businesses with deep pockets to challenge the democratic decisions of our Scottish Parliament.

Clause 48 reserves state aid: one of the most blatant power grabs in the Bill, and that is a very high bar. We know that the state aid provisions will merely mirror those of the World Trade Organisation. That will inevitably make a deal with the EU even more difficult and provide little or no scrutiny. Finally, there is clause 46: the ultimate insult and the ultimate attack on devolution. If this legislation is forced through, powers will be given to UK Government Ministers to design and impose replacements for EU spending programmes in devolved areas: infrastructure, economic development, culture and sport, education and training—all of it.

The Government’s agenda is clear. The Transport Minister would have input and decision-making powers over road building in Scotland, over the heads of the Scottish Parliament. We won a referendum in 1997, when 75% of the people of Scotland voted to have a Parliament. We have elections every five years. Manifestos are put in front of the Scottish people. It is the settled will of the people that that Parliament has control over health, education, housing and transport. How dare this Tory Government feel that they can come in and impose their will on those areas of democratic accountability in Scotland? What an insult to our Parliament in Edinburgh and our Parliament in Wales. I say to this Government, “We will stand up against this attack on our Parliament, and on those that enshrined that Scottish Parliament.”



The agenda of the Conservatives is clear. The Tories will seek to bypass democratically elected MPs and Ministers in Scotland. Union Jack-badged projects will be paid for and prioritised ahead of the priorities of our Parliament. Bitter experience is a good teacher. Tory Governments cannot be trusted to spend money in Scotland.

We remember what happens when the Tories control state aid spending. In 1992, John Major’s Government diverted cash from the highlands to try to boost dwindling Tory support in south-east England. And we have not forgotten that this legislation comes from a Prime Minister who bragged that a pound spent in Croydon has far more value to the country than a pound spent in Strathclyde. That is the way that the Conservatives look upon Scotland. The Tories will look after their own interests. They will never—not ever—support Scotland’s interests. This Bill would allow them free rein to serve their own narrow needs.

At its heart, this Bill confirms the centralising obsession of this UK Government. Those in No. 10 who not so long ago made a lucrative living scribbling endless newspaper articles about a supposed centralised Brussels elite are now attempting to centralise and grab every devolved power that they can get their hands on. Apparently, the Tories are not only determined to preside over the death of devolution; they are clearly determined to oversee the death of irony, too.

The real reason behind this Government’s hunger to pursue this power grab is what should concern us most, though. Paragraph 26 of the explanatory notes makes it clear that the Business Secretary will be given the power to change exemptions from the Bill at any time. In effect, this is a Trojan horse allowing Tory Ministers to encroach even further on devolution, and we know where that will inevitably lead. In order to deliver bad trade deals—the only deals they can now realistically get—the Tories want private health companies to have a guaranteed right to trade unhindered in Scotland and across the UK. With no protections for our Parliament, this would fundamentally weaken and undermine our national health service in Scotland. The same is true for private water companies, with the same threat of undermining standards and raising prices in Scotland. The Tories’ real agenda is about imposing the creeping privatisation and rampant deregulation that they are already implementing in England.

I am heartened by one thing: the scale of the threat of this legislation is equalled by the scale of the opposition with which it has been met across Scottish society. Those on the Government Benches, especially the Scottish Tories—mind you, there is only one of them in here—would do well to listen to this. The National Farmers Union Scotland confirmed that

“the proposals pose a significant threat to the development of Common Frameworks and to devolution.”

The chair of the Scottish Crofting Federation, Yvonne White, expressed fear that

“the proposed legislation will lead to a race to the bottom, threatening our high standards in food, environment and animal welfare, thus damaging the image of Scottish produce.”

She concluded:

“These standards are best safeguarded by the Scottish Parliament.”

[Interruption.] I hear someone shouting from a sedentary position, “Don’t let the facts get in the way.” That is a statement from the chair of the Scottish Crofting Federation. It might not suit those on the Tory Benches, but that is the reality.

The Scottish Council for Development and Industry believes that

“mutually agreed common frameworks should be the foundation of the UK internal market, rather than the imposition of a single approach across the UK in devolved policy areas.”

The SCDI is absolutely right. Why is the Joint Ministerial Committee not finishing the work it was engaged on in delivering those frameworks on a consensual basis? But of course that does not suit the Tory Government, who want to attack our democratic institutions.

The General Teaching Council for Scotland said that supporting the Bill

“would undermine the four UK nations’ devolved education functions.”

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
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I hear the Cabinet Office Minister shout, “How?” Perhaps he should go and talk to the General Teaching Council, and it will give him its views directly. [Interruption.] Really? We have the Business Secretary, who is supposed to be taking this Bill through, sitting laughing—laughing at the legitimate comments made by stakeholders in Scotland. It is little wonder that the Tories are rejected in the way they are at the polls in Scotland.

On its impact on devolution, Professor Nicola McEwen, co-director of the Centre on Constitutional Change, found that the internal market Bill

“limits policy divergences and risks stifling innovation”.

The Scottish Trades Union Congress stated that the Prime Minister

“is uniting political parties, trade unions and wider civil society in Scotland against a power grab which would see UK Government interference in previously devolved matters and a rolling back of the”

devolution

“settlement we voted for in 1997”.

What is happening is that the Tories are uniting civic Scotland against this attack on our Parliament and its powers—farmers, crofters, teachers, industry, academics and trade unions: a coalition of opposition to this Bill and this Tory agenda. Civic Scotland has made its voices and views crystal clear. Anyone supporting this Bill will be ignoring their interests.

We all have a responsibility to listen to these voices. The new Scottish Tory leadership have been running around half the summer, telling anyone who would listen just how keen they were to stand up to the Prime Minister when they think he is wrong. Well, you have that chance tonight. Listen to the coalition of opposition in Scotland rather than your masters in Downing Street. If the Scottish Tories follow their colleagues into the Lobby in support of this power grab, they will expose themselves as being weaker than ever, as failing to stand up for Scotland’s interest against a London power grab. The very first test of the new Scottish Tory leadership will have turned out to be their biggest, and they will have failed. They will simply have shown themselves to be the Prime Minister’s poodles, turning their back on Scotland’s interests. They will have failed once again to stand up for Scottish democracy.

There is also a special responsibility that falls on the Labour party. Much of the devolution project is a legacy of its Government in 1997. This Bill is a direct attack on that legacy. We must collectively oppose the Bill. I am urging the Labour party at every parliamentary stage to take full responsibility and work collectively with us to hold the Government to account. The Welsh Labour Government are advising the same. They have said that

“the UK Government plans to sacrifice the future of the union by stealing powers from devolved administrations”,

and that it is

“an attack on democracy and an affront to the people of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, who have voted in favour of devolution on numerous occasions.”

That statement and its analysis comes to the very core of the argument. Over the course of the last 21 years of devolution, Scotland’s people have benefited from the progressive and divergent priorities that our own governance has given us the freedom to pursue. They have seen it, experienced it and come to fiercely value it. Even with limited powers, Scotland’s Parliament and our Government have always sought to mitigate or reject the Conservative policy paths set out at Westminster. We have forged our own path. If this legislation had been in force previously, it would have prevented many progressive policies and divergent choices.

Over recent months, that conviction and belief in our Parliament has grown. People have seen the exceptional leadership of our First Minister throughout the course of this terrible pandemic. It has reaffirmed their faith and confidence in our institutions, our governance and our nation. Our people have come to a simple but powerful conclusion: decisions about Scotland are best made in Scotland. Right now, poll after poll—the latest one only last Friday—shows that a growing majority have come to the conclusion that all decisions and all powers should now be fully entrusted to the people of Scotland.

The Tories have never been able to reconcile themselves to that truth. As usual, when they are confronted with change, they are in the depths of denial. Instead of accepting the right of Scottish people to choose their own future, they are trying to grab the powers back that were returned to Scotland 21 years ago. That is exactly what this law is designed to do. It is a full-frontal attack on Scotland’s Parliament and on Scotland’s democracy.

It has been stated that power devolved is power retained. This implies that this Tory Government can do anything they like with the powers of our Parliament. That is what this Bill is about. It gives them direct spending in Scotland in devolved areas: in health, education, housing and transport. Just dwell on this. We send parliamentarians to Holyrood so that they can enact the people’s priorities, but Westminster is about to ride roughshod over that. If the Bill passes, this Government in London can interfere directly in all those devolved areas, over the heads of the Scottish Parliament and our people. There is only one way to stop them—only one answer, and only one option.

The only way to defend Scotland’s Parliament and its powers is by becoming independent. Our Parliament will consider a new referendum Bill before the end of 2021. The chance to choose an independent future is now coming. No amount of Tory denial and disruption can stand in the way of Scotland’s people’s democratic right to choose a different and better future, and once it comes, people will have their democratic say. I am more confident than ever that they will choose to be part of a new Scotland back at the heart of Europe. We can choose to leave behind the chaos and instability of Westminster. We can get on by becoming an independent, international, law-abiding nation.

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

It is always a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Leeds West (Rachel Reeves), who always makes her case with clarity, with force and from principle. I know that everyone who listened to her speech will have recognised the powerful case that she was making. I did not agree with everything that she said, but I am sure everyone in the House recognises that she is a strong and effective advocate for her party and her principles.

I thank all those who spoke in this debate. We had more than 60 speeches, all of them I think contributing to the reputation of this House. We had very thoughtful speeches of course from a variety of Select Committee Chairs and also some very passionate speeches, including, as the hon. Lady mentioned, from the hon. Member for Foyle (Colum Eastwood) and the right hon. Member for East Antrim (Sammy Wilson). Those two representatives of Northern Ireland constituencies took passionately different views on the merits of this legislation. It is that very passion and, indeed, the importance of democracy, not just to Northern Ireland but to the whole United Kingdom, that means we should all try to look calmly at the Bill before voting tonight and before looking at the various amendments that may be tabled in Committee.

It is important that I remind the House of what the Bill does and what it does not do, as well has how, together, we can address the legitimate concerns that have been raised in good faith by hon. Members. The Bill protects, enhances and strengthens our Union and the prosperity of all our people. It is all the more crucial that we take these steps as we recover from the dreadful covid-19 pandemic. We need to work together as one United Kingdom, displaying solidarity and resolve, to ensure that the prosperity that we generate is shared for all the people we represent. It is a fact that each of the parts of the United Kingdom trade more with each other than with anyone else. It is a fact that each of the peoples of the United Kingdom rely more on each other than anyone else. All the peoples of the United Kingdom are stronger when we work together, act together and stick together.

No one summed up the essence of the Bill better than my hon. Friend the Member for Moray (Douglas Ross). He said it is a Bill about jobs and businesses. As he reminded us, some 545,000 jobs in Scotland rely on the integrity of our internal market. He reminded us that, coincident with this Bill, there is a power surge for all the devolved Administrations, with hundreds of powers going to the devolved Assemblies to strengthen devolution. He also stressed that the importance of devolution was that all our citizens could see our Governments working together—the United Kingdom Government working with the Northern Ireland Executive, the Senedd in Wales and, of course, the Scottish Government.

Michael Gove Portrait Michael Gove
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Not at this stage.

The Bill does not walk away from negotiations with the European Union. Those negotiations go on with David Frost and Michel Barnier and with myself and my friend Maroš Šefčovič in the Joint Committee. We are committed to making a success of the negotiations. The Bill is not about abandoning the withdrawal agreement. The withdrawal agreement is there. We are safeguarding the rights of 3 million EU citizens in the UK, just as EU nations are safeguarding the rights of 1 million UK citizens in the EU.

The Bill is certainly not about declining to implement the Northern Ireland protocol. As the right hon. Member for East Antrim reminded us, with some regret on his part, we are erecting border-inspection posts for sanitary and phytosanitary checks in Northern Ireland, even now. We are investing hundreds of millions of pounds in helping Northern Ireland businesses to be ready for the new processes that come with the protocol. If we were not serious about implementing the protocol, we would not be incurring the inevitable resistance, from some, as we see those border-inspection posts erected and traders being prepared for the implementation of the protocol. The idea that we are abandoning it is simply for the birds.

The Bill is also not a threat to devolution. I must turn to my old friend, the right hon. Member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber (Ian Blackford). He gave the longest speech in this debate and, like all his speeches, it was true to the John Lewis guarantee: no argument was knowingly undersold. In his gusto to make his arguments and the lyricism with which he made his case, I fear he obscured one or two details. He talked about the threat to water in Scotland, but the Bill and the schedule are clear that water is excluded from the provisions of the Bill. He talked about the threat to the NHS, a UK institution, but if we look at the schedule to the Bill, we see that healthcare services are excluded.

I am perfectly happy to spend more time with the right hon. Gentleman, because it is always a pleasure to take him through the Bill, to calm him and to point out the ways in which it not only strengthens the Union but respects devolution. And devolution is what, indeed, it does respect—

Alison Thewliss Portrait Alison Thewliss (Glasgow Central) (SNP)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Michael Gove Portrait Michael Gove
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

No.

The other thing about the right hon. Member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber is that sometimes in his speeches he employs the Humpty Dumpty principle: a word means what he wants it to mean, whatever else the rest of us understand by it. He talked about defending devolution; well, what is devolution? It is two Governments working together—the Scottish Government and the UK Government; the Welsh Government and the UK Government. He says he wants to protect devolution, but how does he want to do that? By going for independence, smashing the devolution settlement, separating this family of nations and undermining the prosperity of the people who he and I love in Scotland. Even though he spoke at length, and lyrically, when he was challenged he could not give one single example of any power that the Scottish Government or the Scottish Parliament currently has that is not being retained. Indeed, powers are increasing.

Let me turn briefly to the speech given by the shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the right hon. Member for Doncaster North (Edward Miliband). I think we can all agree that it was an excellent speech. He raised a number of legitimate concerns and fair questions, which I hope to address. He talked about the importance of common frameworks, and we agree on that, which is why progress has been made on them. Indeed, one of those common frameworks specifically covers food standards and provides reassurance that the fears that he and others have about a race to the bottom will not be realised. It is also the case, as is acknowledged widely, including in his speech, that common frameworks are important but they are not enough. Progress on common frameworks is a good thing, but we also need legislation to underpin the internal market overall. I also noted his passionate commitment in his speech to getting Brexit done, and I am pleased to welcome him to the ranks of born-again Brexiteers.

One thing the right hon. Gentleman will know—indeed, the Chairman of the Select Committee on the future relationship with the European Union, the right hon. Member for Leeds Central (Hilary Benn), repeated the point—is that the EU has not always been the constructive partner that all of us might have hoped. In excellent speeches, my hon. Friend the Member for South Thanet (Craig Mackinlay), my right hon. Friend the Member for Basingstoke (Mrs Miller) and my hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw (Brendan Clarke-Smith) pointed out that the EU has not always done what we might have hoped it would do. The EU is bound by a system of what are called autonomous processes to ensure that we have equivalence on data and financial services, and that we are listed as a third country for the export of food and other products of animal origin. There has been no progress on any of those. We were told that we would get a Canada deal, but that is not on the table. The Prime Minister has reminded us that the threat on third country listing could mean an embargo on the transport of goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. The EU has also insisted on an interpretation of an end to the common fisheries policy that would mean that they could carry on fishing in our waters just as before, even though we had pledged to take back control. I am not a diplomat but let me try to put it in diplomatic language: some people might think that the EU had not been negotiating absolutely 100% in line with what all of us might have hoped. Given that, it is important that we redouble our efforts to seek agreement but that we are also prepared for any eventuality.

Importantly, it is not just me who acknowledges that the EU might not have been doing everything it should to secure agreement. As I say, the Chairman of the Select Committee made the point that there is no need for exit declarations for goods coming from Northern Ireland to Great Britain. He made the point that it is a shame that we have not got third country listing, and I agree with him—and I agree with the hon. Member for Leeds West that the EU must up its game.

It is also crucial that we recognise what this Bill seeks to do in order to ensure that we can get an appropriate resolution, and here I turn to the remarks made by my hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Sir Robert Neill). He is an old friend of mine and he is on to something here. He made the point that we need to show that we are operating in a constructive spirit, and I agree. That is why we want to secure agreement through the Joint Committee, which is why we met last week. It is why Maroš Šefčovič and I have been working, setting aside our differences, in order to achieve agreement. It is also why our first recourse will be to the arbitral panel if we do have problems. We recognise, as my hon. Friend pointed out, that if we cannot secure agreement, under section 16 there are steps we can take in extremis, as a safety net, to ensure that our interests are protected. It is the case in international law that we can take those steps, if required, in order to achieve the goals we wish.

Tom Tugendhat Portrait Tom Tugendhat (Tonbridge and Malling) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My right hon. Friend is making some clear points. Will he make it absolutely clear that any breach of the withdrawal agreement will come only at the very end of a long process, at which point the only resolution in respect of keeping food flowing between GB and Northern Ireland is this Bill?

Michael Gove Portrait Michael Gove
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend, the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, makes an important point. It is the case that patient negotiation is the way forward. [Interruption.] No, I entirely agree with him. This time last year, we and the EU were at loggerheads. There were obstacles and roadblocks, but we negotiated with rigour, with determination and not without some bumps in the road in order to achieve progress. If we apply the same determination now as we did then, I believe that we can make progress in these negotiations, but just as last year, when we were ready to support our Prime Minister in showing steely resolve to get the best possible deal and to make sure that our negotiators had everything that they needed, so now we must back our Prime Minister and our negotiators and recognise that this safety net is a critical part of making sure that we can achieve everything that we wish. We should support the Bill this evening.

Question put, That the amendment be made.

--- Later in debate ---
22:00

Division 93

Ayes: 213


Labour: 195
Liberal Democrat: 11
Plaid Cymru: 3
Independent: 1
Alliance: 1
Green Party: 1
Conservative: 1

Noes: 349


Conservative: 340
Democratic Unionist Party: 7
Independent: 1

The list of Members currently certified as eligible for a proxy vote, and of the Members nominated as their proxy, is published at the end of today’s debates.
--- Later in debate ---
22:15

Division 94

Ayes: 340


Conservative: 329
Democratic Unionist Party: 7
Independent: 1

Noes: 263


Labour: 197
Scottish National Party: 47
Liberal Democrat: 11
Plaid Cymru: 3
Social Democratic & Labour Party: 2
Conservative: 2
Independent: 1
Alliance: 1
Green Party: 1

The list of Members currently certified as eligible for a proxy vote, and of the Members nominated as their proxy, is published at the end of today’s debates.
--- Later in debate ---
22:30

Division 95

Ayes: 343


Conservative: 335
Democratic Unionist Party: 7
Independent: 1

Noes: 49


Scottish National Party: 45
Plaid Cymru: 2
Independent: 1

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

United Kingdom Internal Market Bill

(Limited Text - Ministerial Extracts only)

Read Full debate
Report stage & 3rd reading & 3rd reading: House of Commons & Report stage: House of Commons
Tuesday 29th September 2020

(3 years, 7 months ago)

Commons Chamber
United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020 Read Hansard Text Amendment Paper: Consideration of Bill Amendments as at 29 September 2020 - (29 Sep 2020)

This text is a record of ministerial contributions to a debate held as part of the United Kingdom Internal Market 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

Nigel Evans Portrait Mr Deputy Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

With this it will be convenient to consider the following:

Government new clause 5—Office for the Internal Market panel and task groups.

New clause 1—Withdrawal Agreement and rule of law duty

‘(1) An appropriate authority exercising any function to which this Part (Northern Ireland Protocol) applies must—

(a) respect the rule of law;

(b) allow for the possibility of judicial review of an enactment, decision, act or omission by the appropriate authority;

(c) use the provisions of Article 16 of the Protocol to protect the interests of the United Kingdom.

(2) An appropriate authority exercising any function to which this Part applies must comply with the obligations of the United Kingdom under international law.

(3) An appropriate authority exercising any function to which this Part applies must comply with—

(a) the requirement under Article 5 (Good faith) of the Withdrawal Agreement for the EU and the United Kingdom to assist each other in full mutual respect and good faith to carry out the tasks which flow from the Agreement;

(b) the requirement under Article 167 (Consultations and communications within the Joint Committee) for the EU and the United Kingdom to endeavour to resolve any dispute regarding the interpretation and application of the provisions of the Agreement by entering into consultations in the Joint Committee in good faith, with the aim of reaching a mutually agreed solution;

(c) the requirement under Article 184 (Negotiations on the future relationship) of the Withdrawal Agreement for the EU and the United Kingdom to use their best endeavours, in good faith and in full respect of their respective legal orders, to take the necessary steps to negotiate expeditiously the agreements governing their future relationship referred to in the Political Declaration of 17 October 2019 and to conduct the relevant procedures for the ratification or conclusion of those agreements, with a view to ensuring that those agreements apply, to the extent possible, as from the end of the transition period;

(d) the requirements of the Good Friday or Belfast Agreement of 10 April 1998 between the Government of the United Kingdom and the Government of Ireland and the other participants in the multi-party negotiations, which is annexed to the British-Irish Agreement of the same date.

(4) An appropriate authority exercising any function to which this Part applies must comply with the Human Rights Act 1998.’

This new clause is intended to replace Clauses 42, 43 and 45 of the Bill, to require Ministers to respect the rule of law and uphold the independence of the courts and the practice of judicial review, and to require UK Ministers to implement the Withdrawal Agreement.

New clause 2—Internal market common framework

‘(1) The Secretary of State must seek to reach agreement with the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government and the Northern Ireland Executive on a common framework on the United Kingdom internal market.

(2) A common framework under subsection (1) may cover—

(a) the functioning of the United Kingdom internal market;

(b) the effectiveness of market access principles; and

(c) drawing up a shared prosperity fund to balance economic development across the whole of the United Kingdom.

(3) The Secretary of State must take into account the common framework on the United Kingdom internal market in exercising any powers under Part 6 (Financial assistance powers) of this Act.’

This new clause would put the Common Framework process on a statutory footing.

New clause 3—Duty to consult, monitor, report and review

‘(1) Within three months of the date on which this Act is passed, the Secretary of State must lay a report before each House of Parliament on the dates on which each section—

(a) was commenced; or

(b) is planned to commence.

(2) The Secretary of State must arrange for a review to be carried out within three months of the date on which this Act is passed, and thereafter at least once in each calendar year on the operation of this Act.

(3) The Secretary of State must invite the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government and the Northern Ireland Executive to contribute to the reviews in subsection (1).

(4) The reviews under subsection (1) must make an assessment of—

(a) the functioning of the United Kingdom internal market;

(b) the effectiveness of market access principles;

(c) progress towards agreeing common frameworks with the devolved administrations;

(d) progress towards drawing up a shared prosperity fund framework; and

(e) progress in resolving issues through the Joint Committee machinery in the Withdrawal Agreement.

(5) The Prime Minister must arrange for a report of any review under this section to be laid before each House of Parliament as soon as practicable after its completion.’

This new clause would ensure Ministers have a duty to report back to Parliament on the progress of the functioning of the internal market; market access; progress towards agreeing common frameworks; progress towards drawing up a shared prosperity fund; and progress in resolving issues through the Joint Committee machinery in the Withdrawal Agreement.

New clause 6—Economic development: climate and nature emergency impact statement

‘(1) Any financial assistance provided under Part 6 of this Act for the purpose of economic development must take into account the overarching need for a sustainable strategy aimed at long- term national well-being.

(2) Every proposal for financial assistance under this Act must be accompanied by a climate and nature emergency impact statement.

(3) Responsibility for the production of the climate and nature emergency impact statement required in subsection (2) resides with the applicant for financial assistance.

(4) Responsiblity for assessment of the climate and nature emergency impact statement required in subsection (2) resides with Ministers, who are required to publish this assessment for any successful proposal.

(5) The climate and nature emergency impact statement produced should take account of any carbon budget, climate, nature and environmental goals approved by the relevant Parliament.

(6) In subsection (5), the “relevant Parliament” means—

(a) where the proposed financial assistance relates to a person in England, the House of Commons and the House of Lords;

(b) where the proposed financial assistance relates to a person in Scotland, the Scottish Parliament;

(c) where the proposed financial assistance relates to a person in Wales, Senedd Cymru;

(d) where the proposed financial assistance relates to a person in Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Assembly.’

The intention of this new clause is to ensure that those seeking financial assistance for economic development, etc under this Act are obliged to undertake a climate and nature emergency impact statement to ensure public money is only granted to development consistent with climate, nature and environmental goals and targets.

New clause 7—Northern Ireland’s place in the UK internal market

‘(1) As part of its obligation under Article 6.2 of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland to use its best endeavours to facilitate trade between Northern Ireland and other parts of the UK, the UK Government must—

(a) publish an assessment at least every 12 months of any impact on businesses and consumers arising from the Protocol on trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland and vice versa; and

(b) develop mitigations to safeguard the place of Northern Ireland businesses and consumers in the UK internal market.

(2) The assessment published under paragraph (1)(a) must include assessment of the impact of any actual or proposed regulatory or trade policy divergence on Northern Ireland’s place in the UK Internal Market.

(3) Any official or administrative costs arising from the duties under subsections (1) and (2) may not be recouped from the private sector.’

New clause 8—Interpretation of the Northern Ireland Protocol in accordance with International Law

‘(1) In the event that the European Union fails to act in accordance with the principles of public international law in its implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol, by

(a) failing to undertake acts that are required by the provisions of the Northern Ireland Protocol;

(b) committing acts that are not in accordance with the provisions of the Northern Ireland Protocol;

(c) failing to undertake acts that are necessary for the effective implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol;

(d) asserting positions in the Joint Committee that are not in accord with the provisions of the Northern Ireland Protocol; or

(e) refusing to discuss in the Joint Committee proposals on implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol tabled by the United Kingdom;

(2) For the purposes of subsection (1), the principles of public international law that may be invoked include—

(a) the provisions of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties between States and International Organizations or between International Organizations 1986, including, in particular,

(i) the need to act in “good faith” and

(ii) the need to avoid results that are “manifestly absurd or unreasonable”;

(b) established international practices, having the status of customary international law; and

(c) the commitments made in the preambular paragraphs of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

(4) A unilateral interpretative declaration issued under subsection (1) may not be submitted unless—

(a) a Minister of the Crown has laid before each House of Parliament

(i) a copy of the proposed declaration,

(ii) a statement on the nature of the dispute with the European Union,

(iii) a statement of the intended effect of the proposed declaration; and

(b) the declaration has been approved by a resolution of the House of Commons on a motion moved by a Minister of the Crown; and

(c) a motion for the House of Lords to take note of the declaration has been tabled in the House of Lords by a Minister of the Crown and—

(i) the House of Lords has debated the motion, or

(ii) the House of Lords has not concluded a debate on the motion before the end of the period of five Lords sitting days beginning with the first Lords sitting day after the day on which the House of Commons passes the resolution mentioned in paragraph (b).

(5) When a response to the submission of any unilateral interpretative declaration is received from the European Union, a Minister of the Crown shall lay before each House of Parliament the response received from the European Union, and—

(a) in the case of the approval of the declaration by the European Union, the Minister shall issue a written statement confirming that the declaration has obtained the status of an authentic interpretation of the Northern Ireland Protocol;

(b) in the case of opposition to the declaration by the European Union, the Minister shall issue a written statement, assessing any alternative interpretation formulated by the European Union and indicating the government’s intended response; or

(c) in the case of the recharacterisation of the declaration by which the European Union purports to treat the declaration as an illegal reservation, the Minister shall issue a written statement of what action it intends to take to resolve the dispute.

(6) In this section—

“approval”, “opposition” or “recharacterization” of a declaration shall have the meaning given in Guideline 2.9 of the Guide to Practice on Reservations to Treaties, contained in the report of the International Law Commission on its Sixty-Third Session in 2011;

“Joint Committee” means the Joint Committee established under Article 164 of the EU Withdrawal Agreement;

“Lords sitting day” means a day on which the House of Lords is sitting (and a day is only a day on which the House of Lords is sitting if the House begins to sit on that day);

“submit” means to make a submission to the depositary of the EU Withdrawal Agreement, as specified in Article 183 of the EU Withdrawal Agreement; and

“unilateral interpretative declaration” means an interpretative declaration as defined by Guideline 1.2 of the Guide to Practice on Reservations to Treaties, contained in the report of the International Law Commission on its Sixty-Third Session in 2011.’

Government amendments 31 and 32, 19, 33 to 38, 20 to 26, and 1 to 11.

Amendment 16, page 37, line 10, leave out Clause 45.

Government amendments 12, 13, 15 and 14.

Amendment 18, page 38, line 36, leave out Clause 46.

Amendment 29, page 39, line 27, leave out Clause 47.

Government new schedule 1—Constitution etc of Office for the Internal Market panel and task groups.

Amendment 17, in schedule 1, page 48, line 14, at end insert—

‘(8A) In the case that there is one REACH authorisation process for Great Britain, an authorisation that is lawful for the Northern Ireland market will be valid for the Great Britain market.’

The intention of this amendment is to apply the non-discrimination principle to the REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) regime.

Government amendments 27 and 28.

Amendment 30, in title, line 7, leave out from “aid” to “to” in line 10.

Amendments 18 and 29 would remove both clauses in Part 6 (Financial assistance powers). This consequential Amendment removes from the long Title “to authorise the provision of financial assistance by Ministers of the Crown in connection with economic development, infrastructure, culture, sport and educational or training activities and exchanges”.

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Deputy Speaker. I want to begin by thanking all Members for their engagement throughout the passage of the Bill and the Public Bill Office for its excellent work in supporting Members and officials.

Before I turn to the specific amendments that we are debating, I want to briefly remind Members why it is crucial that we pass this Bill. Around 60% of Scottish and Welsh exports are to the rest of the UK, which is around three times as much as exports to the rest of the EU. About 50% of Northern Ireland’s sales are to Great Britain. In some local authorities in Wales, over a quarter of workers commute across the border. When we leave the transition period at the end of this year, laws made in Europe can be made in the UK.

Pete Wishart Portrait Pete Wishart (Perth and North Perthshire) (SNP)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Minister will have noticed yesterday that the Scottish Government declared their intention not to give this Bill a legislative consent motion. Does he intend to ignore that or dismiss it, and does he hold Scottish democracy in contempt?

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I very much do not hold the devolution settlement in contempt. It is right that we work together. I believe that the UK is stronger together. It is important that we give Scottish businesses—just as much as Welsh, Northern Irish and English businesses—the certainty that they want to be able to trade, so we will continue to engage with the Scottish Parliament and officials and politicians up there to achieve legislative consent.

Hundreds of powers will flow from the EU to the devolved nations and the UK Government in an unprecedented transfer. As we recover from covid, we must ensure that our economy is stronger than ever. That is why the Government have introduced this Bill and why it is essential that we pass it. We want to guarantee the continued functioning of our internal market, to ensure that trade remains unhindered in the UK.

I will begin by speaking to the amendments tabled by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, starting with those that strengthen the Bill’s measures relating to the governance and functioning of the Office for the Internal Market. The office will sit within the Competition and Markets Authority to monitor and report on the internal market on an equal basis for all Administrations. The Competition and Markets Authority has a strong reputation for independence and impartiality. The Government have strived to preserve that reputation in setting out the functions to be carried out by the Office for the Internal Market. By providing non-binding, expert reporting and technical monitoring on regulations and proposals, it will provide robust evidence on the actual or potential impact of regulatory measures.

New clause 4 gives the Competition and Markets Authority the objective of supporting the effective operation of the UK internal market through the provision of economic and technical advice and expertise. That will exist in parallel to the existing objective of the Competition and Markets Authority to promote competition for the benefit of consumers.

New clause 5 enables Competition and Markets Authority functions under part 4 of the Bill to be carried out by an Office for the Internal Market task group and introduces a new schedule setting out the Government’s arrangements for the Office for the Internal Market panel and task groups. That mirrors the existing arrangements for the establishment of panels and groups that it has in place.

New schedule 1 establishes a panel of experts to lead the work of the Office for the Internal Market. The Secretary of State will appoint a chair and further members, following consultation with Ministers from all three devolved Administrations.

William Cash Portrait Sir William Cash (Stone) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Will the Minister confirm that the arrangements under the Bill regarding the CMA guarantee that we will not have any jurisdiction by the European Union or the European Court over the CMA and, furthermore, that one of the cardinal principles on which the European Union and the Commission are taking their stand is that they insist that we should not benefit competitively from leaving the European Union and we should not be able to compete with them on reasonable terms?

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am grateful for that typically wise intervention. I am happy to provide that confirmation.

Amendment 1 provides absolute privilege against defamation for the Competition and Markets Authority when carrying out its functions under part 4. That will ensure that it can report and provide advice independently without needing to expend resources on preparing to defend litigation, and that businesses with deep pockets cannot sue or threaten to sue the CMA to obstruct it from carrying out its functions.

I shall set out briefly for the House the amendments that will improve the Bill’s drafting. Through amendments 31 to 34, we are taking the opportunity to put it beyond any possible doubt that alcohol minimum unit pricing-type regulation and any other sales requirements are not in the scope of the mutual recognition principle, unless they amount in practice to a total ban on a good being sold. That came up in Committee. We want to make sure that rather than politicking, we can return to a business continuity approach.

Drew Hendry Portrait Drew Hendry (Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey) (SNP)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Minister just told us about an amendment to take into account concerns about the minimum unit pricing aspect, but UK Government Ministers have been telling us for weeks that the Bill does not affect that. Clearly, that was a concern until now and we were right. Is it not also true that the non-discriminatory aspects of the amendment make it completely useless anyway?

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his intervention, but the answer is no. To ensure we take that political football totally off the table and return the Bill to what is was always designed to be about—giving businesses in Scotland and all parts of the UK the business continuity and certainty they need without such distractions—the technical amendment dots the i’s and crosses the t’s.

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

For Northern Ireland to be a successful part of the United Kingdom, may I gently suggest that the Minister should work with us on new clause 7, which my party has tabled? It is an imperative tool to ensure that Northern Ireland is not left behind in Brexit in terms of being an integrated member of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland—in other words, that we are treated equally.

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I will turn to new clause 7 in a second, but clearly we will treat Northern Ireland equally.

Amendments 2 to 11, 24, 27, 28 and 35 to 38 are technical changes to remove sources of potential confusion in the drafting. Amendments 19 and 21 provide fuller clarification that a wide range of agricultural processes are considered to be in scope when we refer to the production of goods. Amendment 20 ensures that the UK Government and devolved Administrations can continue to respond to specific biosecurity threats arising from the movement of animals and high-risk plants and that they are excluded from the mutual recognition and non-discrimination principles of the Bill.

Amendments 22 and 23 clarify the meaning of clause 16 that a change to the conditions attached to an authorisation requirement would bring it in scope of part 2 of the Bill. Amendment 26 ensures that the exemption in clause 23 covers the replication of non-statutory rules as well as a re-enactment of legislation. Amendments 12 to 15 ensure that the higher courts in England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland may make declarations of incompatibility in respect of the regulations under clauses 42 and 43, but may not quash them. That will ensure that, in the unlikely event of a violation of convention rights, there is a remedy available through the courts.

Joanna Cherry Portrait Joanna Cherry (Edinburgh South West) (SNP)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Notwithstanding the terms of amendments 12 and 13, can the Minister tell us whether the Secretary of State continues to be confident that the statement he has made in terms of section 19(1)(a) of the Human Rights Act 1998 is accurate?

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

We have been quite clear in the approach that we have taken in terms of the human rights impact, so I am confident that the Secretary of State has talked about that.

Robert Neill Portrait Sir Robert Neill (Bromley and Chislehurst) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

May I press the Minister a little further in relation to amendment 13 and so on? I accept “preserving a remedy”, but it is a remedy by way of a declaration of incompatibility, as opposed to removing any offensive regulation in domestic law. It is a much harder burden or obstacle for a litigant—for every person—to go through to get a declaration of incompatibility. What is the compelling reason for adopting this unusual approach?

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

This achieves the right balance in terms of a remedy, in the unlikely event of a breach of convention rights, for the reason that I have covered in terms of our impact assessment on human rights. I hope that right hon. and hon. Members will feel able to support these important but mainly technical amendments.

I will move on to the Opposition amendments, because it is important that we give them due care and attention, but I first want to remind hon. Members of the core purpose of the Bill. The Bill puts into law a market access commitment by enshrining the principles of mutual recognition and non-discrimination in the law. That means that goods and services from one part of the UK will be recognised across the country, and it will ensure that there is equal opportunity for all UK-based companies trading in the UK.

New clause 2 would place an obligation on UK Ministers to seek to agree a framework covering the UK internal market, which would need to be taken into account in the exercise of financial assistance payments. The new clause would fundamentally alter the basis on which common frameworks are developed and would not be in line with the design of common frameworks that was agreed by the UK Government and devolved Administrations. The principles agreed made it clear that the common frameworks are based on consensus rather than legislation, as we discussed in Committee. The principles also set out that the common frameworks are limited in their scoped powers returning from the EU, which have a devolved intercept.

An overarching framework would not materially contribute to effective joint working between the United Kingdom Government and devolved Administrations. Through the common frameworks programme, we are agreeing mechanisms for effective intergovernmental working. Those will cover many areas engaged by provisions in the Bill for the internal market.

We are also developing proposals for an enhanced intergovernmental system, which will support work to maintain policy coherence across the United Kingdom. This collaborative model is likely to be more effective and provide greater clarity than the process set out in the new clause, which does not clearly define when the duty in subsection (1) and the due regard duty in subsection (3) would be met.

Common frameworks are designed to allow for collaborative and flexible working between the United Kingdom Government and the devolved Administrations. Creating a framework such as this, which is underpinned by obligations in law, could undermine that effective joint work.

New clause 3 seeks to require the Secretary of State to provide Parliament with regular reviews on the functioning of the internal market, the effectiveness of provisions in the United Kingdom Internal Market Act and progress towards delivering provisions not in the Act, such as common frameworks. While I commend the intention behind the amendment, the review provisions it seeks to deliver are already provided for. They exist either in the Bill, through the Office for the Internal Market, or in previous legislation.

As part 4 of the Bill sets out, the Office for the Internal Market will have a number of reporting and monitoring responsibilities. Clause 29 sets out how the office will need to compile yearly “health of the market” reports on the functioning of the internal market, and five-yearly system reviews on the operation of parts 1 to 3. Those reports will be laid before the UK Parliament and the devolved legislatures for consideration, ensuring parliamentary transparency and accountability. I consider, therefore, that the new clause risks being highly duplicative.

It is essential that both those reports are compiled at arm’s length from both the UK Government and the devolved Administrations. That will enable the office to deliver a credible, impartial and expert analysis that delivers difficult messages to the Administrations, if necessary. However, when conducting those reports, the Office for the Internal Market will be able to consider the views of all relevant interested parties, including the devolved Administrations, in order to present evidence on how well the internal market itself and the Government’s proposals are serving stakeholders across the UK. Moreover, regarding the specific areas listed in the amendment, the Government already publish quarterly reports entitled, “The European Union (Withdrawal) Act and Common Frameworks”, which set out joint progress on common frameworks.

Stephen Doughty Portrait Stephen Doughty (Cardiff South and Penarth) (Lab/Co-op)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Minister is putting a brave face on things, as always. It is all very well talking about reviews and reports, but does he accept that, for an internal market to function, there actually needs to be communication between the Prime Minister and the leaders of the devolved Administrations? Why has the Prime Minister failed to communicate regularly with the First Minister of Wales, instead speaking to him only once every few months? Especially at a time of national crisis, why has the Prime Minister been so poor in his communication?

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Prime Minister, the Secretary of State and Ministers work with all the devolved Administrations. My colleague in the Business Department has meetings—especially at this particular time—with businesses across the devolved Administrations, including in Wales.

As I say, for this particular area, we already publish the report I referred to. However, we consider it right that any reporting on the Joint Committee machinery or the UK shared prosperity fund should be undertaken separately from that on internal market provisions. For that reason, I am not able to accept the amendment.

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

Will the Minister confirm that Brexit is a huge opportunity to increase the powers both of this House—over our own internal market and economic prosperity—and of the devolved Administrations, which will gain power? Should everybody not cheer up and welcome the fact that both the devolved Administrations and the Union Parliament can take back control?

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank my right hon. Friend for the opportunity to absolutely agree with him that this gives us a great opportunity to come together as the United Kingdom, to give that sense of certainty to businesses and, just as importantly, to grab hold of the opportunities provided by leaving the European Union.

Before I address the amendments to the Bill’s Northern Ireland protocol measures, I remind hon. Members of the points made by the Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office, my hon. Friend the Member for Worcester (Mr Walker), in Committee last week. He made it clear that

“the Northern Ireland protocol…is designed to recognise and protect the needs and unique circumstances of Northern Ireland. Central to that is ensuring that the Belfast/Good Friday agreement, its successor agreements, and the gains of the peace process are protected.”

He stressed that it was crucial to

“ensure that the delicate balance between all communities in Northern Ireland is maintained and that the UK Government pursue policies for sustained growth and stability in Northern Ireland…Through this Bill, we are acting to uphold those priorities and deliver the commitments we made in our election manifesto that we would provide unfettered access between Northern Ireland and Great Britain and ‘maintain and strengthen the integrity and smooth operation of the internal market’.”—[Official Report, 21 September 2020; Vol. 680, c. 647.]

I will now speak to new clause 1, which seeks to replace clauses 42, 43 and 45, as well as amendment 16, which intends to remove clause 45. The Government have already been clear that these clauses are required to provide a safety net of powers in reserve, which Ministers may need to use to guarantee the integrity of our United Kingdom and to ensure that we are always able to deliver on our commitments to the people of Northern Ireland, in line with the three-strand approach of the Belfast agreement.

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

The Minister talks about giving a safety net to the people of Northern Ireland. Does he recognise that the majority of people in Northern Ireland regard the Bill as taking away their safety net by undermining the Good Friday agreement? That is the view in Northern Ireland, and it is important that the Government listen to it, not act contrary to it.

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I have spoken to businesses in Northern Ireland, and a number of them are very supportive of this. I suggest that anybody in Northern Ireland or elsewhere in the UK who believes that the Bill actually takes away from the Belfast agreement is listening to the wilful misrepresentation of the Bill by certain people politicking. Actually, the Belfast agreement has a three-strand approach, and the Bill will be a safety net only in the event that we cannot reach agreement with the EU through the Joint Committee.

None Portrait Several hon. Members rose—
- Hansard -

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I will make progress, because these are important points. New clause 1 and amendment 18 would remove that safety net, which we just cannot agree with. These clauses were supported by clear majorities of the whole House at Committee stage.

I can reassure hon. Members that many of the proposals in new clause 1 are already addressed in the Bill. First, the Government have been clear that regulations made under clauses 42 or 43 would be subject to judicial review on general public law grounds, while ensuring that any claims must be brought within three months. This ensures any challenge to the regulations will be subject to timely resolution before the courts. This is essential to ensure that Northern Ireland businesses and investors in Northern Ireland have the certainty that they need. Amendments to this effect have already been agreed to in Committee, and I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Sir Robert Neill), who helped make that happen.

Secondly, on article 16 of the protocol, which new clause 1 mentions, in the event that regulations were made under clauses 42 or 43, we have been clear that we would activate appropriate dispute settlement mechanisms to find a solution in parallel to domestic legislation. Thirdly, the UK Government will continue, as we have always done, to negotiate with our friends and partners in the EU in good faith.

For the avoidance of any doubt, let me confirm again that we are of course committed to implementing the withdrawal agreement and the Northern Ireland protocol, and have already taken many practical steps to do this. However, as a responsible Government, we cannot allow the gains of the peace process or the economic integrity of the UK’s internal market—

John Redwood Portrait John Redwood
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Will the Minister give way?

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I will happily give way.

John Redwood Portrait John Redwood
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Would the Minister confirm that the Government are not intending to break the law—and I do not think anything they have suggested is breaking the law—and will he confirm that those who say otherwise are deliberately undermining our negotiations with the EU?

--- Later in debate ---
Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank my right hon. Friend for that. Indeed, our intention, as I say, is to work on implementing the withdrawal agreement and the Northern Ireland protocol. I have talked about the fact that we have taken many practical steps to do this. We continue to negotiate in good faith.

None Portrait Several hon. Members rose—
- Hansard -

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am going to make progress because I still have a number of amendments to cover.

We cannot accept any amendments that will undermine provisions in the Bill by rendering them no kind of safety net at all. New clause 1 does that, I am afraid.

I now turn to new clause 8. I appreciate entirely the spirit in which this has been put forward. While all of us hoped that the EU would negotiate and discharge its obligations under the withdrawal agreement and protocol in good faith, this amendment seeks to frame in statute a number of steps that Ministers could take under international law were that not to happen. However, this amendment is not necessary, as it would already be open to Ministers to take the steps my right hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Sir Edward Leigh) proposes.

As I have mentioned, the Government have been working with the European Union to reach agreement through the Joint Committee process, and through this Bill we are preparing for a scenario where that does not happen. On 17 September, the Government issued a statement setting out the circumstances in which we would use the powers provided for under clauses 42 and 43: the Government would

“ask Parliament to support the use of the provisions in Clauses 42, 43 and 45 of the UKIM Bill, and any similar subsequent provisions, only in the case of, in our view, the EU being engaged in a material breach of its duties of good faith or other obligations, and thereby undermining the fundamental purpose of the Northern Ireland Protocol.”

Shailesh Vara Portrait Mr Shailesh Vara (North West Cambridgeshire) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Does the Minister agree that those who object to the clauses he has just mentioned should bear in mind the language that has been used by the EU in recent weeks in terms of what it interprets the Northern Ireland protocol to mean? It has denied the existence, as it is written on the face of the Northern Ireland protocol, of matters such as the internal market, unfettered trade and so on. So these provisions are necessary as a safety net—nothing more than a safety net. I say to the critics, “Just look at the language of the EU” and if they look at the language of the EU, they will see that these measures are perfectly reasonable.

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am grateful for that, and my hon. Friend is absolutely right. These are reasonable steps to act as a safety net.

In the statement I referred to, the Government also make it clear that

“in parallel with the use of these provisions it would always activate appropriate formal dispute settlement mechanisms with the aim of finding a solution through this route.”

None Portrait Several hon. Members rose—
- Hansard -

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I have a lot to go through, and I know a number of speakers—

Edward Leigh Portrait Sir Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Will the Minister give way?

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I will happily give way to the mover of that amendment. [Interruption.]

Edward Leigh Portrait Sir Edward Leigh
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Actually, to be fair, the Minister has just been dealing with new clause 8, which I have moved. I am very grateful for what he has said. He seemed to suggest that the new clause was not in itself wrong, but was not necessary. But will he accept that, certainly when this Bill goes to the House of Lords, it might be helpful for the Government to produce an idea like this as another arrow in the armoury to reassure those who want to use international law in the right way, if the EU acts unreasonably? The advantage of a unilateral interpretive declaration under the Vienna convention, is that we can do it in this way, so I am grateful to the Minister.

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank my right hon. Friend. It is right that he gets to speak as it is about his amendment. He is trying to be helpful in this regard, and I know that Ministers in the other place will take heed of his comments as they engage with colleagues there.

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Gavin Robinson Portrait Gavin Robinson (Belfast East) (DUP)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Will the Minister give way?

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Yes. [Interruption.]

Gavin Robinson Portrait Gavin Robinson
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am grateful to the Minister for allowing me to come in at this point. There is no need to consider what steps would be taken in that scenario, given this new clause. It is open to the Government to accept the new clause and thus give clarity and comfort to businesses in Northern Ireland who do not know, but suspect, that there may be divergence, difference and associated costs. Nothing that he has said thus far would be injurious to his position or frustrate his hon. Friends in supporting the new clause this evening.

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I heard cries from the Opposition Benches, but I think it is fair that I give way to Members who have tabled amendments.

We will obviously consider how we reduce the burden further, but we do not think it necessary at this stage to make such reporting a statutory requirement or, notwithstanding what the hon. Gentleman said, to frame it in the very broad terms set out in the new clause.

Amendment 17 deals within the mutual recognition of authorisations granted under the EU’s REACH—registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals—regulation. It would automatically allow substances authorised to be placed on the market in Northern Ireland under REACH to be placed on the market in Great Britain. The acceptance of mutual recognition that we have introduced for chemicals in schedule 1 is there to allow the relevant authorities to respond to local factors. Authorisations granted by the EU after the end of the transition period will not take into consideration local conditions such as lower river flows or exposure levels where those chemicals are used in Great Britain. I would like to emphasise that authorisations relate to the use of substances of very high concern, such as chemicals that can cause cancer. It is important that the Government and devolved Administrations can take local factors into account in order to prevent avoidable harm to human health or the environment from the significant risks posed by such chemicals.

Gavin Robinson Portrait Gavin Robinson
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

That response is in precisely the same terms as the one we received last week in Committee, but we are not touching on, or interested in, what the local considerations may be. The fact is that this Bill, even though we are talking about non-discrimination and the implications that there could be for business, envisages businesses having to adhere to and satisfy two separate regulatory regimes. We cannot square the circle between discrimination and non-discrimination in two separate and distinct legal regimes, whether there are local factors or not; we should have to adhere to only one. From a business perspective and an animal welfare perspective, it would be useful to have clarity. We can have one or the other, but definitely not both.

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I understand the hon. Gentleman’s concerns, and obviously we are moving towards that one regime, when we can, but we are also already committed to working on a common framework for chemicals and pesticides policy. That common framework is being co-created by the Government and the devolved Administrations, and will allow us to co-ordinate policy making on matters such as REACH authorisations. Through this framework, the UK Government and the devolved Administrations will be required to set out the strategic direction for the UK regulatory regime, ensuring that existing environmental, human health and workplace standards are maintained, or exceeded where possible.

Finally, I want to discuss the amendments that address the power to provide financial assistance. By creating a new power for the Government to provide financial assistance in the areas of infrastructure, economic development, culture and sports, and education and training activities, the Government will deliver on the commitments upon which they were elected: levelling up, delivering prosperity for all our citizens and strengthening the ties that bind our Union together.

Wera Hobhouse Portrait Wera Hobhouse (Bath) (LD)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Minister did not seem to mention amendment 16 when he went over that area. The amendment would remove clause 45, because legal experts fear that if the clause stands as it is, it will set up the Government against the courts. Will he explain why he thinks that is not the case?

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I think I have covered why those clauses should remain, although I did not specifically talk about the amendment.

I want to turn to amendments 18, 29 and 13, which together seek to remove the power to provide financial assistance. The Government are determined to deliver on those commitments, as I was saying. It is important that we strengthen the ties that bind our Union together, that we level up and that we deliver prosperity for all our citizens.

Pete Wishart Portrait Pete Wishart
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Will the Minister give way?

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I will not give way at the moment.

Part 6 of the Bill, which includes clauses 46 and 47, helps us to achieve that. This part of the Bill confers a power to ensure that the UK Government can invest UK taxpayers’ money nationwide on UK priorities. In terms of immediate relevance, it would allow the Government to support people and businesses across the country to recover from covid-19. The Government have a responsibility to people, businesses and communities across the whole of the UK.

Pete Wishart Portrait Pete Wishart
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Will the Minister give way?

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I want to make some progress.

This part of the Bill will allow the UK Government to complement and strengthen the support given to citizens in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales without taking away responsibilities from the devolved Administrations. New clause 6 will require by law all financial assistance given under part 6 to take into account the applicable climate, nature and environmental goals and targets. It will require that any financial assistance be accompanied by the Minister’s assessment of the project’s climate and nature emergency impact statement.

The Government are committed to ambitious climate targets, and next year we will lead the world in discussions at COP26. It is also crucial that the UK meets its domestic obligations under the Climate Change Act 2008 and its international obligations under the Paris agreement. The Climate Change Act requires Governments to set five-year carbon budgets towards meeting our target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, covering the whole of the UK.

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Not for the moment.

Any net emissions increase from a particular policy or project is therefore managed within the Government’s overall strategy for meeting carbon budgets and the net zero target for 2050, as part of an economy-wide transition. Moreover, through the Environment Bill that was introduced into this House in January, the UK Government will have a power to set long-term, legally binding environmental targets across the breadth of the natural environment.

Caroline Lucas Portrait Caroline Lucas (Brighton, Pavilion) (Green)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

That whole section of the Minister’s speech was a perfect example of why he should not be objecting to this amendment. It is a helpful amendment that would simply ensure that the financial contributions would actually support all those lovely climate and nature objectives he has just talked about. EU structural funds have a requirement to align with sustainability. His Government keep telling us how Brexit gives us the opportunity to go further than EU environmental policy, so in that case, why does he not accept the amendment? Why is he flunking his first test?

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I have had non-viability and flunking today—I am doing well! I will come to this in a moment. We are framing this in a number of pieces of legislation. I have talked about the Environment Bill, which was introduced in January. It will require the Government to set at least one target for each of four priority areas: air quality, biodiversity, water and waste reduction, and resource efficiency. It will also protect the environment from future damage by—

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The hon. Gentleman keeps wanting to intervene. At least he has had the decency to put his name down on the speakers list this time, so maybe he will have a chance to make his points when he speaks later.

The Environment Bill will protect the environment from future damage by embedding environmental principles at the heart of policy development across Government, with clear and pragmatic guidance on their implementation. The environmental principles will be used by Ministers and policy makers to ensure that policy and legal frameworks help minimise the ill effects of human activity on the environment. Given the Government’s strong commitment already to meeting their ambitious climate targets, and the frameworks established under the Climate Change Act and proposed under the Environment Bill, I do not think that it is necessary to put such a legislative requirement in this Bill.

Alan Brown Portrait Alan Brown
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Will the Minister give way?

--- Later in debate ---
Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I know that a number of people want to speak. I hope that I have set out the rationale for the Government’s amendments to the Bill, and that hon. Members will support them. I trust that I have addressed in sufficient detail the Government’s objections to the amendments put forward by other hon. Members, and that they will therefore feel able to withdraw them. I look forward to engaging in the debate on this crucial Bill.

Lucy Powell Portrait Lucy Powell (Manchester Central) (Lab/Co-op)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I rise to speak to the new clauses in my name and those of my hon. and right hon. Friends.

Here we are again—day five in the new House of Commons series, “The Internal Market Bill Debates”. While the coronavirus crisis rages on, here we are again, watching Ministers justify a Bill that breaches an international agreement signed only months ago and that threatens to break up our United Kingdom. It is a shame that we will not hear from the Prime Minister again today on Third Reading, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Doncaster North (Edward Miliband) was hoping for a sequel. He will have to make do with the Prime Minister’s understudy, the Business Secretary—what fun.

If Government Members have not been tuning in to the previous episodes, let me repeat our position on this Bill. We support a strong, successful internal market that underpins a vibrant, prosperous Union, with the UK Parliament as the ultimate arbiter of that market. We do not want a Brexit rerun; we want to get on to the next series—you know, the one where the Prime Minister delivers on his oven-ready deal and gets a good trade deal with the EU? That one. That is what the trailers promised us, anyway, and it is what the Prime Minister promised us, too.

--- Later in debate ---
Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank everybody who has spoken in the debate, and I once again thank all right hon. and hon. Members who have engaged with the Bill during its stages. This is likely to be my last contribution on this particular Bill—[Hon. Members: “More!”] I know, but I only have five minutes, and I want to pay tribute to my colleagues, the Minister of State, Cabinet Office, my hon. Friend the Member for Norwich North (Chloe Smith), and the Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office, my hon. Friend the Member for Worcester (Mr Walker), who have played an amazing role and worked so hard. I also pay tribute to my Bill team—Jon Robinson, Jeff Yen, Satchi Mahendran, Dom Entwistle, Henry Hutton, Phoebe Gould, Dominic Bull, James Frisby and, in my private office, Ollie Benbow-Wyke.

Those of us on the Government Benches have heard and participated in the passionate debates on the Bill during the past two weeks, and I pay tribute to all their considered contributions. My right hon. and hon. Friends have made some impassioned speeches about the need for business certainty and about why the Union is so much better together than apart.

The debates have obviously been passionate, because of the importance of the Bill, but some of the other speeches in this Chamber today, and on some of the Committee days, have been somewhat circular. We have heard that there will apparently not be a US trade deal, but that we will get chlorinated chicken. We have heard that we love devolved spending, but that we would rather it be done from Brussels. We have heard people celebrating 62 countries having left the UK at various points in their recent history. Not one of those has the UK pound or wanted to join a bigger political union such as—oh, I don’t know—the EU, for example.

None the less, we want to make sure that we can get on with the Bill, because it is so important to continuing to provide certainty for businesses as we seek to recover from covid-19, prepare for the opportunities after the transition period and protect jobs. The Bill will ensure UK businesses can trade across our four home nations in a way that helps them invest and create jobs, just as they have for hundreds of years. We will do that in a way that supports and enables one of the largest transfers of power in the history of devolution, while maintaining that certainty for businesses. That will be done in a way that preserves our high standards, whether environmental, food or animal welfare, and in any number of other areas. It is therefore crucial that we pass this Bill, and I commend it to the House.

Nigel Evans Portrait Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Nigel Evans)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Before I put the question, there are likely to be Divisions, so, please, will only Front Benchers go out through the door in front of me? All Back Benchers must leave behind me, go down to Westminster Hall and join the queue. I am going to ask the Doorkeepers and the Whips to enforce that strictly, because we have to have social distancing.

I apologise to the seven MPs who were unable to get in. If anybody wishes to withdraw from Third Reading, please come and see me during the Division.

Question put and agreed to.

New clause 4 accordingly read a Second time, and added to the Bill.

New Clause 5

Office for the Internal Market panel and task groups

“(1) The CMA may authorise an Office for the Internal Market task group constituted under Schedule 4 to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 to do anything required or authorised to be done by the CMA under this Part (and such an authorisation may include authorisation to exercise the power conferred on the CMA by this subsection).

(2) Schedule (Constitution etc of Office for the Internal Market panel and task groups) contains provision about the Office for the Internal Market panel and Office for the Internal Market task groups.” —(Paul Scully.)

This new clause enables functions of the Competition and Markets Authority under Part 4 to be carried out on the authority’s behalf by Office for the Internal Market task groups constituted under Schedule 4 to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013: see NS1. This new clause would be inserted after Clause 28.

Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

New Clause 1

Withdrawal Agreement and Rule of Law Duty

‘(1) An appropriate authority exercising any function to which this Part (Northern Ireland Protocol) applies must—

(a) respect the rule of law;

(b) allow for the possibility of judicial review of an enactment, decision, act or omission by the appropriate authority;

(c) use the provisions of Article 16 of the Protocol to protect the interests of the United Kingdom.

(2) An appropriate authority exercising any function to which this Part applies must comply with the obligations of the United Kingdom under international law.

(3) An appropriate authority exercising any function to which this Part applies must comply with—

(a) the requirement under Article 5 (Good faith) of the Withdrawal Agreement for the EU and the United Kingdom to assist each other in full mutual respect and good faith to carry out the tasks which flow from the Agreement;

(b) the requirement under Article 167 (Consultations and communications within the Joint Committee) for the EU and the United Kingdom to endeavour to resolve any dispute regarding the interpretation and application of the provisions of the Agreement by entering into consultations in the Joint Committee in good faith, with the aim of reaching a mutually agreed solution;

(c) the requirement under Article 184 (Negotiations on the future relationship) of the Withdrawal Agreement for the EU and the United Kingdom to use their best endeavours, in good faith and in full respect of their respective legal orders, to take the necessary steps to negotiate expeditiously the agreements governing their future relationship referred to in the Political Declaration of 17 October 2019 and to conduct the relevant procedures for the ratification or conclusion of those agreements, with a view to ensuring that those agreements apply, to the extent possible, as from the end of the transition period;

(d) the requirements of the Good Friday or Belfast Agreement of 10 April 1998 between the Government of the United Kingdom and the Government of Ireland and the other participants in the multi-party negotiations, which is annexed to the British-Irish Agreement of the same date.

(4) An appropriate authority exercising any function to which this Part applies must comply with the Human Rights Act 1998.’ —(Lucy Powell.)

This new clause is intended to replace Clauses 42, 43 and 45 of the Bill, to require Ministers to respect the rule of law and uphold the independence of the courts and the practice of judicial review, and to require UK Ministers to implement the Withdrawal Agreement.

Brought up, and read the First time.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time.

--- Later in debate ---
18:05

Division 113

Ayes: 256


Labour: 191
Scottish National Party: 48
Liberal Democrat: 10
Plaid Cymru: 3
Social Democratic & Labour Party: 2
Independent: 2
Alliance: 1
Conservative: 1
Green Party: 1

Noes: 350


Conservative: 342
Democratic Unionist Party: 8

The list of Members currently certified as eligible for a proxy vote, and of the Members nominated as their proxy, is published at the end of today’s debates.
--- Later in debate ---
00:00

Division 114

Ayes: 258


Labour: 191
Scottish National Party: 48
Liberal Democrat: 10
Plaid Cymru: 3
Social Democratic & Labour Party: 2
Independent: 2
Alliance: 1
Green Party: 1

Noes: 351


Conservative: 343
Democratic Unionist Party: 8

The list of Members currently certified as eligible for a proxy vote, and of the Members nominated as their proxy, is published at the end of today’s debates.
--- Later in debate ---
18:35

Division 115

Ayes: 264


Labour: 191
Scottish National Party: 48
Liberal Democrat: 10
Democratic Unionist Party: 8
Plaid Cymru: 3
Independent: 2
Alliance: 1
Conservative: 1
Green Party: 1

Noes: 342


Conservative: 341

The list of Members currently certified as eligible for a proxy vote, and of the Members nominated as their proxy, is published at the end of today’s debates.
--- Later in debate ---
18:51

Division 116

Ayes: 256


Labour: 192
Scottish National Party: 46
Liberal Democrat: 8
Plaid Cymru: 3
Social Democratic & Labour Party: 2
Independent: 2
Alliance: 1
Green Party: 1

Noes: 354


Conservative: 344
Democratic Unionist Party: 7

The list of Members currently certified as eligible for a proxy vote, and of the Members nominated as their proxy, is published at the end of today’s debates.
--- Later in debate ---
Alok Sharma Portrait The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Alok Sharma)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

More than 150 right hon. and hon. Members have spoken during the passage of the Bill so far. We have had around 30 hours of often passionate debate, and I pay tribute to Members across the House for their contributions. The Public Bill Office has been unstinting in its support to all Members and officials across Government, and I am incredibly grateful for all its work. I particularly wish to thank the Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Labour Markets, my hon. Friend the Member for Sutton and Cheam (Paul Scully), the Minister for the Constitution and Devolution, my hon. Friend the Member for Norwich North (Chloe Smith), and the Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office, my hon. Friend the Member for Worcester (Mr Walker) who have ably steered the Bill through Committee and Report.

The UK internal market is the bedrock of our shared economic and social prosperity as a country. Since the Acts of Union, it has been the source of unhindered and open trade, which has supported growth and safeguarded livelihoods and businesses. It demonstrates that, as a Union, our country is greater than the sum of its parts.

Since 1973, EU law has acted as the cohering force for the UK internal market. In 2016, the British people voted to leave the European Union, which the Government delivered in January, and as we leave the transition period at the end of this year, the Government will leave the European Union’s legal jurisdiction once and for all. We need to replace this law to continue the smooth functioning of our centuries-old internal market, while of course also ensuring that the devolved Administrations benefit from a power surge from Brussels.

Shailesh Vara Portrait Mr Vara
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The fact is that there is nothing in this Bill that in any way compromises the Belfast/Good Friday agreement. Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is deeply regrettable that some people, for political purposes, seek to unnecessarily scaremonger, and that they should desist from doing so?

Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend makes an important point, and I will come on to it. As I was saying, we need to replace the law to continue the smooth functioning of our centuries-old internal market, while also ensuring that devolved Administrations benefit from that power surge from Brussels. The Bill will do precisely that.

Our approach will give businesses the regulatory clarity and certainty they want. It will ensure that the cost of doing business in the UK stays as low as possible, and it will do so without damaging and costly regulatory barriers emerging between the different parts of the United Kingdom. I cannot overstate the importance of this economic continuity Bill, especially as we seek to recover from covid-19. It is ultimately designed to safeguard jobs and livelihoods, protect businesses, give choice to consumers and continue to showcase the United Kingdom as a beacon for inward investment. That is why this legislation is so vital.

My Department and I, along with colleagues across Government, have spoken to a large number of businesses and business representative organisations across the whole of the United Kingdom about our proposals to safeguard our internal market. Businesses have overwhelmingly backed our approach. The British Chambers of Commerce has stressed that

“A fragmented system would create additional costs, bureaucracy and supply chain challenges that could disrupt operations for firms across the UK.”

NFU Scotland has emphasised the importance of protecting the UK internal market, stating:

“NFU Scotland’s fundamental priority, in the clear interest of Scottish agriculture as well as the food and drinks sector it underpins, is to ensure the UK Internal Market effectively operates as it does now.”

I could go on. Make UK has noted that it is particularly important to manufacturers that they can trade simply and effectively across all parts of the United Kingdom. The business community is clear: we must continue to safeguard the sanctity of the seamless UK internal market.

The Bill also respects and upholds the devolution settlements—[Interruption.] The right hon. Member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber (Ian Blackford) says it does not. He will get a large number of powers—an unprecedented level of powers—back after the transition period. If he does not want them, he ought to stand up and say that, but the reality is that he is against this Bill because he wants to be shackled to the European Union forever. That is the reason he is against this—

Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The right hon. Gentleman says from a sedentary position that I am talking nonsense. He just needs to re-read his Second Reading speech and he will see that it is full of inaccuracies. We have engaged in good faith with the devolved Administrations throughout the passage of the Bill. It was very unfortunate that the Scottish Government decided to walk away from the discussions on the internal market last year and, as I said, we want to continue to work constructively.



Let me turn briefly to the Northern Ireland element of this business Bill, which has attracted a disproportionate amount of interest and commentary. I and every Member on the Government Benches stood on a manifesto commitment to ensure that Northern Ireland businesses and producers enjoy unfettered access to the rest of United Kingdom, and that in the implementation of our Brexit deal we would maintain and strengthen the integrity and smooth operation of our internal market. The Bill delivers on those commitments. We have also been clear that we must protect the gains of the peace process and maintain the Belfast/Good Friday agreement.

Sammy Wilson Portrait Sammy Wilson
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Secretary of State is absolutely right that the Bill has no impact at all on the Good Friday agreement, and, indeed, is only helpful to the economy in Northern Ireland—but only helpful in a limited way. He talked about access to the UK internal market for Northern Ireland goods going into GB, but will he say something about the opposite direction? Northern Ireland depends so highly on imports from GB, and yet there is no mention of safeguards to stop trade being blocked in that direction.

Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The right hon. Gentleman knows that discussions continue. He and I have had those discussions as well. But he makes the point that this is a business Bill, and I hope that every Member, like him, will support it on Third Reading.

We have taken these powers to ensure that, in the event that we do not reach an agreement with our EU friends on how to implement the protocol, we are able to deliver on promises in our manifesto and in the Command Paper. This is a legal safety net that clarifies our position on the Northern Ireland protocol, protecting our Union, businesses and jobs.

Fleur Anderson Portrait Fleur Anderson (Putney) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Irish Foreign Minister said recently that this Bill undermines the EU withdrawal legislation, has damaged trust between the Irish and UK negotiating teams, and is damaging Britain’s reputation globally. Does that give the Secretary of State any cause for concern?

Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

This has been debated over the long passage of the Bill in this House. As the hon. Lady and other Members will know, we introduced an amendment in Committee that provides a break-glass mechanism that ensures that the safety net will come into force only if a motion in this House is passed with a requirement for a take-note debate in the other place. I hope that will allow her to vote for the Bill on Third Reading.

Joanna Cherry Portrait Joanna Cherry
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Will the Secretary of State give way?

--- Later in debate ---
Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I will not; I am now winding up.

This Bill provides the certainty that businesses want and need to invest and create jobs. It helps to maintain high standards and choice for consumers while keeping prices down. It reaffirms our commitment to devolution, supporting one of the biggest transfers of power to the devolved Administrations. It allows the Government to invest further in communities across the United Kingdom. This is about levelling up across the whole of the UK and strengthening our precious Union, which some would want to put at risk. I am a Unionist, as is the right hon. Member for Doncaster North (Edward Miliband); neither of us are separatists. Above all, the Bill continues to preserve the UK internal market that has been an engine of growth and prosperity for centuries. In voting for this Bill, we protect our constituents’ jobs, businesses and livelihoods. I commend it to the House.

--- Later in debate ---
Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend is correct. You know, we were told after the referendum in Scotland in 2014 that Scotland’s place would be respected and that we were to lead the United Kingdom, and here we find not just our Parliament in Edinburgh but the Administrations in Cardiff and in Northern Ireland being ignored. We can refuse to give consent, as we are doing, to this Bill, but the Government carry on regardless. Where is that respect for devolution? Where is the respect for the people of Scotland? In a referendum in 1997, 75% of the people of Scotland voted for a Parliament. It is not the SNP’s Parliament. it is not the Scottish Government’s Parliament; it is the Parliament of the people of Scotland—the Parliament of the people of Scotland when the Scotland Act 1998 was passed that gave powers over devolved matters. What those on the Government Benches refuse to see—what the rest of us can see—is that this Parliament is giving itself the power to override the Scottish Parliament in health, in education, in transport and in housing.

Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

No, it’s not.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I can hear the Secretary of State shouting, but it is his Bill and I suggest he reads it, because clauses 46 and 47 are very clear: powers over infrastructure, including

“water, electricity, gas, telecommunications, sewerage or other services… railway facilities (including rolling stock), roads or other transport facilities… health, educational, cultural or sports facilities”.

The Secretary of State can sit and tell us that it does not override devolution. Well, the facts are in the Bill. What the Government have done is overridden devolution and, quite frankly, I can tell you, Madam Deputy Speaker, we in Scotland will be having absolutely none of it.

So tonight, just as—[Interruption.] You can chunter and shout all you like, but at the end of the day, the people in Scotland have been watching what has been going on over the past few months, with Scotland being disregarded. The fact is that we won the election in Scotland last December on the right of Scotland to choose its own future. We had no desire to be taken out of the European Union against our will. In England, you can choose to do what you want as far as Brexit is concerned, but we do not—

--- Later in debate ---
Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I understand why the hon. Gentleman makes that call, but we should not be relying on the Members of the House of Lords; they are unelected. The fact is that this place has not done its job to defend the rule of law, or to protect devolution. I feel for Labour Members who were responsible, under Blair’s Government, for bringing devolution in, because everything that was established under that programme has been undermined. There is a real call to everyone in Scotland, regardless of whether they voted for the SNP in the past, to recognise the maxim that power devolved is power retained.

People in the past have said to me, “Could Westminster shut down the Scottish Parliament?” I have argued in the past that that would be fanciful. Nobody could believe that our Parliament could be attacked in such a way, but what is happening with this Bill is that our Parliament, which has had the support of the people of Scotland—

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Is getting more power.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

It is being usurped. It is not getting more power—read the Bill. Read clauses 46 and 47, and read clause 48, which takes away from Scotland the powers that we have over state aid. When I look at the Government Benches, it really is Trumpesque—twisting the truth beyond reality.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend is correct. It is perhaps worth reminding the House, in this context, that we have the joint ministerial committees, which recognise their responsibility to put frameworks in place.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I hear the hon. Lady saying that they have done, and she is quite right about that, because the Governments in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast recognised the need to work together, where it was appropriate, in creating the circumstances to ensure that there was continuation of a market across these islands. The commitment that I make, and that my party and my Government make, is that we will work constructively with the Government in London to ensure that that happens, but the rug has been pulled from under that by a UK Government who have introduced this Bill, who legislate for the market that they want to create and who attack the fact that we have provisions in Scotland in areas such as the environment, food standards and building standards, which we can no longer defend.

There will be a race to the bottom in accepting the lowest standards, and there is not a single thing that we can do about it. There is not a single thing that we can do to protect our food standards once this takes place. The Secretary of State is shaking his head, but we already have differences in, for example, pasteurised milk. What will happen post this? We will not have the ability to keep the uniqueness of our regulations. What happens to support for our crofters and farmers, for example?

The responsibility falls tonight on this House to do the right thing. I obviously understand if those on the Government Benches are unwilling to take advice from me and my party, but they would do well to listen to the strength of the arguments emanating from some on their own Benches. During Committee, the former Prime Minister, the right hon. Member for Maidenhead (Mrs May), gave a powerful and insightful analysis of the dangers of this legislation. Her words are worth repeating for those left on the Conservative Benches who are not yet card-carrying members of Cummings and the Prime Minister’s ideological cabal. She concluded her remarks by warning:

“I consider that, in introducing clauses 41 to 45, the Government are acting recklessly and irresponsibly, with no thought to the long-term impact on the United Kingdom’s standing in the world. It will lead to untold damage to the United Kingdom’s reputation and puts its future at risk.”—[Official Report, 21 September 2020; Vol. 680, c. 668.]

Those are stark words from the former Prime Minister on what the Government are doing to trash the reputation of the United Kingdom. The right hon. Member for Maidenhead and I may not agree on much, but few could deny that not only were those words powerful, but they are very likely to be proven prophetic.—[Interruption.] I hear a comment, “Too long. It is not fair on everyone else.” I will tell Labour Front Benchers what is not fair. It is what has been done to Scotland tonight. I have the right, as the leader of the Scottish National party at Westminster, to make sure our voices are heard, and I tell the House that the SNP voices will be heard and will be heard without apology.

Despite the bluff and bluster we have repeatedly heard, none of us are fooled that this is some kind of benign business Bill. We know the real intent of this legislation: after 21 years of devolution, the Tories are stripping powers from our Scottish Parliament. The Tories did not support devolution and now they see the popularity of the Scottish Government and they do not like it. It is little wonder why, because that support for the Scottish Government stands in direct contrast to the unpopularity of Tory Governments from Westminster.

Earlier today, the Scottish social attitudes survey showed that public trust in the Scottish Government to act in Scotland’s best interest was at more than four times the trust shown in the UK Government. The survey, conducted in 2019-20, before lockdown, shows that people were nearly five times more likely to say that the Scottish Government should have more influence on how the country is run than that the UK Government should. Some 61% of people trusted the Scottish Government to work in Scotland’s best interest, which compares with a record low of 15% for the UK Government—and you can bet your boots that after what has happened tonight it will be a lot lower now than the 15% that was recorded.

--- Later in debate ---
20:05

Division 117

Ayes: 256


Labour: 194
Scottish National Party: 46
Liberal Democrat: 10
Plaid Cymru: 3
Social Democratic & Labour Party: 2
Independent: 2
Alliance: 1
Green Party: 1

Noes: 348


Conservative: 340
Democratic Unionist Party: 8

The list of Members currently certified as eligible for a proxy vote, and of the Members nominated as their proxy, is published at the end of today’s debates.
--- Later in debate ---
20:21

Division 118

Ayes: 340


Conservative: 340

Noes: 256


Labour: 192
Scottish National Party: 48
Liberal Democrat: 10
Plaid Cymru: 3
Social Democratic & Labour Party: 2
Independent: 2
Alliance: 1
Green Party: 1

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

United Kingdom Internal Market Bill

(Limited Text - Ministerial Extracts only)

Read Full debate
2nd reading & 2nd reading (Hansard): House of Lords
Monday 19th October 2020

(3 years, 7 months ago)

Lords Chamber
United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020 Read Hansard Text Amendment Paper: Consideration of Bill Amendments as at 29 September 2020 - (29 Sep 2020)

This text is a record of ministerial contributions to a debate held as part of the United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020 passage through Parliament.

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

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

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

Moved by
Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

That the Bill be now read a second time.

Lord Callanan Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Lord Callanan) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I beg to move that the Bill be now read a second time. The United Kingdom’s internal market has been the bedrock of our shared prosperity for centuries. Since the Acts of Union, the UK internal market has been the source of unhindered and open trade across the entire United Kingdom. It has enabled businesses and individuals to thrive and has been the source of unhindered and open trade across our country. It has helped to demonstrate that, as a union, our country is greater than the sum of all our parts.

Around 60% of Scottish and Welsh exports are to the rest of the UK, which is around three times as much as exports to the whole of the rest of the European Union. About 50% of Northern Ireland’s sales are to Great Britain. When we leave the transition period at the end of this year, an unprecedented number of powers will flow from the EU to the devolved nations and the UK Government. As this happens, and as we recover from Covid, we must ensure that our economy is stronger than ever. The Bill will guarantee the continued functioning of our internal market to ensure that trade remains unhindered in the UK and businesses can continue to operate with certainty. Without the Bill a Welsh lamb producer, for whom almost 60% of the market is the rest of the UK, could end up unable to sell their lamb as easily as before. Scotch whisky producers could lose access to supply from English barley farmers, unnecessarily putting at risk Scotland’s own whisky industry.

This package guarantees a continuation of our centuries-old position that there should be no economic barriers to trading within the United Kingdom. To achieve this, the Bill will do the following. First, it will introduce a market access commitment for goods, services and professional qualifications respectively. This will ensure that the UK can continue to operate as a coherent internal market and maintain the deep integration and strong economic ties that bind the UK together. Secondly, it provides a statutory underpinning for a new office for the internal market, within the Competition and Markets Authority. This office will independently monitor the health of the UK internal market and provide technical advice on issues that may impact it, reporting to the devolved legislatures and to this Parliament itself.

Thirdly, it introduces provisions to ensure that there is a safety net in domestic law to prevent new checks and controls on goods going from Northern Ireland to Great Britain, in line with the Government’s commitment to unfettered access for qualifying Northern Ireland goods. Fourthly, it enables strategic investment in all four corners of the United Kingdom, giving the UK Government a power to provide financial assistance for the purposes of economic development, culture, sporting activities and infrastructure, as well as both international and domestic educational and training activities and exchanges.

Finally, it reserves to the UK Parliament the exclusive ability to legislate for a UK subsidy control regime once this country ceases to follow EU state aid rules at the end of the transition period. This is to ensure that subsidies do not unduly distort competition within the UK’s internal market. Let there be no doubt: this Bill is crucial in providing certainty to businesses, and we must give them that certainty.

My department and I, along with colleagues across government, spoke to hundreds of businesses and business representative organisations from across the UK to gather views and feedback on our original White Paper proposals. Over 270 businesses and organisations responded to a public consultation on the proposals, and businesses overwhelmingly supported our approach. I record my thanks for the engagement we have had from all aspects of business on this.

The Bill will put in law a market access commitment by enshrining mutual recognition and non-discrimination: mutual recognition to ensure that goods and services from one part of the UK will be recognised across the country, and non-discrimination to guarantee that there is equal opportunity for companies trading in the UK regardless of where in the country that business is based. The same principles of mutual recognition and non-discrimination will also be applied to services and will introduce a process for the recognition of professional qualifications across the whole UK internal market. This will allow professionals such as doctors and nurses, qualified in one of the UK nations, to work in any other part, as I am sure Members would expect. Furthermore, the Government are inviting views on the regulatory framework for professional qualifications, to ensure that our approach remains world leading. We have, of course, listened to those in the devolved Administrations and business, and have made some exemptions, for example to respect the divergence that exists between the legal professions in England, Wales and Scotland.

The Bill will also ensure that Northern Ireland qualifying goods benefit from the market access commitment and receive mutual recognition in the rest of the UK, guaranteeing a continuation of our centuries-old position that there should be no economic barriers to trading within the United Kingdom.

We consulted on how to ensure an independent monitoring and advice function to uphold the UK internal market. In response, and to oversee the functioning of the internal market, the Bill will set up an office for the internal market within the CMA. This office will monitor and report on the internal market to the UK Government, devolved Administrations, the legislatures, and external stakeholders, ensuring the continued smooth operation of that market that businesses so desperately desire.

Subsidy control has never been devolved. It is crucial to continue to have a UK-wide approach, to protect our internal market and prevent harmful and distortive practices arising. The purpose of the Bill is to ensure that we continue to have fair and open competition across the UK, and so it is right that we have a UK-wide approach to subsidy control. As we take back control of this policy from the EU, the UK will have its own domestic subsidy control regime. From 1 January, the Government will follow the World Trade Organization rules for subsidy control, and any related commitments the Government have agreed in free trade agreements.

We will consult on whether to go further than those existing commitments, including whether legislation is necessary to achieve a system that promotes a competitive and dynamic economy throughout the United Kingdom. We appreciate that our longer-term approach will have implications for business and all public authorities that grant subsidies with taxpayers’ money, including the devolved Administrations. So we will take the time to listen closely to those voices and design a system that promotes a competitive and dynamic economy throughout the whole of the United Kingdom. However, we will not return to the 1970s approach of bailing out unsustainable companies, be they in Scotland, England, Wales or Northern Ireland.

As we leave the EU and take back control of our money, we will require new powers to continue to invest across the United Kingdom. Therefore, this Bill will confer a power to make sure that the UK Government can invest UK taxpayers’ money nationwide, including on the UK Government’s priorities, supporting people and businesses across the UK and delivering on our commitment to level up all parts of our country. Currently, unelected EU bodies spend billions of pounds that we provided as a net contributor, on our behalf. They spend our money, with very little say from elected politicians in the UK. This will, rightly, change as we leave the transition period.

The UK Government intend to take a much more collaborative approach in delivering programmes that replace EU funds. This includes engaging heavily with local authorities as well as wider public and private sector organisations. And, of course, it means working closely with the devolved Administrations to make sure that investments complement their existing—and continuing—powers used to support citizens in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. This power to provide financial assistance will cover infrastructure, economic development, culture and sport. It will also support educational and training activities and exchanges both within the UK and internationally, much of which of course was previously done at EU level.

These powers are not designed to take powers from the devolved Administrations, but to add powers to direct investment in a similar fashion to the EU Commission, while reforming programmes and empowering MPs from Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and England to design and scrutinise funds in a way that was never possible within the EU. This will also allow the UK Government to meet their commitments to replicating and matching EU structural funds within the shared prosperity fund. This is in line with the Government’s manifesto commitments to strengthen the union and level up the country. This power to provide financial assistance is one of the mechanisms by which the Government hope to achieve these ambitions.

We will also be introducing limited and reasonable steps to provide a safety net to ensure that peace can always be preserved in Northern Ireland. In the event that we do not reach an agreement with the EU on how to implement the Northern Ireland protocol, we must be able to deliver on promises in our manifesto and in the Command Paper. This is a legal safety net which clarifies our position on the Northern Ireland protocol, protecting our union and ensuring that businesses based in Northern Ireland have true “unfettered access” to the rest of the United Kingdom, without paperwork. The Bill will also provide certainty on state aid, ensuring that there is no legal confusion and that, while Northern Ireland will remain subject to the EU’s state aid regime for the duration of the protocol, Great Britain will not be subject to EU rules in this area.

This Bill, and our wider approach to protecting our internal market, is designed for co-operation between the four parts of the United Kingdom. It will protect our common causes, such as the setting of high standards in our economy, and will work in concert with the common frameworks programme and the IGR, which is due to conclude shortly. After all, the UK has some of the highest standards in the world. It is worth reminding noble Lords that we go beyond EU rules in many areas, including health and safety in the workplace, workers’ rights, food, health and animal welfare, consumer protections, household goods, net zero and the environment. We will maintain that commitment to high standards, including as we negotiate trade agreements that will provide jobs and growth in the UK. We have been driving this forward through our common frameworks programme, to drive collaboration and a coherent approach to policy across the UK now that we have left the European Union. I therefore want to reiterate the Government’s invitation to all devolved Administrations to work together on this Bill, with the common frameworks process and with the internal market as a whole.

This Bill is crucial to ensuring that we continue to work together as one United Kingdom to support jobs and livelihoods across our entire country. As we rebuild and recover from Covid-19 and look ahead to opportunities following the end of the transition period, this Bill will provide the certainty that businesses need to invest and create jobs. It will accompany one of the biggest transfers of powers in the history of devolution, with hundreds of powers flowing from the EU to the devolved Administrations at the end of the transition period. This Bill will do all this and preserve the internal market, which has been an engine of growth and prosperity since the Acts of Union. That is why we need this Bill. I beg to move.  

Amendment to the Motion

Moved by

United Kingdom Internal Market Bill

(Limited Text - Ministerial Extracts only)

Read Full debate
2nd reading & 2nd reading (Hansard)
Tuesday 20th October 2020

(3 years, 7 months ago)

Lords Chamber
United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020 Read Hansard Text Amendment Paper: HL Bill 135(a) Amendments for Committee - (20 Oct 2020)

This text is a record of ministerial contributions to a debate held as part of the United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020 passage through Parliament.

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

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

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

Moved on Monday 19 October by
Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

That the Bill be now read a second time.

Amendment moved on Monday 19 October by
--- Later in debate ---
Lord True Portrait The Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Lord True) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, obviously, I thank all those who have spoken in this long debate and, in particular, the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman of Ullock, and my noble friend Lord Sarfraz for their remarkable and uplifting maiden speeches. Sometimes all of us need uplifting, and long may they stay in this House to enlighten us.

This has been a serious debate, as is appropriate on serious matters of serious importance—the sustaining of the union of the United Kingdom and the building of prosperity in a climate of certainty and security for business. However, I had some reflections during the course of the debate, and at one point found myself asking whether Henry VIII’s foundation of the Church of England was fully in accord with both our domestic law and international obligations.

I apologise if I cannot mention over 100 speakers by name when addressing the many issues raised, but I have listened carefully to every speech, shall respond as fully as I can on the main issues and will write to noble Lords on points of fact where that is not possible. First, I address points made on the main parts of the Bill, ably presented by my noble friend Lord Callanan, before I come directly to answer the amendments before us, on which the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, has indicated that—unusually—he wishes to divide the House at Second Reading.

I was pleased to hear understanding across the House for the purposes behind the Bill, even if we do not agree on it. There is agreement that commerce, services and professions must be enabled to operate freely across the whole United Kingdom. That is widely supported—indeed, demanded—by business, including in Northern Ireland. Without this legislation, there could be problematic divergence, putting at risk the seamless trade that businesses in Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and England enjoyed before we entered the EU, enjoyed in it and should enjoy hereafter. This Bill will protect trade and secure jobs across all parts of the United Kingdom after the end of the transition period. It will guarantee that UK businesses can trade unhindered in every part of the United Kingdom.

I assure those noble Lords who raised this that the Government will maintain the highest standards for consumers, workers, food and the environment. We have repeatedly stated our commitment to high standards. Under our proposals, the devolved Administrations will continue to have power to regulate within devolved areas, in so far as these do not cause a barrier to internal trade. We are committed to being a global leader in environmental protection and animal welfare standards while maintaining the high quality of our produce for consumers at home and overseas.

Some noble Lords, including those who spoke today, have questioned the need for the Bill, arguing that non-statutory arrangements may be enough. They fear that the Bill may restrict the freedoms of devolved Administrations. We have listened and will continue to listen to such concerns; we wish for close co-operation with the devolved Administrations—there is no so-called power grab here. Indeed, at the end of the transition period, hundreds of powers currently exercised by the EU will flow back to the UK, as the British people have asked. Many of the powers coming back from the EU fall within the competence of the devolved Administrations, which will see a major transfer of powers that before the EU exit they did not have.

As we set out in our White Paper, without an up-to-date, coherent market structure, economic barriers could block or inhibit trade in goods across the United Kingdom, and services could be significantly and detrimentally impacted. Future complexities could arise— for example, differing qualifications for plumbers or technicians could limit access to skilled construction workers and make it harder for one nation’s construction companies to bid for contracts in another. Such costs could ultimately reach consumers, increasing prices or decreasing choice. Significant and unmanaged economic barriers arising across the UK could not only cause serious harm to the interests of our business and consumers but threaten the prosperity of the UK economy as a whole.

I was pleased that so many noble Lords commended the common frameworks programme, which has been mentioned again today. It is an important process and one that will continue. We will update the House on progress as we work with our friends in the devolved Administrations in the months ahead and will study carefully the observations of your Lordships’ Select Committees on this part of the Bill. I assure the House that this Bill does not make the common frameworks redundant, as many, including the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay of Llandaff, my noble friend Lord Dunlop, the noble Baroness, Lady Crawley, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope of Craighead, and the noble Baroness, Lady Andrews, fear. However, common frame- works do not replace the need for this Bill; they are a mechanism for collaborative policy-making in areas of returning EU law which intersect with devolved competence. They are sector-specific and allow for a deeper level of regulatory coherence, but they do so in a specific set of policy areas. While they remain a crucial part of our regulatory landscape, common frameworks alone cannot guarantee the integrity of the entire internal market.

The Bill ensures that areas without a common frame- work will still benefit from the regulatory underpinning and, crucially, market coherence will be provided for issues that fall around, or between, individual sector-focused frameworks. The Bill complements common frameworks by providing a broad safety net and additional protections to maintain the status quo of seamless intra-UK trade across all sectors of the economy. That will ensure maximum certainty for businesses and for investors, domestic and foreign. I am sure that all noble Lords support that objective. We look forward to pursuing these important issues in detail in Committee —and I give that undertaking.

Let me turn to the subject of most of the speeches yesterday—Part 5 of the Bill and the amendments before your Lordships. The future of our union and the sustaining of the Belfast agreement are at the heart of this Bill. A strong and open internal market with the ability to support all parts of our union and deliver prosperity for communities across the whole of the United Kingdom is something that we should surely all support. That includes Northern Ireland, as is affirmed in Clause 42 in Part 5. Support for free trade across the United Kingdom must extend to the good people and businesses of Northern Ireland; they are our countrymen and women, and part of our union. This Government will allow no foreign authority, armed with whatever pretext, high or low, to undermine the principle of free trade within our customs territory that has been fundamental since the Act of Union.

I am pleased to tell the noble Lord, Lord Browne, that EU state aid rules will not apply to Northern Ireland as they do today. State aid provisions apply only to trade subject to the protocol, which is limited in scope to goods and wholesale electricity markets. Northern Ireland will therefore enjoy new flexibilities with respect to support for its service industries, including those with potential for rapid growth—for example, fintech and cybersecurity businesses.

I thank the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, and I hope that the House will forgive me if I send my good wishes to Lady Judge, and wish for a speedy recovery. I thank him for meeting me; I understand why he cannot be here today, and I thank him for sharing with me his thoughts on this part of the Bill. As we have heard, his objections fall not on the objective to safeguard our union and the Belfast agreement, but on his strongly held sense, held by other noble Lords who have spoken, that Part 5 of the Bill, sent to us by another place, undermines the rule of law.

We share a full and fundamental respect for and belief in the rule of law. That is not something handed to us from outside by some directive or convention. It was won in the sacrifice of civil war and affirmed in the Glorious Revolution, the Bill of Rights and the Claim of Right, since when our parliamentary Government and rule of law, as many have said, have been an inspiration to the world.

The Government do not believe that the limited, contingent proposals in this Bill change that position. They do not accept that these safeguard provisions render our country, as has been claimed, an international pariah, or justify, as was asserted, murderous actions by others. People are still talking to us. Indeed, your Lordships’ Constitution Committee said in paragraph 171 that in

“domestic law, it is correct that Parliament may enact legislation which”

infringes

“international obligations.”

This Bill does nothing to abrogate our commitment. We are committed to implementing the withdrawal agreement and the Northern Ireland protocol, and have already taken many practical steps to do this. We continue, as the noble Lord opposite said, to work with the EU in the joint committee set up to address uncertainties and incompatibilities in parts of the Northern Ireland protocol. We hope we may resolve the outstanding issues and avoid the maximalist interpretations by the EU that might lead to a situation where tensions arise between our domestic obligations and our international commitments and we have to act to resolve them.

We cannot guarantee that agreement will be found. The fact remains that we have not reached agreement. Last Thursday the EU summit appeared explicitly to rule out a Canada-style deal. It effectively restated its opening position in the negotiation as its present position, and instructed the UK to move. As my right honourable friend the Prime Minister said last Thursday, the EU has

“refused to negotiate seriously for much of the last few months”.

We must therefore address the contingent possibility that a threat to the union and to the Belfast agreement might arise. The provisions in Part 5 of the Bill are about creating a legal safety net, taking powers in reserve whereby Ministers could act to guarantee the integrity of the United Kingdom and protect the peace process. The Government never have and never will seek north-south barriers in Ireland; equally, we cannot accept east-west barriers in our customs territory. The imperative here is balance. The prerequisite is reason. In the difficult and highly exceptional circumstances in which we find ourselves, it is right that we take these precautionary steps now.

I can also confirm to the House, as asked by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer, that we will take action, if necessary, in a finance Bill in 2020, to address the issue of tariffs.

We are clear that we are acting in full accordance with UK law and the UK’s constitutional norms in our actions. We do not take this action lightly or without good reason.

Your Lordships will have every chance to consider these matters in Committee, and consider them we must. We cannot set aside our constitutional duty to scrutinise a Bill that has passed through the other place with a healthy majority, as was said by the noble Lord opposite. To do so would be a failure to fulfil our revising purpose. Neither amendment before your Lordships refuses that. They accept Parliament’s right to receive and consider legislation such as this. The effect of the amendments is declaratory. As such, their purpose is to send a message. I hear the message about the importance of the rule of law. We can all assent to that. The noble Lord opposite used the language of “message”. There is another message that some will hear; a message, as he said, to the European Union: if the UK Government and the elected Chamber refuse to accept the EU’s most encroaching demands, your Lordships will deny the UK Government a contingent power to protect our union and safeguard the Belfast agreement.

That, and, still more, a threat to destroy this whole Bill, would be a heavy missile to launch at what is a profoundly delicate state of negotiations, when this Government are seeking to fulfil the firm resolution of the people of the United Kingdom that this country should be a fully independent state. That is the context of these proposals. I am deeply mindful of the wise words of my noble friend Lord Hunt of Wirral and the noble Lord, Lord Skidelsky, that this House should not tie the hands of this Government at this time.

It is the Government’s sincere wish that these provisions need never be invoked. We have listened to the views of those concerned and amended the Bill so that Clauses 44, 45 and 47 can be commenced only following approval by the House of Commons. In addition, I can confirm to my noble friend Lord Lamont that regulations under Clauses 44 and 45 could be made only following approval by Parliament as a whole, which includes your Lordships’ House. In circumstances where your Lordships have the power to set a staying hand, at a time when we will know the state of negotiations between the UK and the EU, it would seem quixotic to threaten, as the noble Lord, Lord Butler, did, to destroy the whole Bill now.

My noble friend Lord Bridges posed a question. The Government do not consider that these clauses, as and when the Bill is enacted, of themselves breach Article 4 of the withdrawal agreement, which requires that those provisions of EU law made applicable by the withdrawal agreement are given effect in domestic law in the UK in the same way as they are in EU member states. However, there is a political question before us as well as a legal one, and a balance of judgment to be made in the national interest. I repeat: the fact remains that there is no negotiated agreement, and the Government must be realistic that we are barely more than two months away from the end of the transition period.

I do not accept strictures around morality, although I note with interest that I now have to seek moral guidance in the House journal of Mammon. It would be irresponsible not to have measures in place in our domestic law that allowed Ministers to protect the UK’s internal market and the Northern Ireland peace process. The Government are making sure that the protocol is implemented in a way that works for Northern Ireland; that is, in a flexible, pragmatic and proportionate way, in line with the approach set out in our May Command Paper. That approach was broadly welcomed by the majority of businesses and political parties in Northern Ireland and is the basis on which we have been negotiating and will continue to negotiate with the EU. However, we cannot and will not allow harmful legal defaults under the protocol to take effect.

In all circumstances, Northern Ireland is and must remain part of the UK customs territory, with genuine unfettered access to the rest of the UK internal market. We must at the very least avoid the European Commission applying its state aid rules to companies in Scotland, Wales or England with no link, or only the most trivial one, to Northern Ireland.

As we have made clear, if these measures were ever needed, their commencement would be subject to a vote in the other place and a take-note debate in our House, as set out in the Government’s Statement on 17 September. Your Lordships would have the opportunity to vote against the necessary statutory instrument, although I of course hope you would not be so inclined—one has to travel in hope.

The rule of law is a great matter, and the integrity of this union is also a great matter. There is a balance to be struck in these difficult times, and proportion to be found. We believe that these measures, with all the safeguards I have mentioned, strike that balance without tying the hands of the Government at a critical time.

What is potentially proposed is not an armed invasion of another nation but a contingent and potential power, subject to safeguards, which the Government have stated they hope need never be invoked. It is presented to Parliament fully in accord with our constitutional norms. 

I urge noble Lords to support the Bill and not to support the amendments in the names of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, and the noble Lord, Lord Cormack.

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13:55

Division 1

Ayes: 395


Labour: 137
Crossbench: 104
Liberal Democrat: 80
Conservative: 39
Independent: 21
Bishops: 7
Green Party: 2
Ulster Unionist Party: 1
Plaid Cymru: 1

Noes: 169


Conservative: 158
Independent: 5
Democratic Unionist Party: 4
Crossbench: 1
Ulster Unionist Party: 1

United Kingdom Internal Market Bill

(Limited Text - Ministerial Extracts only)

Read Full debate
Committee stage & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Monday 26th October 2020

(3 years, 6 months ago)

Lords Chamber
United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020 Read Hansard Text Amendment Paper: HL Bill 135-II Revised second marshalled list for Committee - (26 Oct 2020)

This text is a record of ministerial contributions to a debate held as part of the United Kingdom Internal Market 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

Lord Fox Portrait Lord Fox (LD)
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My Lords, if the Ministers shepherding this Bill expected an easy ride, this gives a taste of things to come. It serves a purpose in setting the scene, and a lot of arguments and debates will come in other groups as we go through this process. I shall not labour those points. An overriding sense I got from my noble friend Lord Purvis is that the question everybody wants to know the answer to is: why have Her Majesty’s Government decided to turn away from a process of managing markets that has been extremely successful? It was successful before we joined the European Union and successful afterwards. This is the overriding question that hangs over this whole debate.

On Amendments 1 and 112, if ever we needed convincing that things such as the environment need to be written into the Bill, the speech by the noble Lord, Lord Naseby, convinced me that they do. This is because we cannot take things for granted. Governments come and Governments go, but the law stays, and we need to be sure that our public policy is being directed properly. I uncharacteristically find myself somewhat agreeing with the noble Baroness, Lady Noakes: we have to be careful not to constrain the nature of this Bill. We need to find a way to write in issues such as those of the consumer and the environment. I would add some of the points made by my noble friend Lady Bowles and food safety to that. We need to ensure that there is an assessment of the success of this internal market in some of those areas, including the environment, the effect on consumers, the effect on jobs, et cetera. I share the view of my noble friend Lady Bowles that perhaps more work is needed, but the issue is live and very important. I thank the proposers of the amendment.

Turning to Amendment 2, I do not think proportionality pops up anywhere in other amendments. We had a brief discussion of this extremely important subject from various speakers. I take my lead on this from the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, who understands the law, and my noble friend Lady Bowles, who knows a thing or two about regulation. If they are concerned about proportionality, so are we on these Benches. The Government need to find a way of writing that issue into the Bill.

On public procurement, we need to understand what the Government mean by what they seek to do in this legislation. The issue highlighted by my noble friend Lord Purvis is live and real: how will this legislation affect those issues? It is a probing amendment, but for it to work we need answers.

We have started. There are issues we shall return to, but proportionality and public procurement are two on which I hope the Minister will respond at length.

Lord Callanan Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Lord Callanan) (Con)
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My Lords, let me open by thanking noble Lords for their contributions at Second Reading last week. Again, the contributions have demonstrated the tremendous breadth of expertise in this House. This is indeed a crucial piece of legislation. In this respect, I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Fox, and I look forward to providing the scrutiny it deserves and that I am sure it will receive from noble Lords, beginning today and in the days and weeks ahead.

Let me reassure, and to some extent disagree with, my noble friend Lord Cormack, which will not come as a surprise to him. We are not riding roughshod over the devolution settlements. The devolved Administrations will acquire dozens of new powers that they have not exercised before once we leave the EU transition period. The Bill is about ensuring that those powers are exercised in a non-discriminatory manner, but they will acquire new powers and new responsibilities. Before I address the specifics of Amendments 1, 2, 59 and 112, which we are discussing in this first group, I want to remind to noble Lords of why we need this Bill and the context of Part 1.

By opening with the purpose of the Bill, I hope to explain why these four amendments, which seek to alter the Bill’s core principles, are not necessary. The Bill aims to allow the continuing smooth functioning of our UK internal market at the end of the transition period. As we set out in the White Paper, and as I explained at Second Reading, the Bill will establish a market access commitment by enshrining mutual recognition and non-discrimination in law. Part 1 concerns itself with delivering this market access commitment for goods. The principle of mutual recognition is that goods and services from one part of the UK will continue to be recognised across the country. This will ensure the devolved Administrations will benefit from their additional powers and freedoms outside the EU. As the transition period ends, they will gain increased powers, as I said to my noble friend Lord Cormack, to set their own rules and standards across a wide range of policy areas within their competence. At the same time, it provides firm assurance to our businesses that their goods can continue to flow freely throughout the United Kingdom. Non-discrimination ensures that there is continued equal opportunity for companies to trade in the UK, regardless of where in the UK the business is based.

I say to the noble Lord, Lord Empey, that the measures in the Bill will also ensure that Northern Ireland qualifying goods benefit from the market access commitment and receive mutual recognition in the rest of the UK. The Bill will also affirm the principle that those goods are not subject to checks, controls or administrative processes as they move from Northern Ireland to Great Britain. I hope that I can reassure the noble Lord on that point. This means we will fulfil our commitment to legislate for unfettered access, as we promised to the people and businesses of Northern Ireland. This will ensure that businesses and citizens in the United Kingdom can continue to trade freely across the four nations.

With this context in mind, I turn to Amendments 1 and 112 together. These seek respectively to limit the purpose of Part 1 and the Office for the Internal Market’s statutory objective to the protection of the environment and consumer interests. Now, it goes without saying that the protection of the environment and consumers is hugely important, and something that we as a Government are already committed to. The UK, as I never tire of repeating, has some of the highest standards in the world, and we will continue to improve these ahead of others. We remain committed to being at the forefront of environmental protection and a leader in setting ambitious targets to prevent damage to our natural world, building on our already strong environmental record. For example, we have set out a range of new policies in the Environment Bill that are designed to drive up environmental standards in line with the UK’s priorities.

The statutory objective of the Competition and Markets Authority—acting as the Office for the Internal Market—ensures that the office is able to effectively operate as the monitoring body for the internal market, and that there is no confusion between the pre-existing powers of the CMA and those newly conferred on it as the OIM. Distinct objectives will prevent any operationally problematic blurring of functions.

As my noble friend Lady Noakes observed, the office will operate for the benefit of all those with an interest in a smooth-functioning internal market, whether that be regulators, businesses, professionals, the four legislatures or indeed consumers. Explicitly narrowing its focus to consumers would be to the detriment of all the others that I have listed.

Moreover, the functions set out in Part 4 of the Bill clearly establish that the office will consider the economic impacts of regulatory measures on the internal market. Although some of these will of course be environmental protection measures, it will not be authorised to opine on the extent to which these measures safeguard the environment, because this would risk duplicating the role of existing public bodies with a purely environmental focus. As such, given how much the Government are already doing in the area of consumer and environmental protection, I consider that these amendments, which seek to change the purpose of the Bill, are unnecessary, and I hope that I have been able to persuade my noble friend Lady McIntosh and the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, to withdraw Amendment 1 and not move Amendment 112.

Amendment 2 aims to introduce the principles of proportionality and subsidiarity into the Bill as additional market access principles. These are European law principles. We have now left the EU and are free to organise our internal market in a way that is better suited to the UK’s unique constitutional arrangements and common-law systems. I agree with my noble friend Lady Noakes that the market access principles will protect seamless trade and jobs across all four corners of the United Kingdom following the end of the transition period in December 2020. They have been designed for the UK’s specific devolution arrangements and legal approach, and they already take account of the need for reasonableness and respect for devolution. In contrast, the proposed amendment would muddy the waters with EU concepts that in our view are ill-fitting in the UK. For these reasons, the Government cannot accept this amendment and I hope that noble Lords will not move it.

Amendment 59, on which there was considerable discussion, seeks to disapply the market access principles from the public procurement rules. I assure the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, and the noble Lords, Lord Purvis and Lord Fox, that the principles proposed in the Bill will not typically operate in the area of public procurement, and indeed that we intend to legislate separately in this area via a wider package of procurement reform, on which we will shortly consult. The market access principles are not relevant to procurement as they are about how business is regulated. The procurement rules cover how public authorities carry out their procurement function. We believe that the risk of divergence can be effectively managed through a combination of close devolved Administration engagement and use of the common frameworks, and we are working to develop a concordat on expected public procurement practices and policies between the four UK nations.

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Lord Purvis of Tweed Portrait Lord Purvis of Tweed (LD)
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My Lords, while I am grateful that the Minister has confirmed to me that a piece of legislation that has been made fully compliant with our single market—the deposit return scheme—will now come into scope under this legislation, because it is not yet in force in Scotland, that will be of very significant concern to Members of the Scottish Parliament, who legislated in good faith in a perfectly legal way. This Government have now said that that will come into scope, contrary to the market access principles, because it will not be able to be afforded protection if it is challenged in court because of the lack of environmental objections. I take the Minister’s point that he believes that it will be brought under the scope of market access principles, so I would be grateful if he could write to me to explain how indeed that will happen. If it is under a framework, we are back to exactly where we started, which is that the best approach on all these aspects is a framework.

That leads me to the question that I wish to ask him, because he did reply to the question that I asked about the status of the agreement made between the UK Government and the devolved Administrations on the framework agreement. In the document of September 2020 on the framework analysis, the Government repeated what that agreement was. I will quote from it again for the Minister: it was to

“maintain, as a minimum, equivalent flexibility for tailoring policies to the specific needs of each territory, as is afforded by current EU rules”.

The document goes on to say:

“These principles continue to guide all discussions between the UK Government and the devolved administrations on common frameworks.”


What is the basis of that document and that commitment, given what the Minister has just said in responding on this group: namely, that that is an ill-fitted set of agreements because we are now out of the EU? What is the status of the agreement that was made over the frameworks?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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Well, as I have said before to the noble Lord, we remain completely committed to the framework process and we remain committed to frameworks that have already been agreed—but we see this legislation as complementary to that, as it underpins the entire framework process. As I said to him with regard to the deposit return scheme, if it comes into force when it is predicted to do so, then indeed it will be covered by the market access principles, but we are confident that the deposit return scheme can be brought into effect in full compliance with the market access principles.

Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town Portrait Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town (Lab)
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I am slightly lost on that, but we will come back to it. I thank the Minister for his response and I am grateful for the very interesting debate that has happened. I will say a few words about what was said by the noble Baronesses, Lady Noakes and Lady Bowles, about the point of competition and why it should be here. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Naseby, that competition is extremely good for consumers. We want to see a successful economy, and I see no difference whatever in what he was spelling out and what we want to achieve.

The problem, of course, is where, for whatever reason, there is not a perfect market. Although here we are talking about goods rather than financial services, I was involved in the Financial Services Consumer Panel, and even though we had and still have—although Covid is throwing everything out—a thriving financial services market that has been good for the economy, for consumers and for the taxpayer, it has sometimes been, as we know from all the compensation that had to be paid, at the expense of consumers. So we cannot assume, simply because we have a good, thriving economy and lots of competition, that there are not sometimes disadvantages for consumers. That is why it is important, while we want a competitive, thriving market, to make sure that those protections are there. So as we look forward to the internal market being all the things that have been described, it cannot be at the price of consumers.

As I have said, I really support competition—we all used to wear NHS glasses until someone freed up the market, so we are all able to get nice red ones now. I doubt there is anything much between us on that. It is important, though, as we look forward to a market that is going to work for the whole UK, that it is not at the expense of consumers or the environment. I have been buying plants recently, hoping that one day we will have some good weather, but they should not be in peat pots. That is not good for the environment. Something may be good for consumers and at a good price, but you also need to consider the environmental aspect.

Consumers are not just interested in price; they are interested in safety and the longevity of products. However, that is not always something they can see at the point of purchase. Price is very easy for consumers: they can look at it and compare. Other things behind the price are also important. It is important as we look to a new market mechanism that we take that into account. I am sorry to have gone on a bit about this issue but as we will come back to it on Report, it is probably helpful for the Minister to understand. We may not have got the wording quite right: I am not trying to trump the Government but to point out why those elements need to be included.

On the devolution issue, the noble Lord, Lord Empey, is right that there is a clash between the settlements and what we are now trying to do with the internal market; I think he called it a collision between London and the regions. I hear very much what the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, said: that if we get this wrong, we are threatening something much bigger than any of us thought. No Brexiteer wanted to challenge the union; that was not what divided some of us who had divisions on that issue.

We need to look at how we deal with devolution. I was really taken by the example that the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, gave of the IGC process that led to the single market and other things. I will come on to that way of working when we consider a different group of amendments. The confidence to do things in a shared and consensual way is important. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, said that it would probably be important to put in the Bill retention of the subsidiarity and proportionality principles. They have guided us well and there is no reason why we should lose them, just because we are leaving. I think we will return to that issue.

On procurement, I think the arguments were fairly common between us. I am afraid I was slightly thrown by what the Minister said and will have to read later exactly what he said about separate legislation. Maybe we can exchange correspondence on that issue, and on the timing. Clearly, we will need to come back to procurement to ensure that we have something that will work for all four nations. For the moment—and I am sorry about the length of my response—I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

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Lord True Portrait The Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Lord True) (Con)
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My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have spoken, particularly the noble Lord, Lord Hain, the noble Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick, my noble friend Lady Altmann and the noble Baroness, Lady Suttie, who all signed the amendment. I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Hain, on the measured and thoughtful way in which he presented his case, and on his ingenuity in getting this amendment in so early in the Bill, so that the Committee can debate this important topic, which is one of the abiding matters of interest in the Bill. I do not demur from sensing the opinions the House has expressed on aspects of the Bill, even if I do not agree with them.

I will and must, as invited, repeat the assurances that the Government gave to the House at Second Reading last week, and will do so again when the Committee turns more fully to the Part 5 clauses. I say again, without demur or cavil, that the Government’s overriding priority has been, and will remain, to protect the Belfast/Good Friday agreement and the gains of the peace process. We agree with all noble Lords who have spoken on that fundamental objective. I assure the noble Baroness, Lady Suttie, that Her Majesty’s Government always give the most careful consideration to the impact of any of their actions in this important respect.

I was asked about the human rights aspect. The Government are, of course, committed to the European Convention on Human Rights. We have made that clear before, time and again. However, we have brought forward amendments to the Bill clarifying that regulations made under clauses which the Committee will discuss later will be subject to judicial review on public law grounds. That will provide an effective remedy in the theoretical and limited scenarios in which regulations might conceivably interfere with convention rights. My noble friend has obviously made the due statement on the European convention on the face of the Bill.

The Government’s commitment to the Belfast/Good Friday agreement and to the peace process is beyond question. We all acknowledge the importance of the delicate balance across communities in Northern Ireland. We should all reflect on the importance of not letting opinions and comment flow which suggest, either within or outside these shores, that this Government, this party, the party opposite or any Member of this House do not believe that this agreement is fundamental. We do. Where we differ is that the Government do not agree with many noble Lords who have spoken that the United Kingdom Internal Market Bill undermines the Belfast agreement. On the contrary, the Bill delivers on our commitment to unfettered access for Northern Ireland businesses to the whole UK market. In so doing, it supports the economic and social links between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom. In that way, it complements the provisions of the protocol which avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland. It is, and remains, the Government’s position and policy that there should be no such border. The Bill supports the interlocking and interdependent elements of the Belfast/Good Friday agreement.

The Committee will come back to the questions of the rule of law in detail in Part 5, but I repeat what I said at Second Reading: the Government believe that presenting this Bill to your Lordships’ House, and the fact that it passed through the other House, is in accordance with our constitutional norms and does not infringe the rule of law.

Northern Ireland Peers voted, by a majority, against the amendment moved by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, at Second Reading. That was not every Peer from Northern Ireland and I accept that it reflects differences of opinion. We have to note and respect that. The noble Lords, Lord Kilclooney and Lord Trimble, both of whom negotiated and signed the Belfast/Good Friday agreement, voted against the amendment your Lordships agreed to at Second Reading. I repeat: it is the firm resolve of the Government to maintain, and ensure compliance with, the Belfast/Good Friday agreement, and so I disappoint noble Lords who have spoken. I do not believe that the addition of these amendments to the Bill is necessary.

Turning to the references in Amendments 3 and 177 to the Northern Ireland protocol, again, as I have set out, the Government are committed to implementing the withdrawal agreement and the Northern Ireland protocol and have already taken many practical steps to do this, and continue to do so. I assure the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer, and others that we are continuing to work with the EU in the joint committee to resolve outstanding issues arising from the Northern Ireland protocol. Our priority is to secure the outcomes that we need in that forum, working in a spirit of good faith, so that the protocol can be implemented in the pragmatic and proportionate way intended. This is intended to give the best platform for it to command support across the whole community in Northern Ireland. Let me repeat: as a responsible Government, we cannot allow the economic integrity of the UK’s internal market to be compromised inadvertently by certain provisions in the protocol without a safety net in place. The Government have been clear in our statements, including on the criteria set out by the Government on 17 September, that these provisions would, in any case, be used only where, in the Government’s view, there had been a material breach by the EU of duties of good faith or other obligations, and be used in parallel with the dispute resolution procedures that the protocol itself establishes.

These amendments as drafted could remove, prevent or suspend our ability to act in the interests of the people of Northern Ireland, and so ensuring they are treated as our countrymen and countrywomen with equal access to the UK internal market. Furthermore, they could leave core elements of unfettered access—not only the safety net provisions—in a state of consistent uncertainty and open to persistent litigation. It is far from clear how compliance with the Northern Ireland protocol, for the purposes of these amendments, would be assessed or who would make the assessment. For example, it is possible that all the provisions in the Bill could cease to have effect if the EU alleged a breach of the Northern Ireland protocol. Any dispute then would be resolved by the appropriate dispute resolution mechanism, which in some cases would include the jurisdiction of the CJEU. That cannot be the means by which we safeguard the links between Northern Ireland and its most important market, Great Britain, which is the subject of the Bill. That cannot be the means by which we safeguard the interests of Northern Ireland from the end of the transition period and beyond.

I am well aware that we will return to these important matters in great detail later in Committee. At this point, however, I urge noble Lords to withdraw or not move the amendments. Before I do, I refer my noble friend Lady McIntosh to the whole of Clause 1(3), which says, as she quoted:

“Those principles have no direct legal effect except as provided by this Part.”


If she looks at the Bill, she will see that in the rest of that part there are number of provisions for secondary legislation. I apologise for that divergence, but I felt I should answer that point. I return to the fundamental position: this Government are wholly committed to the Belfast agreement, they cannot accept these amendments and I urge the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Hain Portrait Lord Hain (Lab)
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My Lords, I thank the Minister for his courtesy and all those who have spoken in support of these amendments. I note that a third of the speakers are from the Minister’s own Benches. I think that shows that there is cross-party, cross-Bench support for the principles that these amendments enunciate.

My noble friend Lady Ritchie of Downpatrick spoke with passion about how this Bill, without these protections, imperils the Good Friday agreement. I want to return to that point when I pick up some of the arguments used by the Minister in a moment.

The noble Baroness, Lady Altmann, made a telling point: why are the Government not accepting their own policy? If their policy is, as the Minister states—I accept that in good faith—that the Government support the Good Friday agreement and the Northern Ireland protocol in protecting the Good Friday agreement, why are they not accepting these amendments? If there is some technical issue, and I will return to one of the issues he raised, we could discuss wording and come to an agreement. I ask the Minister to look carefully at what the noble Baroness, Lady Altmann, said about the Government’s own policy being reflected in these amendments. At least, we think it is the Government’s own policy.

The noble Lord, Lord Carlile of Berriew, spoke with great authority because he has spent many years on this. As Secretary of State, I worked with him on this and his review of terrorist legislation, as did the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, who was a distinguished chair of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee in the other place. He was hugely respected on the island of Ireland for his diligence and the conscientious empathy he showed towards the situation in Northern Ireland.

The noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, again speaking from the Minister’s own Benches, was compelling on the fact that this should be a cross-party matter. It was, of course, John Major, as she said, who played a crucial role in the lead-up to the Good Friday agreement that enabled Tony Blair to pick up the baton and drive it forward.

Another contributor to this debate, the noble Baroness, Lady Suttie, to whom I am also grateful to for her support for these amendments, speaks with real authority, particularly about what is at stake here. This is not some technical issue; this is about the future of peace in Northern Ireland. My noble and learned friend Lord Falconer, spoke also about the importance of keeping that border absolutely open on the island of Ireland, to take the process of peacemaking forward.

I ask your Lordships’ House to note that the Minister did not explain how the Bill upholds the Good Friday agreement. He asserted it, but he did not explain how it upholds is, especially given that it repeals the Irish Northern Ireland protocol. On Report, I would urge him to explain in great detail—if necessary, in technical detail—how he thinks the Bill actually upholds the Good Friday Agreement. The majority of contributors to this debate—in fact, everybody except him—dispute that. That is the problem that the Government face in setting their face against these amendments.

Unless there is an ulterior motive here, and I am not suggesting that of the Minister personally but of No. 10 Downing Street, I do not understand. If there are concerns about the implementation of the Northern Ireland protocol, there is a committee, as I mentioned in my speech, co-chaired by Michael Gove with a representative of the EU, to iron out the detailed implementation points. It is a joint committee. That makes us all think that there is something much more serious at stake here, which is undermining the whole foundation of the protocol and, indeed, of the Good Friday agreement with which it sits in partnership.

To conclude, this is a series of very modest amendments. They ask the Government to uphold their own professed policy. That is all they are doing. They are not suggesting some revolutionary change in the Government’s policy. They are asking them to uphold their professed policy on the island of Ireland, in particular on continued progress in Northern Ireland. Meanwhile, I will seek leave to withdraw the amendment.

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Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Portrait Lord Stevenson of Balmacara (Lab) [V]
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My Lords, as the noble Lord, Lord Dunlop, said, this debate is a sort of appetiser for the main course to come in later groups, when we will dig much deeper into the right approach to ensuring that our current well-functioning internal market continues after the transition period ends and that we can manage the necessary and inevitable policy divergences that we need across the United Kingdom and should welcome.

The noble Lord, Lord Bruce, said that the key questions are why we need the Bill at all, let alone now, why the Government are ignoring the evident successes of the co-operation and constructive progress which have been hallmarks of the common framework programme, why threaten the devolution settlement so directly, and what it is about the top-down approach that the Government wish to introduce that is so attractive, given the huge risks to devolution. Those are very important questions and I look forward to hearing what the Minister says when he comes to respond.

The noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Rolfe, said that she recognised the value of proposed new subsections (1) and (2) in the amendment but was worried that proposed new subsections (3) and (4) made it a wrecking amendment. I do not think that it is. Indeed, I make the same points about the need for a pause before we implement in my Amendment 178, which is in a later group.

I hope that the Government will think very hard about the clear message that seems to come from this debate. We need to carry on down the road well travelled in recent years, encouraging the devolved Administrations to continue to collaborate, to work together with mutual understanding until agreement is reached, and then to go further so that there is agreement on all the issues that need to be agreed and a way of resolving any issues that are left over. This is the way in which we make progress—not by imposing a top-down solution. Indeed, anything else risks destroying the complex but pretty successful devolution settlement that we currently enjoy.

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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My Lords, Amendment 4, tabled by the noble Lords, Lord Fox and Lord Purvis, would prevent the market access principles applying by the end of the transition period. As my noble friend Lady Neville-Rolfe pointed out, that would produce a considerable delay in providing certainty to businesses that free trade can continue within the UK’s internal market.

I heard the noble Lord, Lord Bruce, query my assertion at Second Reading about business support for these measures, but over 270 businesses and organisations responded to the public consultation on our proposals and, overwhelmingly, businesses supported our approach. Particularly as they look to recover from the impacts of Covid-19, businesses need certainty, and that is what this Bill, as drafted, seeks to provide.

I repeat that the aim of the Bill is to ensure that there are no internal barriers to trade within the UK, while respecting the devolution policies. All devolved policy areas will stay devolved. The proposals ensure only that no new barriers to UK internal trade are created. The Bill aims only to procure frictionless trade, movement and investment between all nations of the UK. The policies that different parts of the UK choose to pursue in the future is a matter for those Administrations. The Bill ensures that these local policies can be pursued while, at the same time, maintaining seamless trade in the UK internal market.

The noble Lord, Lord Bruce, asked me specifically about barley, and indeed the noble Lord, Lord Purvis, has written to me on the same subject. We believe that this provides a good example of the risks that businesses could be exposed to. Food produce placed on the market must comply with rules on pesticide maximum residue levels. These are currently set at EU level, and so are consistent across the United Kingdom, meaning that food can be traded across the devolved Administrations. This is an example of a policy area which will be devolved after 1 January. At the moment, all Administrations are supported by the same regulator—the Health and Safety Executive. That will, to a certain extent, aid consistency, and we are of course committed to working closely with the devolved Administrations to jointly agree consistent maximum residue levels across Great Britain.

However, without the Bill’s mutual recognition provisions, there would be the possibility of divergent decisions being taken, which would then introduce new trade barriers on food between different parts of our country. Depending on any particular decision, this could affect any agricultural or horticultural produce that has been previously treated with pesticides. For example, different residue rules might mean that it is not lawful to sell in Scotland barley grown in England.

More broadly, without the principles set out in the Bill, harmful divergence would be possible, in spite of the important protection provided by industry standards. That is because industry standards are voluntarily agreed between private economic actors and so cannot provide the same certainty for businesses and investors as the legislative principles set out in the Bill.

The consent process proposed in the amendment would remove that certainty and make operating conditions for businesses across the UK dependent on a number of fairly onerous conditions. These conditions include matters that would cut across ongoing collaborative work with the devolved Administrations. I say to the noble Lord, Lord Bruce, that these include the common frameworks programme and the intergovernmental relations review, both of which the Government are fully committed to pursuing. Indeed, in the next group, we will examine the common frameworks principles in more detail, and my noble friend Lord True will explain our position in more detail.

However, I assure noble Lords that the Government have already committed to appropriate consultation with the devolved Administrations on these matters. Furthermore, we are engaging them in all suggestions for how practically to improve intergovernmental relations, including both the machinery, such as dispute resolution, and the way in which these joint forums are run.

The noble Lords, Lord Fox and Lord Purvis, asked a question about dispute resolution. I can tell them both that the office for the internal market will support existing arrangements for dispute resolution. Its non-binding reporting will ensure that evidence-based dispute resolution takes place in line with the current memorandum of understanding on devolution. The OIM’s reporting will be available to all four Administrations and legislatures on an equal and purely advisory basis. It will provide information and support separate political processes to resolve any disagreements and enable intergovernmental engagement. The amendment would cut across all ongoing collaborative work with the DAs and remove our ability to give businesses the certainty they need at this time.

The noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, said that the Government would override the rest of the UK when legislating for England. That is certainly not our intention. The nature of our constitution is that the UK Parliament will be able to legislate over existing legislation, but the Bill aims to treat all domestic legislation in the same way. Her Majesty’s Government will be cognisant of the importance of market access principles in supporting any extra legislation.

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Lord Wigley Portrait Lord Wigley (PC) [V]
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My Lords, the Minister cited the example of pesticides, a subject on which there will almost certainly be unanimity. But on matters such as subsidy control, where there may be a justifiable difference in approach, does the Minister not accept that unless the Government are willing to accept a mechanism such as this to secure consent from the devolved Administrations, he is in effect imposing his solution on them, and cannot in any way claim that this Bill is agreed by the devolved nations—with all the consequences that flow from that unfortunate situation?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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The Bill would legislate for subsidy control becoming a reserved matter. We are committed to consulting further with the devolved Administrations before proceeding, if we do, to any further legislation.

Baroness Neville-Rolfe Portrait Baroness Neville-Rolfe (Con) [V]
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I have two questions. First, I called for clarity, trying to explain its importance to organisational success, which, frankly, is very relevant. I noticed almost no support for this from the Benches opposite, yet businesses, citizens and professionals will have to manage in the new market, and if the rules are at risk of changing in different ways regularly, that could be a problem. Obviously, sensible consultation and collaboration are needed, but we must be wary of a political veto. Does the Minister agree that this is a problem, or is the noble Lord, Lord Purvis, right?

My second question is whether the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, is right or I am. At Second Reading, I mentioned with approval the ability of the devolved territories to do their own thing and gave two examples: minimum pricing of alcohol and carrier-bag charges, both of which I supported at the time. The noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, suggested that the powers to do such things will be undermined, and quoted exactly the same examples. Am I right or is she right?

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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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My noble friend is putting me in the very difficult position of choosing which noble Baroness is correct. If I might venture to say, on the measures she has quoted my noble friend is correct. The Bill has no effect on minimum pricing of alcohol; that is excluded as a policy area, as are all pre-existing measures. This would also apply to carrier-bag prices. The Bill provides clarity and certainty for businesses, which is what we seek.

Lord Purvis of Tweed Portrait Lord Purvis of Tweed (LD)
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My Lords, I take it as a little chink of victory that the Minister found it difficult to say whether he agreed with his noble friend or me. I will secure that as an achievement of the day, if he does not mind. I will return in a future group to minimum unit pricing and single-use carrier bags, because I am not convinced about that position.

I suspected that the Minister would refer to pesticides, so I took the liberty of reading the Health and Safety Executive’s board report on the framework, which has now been agreed, on pesticides and maximum residue levels. That agreement has been reached, so the concern the Minister is putting forward, of a threat to the operation of the single market, does not exist. That will be a UK-wide provision, and the regulations for Scotland are about policing it. The approach of the HSE has been well established for many years, and the regulation required to police this in Scotland is quite different from what the Government are asserting, which is the exercise of a power that would effectively prohibit goods from entering a Scottish market. That is notwithstanding the fact that if it concerns what is ultimately used for produce such as whisky, it is an industry standard, based on the minimum base that would be taken. The chemicals and pesticides framework from Defra and HSE has been resolved, so perhaps the Minister should stop using this an example. It is not convincing.

Regarding the office for the internal market, the Minister has now said something new: that the CMA, the parent body of the OIM, is involved in existing disputes under the Joint Ministerial Committee’s memorandum of understanding that was agreed after devolution. This will be news to the CMA. Can the Minister repeat that the CMA has a role in the Joint Ministerial Committee’s disputes, under the memorandum? That is what he said in response to the question, but it is not the case. As outlined in the Bill, the OIM has no role in disputes. If the Minister is saying that the dispute resolution mechanism for the internal market is the JMC memorandum of 20 years ago that was agreed for devolution, it simply will not work, because it does not provide for the operation of the single market.

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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The noble Lord asked a number of questions, and I am sure he will be quick to write to me if I do not answer all of them. On the famous subject of barley and pesticides, he is correct, but the whole point about frameworks is that they are voluntary agreements. Any one of the Administrations can walk away at any time. We are committed to agreeing voluntary frameworks and will continue to take part in those discussions and advocate them, but the point of this legislation is to provide a legislative underpinning for all of the work taking place on frameworks.

Could the noble Lord remind me what the other questions were?

Lord Purvis of Tweed Portrait Lord Purvis of Tweed (LD)
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I am grateful to the Minister and may well be writing to him on that basis, as he predicted. Can he clarify what the intended role of the office for the internal market will be under the CMA? In a previous answer, he indicated that it has a role in the dispute resolution mechanism in the devolution memorandum of understanding. My understanding is that it does not. Which is the case? If the intention is that the OIM has a role in the dispute resolution mechanism, there is no reference to that in the legislation.

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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The purpose of the office for the internal market is to provide advice, reports and monitoring to all four Governments and legislatures. It will have no direct role in dispute resolution, which will be a matter for the Joint Ministerial Committee to discuss.

Lord Fox Portrait Lord Fox (LD)
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My Lords, I apologise to the Deputy Chairman of Committees for having jumped in so soon. I thank all noble Lords for their contributions; the subsequent questions were worth waiting for, so I am glad that I did not plough on.

This has been an interesting debate; however many more hours we will have in Committee, it has uncovered above all else how half-baked—how completely undercooked—this Bill is. It is not worked through. The point of this amendment was to highlight, and give the Government, an opportunity to step back and admit that there are so many open questions and so many issues. I feel sorry for the Minister—I rarely do, but on this occasion I do—because he is having to respond to things that have not been properly locked down in this legislation. So I will look at Hansard, but it is quite clear that, one way or another, we will have to come back on Report to these absolutely central issues. Having said that, I beg leave to withdraw Amendment 4.

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Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Portrait Lord Stevenson of Balmacara (Lab) [V]
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My Lords, this has been an excellent debate, brilliantly introduced by my kinsman, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope of Craighead, and with some other excellent speeches, particularly from those who were members of your Lordships’ Select Committee and, of course, the chair, my noble friend Lady Andrews.

The weight of the arguments deployed in this group and the virtual unanimity of views expressed from all sides of the Committee were to be expected, but Ministers might not have expected to be offered a route out of the mess that they have got themselves into. If common sense prevails, there is a win-win here. As the noble Lord, Lord Dunlop, said, the Bill currently has things the wrong way around. The Government need to signal tonight that they will take away the amendments in the name of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope of Craighead, and work with him to find a structure that better delivers the aims of the Bill.

They should use this legislative opportunity to encourage the completion of the current work on the common frameworks, to encourage the process to cover the remaining outstanding issues and to anticipate future needs. They should then draft an effective safety net for the Bill, based on mutual recognition and non-discrimination, while, as the noble Lord, Lord Vaux, said, having regard to subsidiarity and proportionality. They should ensure that the current informal processes have a light-touch underpinning, with a regulatory framework that commands trust and the confidence of the devolved Administrations. If they do this, we will happily work with and support them.

Lord True Portrait The Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Lord True) (Con)
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My Lords, it has been a most fascinating debate. I endorse what the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, has just said. While I sadly cannot claim to be his kinsman, I thought the opening speech by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, was a masterclass in how to present a case. That does not necessarily mean that the Government accede to the case, but it was entirely clear. I also pay tribute to those members of your Lordships’ Select Committee on common frameworks who spoke. Their experience is obvious and the work of that committee is important. I believe it will shortly meet or hear from my honourable friend Chloe Smith.

Many businesses welcome this Bill. They welcome it on the basis that, after the end of the transition period, they hope, expect and require that they will be able to operate in a period of certainty, not buffeted by any unexpected or unreasonable developments. I respond to the general tone of the debate by saying that it is, of course, the Government’s intention—it always has been and remains so—that the functioning of the UK internal market will be driven by co-operation with the devolved Administrations. The market access proposals here are designed not to replace but to complement the common frameworks; I know that is a phrase I have used before. The common frameworks are the key. They support coherent policy-making across the UK by setting out terms of engagement between the UK Government and the devolved Administrations as well as, where appropriate, common strategic goals and policy approaches.

The Government remain committed to the common frameworks programme. As many noble Lords have said, it is progressing well. The UK Government and the devolved Administrations continue to co-operate closely as we jointly develop the programme. Yes, progress overall has been slower than we would have liked, and I acknowledge the effect of the resource constraints driven by the response to Covid, and the need to prioritise planning in advance of the end of the transition period. However, all parties remain committed to the programme. At a recent JMC (EN) meeting last month, both the UK Government and DA Ministers reconfirmed their strong commitment to it.

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Lord Bruce of Bennachie Portrait Lord Bruce of Bennachie (LD) [V]
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I shall not detain the Committee for long but the Minister came up with the example of flour. I think that as the Bill progresses we can all dream up examples of hypothetical possibilities. However, the question that arises from that example is: why should we not follow the principles and dispute resolution model of the common frameworks? Indeed, as the noble Baroness, Lady Andrews, said, where are the gaps that cannot be filled by the common frameworks? Why do the Government need to take such extreme powers for fast Executive action when, in nearly all these cases, the problem will emerge over time? Everybody agrees that if legislation is required, we should have it, but the Government seem to want to take powers in anticipation of unknown challenges. Therefore, why cannot the principles and model of the common frameworks be the basis on which these cases are taken forward and disputes resolved?

Lord True Portrait Lord True (Con)
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My Lords, I should have acknowledged the very thoughtful speeches of the noble Lords, Lord Bruce and Lord Stevenson. I hoped that I had made clear that the common frameworks process would continue. I was asked to give an example of how circumstances might change in the future and how matters that need to be addressed might arise. The emergence of an unregulated new technology might be another example. However, I think it is better that we address these questions in the further discussions that we might have.

So far as pace is concerned, the transition period ends at the end of the year and there is a need to provide a climate of certainty for business when the EU system falls away. Therefore, I do not resile from the fact that it was necessary and sensible for the Government to bring proposals before Parliament to address the post-31 December situation.

Lord Hope of Craighead Portrait Lord Hope of Craighead (CB) [V]
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My Lords, first, I thank the Minister for his courteous and careful reply. I also thank all noble Lords who have contributed to this fascinating and very well-informed debate. I shall not attempt to sum it up because the noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Bennachie, did that very ably for me in his contribution before the interval.

I was very grateful to the Minister for his kind opening words. Of course, I am disappointed that there is not more of an indication of movement on his part, but he said that he would consider the arguments, which I am sure he will, and that he was open to further engagement and discussion—for my part, I certainly am, and I am sure that others across the Committee are too. Of course, there is not much point in those discussions unless he has a rather more open mind in appreciating the problems than he has indicated so far.

One point mentioned from time to time was the fact that this measure, and indeed the White Paper that preceded it, emerged with very little consultation with the devolved Administrations. I hope that the noble Lord will forgive me but I have the feeling that there was a certain amount of lack of consultation across the Government.

If I may offer the Minister a little bedtime reading, there is a clause in another Bill which is still before Parliament that illustrates the problem: Clause 39 of the Agriculture Bill. I do not suppose that the Minister knows what I am talking about so I will say a few words about it. It may help him—the Minister sitting in Westminster, looking at the matter from the other side of the fence—to see how things appear from the perspective of the devolved Administrations.

Clause 39 attempts to set marketing standards. It lays down a basis for the setting of market standards in relation to agricultural products that are marketed in England. It contains a long list of matters that will be covered by regulations—there are 15 of them. I will not go through the list, but one or two of them are important. They refer to regulations or cover matters about the type of farming and production methods, as to the use of certain substances and practices—one might think of pesticides, additions of flour—packaging and so on. At the discussions on the Agriculture Bill, I asked the Minister what this means for the farmers in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, given the volume of goods that they move for marketing in England, since these are matters that have been set for all goods marketed in England. There is no reference in this clause to consultation, let alone consent, and my suggestion was that there should be, on the face of the Bill, a provision that if these standards are to be set and people coming from other parts of the UK are obliged to comply with them, then surely that would have to be done with consent. I do not think that the Minister responding to me had any idea that the Internal Market Bill was on the horizon. I mentioned that the White Paper had just come out, but I got no response from him about that either.

The effect of the mutual principles set out in Clause 2 solves the problem as far as farmers in Wales and Scotland are concerned. They need not trouble themselves about regulations, additives, pesticides, packaging, production methods and so on, because they have a complete opening to the market. The question is: is there any point in going through this huge list and laying down carefully regulated provisions for England when the Minister knows perfectly well that people can come from the other parts of the UK under his Bill and ignore them? I am not talking about a lowering of standards, but about different standards which are not provided for. That is the kind of problem that I mean. Can the Minister look at this before he goes to sleep tonight, think it through and see how it looks from the other side of the fence? These are really big issues. Although the Bill is still going through ping-pong, I wonder whether Clause 39 can survive and whether the regulation- making power in that clause will ever be exercised.

These are fundamental points and, to be honest, I do not think that the Minister has really grasped the importance of them. I would like to think that he will, and I look forward to further discussions with him before Report. For the time being, however, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

United Kingdom Internal Market Bill

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Committee stage & Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Wednesday 28th October 2020

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United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020 Read Hansard Text Amendment Paper: HL Bill 135-III Third Marshalled list for Committee - (28 Oct 2020)

This text is a record of ministerial contributions to a debate held as part of the United Kingdom Internal Market 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

Amendment 61 in my name would delete the first reference in the Bill to any part of the offending Part 5. For the purposes of good management, it is far better that instead of addressing that in this group, we wait until we get to Part 5. Amendment 61 was intended to be a paving amendment to the Part 5 debate, so I will leave that until then.
Lord Callanan Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Lord Callanan) (Con)
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I thank everybody who has contributed to what has been, as always in this House, a fascinating debate, ranging far and wide, from cattle droving in the 1700s, through to the immense knowledge of the noble Lord, Lord Liddle, on current EU matters. It is good to see him again to take up cudgels across the Dispatch Box. As he knows, I do not agree with him, but I always enjoy debating these matters. I hope that noble Lords will have patience today. I have quite a lot to say—many points have been raised and I intend to go into a lot of the detail. I apologise if my remarks are a little long.

Amendments 7, 8, 20, 21, 22, 26, 32, 45 and 61, all seek to alter or change the application and scope of mutual recognition and non-discrimination for the internal market and goods. The workings of mutual recognition and non-discrimination as applied in this Bill have been carefully designed to suit the UK’s unique constitutional and legal arrangements. We consulted widely on this, based on the Government’s proposals set out in the White Paper in June.

The noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, wanted to know in detail about the consultation. We published for her benefit, a response in full to the White Paper consultation on 9 September and I would be happy to send her a copy. The consultation demonstrated that UK businesses and industry representatives are overwhelmingly supportive of the measures to prevent discriminating behaviours within our internal market. I will set out the rationale why I cannot accept these amendments. I am happy to explain how mutual recognition and non-discrimination work in greater detail.

We have been clear that the UK will do nothing to diminish its reputation as a leading nation when it comes to setting and expecting high standards of its domestic businesses and international trading partners. I know this is a concern that the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, has expressed on other Bills that we have discussed in relation to EU exit and is what she seeks to address in Amendment 7, but I contend that this simply will not arise.

Removing imported goods from the mutual recognition principle would mean that those goods, simply because of where they were sourced, could not benefit from the same regulatory treatment as goods produced in the United Kingdom. Even when produced to identical specification and quality as domestic products, this discriminatory impact would put imported goods at a conspicuously unfair disadvantage. Under such a discriminatory approach, we would be likely to be in clear breach of our World Trade Organization commitments to treat imports from other countries no less favourably than similar products produced domestically.

This amendment would also create continued uncertainty for importers. Those businesses whose supply chains rely on overseas sourcing could find themselves at a competitive disadvantage. This amendment would not tackle the issue it seeks to address and would have significant negative consequences for the UK if included.

There was considerable discussion of Amendment 8, tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, which would ensure that food and animal feedstuffs would not fall within scope of the mutual recognition principle. Like my noble friend Lady Noakes, I was slightly struggling to understand the relevance of his comments about pig semen. I think he asked whether pig semen across the island of Ireland would be affected by Clause 2, but I am happy to confirm for his benefit that pig semen will be subject to the same rules as other goods across the island of Ireland and only when it moves from Northern Ireland to Great Britain will it be subject to any checks. On pigswill, I am happy to confirm for him that the Government will not allow the reinstatement of its use.

This amendment could have serious consequences for the food supply chain, as foods sold in one nation could not be sold in another if there were different regulatory requirements, creating significant barriers to trade within the UK. As I have said, the Government remain committed to maintaining the highest standards in food and feed safety. The UK internal market approach will not change the approach to determining food and feed safety and hygiene policy. I can put at rest the noble Lord’s mind and that of the noble Lord, Lord Purvis: Schedule 1 to the Bill contains an exclusion to the market access principles to continue to enable the UK Government and the devolved Administrations to take appropriate risk-management measures to prevent or reduce the movement of unsafe food or feed from one part of the UK to other parts. I will have more to say about that later.

Turning to Amendment 20 and the consequential Amendment 22, tabled by my noble friend Lady McIntosh and relating to the exclusion of certain existing statutory requirements from the mutual recognition principle, Clause 4 ensures that pre-existing regulatory differences within the UK are excluded from the scope of mutual recognition. This is a forward-looking Bill that seeks to ensure that businesses can continue to enjoy the benefits of our well-integrated internal market after the transition period ends on 31 December. Businesses already live with and have adapted to any regulatory differences that currently exist, so mutual recognition does not need to apply retrospectively. In line with this objective, Clause 4(2)(b) ensures that this exclusion is specifically targeted at those areas in which regulatory differences have previously emerged.

This amendment would widen the exclusion to include any statutory requirement that existed prior to the relevant day set out in the Bill, regardless of whether there had been divergence in that area. However, this is not necessary. Mutual recognition has a practical effect only in areas where requirements differ across the UK, which is why the exclusion is targeted at those areas. Regulatory requirements, which are currently harmonised across the UK, do not need to be specifically excluded as the application of mutual recognition will not make any difference to the status quo. Of course, if the existing requirements excluded by Clause 4 are amended in a way that changes the effect or outcome of the legislation, they would then come within the scope of mutual recognition.

Amendment 21 is consequential on Amendment 6, which we discussed previously as part of a wider discussion on market access principles. It would amend the exclusion of pre-existing requirements from the mutual principle if Amendment 6 is also adopted. My noble friend Lady Bloomfield addressed Amendment 6 yesterday in the fifth group but, in brief, these amendments in combination would enable harmful regulatory divergence within the UK internal market into 2021 and beyond. This could lead to new barriers for businesses trading within the UK, instead of clarity and certainty.

The noble Lord, Lord German, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, asked about any follow-on emissions trading scheme. This is a non-market framework, so it would not be captured by the market access principles as it does not relate to a good or service.

The noble Lord, Lord Purvis, raised a number of questions about fertilisers. I shall give him a detailed reply. To exclude from the principle of mutual recognition as proposed by the Bill the safeguarding decisions of Administrations in relation to the placing on the market of fertilisers would allow each Administration to ban the sale of a fertiliser or impose conditions on that fertiliser in their jurisdiction in response to a risk to the health and safety of humans, animals, plants and the environment. We think it necessary to retain the current ability for the individual nations to take local circumstances into account and immediately to take a fertiliser deemed unsafe off the market in their territory without the risk of that product finding its way back into that territory via another nation. Without that amendment, it could take some time formally to ban a product through legislation—perhaps a couple of years.

The noble Lord also asked about pesticides. Decisions on which pesticides can be authorised to be marketed and sold in each part of the UK are already within devolved competence. All four Administrations work closely together, supported by HSE, and most decisions can be taken jointly by consensus. However, retaining the ability of each Administration to take its own decision where necessary is important, for example, if merely to consider locally specific factors, such as environmental or farming conditions, which can differ across the UK. This has worked well for many years where there has been occasional divergence between different parts of the UK and has not, so far, caused problems. This amendment therefore maintains the current position.

Amendment 26, tabled by my noble friend Lady McIntosh, seeks an explanation of the meaning of Clause 5(3), which I am happy to give. Clause 5(3) will operate so that any future requirements that fall within the scope of the non-discrimination principle will be of no effect to the extent that they are discriminatory. For the benefit of the lawyers, this does not mean that the requirement is to be treated as if it never had any legal effect. Rather, it allows the continued operation of the requirement, except to the extent that it has discriminatory effects. This aims to ensure that businesses can continue in their trade and goods can continue to be sold, despite protectionist measures that might treat goods from one part of the UK more favourably than goods from another. As the Bill deals with trade across the whole of the United Kingdom, the intention is that this will apply to all legislation: secondary legislation, primary legislation passed by devolved legislatures and legislation passed by the UK Parliament.

We believe that this does not require further elaboration in the Bill and is clear that only changes to existing legislation that affect the outcome are in scope. The amendment in question could cause confusion as there may be amendments that are considered “significant”, but do not change the outcome or effect of legislation. Fundamentally, however, the drafting in this clause will allow businesses to continue following the same regulations as they have been accustomed to, as our desire is not to disrupt their operations. That flexibility is important, because we want this provision to catch legislation only to the extent that it produces discriminatory effects. If something is not law, it cannot have any effect. As I said, we want to create a presumption that future Acts of Parliament are subject to this rule, which the current drafting allows.

My noble friend Lady McIntosh also asked whether, if the FSA and FSS had different rules, that would impact on the free movement of goods. The principles of mutual recognition and non-discrimination will apply to goods, including food, feed and animal products. This means that a good that can be lawfully sold in one territory can be lawfully sold in the other territories without having to comply with that other territory’s requirements. The only exclusion from this, as I said earlier, is set out in Schedule 1, which provides for exclusion in emergency scenarios where specific criteria are set out.

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Lord Purvis of Tweed Portrait Lord Purvis of Tweed (LD)
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The Minister did not explain why services from the Isle of Man to the rest of the United Kingdom will be considered within the United Kingdom internal market, but goods coming from the Isle of Man are outside the single market. There are many service providers from the Isle of Man. In fact, financial services are probably a bigger part of the Isle of Man economy than goods for export. I would be grateful if the Minister could explain this. The Minister did not respond to my point about whether these regulations apply to the services that citizens receive for higher education. This is very important within Scotland.

My point to the Minister, I believe, justifies my argument on the good working relationship across the four nations on fertilisers and pesticides. The Minister referenced the justification for the government amendment about the need to work in emergencies. Paragraph 1 of Schedule 1 already has exclusions from market access principles for threats to human, animal and plant health. Emergencies were already covered. The amendment that the Government brought forward was not on emergencies; I looked at the regulations that it covers, which are in paragraph 9 of Schedule 1 on fertilisers and pesticides. The Bill will allow the Scottish Government, and a Welsh Government or UK Government acting for England, to make a different judgment on the advice they get from the single regulator about the safety of a pesticide for, as the Minister Paul Scully said, “movement and use”.

So, if English farmers, under the authority of the regulations in the Bill, decide to use fertilisers on crops—barley—that are unsafe in the view of the Scottish Government, the Bill will allow the Scottish Government to prevent that barley from being used in Scottish distilleries. The Minister said that the whole purpose of the Bill was to prevent that from arising. So he has managed to undermine the entire intent of his argument at Second Reading, which was that the purpose of this legislation was to prevent a barrier from a different decision being made on safety grounds. If this amendment, which the Government brought forward, allows for different decisions to be made on the safety of pesticides used in different parts of the UK, I hope the Minister will reflect on what he said about the justification for the Bill.

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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I understand the point the noble Lord is making, but I think we are talking at cross purposes. It would allow provisions on unsafe products, but the provisions would be based on advice from the common regulator—so presumably the authorities in England would draw the same conclusion. It does not allow a Minister to dream up a definition of “unsafe” and implement provisions on that.

On the noble Lord’s first point, if he will forgive me, I will write to him.

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Baroness McIntosh of Pickering Portrait Baroness McIntosh of Pickering (Con) [V]
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My Lords, I am struggling to understand the Minister’s reply on Amendments 26 and 45. I am particularly concerned about Amendment 26, which is a probing amendment and simply asks for greater clarity, which I do not think we have had. Is he saying that the statutory requirement has no effect? Does he mean that it is valid or not? Is it enforceable? I am trying to avoid a situation where there is any doubt whatever, and court action might be taken. I do not quite understand his answer that the possibility of court action is excluded if, in the view of others, a statutory requirement has effect and could, therefore, be actionable.

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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No, it does not mean that the requirement is to be treated as though it never had any legal effect. Rather, it allows the continued operation of the requirement, except to the extent that it has discriminatory effect.

Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town Portrait Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town (Lab)
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My Lords, I think I am Baroness Hayter of Confused. I did not understand that last reply. I thank the Minister for attempting to answer the question, though I have to warn him that I think he is in trouble with the boss. I think he admitted that there would be checks at the border between Northern Ireland and Great Britain on pig semen. The boss said, “No checks, no extra paperwork”. I am now hearing noble Lords say, “New checks”. That is not what the Prime Minister said at that reception. He said, “If there’s a piece of paper, send it to me and I’ll throw it away”. I shall make no comment on semen causing particular problems, but it seems that there would be checks on it.

I shall try to be brief because a lot of points have been raised. I thank all noble Lords who have spoken, particularly those who support the line we are taking. I fear that many of these questions flag up the problem that the Bill was drafted without the full involvement and agreement of the devolved authorities. We may not be where we are if those discussions had taken place beforehand. I think it was the noble Lord, Lord German, who talked about parallel tracks between the common framework and this Bill. It loses not only the consensus approach to the common frameworks that we have discussed before, but the flexibility that the noble Lord, Lord Purvis, mentioned. We want to build on this. I hope the Minister will hear some of these questions and see whether he can give a response that ensures clarity for business, as well as for those operating in this area.

The Minister did not answer on universities and I am not sure he answered about the all-Ireland agreement. A lot of other points were raised about animal feedstuffs and pesticides. It would help if some of those dialogues could continue before we get to Report. It is also worth listening to what my noble friend Lord Liddle said. The Government should stand up and say that they support the maintenance of the devolved settlements, and that they recognise and want to keep diversity where it would still enable us to have an internal market. That sort of statement would be helpful.

I am sorry that the noble Baroness, Lady Noakes, is now not allowed to come back at me for what I am going to say. I partly agree with her. We want trade and believe that it is good, but not at any price—not at the price of safety or the environment. This does not mean that we are not in favour of greater trade with all the benefits that it has brought. I also agree with her that, of course, we favour free, and barrier-free, trade. That is why some of us want a deal with the EU, which has no tariffs or checks, and we wanted to stay as close to it as possible. I know it was not her view that we should stay in. I think I once heard her say—I am happy to correct this at the end if I am wrong—that trading on WTO terms would not be the end of the world. Good, the noble Baroness is nodding, so she confirms that she said it. That, of course, would mean a lot of checks and a stop to free trade.

The issues raised in this debate need further consideration. We have to resolve the question that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, asked. Will there be any input by the devolved authorities into importation by, particularly, the English Government? They will need some comfort over that. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

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Moved by
9: Clause 3, page 2, line 21, leave out “any” and insert “a particular”
Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment would clarify that the purpose of Clause 3 is to identify what are the relevant requirements that apply to a specific sale of goods (the word “sale” being defined broadly in Clause 14).
Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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I apologise in advance if noble Lords are in for more technical explanations. We will take together the minor technical amendments in my name to Clauses 3 and 4. All involve drafting improvements or clarifying technicalities. None of these amendments results in a change of policy, but they need full and proper scrutiny in this Chamber and noble Lords deserve an explanation of the improvements that they make to the Bill.

First, I turn to Amendment 9. This clarifies Clause 3 by identifying what is a relevant requirement in relation to a specific case where particular goods are sold. Without this amendment, there could be ambiguity as to whether a requirement needs to apply to all sales of all goods to be a relevant requirement. For example, where a business has produced a tin of biscuits in Scotland and seeks to rely on the mutual recognition principle to sell them in England, this amendment makes it clear that the relevant requirements are those that would apply to the sale of the biscuits in England and to the equivalent, hypothetical sale of the biscuits in Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales. Requirements that apply to other sales of other goods—for example, requirements that apply to the auctioning of a painting—would not be relevant requirements in this context. Without this amendment, there is a risk of legal uncertainty over which requirements are relevant. This could create confusion, costs and inconvenience for businesses.

Amendment 10 provides similar clarification. It emphasises that subsection (2), which defines and therefore enables one to identify a relevant requirement in relation to a particular sale, makes relevant requirements only in relation that sale. Requirements are not relevant in any general way; they are relevant only in relation to the sale in question.

Amendment 18 clarifies that Clause 4(1)(a) refers to a specific sale of goods, rather than a hypothetical sale of goods. It makes clear that we are referring to an actual sale of goods and not to a hypothetical sale. As a result, the amendment removes any potential ambiguity around which existing statutory requirements are excluded from the mutual recognition principle. This amendment also ensures consistency with Clause 3(1), as proposed to be amended by Amendment 9—also in my name. Once again, we are considering requirements which apply specifically to a particular sale—for example, the requirements that would apply to the sale of a tin of biscuits in England, as per my previous example, but not all requirements that might apply to any other sales of goods. This makes clear which statutory requirements might be excluded, if the conditions in Clause 4(2) are met.

Amendment 19 corrects a small drafting error in Clause 4(1)(a). This paragraph refers to “a” part of the United Kingdom when it should refer to “the” part of the UK mentioned in the opening words of the subsection. It removes any ambiguity around which part of the United Kingdom is being referred to in Clause 4(1)(a), so that there can be no doubt that when we are considering English requirements, we are considering how they apply in relation to a sale in England. Without this amendment, there could be confusion over whether we are referring to just those requirements which apply in England or to requirements which could apply in any part of the UK.

Finally in this group, Amendment 23 aligns the language used in Clause 4(2) and 4(5). Both provisions refer to a hypothetical sale on a particular day, rather than to an actual sale. These subsections set out the conditions for when an existing requirement will be excluded from mutual recognition. Both should refer to a hypothetical sale on the relevant day. This amendment clears up the ambiguity by making it clear that both subsections refer to a hypothetical sale, rather than to an actual sale. Aligning the language in this way will make the drafting of this clause clearer and will avoid any confusion over why the wording is different in Clause 4(2) and 4(5) when both should refer to a hypothetical and not to an actual sale.

Taking again the example of the sale of a tin of biscuits, Clause 4(2) and 4(5) refer to the statutory requirements around the sale of biscuits, which would have been enforced in different parts of the UK on the relevant day, which is the day before this Bill comes into force, if the tin of biscuits had been sold on that day. This means that we will always be talking about a hypothetical sale here, and the amendment to Clause 4(5) makes this clear. Without this amendment, it is not clear that Clause 4(5) is referring to a hypothetical sale, which may cause confusion. I beg to move.

Baroness McIntosh of Pickering Portrait Baroness McIntosh of Pickering (Con) [V]
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My Lords, I am interested to know why the Minister felt that these amendments needed to be moved at this time; what provoked that? Furthermore, who decides—and in what circumstances—what is a hypothetical sale, as opposed to a real sale?

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Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Portrait Lord Stevenson of Balmacara (Lab) [V]
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My Lords, I have mainly technical, minor drafting points, which do not require much discussion. The Minister was consumed during his speech because of the hypothetical tin of biscuits that he brought into play. I am so glad that we do not have details of what pig semen is carried in. I much prefer us sticking with the tin of biscuits as our main metaphor in these issues.

Like the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, I wonder why these amendments are being tabled now. After all, the Bill has been through the other place and been republished. Only now are we getting evidence of “scrubbing the text” to ensure that the sorts of issues raised in this group of amendments will not get into the final version of the Bill. It is a minor criticism of a very minor issue, and I am happy to await the answers to the questions raised by the noble Lord, Lord Purvis, which would bear substantial response and will need to be dealt with at the appropriate time.

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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My Lords, I apologise to noble Lords for hesitating in my answer earlier. There is a danger of this “tin of biscuits” example assuming the same significance that the maiden aunts of the noble Lord, Lord Lisvane, did, during the EU withdrawal Bills. I see smiles from noble Lords who were involved in those debates. However, I am not sure that we should pursue the “pig semen” argument of the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson.

To answer my noble friend Lady McIntosh, these are technical changes relating to drafting errors that became apparent in further studying the text following amendments tabled by noble Lords. Following further examination by government lawyers, the Bill was drafted fairly speedily over the summer. Our intention was to avoid government amendments, but we wanted to hear the replies to the consultation and the White Paper. They are technical and legal clarifications that change none of the policy intent.

I assure the noble Lord, Lord Purvis, that the minimum unit alcohol pricing policy is unaffected, because it is an existing measure that is excluded, and because it is specifically excluded in addition to that, via various clauses. I will write to reassure him of that. Regarding his points about gin and vodka, I am not an expert on the Scottish measure, but I think it affects the retail price of the sale and not wholesale prices, and therefore the product would need to be sold at a different price, as specified in the Scottish measure. However, I consulted officials when we first debated this legislation and was assured that the Scottish measure would be unaffected by this legislation. I am happy to write reassuring the noble Lord on that point.

Baroness Fookes Portrait The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Baroness Fookes) (Con)
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I have received a request from the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh of Pickering, to speak after the Minister. My apologies; I gather that is not the case.

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Moved by
10: Clause 3, page 2, line 28, after first “requirement” insert “in relation to the sale”
Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment would clarify that a statutory requirement that meets the conditions in paragraphs (a) and (b) of Clause 3(2) is a relevant requirement in relation to the sale mentioned in Clause 3(1).
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Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town Portrait Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town (Lab)
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My Lords, there is little to add to what my noble friend Lady Andrews and other members of the hard-working, thorough and thoughtful DPRRC have said, along with the noble Lord, Lord Fox, and others who have spoken in the debate. However, I would remind the noble Lord, Lord Thomas, whose party has been in government more recently than we have, that I do not recall any reluctance on the part of the coalition Government to reach for secondary powers when it suited them—but perhaps his memory is rather shorter than mine.

I should say to the Minister that these amendments are pretty much bound to be accepted by the House on Report. That, of course, will leave the Government having to try to defend in the House of Commons in more detail than they have had to thus far why they should gift themselves the most remarkable and far-reaching powers, none of which, as has been said, have they sought to justify by purpose, urgency or anything else. Rather than repeat what the 24th report sets out and what has just been set out so eloquently, I urge the Minister to listen to the wise words and, either after discussion or of his own accord, take these unnecessary and worrying powers out of the Bill.

My noble friend Lord Liddle touched on the powers in Part 5. Obviously we will take those out, but of course the Government might try to put them back in again. We should remember that this group of amendments covers regulations that would, if they manage to keep Part 5 in or return it, be made in some areas of Part 5. These regulations are really serious, due to the current Clause 47(2)(a), which, as everyone will know, gives the status of primary legislation for the purposes of the Human Rights Act to secondary legislation. Inexplicably and extraordinarily, those pieces of secondary legislation would therefore not be able to be struck down if they breached convention rights, rather they would have thrown around them the protective ring that is normally used only for primary legislation. But those measures are regulations that will not have been through the legislative process. They would be introduced as secondary legislation by regulation, but would suddenly be preserved as if having been given the status of primary legislation. That is set out in Clause 47(2)(a)—I hope I have got that right; I have my learned friend next to me, in case I have got it wrong.

Needless to say, the Joint Committee on Human Rights had rather a lot to say about this constitutionally unacceptable ruse. Its members have tabled an appropriate amendment to remove it when we get to Part 5, and quite right too. The Government seem to want to legislate by regulation—unchallengeable in court, therefore —giving it primary status that goes even further than the other Henry VIII powers which were considered by the DPRRC. I have a feeling that the committee met before the insertion of this clause in the Commons—I think I am getting a nod from behind me—which is presumably why the Delegated Powers Committee did not discuss it.

I add a further comment that goes beyond the Bill but is a reflection of what has already been mentioned. I have spoken in the House previously about the book, How Democracies Die, which lists institutional forbearance —along with the rule of law, respect for the opposition and a free press—as a fourth vital element of what the authors call quadrilles, which go beyond democratic elections, on how to have a robust and fully functioning democracy. Institutional forbearance is an interesting term and is defined in the book as,

“the action of restraining from exercising a legal right”,

thereby perhaps avoiding actions which, while within the law, violate its spirit. It is what my former supervisor, the noble Lord, Lord Hennessy, would call the “good chaps” theory of government. I agree that regulation-making powers can be donated to Ministers but the purpose of that was to enable small adjustments to the policy of an Act to be finalised or tweaked without primary legislation. It was not meant to gift big policy decisions—especially not of the sort included in the Bill, which I heard today was hurriedly written over the summer—to the Government with effectively no parliamentary scrutiny or agreement.

Therefore, like my noble friend Lady Andrews, and the noble Lord, Lord Fox—whose extremely useful quote from the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, I have not heard before—I am concerned about the extensive, unnecessary and quite unjustified use of Henry VIII powers, not simply in this Bill but in others. It is a worrying pattern that this House has a duty to curtail. I hope that this is the last occasion on which we have to remind Ministers that they should carry out the primary laws as passed by Parliament, not take to themselves powers to make their own laws.

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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My Lords, I have a sense of déjà vu about this debate. The noble Lord, Lord Liddle, will well remember our debates on the EU (Withdrawal) Bill. These amendments relate to delegated powers included in Parts 1, 2 and 5 of this Bill. I should probably decline the kind opportunity afforded to me by the noble Lord, Lord Thomas, to comment on the parentage of Henry VIII, apart from saying that the noble Baroness, Lady Bloomfield, who is an expert on all these matters, tells me that his parents were Henry VII and Elizabeth of York—officially, at least.

I should say in answer to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope of Craighead, and his comments on the Sewel convention that the Government are fully committed to that convention and its associated practices for seeking consent. These powers are purely there to ensure that the legislation works properly and is future proof. There is no intention whatever to use the powers to avoid Sewel processes.

I should like to take this chance to emphasise the importance of these powers for the ongoing dynamism of our internal market, and to emphasise that the Government will not take lightly their responsibility in administering these powers. I am of course listening carefully to what your Lordships say but it is important for me to explain how we intend to use these powers.

The Bill aims to ensure a smooth transition for businesses as they are no longer subject to EU constraints. However, we recognise that this is an ambitious new system and the Government want to make sure that it works as well as possible for businesses and for devolved Administrations. As the system embeds in the functioning of law and trade, we will of course be monitoring this. We will speak to stakeholders and devolved Administrations to ensure that it works as well as possible within our constitutional framework. Where it does not, the Government need to be able to make necessary amendments to the system for the benefit of all parts of the UK. In line with normal arrangements for secondary legislation covering devolved matters, we will of course engage with the devolved Administrations in the spirit of the devolution memorandum of understanding. This system has worked well for 20 years and continues to do so.

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Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Portrait Lord Stevenson of Balmacara (Lab) [V]
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My Lords, I join the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, in thanking the Scottish Law Commission for its contribution to this debate; it keeps an eagle eye on issues in front of your Lordships’ House and from time to time delivers material that is very useful to us as we go through our duties.

As the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, said, these are probing amendments. They are about the possible uses of super-affirmative procedures and, as she says, relate to issues in the Bill that might well qualify under her heading for a higher degree of scrutiny.

The noble Lord, Lord Thomas, gave us a useful tour d’horizon of the available ways of doing super-affirmative. I agree with him that there is a case to be made here for looking at them in more detail to make sure that they are picked up and looked at regarding their best purpose, but that perhaps is not for today; there are bigger issues here and they should be looked at, but not in this Bill.

My noble friend Lord Judd asked whether the Government really welcome scrutiny or are simply pursuing their normal process—which seems almost inevitable for any Government—to try to obtain absolute control over the legislation they are bringing forward. I suspect the answer to that question is not to be found in providing for better scrutiny. This is a Bill with deeper problems. I do not think that these proposals, although they have their merits, are the right way forward in trying to unscramble those deeper difficulties. I look forward to hearing the Minister respond.

Lord True Portrait The Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Lord True) (Con)
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My Lords, I thank my noble friend for tabling her amendments, which relate, as she explained to the Committee, to the implementation of a super-affirmative resolution procedure. This debate is something of a coda to the previous group. It teases at the questions that many of your Lordships raised there and to which my noble friend Lord Callanan responded in some detail, so, if the House will forgive me, I will not repeat those general arguments in relation to these matters, although I repeat that the Government believe that these powers are important for our internal market. As my noble friend Lord Naseby said, we are dealing with trade matters. I repeat that the Government will not take lightly our responsibility in administering these powers.

I thank all those who took part in this debate for the interesting speeches we heard. On a personal note, I always welcome seeing the noble Lord, Lord Judd. I agree with his expression of admiration for noble Lords and Baronesses on the Front Benches opposite for their work on this Bill. Perhaps he will allow me to extend that sentiment to my noble friends Lord Callanan, Lady Scott and Lady Bloomfield and my colleagues.

Pleasantries apart, of course we acknowledge that the Bill gives the Secretary of State the ability to amend the list of legitimate aims, relevant requirements and schedule exclusions through a draft affirmative statutory instrument, with just one time-limited made-affirmative power, which relates to the services exclusions in Clause 17(4). We are fully committed to ensuring that the use of these powers is subject to effective oversight and consultation. That is why any use of the power would require an affirmative regulation to be passed in both Houses of Parliament. This will ensure that Parliament would be able to scrutinise and vote on any changes.

Turning to the substance of my noble friend’s amendments, if we were to accept Amendments 14, 29, 40, 76, 77, 101, 133 and 176, to which my noble friend spoke in this group and which call for the super-affirmative resolution procedure, it would cause unnecessary delay when a change was urgently needed. That point was very forcefully made by my noble friend Lord Naseby in a compelling speech made from the standpoint of his immense experience in chairing the proceedings of the other place.

Although your Lordships’ Delegated Powers Committee had many observations on this legislation, it did not propose the super-affirmative resolution procedure. I repeat: there is a risk of undue delay in a situation that may arise where it appears necessary to act swiftly to prevent undesirable outcomes. My noble friend Lord Callanan gave a number of examples on the previous group. The Government may need to respond quickly and effectively to maintain the status quo after the transition period has ended.

We believe that the draft affirmative resolution procedure—noting that the made-affirmative power is time-limited—offers sufficient parliamentary scrutiny while enabling the Government to act quickly. I therefore ask my noble friend to withdraw the amendment. While I think her amendments attracted the interest of the Committee, and I am grateful to her for bringing them forward, I think it would be fair to say they did not carry the support of the Committee.

As my noble friend has acknowledged, Amendment 24 is consequential so I will not address it in detail. Amendment 25 seeks to probe the Government’s understanding of what is meant by “substantive change” in Clause 4. I can tell my noble friend that it means that any changes that re-enact regulation in a way that changes its outcome count as substantive. Where existing legislation receives technical or minor amendments that do not alter its substance, that does not count as a substantive change.

I hope these responses address the concerns of my noble friend and therefore ask her to withdraw her amendment.

Baroness Morris of Bolton Portrait The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Baroness Morris of Bolton) (Con)
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My Lords, I have received a request to speak after the Minister from the noble Lord, Lord Purvis of Tweed.

Lord Purvis of Tweed Portrait Lord Purvis of Tweed (LD)
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My Lords, I am grateful for the Minister’s comments on Amendment 25. It was a question linked to the previous group that the noble Lord, Lord Callanan, did not respond to, so I am very grateful that he did.

The Minister talked about how “substantive change” is now defined. We are now in the realm of what the Minister said is a Pepper v Hart moment because what is said on the record at the Dispatch Box is very important, and these measures require a different outcome. The policy outcome intentions of many of these measures might remain the same, but some elements would be different. If the Minister is saying—on minimum unit pricing, for example, or on environmental or public health considerations—that if the intended outcome of the re-enacted or updated requirement remains the same, would that continue to be exempt? That is important because, in both the legislation and the Explanatory Memorandum, that is not so defined. If minimum unit pricing changes the level of the price, or if tuition fees continue but their level changes, if the policy intent is the same, the exemption will carry on—is that the correct understanding?

Lord True Portrait Lord True (Con)
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My Lords, I note and hear what the noble Lord has said, but I think he would allow me not to enter into speculative discussions. I have put to the Committee a response to a question—a response provided to me to advise the Committee. As for its application, that is a matter that would be speculative and could be considered further. I will stand by the words that I put before the Committee.

Baroness McIntosh of Pickering Portrait Baroness McIntosh of Pickering (Con) [V]
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I thank all noble Lords who have spoken in this debate. I was grateful for the opportunity to probe the extent to which this procedure of super-affirmative resolution may be more appropriate.

My noble friend Lord Naseby might not think that this is a matter of life and death, but if you are dealing with perishable goods—particularly animals and their movement over what will be internal borders—that might be the case. I part company with my noble friend on the EU-Japan agreement; it actually does not go that far. My understanding is that what was heralded as a bigger market for cheese, which will be very welcome, relies on the EU allowing us to use what is left of its quota that it does not wish to use. It is the leftovers—the crumbs under the table. It could be very helpful to our cheese producers, but it is not quite as straightforward as one might first think.

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I turn finally to Amendment 48, which seeks to amend the regulatory powers in Clause 10 to amend Schedule 1. It covers similar ground, requiring the Government to seek the consent of the devolved authorities before any changes to the schedule of exclusions from market access principles. These currently include unsafe foods, for example—although sadly not public health. The key issue again is the need for any changes to this schedule to be made only after consultation, and hopefully agreement, with the devolved authorities. The issue is dealt with in more detail in a subsequent group. Here, as my noble friend Lord Liddle and others have said, we are talking about moving forward within our devolved system, not undermining it and not taking powers back to London. That is why the amendments in this group are so important.
Lord True Portrait Lord True (Con)
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My Lords, I am grateful to all those who have spoken in what has been a thoughtful debate absolutely in the proper traditions of your Lordships’ House, both in the spirit of inquiry and in the main—I will come to that point in a minute—in manner. I am of course sorry that the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, was unable to be here, but I was delighted to hear the noble Lord, Lord German, move the amendment so ably. I was also glad to learn that he is an assiduous reader of the words of my right honourable friend Jacob Rees-Mogg. I can tell him that that is a very improving activity and I heartily commend it to him. I would say in response to his point that this legislation has collective agreement and therefore it is subscribed to by all members of the Government.

Having mentioned the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, and having in mind the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Wigley, I would like to thank the Welsh Government, who had an involvement in some of these amendments, for what has been their positive engagement on this Bill to date at both ministerial and official levels. I have had the privilege of being present at discussions on this matter.

When I talked about taking exception, I was thinking about tone. People have asked what the Government’s intention is and what the exceptional circumstances are. Like it or not, the exceptional circumstances are that, after a lengthy period of being a member of the European Union, which effectively controlled our internal market, the British people have elected to leave the European Union and the British Government—and British Governments collectively—have a responsibility to provide for successor arrangements. I do not believe that this should be the occasion for a great set of conspiracy theories. I do not agree with the noble Lord, Lord Liddle, that the Government are making a meal of the system, and I reject what he said about the Government abandoning the frameworks. We have discussed that at length in this Chamber and I have set out the continuing commitment of this Government to the framework process.

So, as we discuss this, it is important that the process of respect goes all ways, and this Government have a profound respect for all the peoples of these islands and all those involved at every level in the difficult process of governing effectively and responsibly the people they have the honour to represent. The Government seek to go forward co-operatively with the devolved Administrations and all other people in our democracy. I do not believe—with great respect to my noble friend Lord Cormack—that it is helpful to use words such as “domination” as an aspiration of the Government, and nor is it helpful for the noble Baroness, Lady Bennett, to talk of dictatorship. That is not the way in which this Government think, behave or intend to go forward. They hope to go forward with respect and co-operation.

The Bill attempts to ensure a smooth transition for businesses, as they are no longer subject to EU constraints, and to maximise certainty through the Covid recovery and the end of the transition period. It does not remove powers from the devolved Administrations. What the Bill does do is ensure that no new barriers to intra-UK internal trade will be created following the end of the transition period, and that companies from all parts of the United Kingdom will be able to trade seamlessly with one another. That is an objective that everybody in this House genuinely shares. I agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Purvis of Tweed, said: I believe that everybody in this Chamber—or, at least, almost everybody—is committed to maintaining the union of the United Kingdom. We intend, and obviously hope, to perpetuate and protect the system where companies from all parts of the United Kingdom are able to trade with each other.

Following the end of the transition period, devolved Administrations will see an increase in their powers in multiple devolved policy areas, as the role of the EU institutions falls away. They will include areas where the EU has previously set regulatory standards. The Bill seeks to strike a balance between respecting devolution and ensuring that UK companies can continue to trade unhindered in every part of the UK. Hearing some of the things that have been said, one would not think that it was this Conservative Administration who, as recently as 2017, extended so profoundly the role of the Welsh Senedd. It is vital that legislation introduced by the Bill should act across the whole of the UK, providing all of our businesses and consumers with the same degree of certainty. That is important in whatever corner of the four parts of our kingdom businesses and consumers live, just as there must be the same protection from discrimination and the same opportunities for prosperity and well-being. We owe that to every corner of this kingdom.

Yes, the driving principle of the Bill—maintenance of the internal market—is captured by Amendment 109, in the name of the my noble and learned friend Lord Mackay of Clashfern. The purpose of the Bill is as he set it out, but I do not see how it could be used for any other purpose, and I do not believe that to restate it on the face of the Bill could be anything other than potentially confusing. But I do take the spirit and the letter of what my noble and learned friend said: this is the purpose of the Bill, and it certainly is not to be set in the context of conspiracy theory. It provides for a new system that is both ambitious and necessary and, as I have said, it is a pivotal moment for the United Kingdom to develop its own bespoke regulatory system and we must make sure that this offers benefits to businesses in every part of the United Kingdom and to the devolved Administrations.

The noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope of Craighead, made a typically thoughtful opening speech. I hope that I misheard him when he said that he regretted the provisions in the Bill as a whole; I believe he was referring to the nature of the regulatory powers. In his remarks, he put forward some ideas that obviously—as my noble friend Lord Callanan said in an earlier debate—we will read carefully.

I can answer directly on the Sewel convention, about which the noble and learned Lord asked a second question. It was addressed earlier by my noble friend Lord Callanan but, for those who were not here, I repeat that the United Kingdom Government continue to demonstrate respect for and commitment to the convention. As such, they have sought the consent of each devolved legislature for the Bill through the established practices and procedures.

However, the convention envisages situations whereby the UK Parliament may need to legislate without consent; the noble Lord, Lord Purvis of Tweed, referred to such a situation. The Government have continued to hold positive discussions with the Welsh Government and the Northern Ireland Executive at both official and ministerial level. The door remains open to the Scottish Government, should they wish to re-engage on internal market matters. It is regrettable that the Scottish Government walked away from discussions on the internal market in March 2019; we urge them to return to the table.

We consulted extensively on the UK internal market White Paper, and received more than 300 responses and overwhelming support from businesses and industry to maintain the status quo and avoid new trade barriers emerging. The consultative nature of that work does not end there. I understand the undertone of what Members have sought in these amendments. We will of course monitor the implementation of the provisions in the Bill and speak to stakeholders and the devolved Administrations to ensure that it works as well as possible within our constitutional setting. The system requires effective and clear governance to provide the necessary certainty for business. Where the system is not working, the Government need to be able to act quickly and effectively to fine-tune the system for the benefit of everyone. That matter was discussed earlier today.

It is suggested by your Lordships that some of the provisions in the Bill should be subject to the prior consent of the devolved Administrations. Amendments 15, 16, 30, 41, 42, 48, 49, 75A and 100A would require this, meaning that, as a pre-condition, Ministers from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland would all have to agree with any change before it could be given effect. A number of noble Lords alluded to difficulties that might arise in certain circumstances. Clearly, such a provision could undermine the Government’s ability to act rapidly and decisively to make any changes necessary to reflect the interests of all parts of the United Kingdom, although noble Lords will, I know, have different views on the likelihood of that.

However, there is also a matter of principle at stake: attaching a requirement to obtain consent from the devolved Administrations would undermine the responsibility of Parliament with regard to the internal market. My noble and learned friend Lord Mackay of Clashfern referred in his excellent and thoughtful speech to the importance of the central role of Parliament. The Government believe that this is a fundamental issue. There may at times be a need to legislate effectively for the whole of the UK and only Parliament is capable of doing that. It is a responsibility that we take seriously; we should not resile from or compromise it in any way.

We are fully committed to ensuring that the use of the powers in the Bill are subject to effective oversight and consultation. First, any use of the powers would require an affirmative regulation to be passed in Parliament. This will ensure that MPs from all parts of the UK can scrutinise and vote on any changes.

Secondly, consultation with colleagues in the devolved Administrations is required for any change to the relevant requirements in Clause 3. It is true that a legislative consultation requirement would not be appropriate for the powers relating to exclusions from the market access principles or the list of legitimate aims for non-discrimination. In this case, the Government may need to make a swift decision in the interests of all parts of the United Kingdom, should there be an emergency or an unforeseen issue in future. In these instances, there may be no time to have a consultation period to seek consent. However, for all powers, UK Government officials will engage with the devolved Administrations in the spirit of the devolution memorandum of understanding. This system has worked well for 20 years and continues to do so.

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Moved by
18: Clause 4, page 3, line 38, after first “a” insert “particular”
Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment would clarify that Clause 4(1)(a) relates to a specific sale of goods (the word “sale” being defined broadly in Clause 14). This is for consistency with Clause 3(1) as proposed to be amended by my amendment to Clause 3 at page 2, line 21.
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Moved by
23: Clause 4, page 4, line 12, leave out from “have” to “place” and insert “had the same effect in relation to the sale (if it had taken”
Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment would bring the wording of Clause 4(5) into line with Clause 4(2).
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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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I thank everyone who has spoken in what has been another excellent debate. Most of the points have been valid. I will disagree with many of them but noble Lords made their points well.

Before I start, the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Moulsecoomb, knows that I have tremendous respect for her: we do not often agree, but I have tremendous respect for her views. However, talking about an “extremist ideology” and “hypercapitalism”—whatever hypercapitalism is—does not aid her cause; I would prefer that noble Lords address the issues in a better and more constructive manner.

The scope of the market access principles and the areas of regulation included in Schedule 1 have been carefully designed to avoid unnecessary barriers within the UK’s internal market while ensuring that the devolved Administrations and the UK Government can act to preserve the proper functioning of certain policy areas. This is where I part company with the noble Lord, Lord Fox, because when he talks about the principle of uniformity in an internal market, that is, of course, the EU system, and I do not recall the Liberal Democrats having much of a problem with that in years past. The system of mutual recognition does allow diversity, but while not discriminating against other countries’ goods. The principle of mutual recognition and market access principles allow diversity of policy. The EU system, of which the Liberal Democrats were previously particularly fond—as far as I am concerned—does not because you have common standards and common principles. I understand the argument about the so-called race to the bottom, et cetera, but that is the system that the Liberal Democrats happily signed up to and defended loyally for many years—indeed, it is still their policy that we should rejoin the EU and assume a further application of common principles. I do not agree with it, but it is a view.

I am listening carefully to what many noble Lords are saying this evening, but it is important, so I will take the time to explain why we have taken the approach we have to the application of the market access principles and the exclusions from these principles. Amendments 35, 36, 37, 39A and 95 seek to alter the list of legitimate aims for the disapplication of indirect discrimination against goods and services. The current list of legitimate aims for indirect discrimination against goods contains

“the protection of the life or health of humans, animals or plants”,

which will, of course, align in many cases with the protection of the environment. It also contains

“the protection of public safety or security.”

I agree with my noble friend Lady Noakes that expanding the list of legitimate aims beyond the current list would increase the grounds on which goods from one part of the UK could face discrimination in another—maybe in small, incremental steps, but with each addition steadily eroding the benefits that we all enjoy of the UK internal market. Expanding the list would also make discrimination easier to create and implement within the internal market, which would contradict our policy objectives.

I am of course aware of the comparisons that have been made to the EU system and its list of legitimate aims. The UKIM Bill and non-discrimination principle have been designed to take account of the UK’s unique circumstances, reflecting that our market consists of four highly integrated, highly aligned parts. Conversely, EU provisions deal with 27 countries, all with diverse histories, cultures and competing market priorities. It is therefore right that the list of legitimate aims in the Bill is more narrowly focused. Should a need to amend the list be identified, the Bill allows for the Secretary of State to add, vary or remove additional legitimate aims.

Let me deal with the points raised about legitimate aims by my noble friend Lord Young and the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, as well as, on a number of occasions, the noble Lord, Lord Purvis, with regard to minimum alcohol unit pricing. I reiterate that policies such as minimum alcohol unit pricing and other innovative pricing policies are not covered by mutual recognition, unless they result in disguised prohibition. It would also be possible to enforce them regardless of what is on the list of legitimate aims or indirectly discriminatory measures, as long as they are non-discriminatory.

The noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, mentioned air guns. All the existing requirements will be out of scope—as I have said, the Bill is forward looking—unless they are amended significantly. Other than that, the air gun restrictions would have to create a significant adverse market effect for indirect discrimination to apply. That is before any consideration of whether that meets a legitimate aim. On her point about unfettered access for Northern Ireland goods, this is an unequivocal commitment from the Government precisely to take account of the possibility of divergence. It precludes qualifying Northern Ireland goods from being subject to new checks and controls and it protects their access to the whole of the UK market, no matter what the legislative regime is in Great Britain.

Amendment 39A is a more nuanced version of Amendment 38. It aims to limit the Secretary of State’s regulation-making powers to only add or broaden a legitimate aim—the Secretary of State would not be able to vary or remove a legitimate aim. Again, I appreciate the nuance of the amendment, but I must emphasise the importance, as we see it, of ensuring that the Government have the ability to adapt and improve the list of legitimate aims to address any challenges that arise—for example, during the implementation phase. We will of course listen attentively to businesses and to consumer stakeholders and may employ the powers that the amendment seeks to remove to ensure the UK internal market’s continued smooth functioning. To clarify another matter about which some have asked, Her Majesty’s Government and the devolved Administrations are not constrained by the rules against indirect discrimination when they need to take reasonable action to protect the life or health of humans, animals or plants, or to protect public safety or security.

Amendment 95 has a dual purpose. It seeks to remove the list of legitimate aims for indirect discrimination against services in Clause 20 and, as such, it would also remove the Secretary of State’s ability to amend that list. The list of legitimate aims covers a limited range of necessary objectives for regulators, which would justify a requirement that may have a discriminatory effect. The legitimate aims are the protection of the life or health of humans, animals or plants, the protection of public safety or security and the efficient administration of justice.

The inclusion of the list of legitimate aims is in our view vital, as it clarifies whether a requirement should be considered indirectly discriminatory and thus whether it is justified to put an affected service provider at a disadvantage compared to a similar provider from another part of the United Kingdom. To allow the flexibility to adapt to potential changes in circumstance—for example, in relation to future types of services regulation—a power for the Secretary of State to add, vary or remove additional legitimate aims is crucial and has therefore been included in the Bill.

I turn now to Amendments 50, 51, 52, 52A and 56, which seek to add in new clauses before and after Clause 10 of the Bill. The proposed new clauses would introduce a new set of conditions that would need to be met in order for an exclusion to be applied. Exclusions have been tightly defined to areas where the market access principles would adversely affect, or prevent the proper functioning of, the UK internal market. For example, we have made it possible for authorities to continue to consider local environmental conditions when authorising a chemical for use in a particular part of the UK.

Turning to Amendment 52, the protection of the environment and tackling climate change are vitally important, and something that the Government are, of course, already committed to. The UK leads the world in environmental standards and tackling climate change. We were the first major economy in the world to set a legally binding target to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions from across the economy by 2050. The EU is only just now catching up with us. We have also been quick to take action against single-use plastic, with our ban on the supply of plastic straws, drinks stirrers and cotton buds having come into force on 1 October this year.

Moving on to Amendment 52A, broadening exclusions from market access principles could result in significant challenges for the UK’s internal market. These are intentionally narrowly drafted to ensure that there are no unnecessary trade barriers that would ultimately increase costs to businesses and consumers while reducing choice. These amendments also do not take into consideration the impact any exclusions might have on unfettered access and Northern Ireland’s place in the UK’s internal market.

Amendments 33 and 34 are both consequential on Amendment 50, which I addressed above. Amendments 55 and 56 are consequential on Amendment 50 as well. Taken together, these amendments would replace the existing schedule of exclusions with a significantly wider exclusion process. The proposed process is not sufficiently targeted and would increase the potential for trade barriers to emerge. For these reasons, I ask noble Lords not to press their amendments.

Amendment 47A limits the Secretary of State’s regulation-making powers to only add to or broaden the exclusions in Schedule 1. The Secretary of State would not be able to vary the meaning of the exclusions in Schedule 1, nor to remove the exclusions entirely under the amendment. This might make it impossible for the Government to respond to business and wider stakeholder feedback and to act rapidly to adjust the list of exclusions if implementation shows the need for a review. While we are committed to retaining this power in the Bill, we are also fully committed to ensuring that the use of this power is subject to effective oversight and scrutiny.

First, any use of the power would, of course, require an affirmative regulation to be made in Parliament. This would ensure that MPs from all parts of the UK would be able to scrutinise and vote on any changes, along with Members of this House. Secondly, in line with normal arrangements for secondary legislation covering devolved matters, UK Government officials will engage with the devolved Administrations in the spirit of the devolution memorandum of understanding. This is a system that has worked well for 20 years and continues to do so. I hope, therefore, that noble Lords will agree that it is not appropriate for us to accept that amendment.

Turning to Amendment 54, the proposed new schedule is related to the new clause in Amendment 6, to which I responded on Monday. These amendments would, in combination, prevent the market access principles from applying in time at the end of the transition period. The lengthy process they put in place before the principles can apply would mean a considerable delay in securing business certainty that trade can continue unhindered within the UK’s internal market. Furthermore, they would limit the areas that the market access principles could apply to. This would again unduly constrain the scope of the principles and fail to fully protect the internal market.

Amendment 57 removes the requirement that a measure meets all the conditions set out in paragraph 2 of Schedule 1 to be excluded from the mutual recognition principle. The conditions in paragraph 2 of Schedule 1 relate to the exclusion of certain food and feed measures from the mutual recognition principle, where this is required to address a serious threat to the health of humans or animals. A measure will be excluded from the mutual recognition principle if all the conditions in paragraph 2 are met. These conditions were designed to be cumulative and work as a whole, and in our view would not be effective individually. The fourth condition, for example, relates to the responsible Administration providing a risk assessment of the threat addressed by the measure in question, which is essential in situations relating to protecting human, animal and plant health, but is not a stand-alone condition for any exclusion. As this amendment weakens the ability of the Bill to ensure that we can address a serious threat to the health of humans or animals, I hope that noble Lords will agree not to move it.

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