Debates between Baroness Evans of Bowes Park and Lord Cormack during the 2019 Parliament

Wed 25th May 2022
Thu 24th Feb 2022
Tue 22nd Feb 2022
Mon 31st Jan 2022
Wed 26th Jan 2022
Thu 20th Jan 2022
Thu 28th Jan 2021
Wed 14th Oct 2020
Wed 23rd Sep 2020
Mon 3rd Feb 2020

CHOGM, G7 and NATO Summits

Debate between Baroness Evans of Bowes Park and Lord Cormack
Monday 4th July 2022

(1 year, 9 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park (Con)
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I think the noble Lord will not be surprised to hear that I do not have that level of detail. I ask him not to take that as any answer; I am afraid I simply do not know. If I could write to him, it would be for the best. I am happy to share the letter, in the Library, with other noble Lords.

Lord Cormack Portrait Lord Cormack (Con)
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My Lords, I apologise for being one minute and 30 seconds late, but may I return to a point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Pittenweem? There is the figure of 2.5% of GDP by the end of this decade; we are investing troops in Estonia and there is the possibility of a European war that could escalate beyond this continent. Can we please keep these figures carefully in mind? Could my noble friend assure me that we have the ammunition—having rightly given so much to the Ukrainians—to sustain action for significantly longer than indicated in the rather authoritative article in today’s Times?

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park (Con)
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Certainly; that is a priority of the Ministry of Defence. We have been clear that we need to invest for the long term, and that is what we will continue to do. That is why we have increased defence spending by over £24 billion over the next four years and have said that we will be making further investments to reach 2.5% of GDP being spent on defence by the end of the decade.

Sue Gray Report

Debate between Baroness Evans of Bowes Park and Lord Cormack
Wednesday 25th May 2022

(1 year, 11 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Cormack Portrait Lord Cormack (Con)
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My Lords, I admire and sympathise with my noble friend the Leader of the House. I am very sorry this has been taken so late and that I am the sole voice from the Government Benches to be able to comment. To me, and I hope my noble friend would agree, this report teaches us all to admire and respect the quiet dignity and the impeccable integrity of Theresa May. We should look to her for a real example of how a Prime Minister should behave.

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park (Con)
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My noble friend is absolutely right, and I had the privilege to serve under Theresa May when she was Prime Minister.

Ukraine

Debate between Baroness Evans of Bowes Park and Lord Cormack
Thursday 24th February 2022

(2 years, 1 month ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Cormack Portrait Lord Cormack (Con)
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My Lords, of course the people of Ukraine are uppermost in our minds and thoughts, but should we not also remember that people have demonstrated on the streets of Russian towns and cities today? Can we do everything possible to utilise to the full the soft power of the BBC World Service to make sure that people in Russia know what is being perpetrated in their name? While we do that, should we not also give the boot to RT, which is a Russian propaganda tool in our own country? Finally, would it not be unthinkable if we did not make sure that the football tournament scheduled for St Petersburg takes place somewhere else?

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park (Con)
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I thank my noble friend, particularly for the opportunity once again to state that we have no quarrel with the Russian people; our quarrel is with the Russian leadership and President Putin’s regime. I thank my noble friend for giving me the opportunity to say that on behalf of the House.

In relation to Russia Today, my noble friend will know that the Culture Secretary has written to Ofcom to express her concerns. It needs to keep the situation under careful review. It does have powers to step in when broadcasting rules have been breached. It has, as my noble friend will know, previously sanctioned RT for serious failures to comply with broadcasting rules on impartiality. As we in this country obviously benefit, thankfully, from a free and open media, it is right that all regulatory decisions by Ofcom be made independent of government.

In relation to the football tournament, I think the Prime Minister has been very clear in his view that it should not take place in Russia.

Ukraine Update

Debate between Baroness Evans of Bowes Park and Lord Cormack
Tuesday 22nd February 2022

(2 years, 1 month ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park (Con)
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I am afraid, again, I cannot agree with the noble Lord. Russia has been falsely accusing NATO of provocation and nothing could be further from the truth. NATO has always been a defensive alliance and poses no threat to Russia. As I have also said, NATO allies remain committed to a dual track approach: strong deterrence and defence combined with meaningful dialogue. But Russia has to stop its aggression towards Ukraine.

Lord Cormack Portrait Lord Cormack (Con)
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My Lords, could I suggest to my noble friend that we—global Britain—convene an international conference here in London with all our European friends and allies, with whom we must get closer and closer, because if we do not have a united front we have a defeated front? When we come to debate this issue in the House, could it please be on the Floor of the House and not, as my noble friend suggested, in Grand Committee?

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park (Con)
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I have set out what we will be able to do in terms of a debate, and we are delighted to be able to give the House the opportunity to discuss such an important issue. Of course we are consistently meeting our European allies both at home and abroad. I mentioned all the travel, and I am sure noble Lords will have seen the Defence Secretary and Foreign Secretary travelling around talking to allies. I am sure they will be convening meetings across Europe, and indeed, more widely globally, in which these important issues can be discussed, and we can continue our co-ordinated approach.

Sue Gray Report

Debate between Baroness Evans of Bowes Park and Lord Cormack
Monday 31st January 2022

(2 years, 2 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park (Con)
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As I answered in response to the noble Lord, Lord Newby, who asked a similar question, we are carefully considering the reports by the Committee on Standards in Public Life, the report by Nigel Boardman and other reports that have been published. I also said that, in correspondence with the noble Lord, Lord Geidt, the Prime Minister will be discussing further how the independent adviser’s office can be better supported and ensuring that it has access to appropriate information. The Prime Minister has asked the noble Lord, Lord Geidt, to work with officials to provide this advice, and the Government have pledged to conclude this by March.

Lord Cormack Portrait Lord Cormack (Con)
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My Lords, we should all be grateful to my noble friend for delivering this very shameful Statement with such dignity. We must also recognise that the leadership of any campaign must be from the elected House. However, would it not be reasonable to say that what this Statement from the Prime Minister amounts to is, very simply, mea culpa?

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park (Con)
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Certainly, the Prime Minister makes clear in his Statement, and says explicitly, that he is sorry for things that have been got wrong and for the way that things have bene handled and he understands people’s anger. That is why he has accepted in full the initial findings of this Gray report and wants to get on straight away with implementing changes to address them.

Ukraine

Debate between Baroness Evans of Bowes Park and Lord Cormack
Wednesday 26th January 2022

(2 years, 2 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park (Con)
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I am afraid I do not agree with the noble Lord. NATO does not pose an aggressive threat to Russia.

Lord Cormack Portrait Lord Cormack (Con)
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My Lords, the Prime Minister’s Statement ends with some important words:

“I believe that all Russia’s fears could yet be allayed and we could find a path to mutual security through patient and principled diplomacy.”


That is the way. I do not associate myself with all the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, but one has to remember that 26 million Russians were killed in the last war. One has to remember that many Russians have folk memories and folk fears, and it is therefore very important that patient diplomacy, showing, as the Prime Minister says, that we understand those fears, provides the only real, sensible way forward.

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park (Con)
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Certainly, I agree. In fact, NATO stands absolutely ready to engage in constructive dialogue with Russia to discuss mutual security concerns and has invited Russia to further sessions of the NATO-Russia council—it had its first meeting in two years recently—to discuss arms control, risk reduction and transparency measures.

Covid-19

Debate between Baroness Evans of Bowes Park and Lord Cormack
Thursday 20th January 2022

(2 years, 3 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park (Con)
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I apologise to the noble Baroness and will certainly take that back to government colleagues. I recognise what she says.

Lord Cormack Portrait Lord Cormack (Con)
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My Lords, there does not seem to be anything about future plans for boosters. We all acknowledge that the vaccination campaign has been a triumph, but we still do not know for how long the vaccine is efficacious. Are there plans for booster doses to be given annually or at other intervals?

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park (Con)
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My noble friend puts his finger on it when he says that at this stage we do not know. However, I can reassure him that this will continue to be monitored. If it becomes necessary to deliver further boosters, we will of course do so. We will also need to be alive to the potential for different variants, which may involve other actions. I can assure him that we now have a wealth of evidence and experience and know, as in this very announcement today, how important vaccines and boosters are. That will certainly be at the forefront of our mind as we continue moving forward.

Health and Social Care

Debate between Baroness Evans of Bowes Park and Lord Cormack
Thursday 9th September 2021

(2 years, 7 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park (Con)
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I am sure the noble Lord will make his own judgment on that. I repeat that the Prime Minister was perfectly honest about it in his Statement. He said that

“no Conservative government ever want to raise taxes”,—[Official Report, Commons, 7/9/21; col. 155.]

which is absolutely true, but he wanted to be honest and accept that this will break a manifesto commitment. I am sure that even the noble Lord would agree that, having provided more than £400 billion of support for jobs and livelihoods, businesses and public services at the start of the pandemic, we have particular challenges around our public finances. And that was not in our manifesto.

Lord Cormack Portrait Lord Cormack (Con)
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My Lords, do not the questions asked in the last 20 minutes or so illustrate the need for a thorough debate in your Lordships’ House? I say with great respect to my noble friend that the point raised by my noble friend Lord Forsyth needs addressing in detail. Can she give the House an assurance that, when we come back in October, an early, full-day debate will be devoted to these issues?

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park (Con)
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I can say to my noble friend that the Health and Care Bill will come to this House when we come back, which will allow a lot of debate on this subject matter. He will be pleased to know that, now we have returned, we have many more opportunities for Back-Benchers to put down the titles of debates they would like to bring before the House. I am sure he will take advantage of that.

Covid-19: Road Map

Debate between Baroness Evans of Bowes Park and Lord Cormack
Tuesday 23rd February 2021

(3 years, 1 month ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park (Con)
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I join my noble friend in thanking those who he named, who have been so instrumental both behind the vaccines and in the rollout of the programme. I go back to my response to a previous question: the modelling released by SAGE shows that we cannot escape the fact that, despite all that my noble friend says, which is absolutely right, lifting the lockdown, no matter when we do it, will result in more cases, more hospitalisations and, sadly, more deaths. Moving too fast too soon risks a resurgence in infections. We have all said—and this has come across strongly during all your Lordships’ contributions today—that we want to keep moving forward, not backwards. This is a cautious path, but one that we believe will get us to where we want to be steadily and safely, and ensure that, when we take a step forward, we do not have to take a step back, as, sadly, we have had to do previously.

Lord Cormack Portrait Lord Cormack (Con) [V]
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My Lords, during the lockdown last autumn, large churches and cathedrals were able to have services with a choir, suitably distanced of course. Spiritual health is very important. We are approaching the most significant week in the Christian year, Holy Week. In Lincoln, where I live, we have a great and glorious cathedral, we can have services and we can have a choir, but we cannot have them together. It is ludicrous. Can the Minister have this one looked into? It would be very sad indeed if during Holy Week we could have either a congregation or a choir, but not both together.

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park (Con)
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I can certainly say to my noble friend that we will continue to work with the Places of Worship Taskforce to ensure that advice is available for religious communities and faith leaders so we can enable the safe opening of places of worship as we move forward through the steps in the road map.

Covid-19

Debate between Baroness Evans of Bowes Park and Lord Cormack
Thursday 28th January 2021

(3 years, 2 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park (Con) [V]
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I can certainly reassure the noble Baroness that we have total confidence in our supplies. We remain in close contact with all suppliers, and scheduled deliveries will fully support vaccination of our top four priority groups by mid-February, as intended. I can also confirm that individuals will receive their second dose, as it does provide better, long-lasting protection, as we planned.

Lord Cormack Portrait Lord Cormack (Con) [V]
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My Lords, this is not a time to play the blame game, and as my noble friend recognised in her opening words, it is a time to strive for national unity. To this end, would she not agree that all information on the pandemic should be shared on Privy Council terms with all opposition leaders, and that Sir Keir Starmer should be invited to meet the Prime Minister every week, both before and after Prime Minister’s Questions? That affair does not help to cement national unity.

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park (Con) [V]
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I think the engagement between the Prime Minister and the leader of the Opposition is for them. I have been extremely heartened by the unity your Lordships have shown in presenting the importance of the vaccination programme and in raising important issues in the House during this. It is in that spirit that we will continue to work.

Covid-19 Update

Debate between Baroness Evans of Bowes Park and Lord Cormack
Wednesday 14th October 2020

(3 years, 6 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park (Con)
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Obviously, it is for each devolved Administration to make its decisions, although I know there has been a lot of discussion in this area. However, I reassure the noble Lord that, among the restrictions in areas of high incidence, it is very clear that people should avoid travelling in and out of such areas apart from for work, education, youth services and caring responsibilities, and that overnight stays in other areas of the UK as a whole should be avoided. That is quite clear guidance.

Lord Cormack Portrait Lord Cormack (Con)
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My Lords, I have lost count of the number of taxi drivers who have told me that the 10 pm curfew produces too many people on the streets at the same time. Could that be looked at? Will my noble friend also bear in mind that political acrimony does not help to create national unity? Would it not be a good idea if Sir Keir Starmer were invited to No. 10 to sit down with the Prime Minister and discuss all these complex matters?

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park (Con)
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I agree that we all want to work together to fight this terrible disease. Your Lordships’ House provides a very good model for how constructive discussions can happen. On my noble friend’s point about the 10 pm curfew, public health directors have reported that compliance with social distancing and enforcement of regulations becomes more challenging later in the evening, after people have been drinking. That is part of the reasoning behind the 10 pm curfew, so that drinking does not continue through the evening.

Covid-19

Debate between Baroness Evans of Bowes Park and Lord Cormack
Wednesday 23rd September 2020

(3 years, 6 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park (Con)
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Obviously, PPE was a significant issue earlier this year. Lots of lessons have been learned. The department continues to work to make sure that we have plans in place. The noble Baroness will be aware that, for instance, we provided more than 250 million items of PPE. We are working with both the public and the private sector to ensure that we have robust plans in place so that we can make PPE available as and when it is needed. Obviously, one of the priorities, as I have just identified, is care homes.

Lord Cormack Portrait Lord Cormack (Con) [V]
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My Lords, would it not be deeply unfortunate if the economic devastation that has already been caused by Covid—devastation that will continue following yesterday’s announcement—were compounded by a self-inflicted wound; namely, the total dislocation of the channel ports, as envisaged by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster this morning?

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park (Con)
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My noble friend is absolutely right: ensuring that we protect jobs and support those in work has been central to our work so far. As I mentioned in a previous answer, we have put in place an unprecedented package of support for businesses, including grants, loans and the furlough scheme. We will continue to support business to make sure that we have a thriving economy once we come out of this crisis.

Business of the House

Debate between Baroness Evans of Bowes Park and Lord Cormack
Wednesday 16th September 2020

(3 years, 7 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park
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That the debate on the motion in the name of Lord True set down for Wednesday 23 September be limited to 4½ hours and not 3 hours.

Lord Cormack Portrait Lord Cormack (Con)
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My Lords, I do not want to detain the House for more than a few seconds, really. While I am grateful that there is to be a debate on the negotiations with our European friends and former partners, I regret the fact that it is not on the Floor of the House. There is a strong tradition in your Lordships’ House that important constitutional issues are debated on the Floor of the House. I cannot think of any more important issue, particularly in the light of very recent announcements. Therefore, while I thank my noble friend for the opportunity to have the debate. could we not have a guarantee that, within a short space of time, there will be a full day’s debate on the Floor of your Lordships’ House?

Covid-19: Strategy

Debate between Baroness Evans of Bowes Park and Lord Cormack
Tuesday 12th May 2020

(3 years, 11 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park
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First, I pay tribute to the police for the fantastic work that they have done. I assure the noble Lord that the Home Office has been working closely with the police to make sure that the new guidance is clear to officers. The police are updating their guidance regularly and those discussions will continue. The overwhelming majority of the public will follow the rules without the need for enforcement action or for the police to take action. That is welcome, but the police must have the ability to act if people are acting recklessly. They have been doing that around the country and we commend them for their great work.

Lord Cormack Portrait Lord Cormack (Con)
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My Lords, what plans are there to give museums and galleries the opportunity to reopen in July? These are much appreciated resources. Many of them are also at the heart of our tourist industry. While I completely accept that we could not necessarily just open the doors and let everybody come, we could presumably arrange booking systems so that numbers were controlled as well as distance maintained. Will my noble friend reflect on that and give me some encouragement?

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park
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One of the many tragedies of the virus is that we are not able to enjoy the fantastic cultural life and sporting events that we may have been looking forward to in the summer. As the noble Lord will know, museums, cinemas and theatres are being looked at under step 3—July at the earliest. However, I have to stress again that all this is based on ensuring that we keep the disease under control. We have seen examples of supermarkets, and other businesses that have been able to remain open through this time, being able to find safe ways to socially distance. Museums and other organisations can learn from that and from the best practice in other countries coming out of lockdown. Then if, as we hope, we get to the point when they are able to open their doors—albeit, perhaps, to a smaller number of visitors—they can do so in a safe way and we can start to see a bit more of normal life return.

Global Britain

Debate between Baroness Evans of Bowes Park and Lord Cormack
Monday 3rd February 2020

(4 years, 2 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park
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I am afraid that I do not agree with the noble Lord. I think he is alluding to the issue of consent. As I have said, we have set out our position: we do not want alignment and will discuss and negotiate on that basis. We believe that we can come to an agreement with the EU that works in the interests of the entire United Kingdom family.

Lord Cormack Portrait Lord Cormack (Con)
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My Lords, as many of the problems of the last three years were caused by a less than constructive relationship between Government and Parliament, will my noble friend discuss with the Prime Minister the establishment of a Joint Committee of both Houses on global Britain?

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park
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I thank my noble friend for his comment. Things can be considered, but we have an excellent Select Committee system, with excellent EU committees, the Constitution Committee and others which I think all noble Lords will agree did a fantastic job on scrutinising and holding the Government to account during the last phase of our discussions with the EU. I have no doubt that they will continue to do so going forward. We will listen to their advice and reports very carefully.