144 Lord Callanan debates involving the Department for Exiting the European Union

Wed 22nd Jan 2020
European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill
Lords Chamber

Consideration of Commons amendmentsPing Pong (Hansard) & Consideration of Commons amendments & Ping Pong (Hansard): House of Lords & Ping Pong (Hansard) & Ping Pong (Hansard): House of Lords
Tue 21st Jan 2020
European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill
Lords Chamber

3rd reading (Hansard) & 3rd reading & 3rd reading (Hansard): House of Lords & 3rd reading (Hansard) & 3rd reading (Hansard): House of Lords
Tue 21st Jan 2020
European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill
Lords Chamber

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

Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard continued) & Committee stage:Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard continued) & Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard continued): House of Lords & Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard continued) & Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard continued): House of Lords
Wed 15th Jan 2020
European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill
Lords Chamber

Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard continued) & Committee stage:Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard continued) & Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard continued): House of Lords & Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard continued) & Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard continued): House of Lords
Mon 13th Jan 2020
European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill
Lords Chamber

2nd reading (Hansard) & 2nd reading (Hansard): House of Lords & 2nd reading (Hansard) & 2nd reading (Hansard): House of Lords & 2nd reading

European Union: Trading Arrangements

Lord Callanan Excerpts
Thursday 30th January 2020

(4 years, 2 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Pearson of Rannoch Portrait Lord Pearson of Rannoch
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To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to offer the European Union a new treaty, subject to World Trade Organization jurisdiction, which would continue the United Kingdom’s existing trading arrangements with the European Union.

Lord Callanan Portrait The Minister of State, Department for Exiting the European Union (Lord Callanan) (Con)
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My Lords, the Prime Minister’s deal set out in the political declaration the framework for a comprehensive and ambitious free trade agreement with the EU. We will of course leave the EU tomorrow, and we will then begin discussions on securing a new relationship.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch Portrait Lord Pearson of Rannoch (Non-Afl)
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My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for that reply, but I would have thought that the Government may need something like this if the going gets rough in the forthcoming trade negotiations. For the record, will the Government confirm their recent Written Answer saying that, if we end up trading on normal WTO terms, EU exporters will pay us some us some £14 billion per annum in new tariffs whereas ours will pay Brussels only some £6 billion —an annual profit to us of some £8 billion per annum? Would this offer not therefore be generous to the EU and, if accepted, get rid of the Irish border problem, the need for much of Operation Yellowhammer and masses of lengthy trade negotiations? Would that not be cheap at the price?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
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I thank the noble Lord for his interest in these matters, but the whole point of a free trade agreement is that it is an improvement on WTO terms. The reason that many nations around the world want to adopt them is that people do not want to get into paying tariffs and quotas, which are an impediment to free trade. We are confident, given the agreement and the political declaration, that we can reach an ambitious free trade agreement with the EU before the end of the implementation period, and that is exactly what we will be doing.

Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town Portrait Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town (Lab)
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My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Pearson, who has managed to bring back the noble Lord, Lord Callanan, who had already taken his leave of us last week—well done. I thank him also for his support for continuing the same trading arrangements with the EU as we have now. We agree. The problem is that the Government want to break alignment, and if you break alignment then you cannot have tariff-free, easy trade. Is not the noble Lord, Lord Pearson, right on this one occasion?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
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It is of course always a pleasure to be back in front of this House. By my rough calculation, this is my 50th Oral Question in front of your Lordships, who are always extremely inventive in the points they raise. The noble Lord, Lord Pearson, is right that we want to have a free trade arrangement with as little friction as possible. We accept that we are leaving the single market and customs union, we are not going to go for the dynamic alignment that the Labour Party is urging on us, and within those constraints we want an ambitious arrangement with as few frictions on trade as possible.

Baroness Ludford Portrait Baroness Ludford (LD)
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My Lords, will the Minister provide the noble Lord, Lord Pearson of Rannoch, who thinks that the UK can keep existing trade arrangements with the EU, with a list of clubs—gentlemen’s, sporting, golf, dining or whatever—that allow people to resign and stop paying the subscription fee but still enjoy all the benefits and advantages of membership?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
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I will leave the noble Baroness to have her own conversation with the noble Lord, Lord Pearson, about the benefits or otherwise of various clubs that the two of them might wish to be part of.

Baroness Ludford Portrait Baroness Ludford
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Not the same one.

Lord Cormack Portrait Lord Cormack (Con)
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Can my noble friend think of a club which the two might wish to be part of?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
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I thank the noble Lord for his question. I suspect that the answer is that they are both part of one of the most exclusive and enjoyable clubs in the whole of London, in this House.

Lord Pannick Portrait Lord Pannick (CB)
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There will need to be a disputes resolution body to resolve disagreements between the EU and the United Kingdom. The Government’s position, which I understand, is that it cannot be the European Court of Justice, but what body is going to perform this task?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
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I thank the noble Lord for the close interest he takes in dispute resolution. Perhaps he should be declaring an interest, with his long experience of both litigating for, and resolving disputes with, Her Majesty’s Government. Of course, he raises an important point. He is right that it cannot be the European Court of Justice, and we will want to discuss with our European partners a proper, independent arbitration process for any disputes that arise, although we hope that none will.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire Portrait Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD)
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My Lords, at the time of the referendum, Boris Johnson, now our Prime Minister, assured voters that frictionless trade would continue. That has now been completely forgotten, and he has said recently that we have to accept that there will be barriers to trade as part of what we have to get used to. Is the Minister’s commitment on dynamic alignment the same sort of possibly short-term commitment as that which Boris Johnson made three years ago?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
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No, our commitment is that we will not be entering into a process of dynamic alignment; we think that decisions on future laws governing this country should be made in this Parliament, and we will not be subcontracting that job to the European Union.

Lord Newby Portrait Lord Newby (LD)
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My Lords, I understand the Government’s position on dynamic alignment, but have they made an assessment of the cost to exporters of the additional controls and checks that will be required once we are no longer committed to such dynamic alignment?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
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We have not concluded the future relationship yet, so we do not know what impediments or otherwise there will be to free trade. Our aim and ambition is to make sure that there are as few impediments as possible. We want unfettered access to EU markets, as indeed the EU will want access to our markets—that is the whole point of having the discussions. We will be seeking to secure an agreement without any tariffs or quotas and with as ambitious a relationship as possible, and I hope we will have the support of the Liberal Democrats in doing that.

European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill

Lord Callanan Excerpts
Consideration of Commons amendments & Ping Pong (Hansard): House of Lords & Ping Pong (Hansard)
Wednesday 22nd January 2020

(4 years, 3 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Moved by
Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
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That this House do not insist on its Amendment 1, to which the Commons have disagreed for their Reason 1A.

1A: Because it would involve a charge on public funds, and the Commons do not offer any further reason, trusting that this reason may be deemed sufficient.
Lord Callanan Portrait The Minister of State, Department for Exiting the European Union (Lord Callanan) (Con)
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My Lords, with the leave of the House I will speak also to Motions B to E.

We are at the end of what seems like a very long road. The final stages of this Bill represent something that many of us thought might never happen: Parliament passing the legislation necessary to implement a Brexit deal and finally to deliver on the 2016 referendum. It has been no mean feat, with nearly 40 hours of debate and over 100 amendments in this House in the past fortnight alone. Last night, I was able to give my thanks to officials, colleagues and friends across the House who have helped us to reach this point; let me thank them once again.

Of course, I know that many noble Lords on the Benches opposite are disappointed that the Commons has chosen to disagree with all of the amendments that noble Lords passed this week. However, I would like to reassure them that their expertise and contributions will continue to play a valuable role after Brexit. Following our exit, this House will see more legislation on a range of topics connected with our departure from the European Union, and in some cases it will be the first time in decades that the UK has legislated on some of these matters.

But today, the Motions before this House recommend that it should agree with the position that the elected House has taken this afternoon. As my right honourable friend the Secretary of State said earlier in the other place, the Government welcome and appreciate the rigorous scrutiny provided by this Chamber. He also set out in detail why the Government are unable to accept the amendments from this House. If noble Lords will indulge me, I will take a moment to touch on the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Dubs.

The Government have been clear that we remain committed to seeking an agreement with the EU for the family reunion of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and we have already written to the European Commission to commence negotiations. Furthermore, we have gone beyond the original amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Dubs, to provide a policy statement to Parliament within two months of the withdrawal agreement Bill’s passage into law. This demonstrates our commitment to report in a timely manner and guarantees Parliament the opportunity to provide more scrutiny. We hope, of course, to have completed those negotiations as soon as possible in order to minimise any disruption to unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. We will also continue to process family reunion cases referred before the end of the implementation period.

I hope that I can also reassure the noble Lord, Lord Dubs, on behalf of my noble friend Lady Williams, that Clause 37 of the Bill does not amend the definition of relatives under the 2018 Act. A relative means

“a spouse or civil partner of the child or any person with whom the child has a durable relationship that is similar to marriage or civil partnership, or … a parent, grandparent, uncle, aunt, brother or sister of the child”.

Finally, as we have already explained, primary legislation is not necessary to deliver our commitment on unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. I hope this reassures the noble Lord that we take his concerns seriously.

As I come to a close, I hope noble Lords will forgive me if I take just a brief moment of self-indulgence, as this may well be my last outing at the Dispatch Box as a DExEU Minister—unless, of course, the noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, has some more plans for PNQs again next week. It has certainly been quite a journey. When I took on this role, I knew it would be a challenge—not least as a leaver in a predominantly remain House. After, by my rough calculations, two government Bills, more than 20 debates, 49 Oral Questions, 10 Statements, four PNQs, 10 Urgent Questions and around 250 hours at this Dispatch Box, I can honestly say that I have enjoyed almost every minute of it. Given the tremendous expertise of this House—with many ex-senior Ministers, ex-MEPs, the author of Article 50 and ex-EU Permanent Representatives, to name but a few—the sheer quality of debate, political sparring and questioning is always second to none. I can only apologise if the quality of the answers is sometimes not to the same high standard. I am honoured to be part of this House, and I thank the Leader in particular for having given me the opportunity to play my part in delivering the result of the 2016 referendum and finally getting Brexit done. That is it—the end. I beg to move.

Lord Dubs Portrait Lord Dubs (Lab)
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My Lords, perhaps I ought to congratulate the Minister on his stamina, as he has described it so well, but also my colleagues on the Front Bench, who have shown similar stamina and persistence. I thank the Minister for the assurances he has given me regarding the amendment I sought to introduce on unaccompanied child refugees. I wonder if I could just nudge him a little further.

--- Later in debate ---
Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
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My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have contributed to the discussion. We have debated all these matters at great length and our positions are well known, so I will not try the patience of the House by repeating those arguments.

I restrict myself to two comments. First, I concur completely with all the statements that have been made about the noble Lord, Lord Dubs: we hold him in the highest regard. I know that my noble friend Lady Williams has listened very carefully to his comments and will certainly take them on board. Secondly, we thank the noble Lord, Lord Beith, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay, for their help and assistance on these controversial clauses. My noble and learned friend Lord Keen will, I am sure, want to take those discussions forward with them both when these matters return to this House, as they probably will in the future.

Motion A agreed.
Moved by
Motion B

European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill

Lord Callanan Excerpts
3rd reading & 3rd reading (Hansard): House of Lords & 3rd reading (Hansard)
Tuesday 21st January 2020

(4 years, 3 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Moved by
Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
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That the Bill do now pass.

Lord Callanan Portrait The Minister of State, Department for Exiting the European Union (Lord Callanan) (Con)
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My Lords, in moving this Motion, I hope that the House will forgive me if I say a few words. I am delighted to say that we are now in the final stretch of our withdrawal from the European Union. Over the past days and weeks, your Lordships have debated the merits of the Bill and I thank the vast majority who have engaged so constructively in this process. It is a testament to the importance of what we do and the experience and expertise that noble Lords have to offer.

I particularly thank my colleagues on the Front Bench—in particular, the Leader of the House and the Chief Whip for their unstinting support, generally—and I thank all my ministerial colleagues. Perhaps I may be impolite and single out two in particular who have done a sterling job: my noble and learned friend Lord Keen and my noble friend Lady Williams, whose support, guidance and efforts in this House have been unstinting. Many other colleagues have helped as well.

I also pay tribute to my opposition counterparts, the two formidable noble Baronesses, Lady Ludford and Lady Hayter. They have worked so hard and kept us on our toes throughout the Bill’s progress.

I also note in particular the valuable work of the Select Committees of this House, so ably chaired by the noble Lord, Lord Blencathra, the noble Earl, Lord Kinnoull, and the noble Baroness, Lady Taylor. As I noted during my Second Reading speech, their scrutiny and insight are most valuable, and their ability to report on the Bill so quickly in order to aid debate is to be commended.

Finally, I pay tribute to those working in my private office—to Bianca Russo and Joe Moore, who have generally exceeded all their hours, even in excess of what the working time directive would permit them to do. I pay tribute, too, to officials across government who have worked tirelessly on the Bill for many months and years, particularly the Bill managers, Oliver Ilott and Hugo Gillibrand. Personally, I particularly thank the government lawyers who have patiently briefed me on everything from glossing, which apparently has nothing to do with paint, to consequential amendments and all the legal technicalities in between.

I would like to take a moment to note that we are disappointed that the devolved legislatures have not consented to those parts of the Bill for which we sought their consent. I want to be clear that the Government recognise the significance of proceeding with the Bill without the consent of those legislatures. Nevertheless, we find ourselves in exceptional circumstances. The Bill must proceed so that we can deliver on the referendum result and leave the EU at the end of the month with a deal in place. However, I want to make it clear that we will continue to uphold and abide by the spirit of the Sewel convention. As I made clear earlier today, I look forward to continuing to work with the devolved Administrations and the legislatures on future legislation.

Tomorrow the other place will consider the amendments made in our House. It is, of course, your Lordships’ right and duty to rigorously scrutinise legislation, to hold the Government to account and, if necessary, to ask the other place to think again when noble Lords believe that is appropriate. However, I take this opportunity to remind noble Lords that we received a clear message from the elected House on 9 January. We have had important debates, noble Lords have made their views known and we must now see what the elected House thinks of those amendments. All noble Lords must bear this in mind that, as we prepare to leave the EU on 31 January, and deliver the Brexit that the people voted for. I beg to move.

Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town Portrait Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town (Lab)
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My Lords, this is a time for both thanks and regrets. Both are heartfelt and serious. We have a lot for which to thank the Ministers—all five of them, I think—as well as their Whips. They have kept to their script, given us no surprises and worked with courtesy and information to enable the process to proceed smoothly.

The Bill team has performed above and beyond normal expectations. Second Reading and three days in Committee in one week, and two consecutive days on Report, is not what they are taught when they go to the “managing a Bill” lecture. We thank them.

On our side, the team has been stellar. It includes my noble friends Lord Tunnicliffe—near silent but businesslike—Lord McNicol, Lord Murphy, Lord Bassam, Lady Smith, Lady Thornton and Lady Jones and my noble and learned friend Lord Goldsmith, with, as ever, Dan Stevens and Ben Coffman behind the scenes. They are a magnificent troop.

However, our regrets are also sincere. Despite the arguments set out across the House, not simply on these Benches, the Government have turned a deaf ear to improvements to the processes in the Bill; to safeguarding the independence of the courts; to pleas for reassurance from EU citizens; to requests from the devolved authorities—we have heard the results of not listening there; and, indeed, to the needs of refugee children. And now we hear that the Government will use their majority to overturn all four of our reasonable, and reasoned, amendments.

We do not lay that on the Ministers in this House but on their masters—or perhaps even their servant—elsewhere. For the moment, as Ed Murrow would say, “Good night, and good luck.”

European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill

Lord Callanan Excerpts
Report: 2nd sitting (Hansard - continued) & Report stage & Report: 2nd sitting (Hansard - continued): House of Lords
Tuesday 21st January 2020

(4 years, 3 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Howarth of Newport Portrait Lord Howarth of Newport (Lab)
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My Lords, this amendment proposes that we should not regress from the existing EU-derived rights and practices in relation to the protected matters specified in the amendment. I see no difficulty in principle about that. There may be much merit in it in terms of continuity of public policy and of reassuring the public that we will maintain the standards that have so far been established by the EU and continue to conform with them.

But it is surely essential that we retain the right to diverge. The noble Lord, Lord Howell, gave some very important reasons for this. The world is changing, and our country and economy need to be alert to all the changes that will provide opportunity for us in the future, as we seek our fortune in a wider world. The eurozone economy is a relatively inert and sluggish region of the global economy. While much has been achieved and very important protections have been established for workers’ rights and environmental issues, as the noble Baroness has just mentioned, and we do not want to lose that acquis—those achievements and benefits—we have got to be flexible and be able to be innovative.

The essential principle of Brexit is that we take back control of our laws. It is an entirely reasonable proposition that this Parliament should legislate to perpetuate our conformance with certain particular laws that have already been enacted. It is a very different proposition that we should commit ourselves to the proverbial level playing field and the principle of non-divergence following the end of the implementation period. That is not what is envisaged in the amendment, but it seems to have been contemplated by a number of noble Lords in their speeches. If taking back control of our laws means anything, it means that we must reserve the right to diverge. Indeed, we will need to have the right to diverge even from what has already been established and achieved when it proves in some sense obsolescent, as new reasons and new horizons emerge for the kind of changes and developments that we would seek to achieve in our economy.

Lord Callanan Portrait The Minister of State, Department for Exiting the European Union (Lord Callanan) (Con)
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I thank all noble Lords who took part in this debate. I thank the noble and learned Lord, Lord Goldsmith, for so eloquently introducing the subject. The amendment is very much like proposed new Clause 31, tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Whitchurch, in Committee. I am grateful to the noble Baroness and the other noble Lords who took part in the debate on that amendment as well. Noble Lords will be completely unsurprised to discover that the Government’s position on this matter remains unchanged.

The amendment fundamentally mistakes the nature of the Bill before us. The amendment is about our domestic policy post exit in a number of extremely important areas. However, by contrast, the Bill is about implementing the withdrawal agreement into domestic law. It is not about our post-exit domestic policy, important though that is. Therefore, we believe that the amendment is wholly inappropriate for this Bill. However, since the amendment has drawn us into a debate, even though it is beyond the scope and purpose of the Bill, it might be useful for me to reiterate how we will take decisions about issues such as environmental standards and other matters once we have left the EU.

As I set out in Committee, these matters were debated extensively during the passage of the 2018 EU withdrawal Act. I remember replying to that debate; I think that many of the same noble Lords who contributed today took part in that debate as well. Noble Lords will remember that, back then, the concern raised was that the Section 8 power in that Act would be used to regress from EU standards. I reiterate that the Section 8 power can be used only for the purposes of correcting deficiencies that arise as a consequence of the UK’s withdrawal. That is what we said then, and I think that our record has proven that to be the case.

The 2018 Act does not provide a power to change laws simply because the Government did not like them before exit, and the Government cannot use the powers for the purposes of rolling back standards and protections merely because we wish to do so. Instead, where we seek to depart substantively from retained EU law, separate legislation will be brought forward, as indeed it already has been in certain areas. At that point, Parliament will, as normal, have its opportunity to scrutinise the Government’s actions. This would allow for tailored and intense scrutiny. I have no doubt whatever that this House and the other place will fulfil their duties in this regard with great vigour. Once again, I reiterate our view that these debates are for that future legislation.

In any case, I can reassure noble Lords that the Government have no plans to introduce legislation that would have a regressive effect. We will not weaken protections in these areas when we leave the European Union; rather, we will maintain and enhance our already high standards.

We spoke at length in Committee about the Government’s record on the environment, chemicals, food standards and animal welfare. For the sake of clarity, I will again set out some of our commitments. First, the UK has a long and proud history with regard to the environment and it is of the utmost importance that this is maintained when we leave the EU. There are areas where we are already planning to go further than EU legislation permits, such as single-use plastics. The Government will shortly be introducing the environment Bill, which we promised during the 2018 debates. It will strengthen environmental protections and enshrine environmental principles in law.

I will take this opportunity to reply to the point made by my noble friend Lady McIntosh on the subject of sow stalls, a debate which I remember well from my time in the European Parliament. That is an example of the UK going beyond EU rules in the full knowledge of the likely consequences. We chose to go further. We may decide—I am not committing us—to go further on live animal exports and in other areas, enhancing what protections are currently provided under EU law. If we do, we should consider the consequences. However, as the noble Lord, Lord Howarth, correctly pointed out, the whole point of Brexit is to take back control. These are decisions which we can make for ourselves in this Parliament in future. We do not need an external power dictating what we do in these regards.

On employment rights, I reassure the noble and learned Lord, Lord Goldsmith, that we are committed to ensuring that workers’ rights are protected as the UK leaves the EU. We are legislating in areas where the EU is only just starting to catch up. It is the UK that has been shaping the agenda on tackling abuses in the gig economy, a point well made by my noble friend Lord Howell of Guildford. As we announced in the Queen’s Speech, we will be bringing forward legislation to continue delivering and building on the Good Work Plan. This will give workers in the UK the protections they need in a changing world of work. Much as I greatly enjoyed the entertaining vignette from the noble Lord, Lord Hendy, I remind him that in a number of these areas—including holiday pay and maternity pay—the UK already goes much further than EU minimum standards permit. That is something that we should be proud of, and it is something that we are going to build on.

I have set out the Government’s view that this amendment is not appropriate for this Bill. I have also, I hope, provided some reassurance about the Government’s intentions regarding some of the issues raised by the amendment. I will close by noting that the effect of the amendment is unclear. The proposed new clause before us makes government action with a “regressive effect” unlawful, but it leaves many of the key terms unworkably vague. It is somewhat surprising that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Goldsmith, does not appreciate the poor wording of the amendment. First, the failure to define “protected matters” makes the scope of the amendment unclear. Secondly, the uncertainties in the definition of a “regressive effect” would create a great deal of legal uncertainty. Perhaps he is hoping for some legal uncertainties, as they would provide more work for lawyers. That was a joke, by the way. “Regressive effect” is defined as an effect that

“reduces a minimum technical standard … or … weakens governance processes associated with that standard or protection.”

The meaning of a reduction or a weakening, in this context, is not at all straightforward. Making this regressive effect unlawful without a clear definition carries significant legal risks, and may restrict policy with a progressive design, as the Government may avoid making policy changes for fear of acting unlawfully. This could impede delivery of post-Brexit government policy intended to deliver improvements in these areas.

To give an example, the waste framework directive sets targets for preparing for reuse and recycling of waste to achieve the EU’s ambition to move to a circular economy. I think that we would all support that. The targets are set on weight, so the directive obliges member states to ensure that a minimum of 55% by weight of municipal waste is reused and recycled by 2025, 60% by 2030 and 65% by 2035. However, weight-based targets may not lead to the optimal environmental outcome. If the UK were to remove this target and replace it with a target set on a different metric—on carbon, for example—while the UK could have improved standards, we could still be held to have regressed on environmental protections, were this amendment to become law. This kind of legal uncertainty has been decried in other debates.

This Bill is the vehicle to implement the withdrawal agreement in domestic law; it is not to legislate for our post-exit domestic policy in these areas. That is for separate debates in separate fora. We will no doubt have them with great vigour, as we do in all these policy areas. The amendment is neither necessary nor appropriate for the Bill. The Bill will ensure that we move forward and focus on our domestic priorities. Noble Lords can already scrutinise any changes that regulations might make to retained EU law under the Section 8 power. As I said earlier, and say again for the benefit of clarity, the Government are committed to maintaining and enhancing our already high standards, including through legislation where appropriate. I hope, given the reassurances I have provided, that the noble and learned Lord is able to withdraw his amendment.

Baroness McIntosh of Pickering Portrait Baroness McIntosh of Pickering
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I followed my noble friend’s arguments closely and understood him to say that Section 8 can be used only to correct deficiencies following the EU withdrawal Bill. His summing up was comprehensive, but he did not respond to the potential obvious deficiencies in the audio-visual media services directive. This may not be the only directive that falls into this category, but it is a category that I banged on about ad nauseam during the first EU withdrawal Bill and it has still not been resolved. If my noble friend is not able to answer today, could he write and tell me, and everyone else who has spoken in this debate, what the legal position is? We have not implemented the directive, but we are now leaving the European Union and it becomes part of retained law, I would argue, in a very deficient way.

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
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If it becomes part of retained EU law before the end of the implementation period, it will be transferred into British law by snapshotting the procedure. I do not know the details of that directive, so I undertake to write to the noble Baroness about it.

Lord Goldsmith Portrait Lord Goldsmith
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I thank the Minister for his reply and thank all noble Lords who have taken part in this debate, particularly those—and it is the majority—who supported this amendment. I will just clear one or two matters out the way, from what the Minister said. The first is on the scope of the Bill. There was no problem including protections of this sort in the Bill before the election. It has been revised now, but I do not follow that point.

Secondly, he sees imperfections in the Bill. I have been in government too, and we always have the ability to improve amendments that have been tabled, the substance of which we agree with, to cure that problem. That is not the reason the Government are resisting this amendment. We all know that. The Government are resisting this amendment because they do not want, despite what has been said before, to be committed to non-regression. The point is about non-regression; the clue is in the title. It is about standards being lowered. Of course, they can be improved or changed, as long as, under this amendment, they are not reduced. That is the concern. For some reason—it appears to be ideological purity—the Government are not prepared to give that guarantee.

I was taken by the vignette—the play—of my noble friend Lord Hendy. I have heard him in court before, but it was the first time I have heard him in Parliament. He was as persuasive here as he is in court. But ideological purity risks damaging this country and the people in it. The point made by the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, is that the Government’s insistence on this divergence has caused damage already. We have given the Government the opportunity to give assurances about this. Everyone will read what the noble Lord said in Hansard very closely. We have given them the opportunity to give stronger assurances to the outside world and the workers in it, and the invitation was not accepted. If, as many think, the result will be damage to the country and the people within it, and the rights that people believed were going to be protected, we know at whose door the fault will lie.

I will not press the amendment because there is no point in doing so with the position that the Government are in in the other place. It is clear that they will not accept this proposal or anything like it, but we will continue to hold them to their warm words and will carefully define and interpret them to see how far they go. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

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Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town Portrait Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I know it is not normal for me to speak at this moment, but I thought the Minister might want to reflect on this: having heard and followed this debate, the Welsh parliament has just voted not to give consent to the Bill.

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
- Hansard - -

I thank all noble Lords who have contributed to this debate. It is obvious that I have spent so long debating across this Chamber with the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, that she is now able to predict my replies to these questions, because the Government do feel that this amendment is an unnecessary restatement of the Sewel principles, which are already enshrined in statute. However, I accept the points made both by the noble Baroness and by the noble Lord, Lord Murphy, in Committee last week that it is not the justiciability of the Sewel convention that matters most in these cases. What matters is that the Government continue to uphold the Sewel convention and make sure that the interests of the devolved Administrations and of the people in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are fully taken account of as we leave the European Union. I am happy to make that commitment and demonstrate that we have done so in the passage of this Bill as well. I can reassure the noble Lord, Lord Bruce, and the noble Baroness, Lady Bryan, that the Government have engaged constructively with the devolved Administrations—and the Northern Ireland Civil Service when there was no Executive—throughout the development of this Bill. I am sure noble Lords will join me in welcoming the restoration of the institutions in Northern Ireland—we will now have an Assembly to engage with as well.

We have been discussing this Bill with the Scottish and Welsh Governments, as well as the Northern Ireland Civil Service, since July 2018 and we have incorporated suggestions from those Administrations into the White Paper. We discussed its contents with them in the following months. Following those discussions, the UK Government made significant changes to the Bill, including ensuring that devolved Ministers will have a clear role in the functioning of the independent monitoring authority that will monitor the citizens’ rights provisions in the Bill, restricting the powers in Clauses 18 and 19 from amending the devolution statutes and strictly limiting the number of provisions protected from modification by the devolved institutions to those of a constitutional nature.

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Lord Wallace of Saltaire Portrait Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD)
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My Lords, as unamended, the clause we are debating restates the principle of parliamentary sovereignty. Many of us considered that the devolution settlement had modified the Victorian concept of unitary sovereignty. In Committee, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Keen, went out of his way to reassert that AV Dicey’s views on parliamentary sovereignty—that the imperial Parliament is supreme and cannot share legislative power with other Assemblies—is what this clause means. Does the Minister not therefore recognise that the inclusion of this clause as it stands undermines the conventions established by the devolution settlement?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
- Hansard - -

I am not sure I want to get into an arcane legal debate with the noble Lord, my noble and learned friend Lord Keen and others. I do not accept what the noble Lord says; I do not think this undermines the settlement.

We will of course continue to seek legislative consent. We will continue to take on board views and will work with the devolved Administrations on future legislation, whether related to EU exit or otherwise, just as we always have.

Lord Kerr of Kinlochard Portrait Lord Kerr of Kinlochard
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

There was much wisdom from the noble Lord, Lord Griffiths of Burry Port. It would help the atmospherics a great deal if the Minister could reassure the Scots and the Welsh—I think the Northern Irish are reassured already—that they will be included in the United Kingdom team negotiating in the joint committee. I say that because I think it is right to try to improve the atmosphere and because, after all these years, the Lady Griffiths is entitled to a dinner out.

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
- Hansard - -

She is indeed. I hope that at some stage in the future the noble Lord, Lord Griffiths, will repeat the endeavour which failed last night. The noble Lord, Lord Kerr, made a good point. We have already started discussions with Scottish and Welsh Ministers, and I hope that those with Northern Ireland Ministers are to come. I was present at some of the discussions in London a couple of weeks ago. A frame- work was put in place for joint ministerial committees; one on EU negotiations and one on ongoing EU business, which I chair. We will develop those consultations as we go into the next phase, and we are working on proposals to involve them in future negotiations. We will, of course, take that point on board.

We understand the importance of preserving both the spirit and the letter of the devolution settlements and the principles of the Sewel convention as the UK exits the EU. In response to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Morris, I say that international relations are indeed a reserved matter. However, the devolved Administrations do have an important role in implementing these agreements. Any devolved provisions made under the Act will normally be made only with the agreement of the devolved Administrations and we will engage with them on this, as we have always done in the past. The Government are committed to upholding these principles, but this is not changed by restating them in the Bill. Given what I have said, and the reassurances that I have been able to give, I hope that the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw her amendment.

Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town Portrait Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the Minister, though I am obviously saddened by his response. My noble friend Lord Griffiths clearly abides by the conventions laid down by Lady Griffiths and we would do well to listen to the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, who said that we need to listen to what devolved areas are saying. The Government are not doing this: the devolved regions have come to us and said that they are not getting enough of a hearing. I will not repeat what all noble Lords said, but the comments are general. We need to give respect; we need to respect the convention which offers, as the noble Lord, Lord Bruce, said, “comfort and reassurance” and, in the words of my noble friend Lady Bryan, “confidence”. This is all about recognising the convention as part and parcel of our parliamentary system. It does not override parliamentary sovereignty; it is a part of the way we are. It is a terrible shame that the Government cannot see that this detracts nothing from the Bill, but I seek to add it to the Bill. I therefore beg leave to test the opinion of the House.

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Baroness Butler-Sloss Portrait Baroness Butler-Sloss
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My Lords, I have put my name to this amendment. A few days ago, we discussed Clauses 21 and 26, as referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Howarth, which people called a constitutional outrage. This is far, far worse. As a constitutional issue, Clause 41(1) takes the Government into realms which, in the years that I have been in this House, I have never seen before.

The noble Baroness, Lady Kramer, set out most of what I wanted to say, putting it rather better than I would have. There is not a great deal else to say, but if the Government are going to say, as I am sure they will, that they do not propose to use these powers, other than to a very limited extent, the short answer to that, speaking as a lawyer, is, “Why have them here?” Why put something so unbelievably wide, which could apply to any law enacted in the past until the end of this year, into the withdrawal Bill if they do not intend to use it?

As the noble Lord, Lord Howarth, said, it is not his—or my—intention to get rid of this objectionable clause but purely to alleviate it, so that if the Government require to make such provision in consequence of the Bill, at least we can look at it. If the Commons can get over its majority of 80, it could look more critically at the legislation to see whether it is really what is wanted and look, with the affirmative resolution, at what is being offered by the Government. Therefore, I support the amendment. It needs to be brought forward to both this House and the other place, because this Clause 41 really is beyond belief.

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
- Hansard - -

My Lords, we have reached the final amendment. I thank the noble Lord, Lord Howarth, and the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, for their comments and for setting out their positions. I understand the concern of noble Lords about the parliamentary procedure attached to the consequential power in Clause 41. We have already noted these concerns; noble Lords in other debates have raised them and we all read closely the reports of the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee and the Constitution Committee. I addressed many of these points last week, when I spoke to the amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Tope. I hope today to provide similar reassurances to the noble Lord, Lord Howarth. I agree with so many of his points on EU withdrawal, although perhaps not this one.

As noble Lords are aware, consequential powers are standard provisions in legislation, even legislation of great constitutional significance, such as the Scotland Act. If noble Lords look at Schedule 5 to the Bill, they will see that we have already included many of the consequential amendments required as a result of the Act. However, we also believe that we need a power to make further consequential provisions to the statute book.

I am aware that the noble Lord, Lord Howarth, yesterday asked for assurance about why the consequential power in Clause 41 is subject to the negative procedure. I understand the noble Lord’s concern but reiterate that the power is limited to making amendments that are consequential to the contents of the Act. Its scope is very different from the powers discussed over the last 10 days by my noble friends Lady Williams and Lord Duncan, which will be used to implement the withdrawal agreement. It is in everyone’s interest that the statute book functions effectively. Moving the consequential provision to the affirmative procedure would frustrate the ability of departments to make the necessary consequential changes before exit day and could lead to legal uncertainty. I hope noble Lords agree with me that this is not the appropriate course of action.

This procedure is limited to giving Ministers the power to make regulations that are in consequence of the Act, like consequential powers in many other pieces of primary legislation. This power will be construed strictly by the courts. It can be used only to make amendments that are appropriate to legislation in consequence of something that the Act does. I am sure noble Lords agree that the use of the negative procedure does not prevent parliamentary scrutiny taking place. Members of this House will still have the opportunity to pray against regulations, should they consider them inappropriate, as is usual for regulations of this kind. I hope I have provided the necessary reassurances to the noble Lord and that, as a consequence, he is able to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Howarth of Newport Portrait Lord Howarth of Newport
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The noble Lord, Lord Callanan, has not provided me with the reassurance I seek. In my earlier remarks, I anticipated the arguments that he would offer about why we can be relaxed about these powers being taken and believe him when he says that the scope would be minimal. That is not the case. I am extremely grateful to the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, for speaking as a most distinguished lawyer. She encourages me, in my legal amateurism, to believe that I am on the right track. I think I am. I hope that, even overnight, the Minister may be willing to reflect further on this, and that the Government will accept the amendment. It would be in earnest to the magnanimity on the part of the Government that I venture to hope might manifest.

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
- Hansard - -

For the avoidance of doubt, this is not a matter that we will reflect on further. Therefore, if the noble Lord wishes to pursue his amendment, he needs to test the opinion of the House.

Lord Howarth of Newport Portrait Lord Howarth of Newport
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I also hoped that the Government might want to demonstrate their good intentions towards their future constitutional behaviour, but there it is; we cannot win every battle. Maybe, in the watches of the night, the Minister will repent and reconsider. On that basis, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill

Lord Callanan Excerpts
Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard continued) & Committee stage & Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard continued): House of Lords
Thursday 16th January 2020

(4 years, 3 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: HL Bill 16-III Third marshalled list for Committee - (15 Jan 2020)
Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town Portrait Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, the EEA relationship has been, and, indeed still is, one that suits its member states exceedingly well. It enables certain non-EU member states to take full advantage of their geographical proximity and their historical trading and cultural relations with the EU to the benefits of both sides of the various borders. It is a model, as we have heard, that our negotiators would do well to follow, not necessarily on the exact detail, which is, after all, tailor-made for the various parties, but in its aim: to retain the alignments that foster trade, and to build on our different natural resources, strengths, patterns of exchange, labour needs, service expertise and investment potential. The negotiations should build on those strengths, just as the EEA has managed to achieve. That, we think, would be to the benefit of the EU as well as ourselves.

Lord Callanan Portrait The Minister of State, Department for Exiting the European Union (Lord Callanan) (Con)
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My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who took part in the debate, but we have been very clear in the political declaration, and indeed in our election manifesto, on our vision for the UK’s future relationship with the EU, which is based on an ambitious free trade agreement.

As I always do, I enjoyed the contribution of the noble Baroness, Lady Quin. We share an interest in the north-east of England. She is an experienced former Minister, doing some aspects of the job that I do now, and I always listen very carefully to what she has to say because she speaks a great deal of sense. She asked about the impact on the north-east of England, something I am of course very interested in. The answer will depend on the future trading arrangements that we negotiate, so I say: come back and ask me again at the end of this year. We have been very clear that we want an ambitious free trade agreement. We want trade to be as free as possible and we will be negotiating hard to bring that happy state of affairs about.

The election has clearly shown, in my view, that the public support the vision that we put forward. It was extensively debated in the election campaign and we won our majority on that basis. To answer the question of the noble Lord, Lord Lea, directly, I say that it is only by leaving the single market that the UK will be able to obtain an ambitious free trade agreement and to strike new trade deals with new and existing global partners. Attempts to remain in the EEA agreement beyond exit is by no means a simple as many noble Lords would have us believe. The EEA is an arrangement that exists at the moment between the EU and a number of EFTA countries—

Lord Lea of Crondall Portrait Lord Lea of Crondall
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I emphasise for the third time that this amendment is not about rejoining or staying in: it is, as my noble friend Lady Quin said, about alignment. Indeed, it is, if I may use the phrase, shadowing some of the rules that we have at the moment. Will the Minister comment on the fact that he has said many times that we are beginning from alignment? Why leave alignment, as a theological requirement?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
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I do not think that I said that. However, the noble Lord is right—although I did not say it on this occasion—that of course we are starting from a position of alignment. I do not have his amendment in front of me, but I think it refers to the EEA: it is the purpose of the amendment he has tabled, which is why I was exploring the issue.

The point I was going to go on to make is that the EEA is an agreement between the European Union member states and a number of EFTA states, and it is not open to the UK just to be able to join that agreement. We will leave it when we leave the EU part of that agreement, but the EU would almost certainly want to renegotiate it, because it was never designed for a country the size of the UK. That is if we did want to join it, but as I will shortly set out, I do not think it is desirable that we should. It is not a simple case, even if we wanted to, of happily trotting off and joining the EEA agreement: there are a number of other countries which are in at the moment that would no doubt have some observations on that.

My point is that attempts to remain in the EEA agreement beyond exit would not deliver control of our borders or our laws—two of the main three pillars of our argument for why we need to leave the EU. On borders, it would mean having to continue to accept all four freedoms of the single market—I take the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Lea, that we could perhaps pick and choose which ones we wanted to abide by or align with, but I suspect that the EU might have something to say about that. However, we would of course have to accept free movement of people. On laws, it would mean that we would have to implement all new EU legislation—as the noble Baroness, Lady Quin, said, we would be rule-takers. The noble Baroness was not in her place last night, but I quoted Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, who said how dangerous it would be, as we seek to manage one of the largest and most complex financial markets in the world, to turn ourselves into rule-takers, whereby the rules were set by another jurisdiction. Despite Mark Carney’s views on EU exit, which are well known, he made it clear that he thinks that it would be an unacceptable state of affairs for us to proceed with. It would mean that the UK would have to implement all new EU legislation for the whole of the economy, including services, digital and financial services.

We do not believe that that would deliver on the British people’s desire as expressed in the referendum to have more direct control over decisions that affect their daily lives. Rules would be set in the EU that we would then have to abide by. The public want the Government to get on with negotiating this future relationship, which was set out in the political declaration, without any further unnecessary hurdles, and that is what the Government will do.

Baroness Quin Portrait Baroness Quin
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am listening carefully to what the Minister says, but he is responding to something that the amendment does not say. It does not say “rejoin” or “join” EFTA or the EEA but simply that we should have a look at what is happening in that process and look at areas where we would want to align with it.

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
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The amendment refers to the EEA, and the noble Lord, Lord Lea, indicated earlier that he would be in favour of joining it, so I was making the arguments against that. However, we have also explored the arguments on alignment at different times in the past, and it may well be as a result of the negotiations that there are some areas of EU legislation that we may wish to align with or put in place an equivalence procedure. That is all for the future negotiations.

As we have said on many other amendments, we do not believe that it is a sensible tactic to set out our negotiating objectives in statute, or that setting a negotiating objective along the lines of that advocated in the amendment would be what the public voted for in the general election or in the original EU referendum. Our manifesto at the election was explicit about the Government’s intention and determination to keep the UK out of the single market. On that basis, although I suspect that I have probably not satisfied the noble Lord, I hope that he will feel able to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Lea of Crondall Portrait Lord Lea of Crondall
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the Minister for that reply, although I think that whoever wrote his speech had not read the terms of the amendment. Over the course of the next four years, even if the Government do not want to set out a blueprint—

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
- Hansard - -

I have a copy of the amendment and it says:

“aligns as closely as possible with EEA member status”.

Lord Lea of Crondall Portrait Lord Lea of Crondall
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

To align is something that we can do unilaterally or with agreement, but the amendment does not say “join”. I am sorry—I am not trying to be pedantic; we both know where we are, but that is what the amendment says.

To conclude, I hope that the Minister and the Government will generally reflect on the fact that, if they want to get Brexit real rather than just saying “Get Brexit done” as a slogan, they will have to see how a framework can be approached which will have certain common principles that will then be understood by the President of the European Commission. At the moment, she is baffled about whether the Government know what they are doing when they say that we can get all these things done one by one—scores of them all done and dusted by the end of this year. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

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I hope the Minister will say, “Actually, we could look at this again.” We have not heard that phrase often in the last few days, but I plead with the Government. This is such a silly thing to do and flies in the face of all protestations of the importance of the role of Parliament in this regard.
Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
- Hansard - -

I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, and the noble Lord, Lord Tyler, for their opening statements on the amendments in this group. Of course, I well remember the many debates that we had during the passage of the 2018 Act on the extremely important subject of delegated powers. It is of great interest to us. I do not think the other place took as much interest in it, but it is nevertheless an important subject and I am grateful to both the noble Baroness and the noble Lord for raising it.

I will say at the start that the Government have read with care the reports of the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee and, of course, the Constitution Committee, which were referred to. I am also grateful, as I said in my opening at Second Reading, for their contribution to the exit process to date.

I will speak first to the amendments of the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter. I note that they are co-signed by the noble Lord, Lord Blencathra, who is not in his place. He is a signatory to these amendments and an extremely distinguished chair of the committee. A number of Members here are, of course, veterans of the debate that we had during the passage of the EU withdrawal Act about the introduction of a sifting mechanism into the Act. I agree that the sifting mechanism introduced then was a contribution to the unique set of circumstances in which we found ourselves as a consequence of that Act. I will argue today that the circumstances in which we find ourselves now are very different from those of the 2018 Act.

The first point, of course, is that the volume of statutory instruments that we will make under this Bill will be significantly less than those made under the 2018 Act. I suspect that this comes as a significant relief to many noble Lords. Secondly, the powers themselves are much narrower and more specific in nature. The DPRRC report itself acknowledged that:

“The scope of each power is … naturally constrained by the scope of the … matter contained in the Agreements that it is intended to address.”


Even more importantly, we have set out the procedure to be used when exercising the powers in this Bill. Ministers do not have the discretion that was afforded to them in the 2018 Act regarding the procedure attached to the use of the powers in this Bill. The argument then was that we needed a sifting mechanism because of the wide discretion given to Ministers to select the appropriate procedure. We do not have that procedure in the way this is drafted. As Members have observed, the general approach that we have taken is that the affirmative procedure will apply when the powers in the Bill are exercised so as to modify primary legislation—the so-called Henry VIII power—or retained direct principal EU legislation; the affirmative procedure will always apply in those circumstances.

Where the negative procedure applies, Members of the House may scrutinise the regulations and may, of course, pray against them should they wish to do so, as is usual for regulations of this kind. The sifting mechanism that was inserted in the 2018 Act worked very well. It was a unique response to a unique Bill. There were always going to be a huge amount of SIs introduced. There was much less certainty at the time about how they would be used, and a considerable amount of ministerial discretion on the procedure to be used. I submit to the House that none of those conditions applies to this withdrawal agreement Bill. I hope I have explained why the procedures for the powers in this Bill are of a different nature to those in the withdrawal Act and why the Government therefore cannot accept these amendments.

I turn to Amendment 66A, tabled in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Tope. As noble Lords are aware, consequential powers are standard provisions in legislation—even legislation of great constitutional importance, such as the Constitutional Reform Act or the devolution statutes. The Bill already includes many consequential amendments at Schedule 5, but we also need to take a power to make further consequential provisions to the statute book. Again, this power is limited to making amendments consequential to the contents of the Act itself and. like consequential powers in other primary legislation, this power will be construed strictly by the courts. It is in everyone’s interest that the statute book functions effectively.

Lord Tyler Portrait Lord Tyler
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Is the Minister really saying that Clause 41(1) is so limited in that way? Perhaps I may read it to him again:

“A Minister of the Crown may by regulations make such provision as the Minister considers appropriate in consequence of this Act.”


That is very widely drawn. If, as he said just now, there are fewer orders in prospect, that makes it all the more important that, with something as important as this, the recommendations of the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee and the Constitution Committee be taken into account. I cannot see that his argument stands up.

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
- Hansard - -

The clause that the noble Lord quoted comes under the consequential provisions. As I just said, the consequential power is construed strictly by the courts. I am advised by departmental lawyers that there is an extremely narrow focus; they are amendments that can be made only as a direct consequence of the Bill when it is enacted. I do not think that it in any way provides leeway for a Minister to make things up on the spur of the moment and amend primary legislation. The powers are very strictly constrained to consequential amendments, and this is not an unusual provision. It exists in many other Acts, including those I quoted earlier. We believe that moving the consequential provision to the affirmative procedure would frustrate the ability of departments to make consequential changes before exit day.

As I said also on the other amendments, I am sure that the noble Lord will agree that the use of the negative procedure does not prevent parliamentary scrutiny taking place. Members will still have the opportunity to pray against regulations should they consider it appropriate—and, as I said, there are the restrictions on the use of that power that I mentioned earlier.

I hope that, with the reassurances I have given noble Lords and a fuller explanation of the powers we propose to take, the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw her amendment.

Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town Portrait Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Let it never be said that we think the Minister would make up something on the spur of the moment.

I have only two things to say. First, I am sure that both our Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee and our Constitution Committee considered the points that the Minister has just made and nevertheless recommended a sifting procedure, but be that as it may. Secondly—this does not actually affect these particular amendments, because we are talking about the negative procedure here—the Minister said that there would be fewer SIs under this Bill. He also said that it has “narrower powers.” I do not think our noble and learned Members who spoke the other day would see the power it gave, albeit of the affirmative, to Ministers to alter the way ECJ rulings are heard as a “narrow power.” But that, as I say, is not covered by this, although some of the powers in the Bill are rather large.

However, the point the Minister makes about the ability to pray against negative draft orders is significant. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill

Lord Callanan Excerpts
Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard continued) & Committee stage & Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard continued): House of Lords
Wednesday 15th January 2020

(4 years, 3 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: HL Bill 16-III Third marshalled list for Committee - (15 Jan 2020)
Lord Tunnicliffe Portrait Lord Tunnicliffe (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, Clauses 27(2)(c) and 27(6) of the Bill amend Section 8 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 to expand the definition of deficiencies in retained EU law and to include deficiencies arising from the end of the implementation period. In its interim report on the first version of the WAB, your Lordships’ House’s Constitution Committee expressed concern that the power to expand the definition of deficiency was “vague” and could insert “potentially important new categories” without any real justification.

During the passage of the 2018 Act, we were repeatedly assured that there was nothing to worry about in relation to these powers, as they would cease to operate on exit day. However, we are now told that the power needs to be extended to address deficiencies arising from the implementation period. Given that we had an estimate of the total number of SIs to be made under the 2018 Act, can the Minister provide an estimate of how many would arise as a result of extending this power?

The Hansard Society and others very helpfully tracked the Government’s use of Section 8 powers during the withdrawal negotiations and the results were not promising, with many SIs tabled late in the process and some even having to be withdrawn and retabled as they contained their very own deficiencies. In the light of the Government’s record, is the proposed extension of the Section 8 powers simply a case of Ministers trying to buy more time for work that should have been done already? What guarantee is there that extending the Section 8 powers will not occur every other year?

Lord Callanan Portrait The Minister of State, Department for Exiting the European Union (Lord Callanan) (Con)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, I thank the noble Baronesses, Lady Ludford and Lady Hayter, for their amendments and the noble Lord for his contribution to the debate. I also express my thanks to the Constitution Committee for providing what was an extremely thorough analysis of this Bill. I hope my response will provide reassurance to noble Lords about the purpose of these clauses; if the House will forgive me, I will go into quite a bit of detail on this.

As noble Lords will know, the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 was drafted without prejudice to the outcome of our negotiations with the EU. However, now that we have agreed a withdrawal agreement together with the implementation period, as the noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, observed, it is necessary to update that Act to ensure that it can still fulfil its intended purpose in light of the new circumstances.

The subsections to which the noble Baronesses have tabled their amendments are there to ensure that the power can continue to meet the broader goal, which was much discussed during our debates on the 2018 Act, if noble Lords remember, and on which there is a widespread measure of agreement across the House. It is simply to ensure that the law continues to operate correctly, as it was passed at the time. To provide the noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, with a specific example of the kind of thing to which we are referring, we will need to replace the previous deficiencies in the statutory instrument on telecoms, which will no longer work because EU-derived domestic legislation will have been amended during the implementation period to implement the new EU regulatory framework for electronic communications. That will be changed during the implementation period and we may well have to go back to the previous fix in order to update it and provide a functioning statute book at the end of the implementation period. That is why we need to extend that power.

Moving on to the specifics of Amendment 24, EU law will of course generally continue to apply in the UK during the implementation period. This Bill takes the approach of providing what are known as glosses for EU-derived domestic legislation, to clarify the way in which EU-related terms should be read so that our laws will continue to work during this period. Obviously, as a non-lawyer, the only “gloss” that I am familiar with is gloss paint, but for the benefit of the House, glossing is a technical device used to direct readers of the law to interpret specific phrases without textually amending the original provisions. Apparently, it is a fairly standard legal clause. When retained EU law is created at the end of the implementation period, the EU-derived domestic legislation will be the glossed version of that law. Subsection 2(c) ensures that the powers in Section 8 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 can be used to fix ambiguities which may arise as a result of the approach that we have taken to the saving and exceptions of retained EU law, such as the application of the glosses set out in Clause 2 of the Bill. In our view, it is right and appropriate that the Section 8 power is made available for this particular purpose.

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Lord Tunnicliffe Portrait Lord Tunnicliffe
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Could the Minister answer my question and assure us that there will be no further extension of the powers in Section 8?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
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We certainly have no current plans to extend it any further.

Baroness Ludford Portrait Baroness Ludford
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The Minister gave an example of telecoms legislation, which will change. Why can such deficiencies not be dealt with under the existing text of Section 8—namely

“any failure of retained EU law to operate effectively … or any other deficiency in retained EU law.”?

Why, in the example he gave, is Section 8, as it exists now in the 2018 Act, not adequate?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
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Of course it may be possible to continue to use that power but until we see how the legislation works out—how it is introduced during the implementation period—we will not know that exactly. We therefore think it appropriate to extend the sunset period, et cetera, to give us the new powers to correct upcoming or future legislation that may be introduced during the implementation period.

Baroness Ludford Portrait Baroness Ludford
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I was not talking about the length of the time of the powers but about extending the scope. Amendments 24 and 26 are relevant to the provisions that would insert new subsections (2)(ea) and (9), which widen the criteria for finding a deficiency. If there were a change in telecoms legislation, the existing Section 8 in the 2018 Act seems perfectly adequate because the Government could say that there is a failure of retained EU law to operate effectively, because telecoms legislation has changed. That is enough. We do not need the new, widened scope to find a deficiency.

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
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It is certainly the view of our legal advisers that we would potentially need the new, widened powers to be able to do that, but I can write to the noble Baroness with further details of why it is necessary.

Baroness Ludford Portrait Baroness Ludford
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I have probably made it fairly clear that I do not find the Minister’s assurances terribly convincing, and I look forward to his letter. Perhaps the legal advisers can explain to him why it would be necessary in my example. Our Constitution Committee has consistently warned us against wide powers in this area—things where there could be mission creep outside technical corrections to policy changes. I think its alarm bells are flashing on this, which is pretty convincing to me. The Government giving themselves a power to correct deficiencies because something

“is not clear in its effect”

and has something to do with

“any aspect of that withdrawal”

is pretty wide in scope.

I have to confess that I have not been reassured or convinced by this short exchange, but that is probably all I will get until we see further information. I beg leave to withdraw Amendment 24.

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unless a statement of objectives has been made and the Motion relating to that statement has been approved by resolutions of the various devolved Parliaments, including the Scottish Parliament. I just wonder whether that is wise.
Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
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Amendments 27 and 28 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, and Amendment 40 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Wigley, would all introduce new clauses with a similar purpose. They seek to create statutory roles for Parliament, the devolved Administrations and the devolved legislature in overseeing the future relationship negotiations. It is the view of the Government that the general election has shown that the public support the vision of the political declaration for a comprehensive and ambitious free trade agreement with the EU, and indeed this gives us the mandate to begin negotiations.

As this House will be aware, under the Royal Prerogative the negotiation and making of international trade agreements is a function of the Executive, as indeed in the EU it is a function of the European Commission, a point well emphasised by the noble Lord, Lord Howarth. This enables the UK to speak with a single voice in negotiations and ensures—

Lord Bowness Portrait Lord Bowness
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Just in the interests of clarity, is it not true that the European Commission acts on a mandate from the Council—that is, the elected heads of government?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
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Yes, it is. I am not quite sure what point the noble Lord is making. It usually acts on a mandate although it is not clear to what extent or what detail will be provided in that mandate.

Lord Hannay of Chiswick Portrait Lord Hannay of Chiswick
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If I can help the Minister, the point that my friend the noble Lord, Lord Bowness, was making is that the Minister said it was in the hands of the Commission. He has now said that it is in the hands of the Council, which is correct.

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
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As the noble Lord is well aware, it is the role of the Commission to do the negotiating. It will report back to the Council and the Council will provide steers on how it will do that, but the detailed negotiation is a matter for the European Commission.

Lord Liddle Portrait Lord Liddle
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There is a meeting every fortnight of officials from member states that monitors what the European Commission is doing.

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
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There is not a direct analogy between the position of the UK and that of the EU. The UK is one member state and the EU is 28—shortly to become 27—member states. My point is that this enables the UK to speak with a single voice in negotiations and ensures that partners can have faith that the Government’s position is the position of the United Kingdom.

It goes without saying that the Government will of course support Parliament in fulfilling its important role in scrutinising the actions of the UK Government in the negotiations. Both Houses will have all the usual arrangements for scrutinising the actions of the Government. I find incredible the statements that have been made about how little a role Parliament will have to play in these negotiations. This House alone has spent over 650 hours on debates on EU-exit-related themes since the 2016 referendum—believe me, from my point of view sitting on the Front Benches, it has sometimes seemed even longer. I find it difficult to believe that noble Lords will not want to question and interrogate me or whichever other Minister is in my place at the time on these negotiations. Indeed, committees of this House have already published three reports on this Bill after fewer than 10 sitting days of this Session.

Let me address the points made by the noble Earl, Lord Kinnoull, and the noble Lord, Lord Liddle, on the role of the European Parliament and the famous Article 218. The noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, is sadly not in her place but we have served in the European Parliament and know the reality of these matters. It is important not to draw unhelpful comparisons between the Commission which, as I said, negotiates on behalf of the 27 member states, and the UK Government on how negotiations are conducted. The information provided by the Commission to the European Parliament is carefully calibrated to not put the EU at a disadvantage in the negotiations. The detail of what information shall be provided to the Parliament is left entirely to the discretion of the European Commission.

The European Parliament will, as this Parliament often does, try to insert itself into the negotiations and want to influence their conduct through its various committees and organs. That is entirely right. It happens in the European Union and I suspect it will happen in this country as well. However, we need to be careful not to overstate what Article 218 does. It is not specific on reporting requirements and that compares very well with the Prime Minister’s commitment to keep Parliament fully informed about the progress of these negotiations. Article 218 does not specify what documents will be available or when.

Of course, it also bears saying that this Bill is not the final word on engagement between Parliament and the Government. As I indicated to the noble Earl, Lord Kinnoull, when we met and as I have said a number of times, the Government will want to start a process of discussions with Parliament into exactly how the various committees and organs in both Houses will scrutinise the work of the Government in this area. In our view, there is no need to set out bespoke statutory reporting requirements in the Bill or impose a statutory duty on a Minister to provide public commentary on the likely outcome of confidential negotiations at a fixed point, as was proposed in Amendment 28. In our view, this risks seriously disadvantaging negotiators acting for the United Kingdom.

I also note that setting out requirements of this type in legislation might well not have the desired effect, as an attempt to pre-empt outcomes and timings can be easily overtaken by events. Let me give the House an example. Last week, I delivered an update in this House on the Government’s negotiations and on Article 50, as required by Section 13 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 and the Benn Act which many Members in this House spent many hours telling us was essential. For that debate, which took place at 10.30 in the evening, virtually the only people in the House to debate these matters were myself and the noble Baronesses, Lady Ludford and Lady Hayter. Many of the Members who insisted on passing the Benn Act and introducing these statutory reporting requirements did not trouble themselves to come along and take advantage of the legislation they had passed. There were only three speakers in that debate, myself and the two noble Baronesses.

Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town Portrait Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town
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Does the Minister agree that he did not actually cover the negotiations but covered only why that requirement was no longer needed? He did not touch on the negotiations at all.

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
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The noble Baroness makes my point very well. The reason why I did not was because there had been no further negotiations since that legislation was passed. There was nothing to update the House on. It illustrates the point that it is bad legislation, and bad to set out these precise timetables in legislation. There needs to be flexibility on behalf of the Government and of course on behalf of Parliament. Of course, the changes to domestic law required by the future relationship treaty will require legislation for their implementation. This will mean, of course, that Parliament will have its say, just as it is having its say on this Bill and on the amendments. It should be noted that the key powers provided by these clauses would be given to the House of Commons. Last Wednesday, MPs rejected a similar power in an amendment in Committee by 344 votes to 255. Noble Lords are welcome to ask the other place to think again about what powers it should have, but I am confident of what its response will be.

Earl of Kinnoull Portrait The Earl of Kinnoull
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I am sorry to interrupt the Minister. I should have said a big “thank you” for the time he spent with me on this topic in his cosy office. I am afraid that there will be a bit more time spent as well. I was very keen that he cover two things. First, he covered his view of Article 218, but he did not go at all into the interinstitutional agreement, which really expands, quite dramatically—I read it out—on what the European Parliament receives automatically. It is not having to ask for it—it receives it automatically, which is quite a big difference. Nor did he comment at all on what David Davis had said to us about parity of information, which is a different point in fact than that made by the amendment. I was really asking the Minister to comment about whether the parity of information pledge made by the then Secretary of State in the summer of 2016 was still current.

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
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I did not cover that specifically. The noble Lord quoted the document—I have it in front of me—and it refers to the Commission providing early and clear information to Parliament. It is not specific on what information exactly should be provided and at what stages; its very nature is that of an interinstitutional agreement attempting to cover a whole range of different scenarios. My point is valid: the Commission controls what information is provided and when. With regard to his other point, the pledge still holds, essentially. The Government are committed—the Prime Minister said it—to provide as much information as is possible to Parliament to enable it to provide its proper scrutiny, without conflicting with the necessity to conduct a lot of these negotiations in confidence as we do not wish to prejudice our negotiating position.

I know the noble Lord, Lord Wigley, will be very keen to hear my point about the devolved Administrations. We are firmly of the view that it is the responsibility of the UK Government to negotiate on behalf of the United Kingdom. Nevertheless, we recognise the specific interests of the devolved Administrations in our negotiations with the EU and their responsibilities for implementing that legislation in devolved areas. We have been clear that the devolved Administrations should be closely involved in preparations for the negotiations, and will continue to engage with them extensively. Indeed, only last Thursday I attended the 21st meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee on EU Negotiations, where we had a constructive—as they say, full and frank—exchange of views with the Scottish and Welsh Governments and, at the time, the Northern Ireland Civil Service. Now that we have an Assembly up and running in Northern Ireland, I am sure it will want to contribute to these negotiations as well.

I chair one of the joint ministerial committees; I have been up to Scotland many times to take part in these sessions and my noble friend Lady Williams has also attended them. A number of UK Ministers go and there is regular dialogue with all the devolved Administrations, both on the negotiations and, up until now, on ongoing EU business. That will continue and we are looking at how that should develop and be taken forward when we are no longer an EU member state and we move on to the implementation phase. We are committed to ensuring that we have the best deal for all parts of the United Kingdom. The devolved Administrations are, of course, free to engage with their own respective devolved legislatures as part of this process, but the delay that would be caused by creating unnecessary powers of veto could, in our view, frustrate our ability to finish negotiations by the end of the year.

We believe that the Government have a mandate to begin the negotiations and there is no need to introduce additional hurdles or delays before those negotiations can begin. I hope the noble Baroness and the noble Lord, Lord Wigley, will therefore feel able not to press their amendments.

Lord Hannay of Chiswick Portrait Lord Hannay of Chiswick
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I think the Minister referred earlier to anything that is agreed being preceded by the CRaG process to ratify or conclude it. It is hard to believe that the sort of agreement the Government seek and which, as he rightly says, they have support for seeking will not include such matters. Does he not agree that if anything that is in an agreement includes changes to the UK’s domestic law, it will require primary legislation before it can be concluded? Can he just be clear on that?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
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I did not hear the first part of the question, but if the noble Lord was asking me whether I agreed that some parts of the agreement may well require domestic legislation to implement, the answer is yes.

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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
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I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Newby, the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, my noble friend Lord Hailsham and others who have contributed to this debate. I think the key point was made by noble friend Lord Bridges: the manifesto on which my party won the election that delivered a substantial majority for this Government was absolutely explicit in ruling out any extension to the implementation period. The general election has clearly shown that the public support that vision. I say gently to the noble Lord, Lord Newby, that his party put forward an alternative vision that was comprehensively rejected by the public. This clause implements that provision. It binds the Government to this commitment by enshrining in statute that Ministers may not agree to the extension of the implementation period beyond 2020.

I reassure noble Lords that in the withdrawal agreement both sides—we and the EU—have committed to using their “best endeavours” to negotiate a future partnership. Moreover, both the EU and the UK committed to agreeing a deal by the end of 2020 in the political declaration. It is worth quoting from paragraph 135, which says that,

“it is the clear intent of both Parties to develop in good faith agreements giving effect to this relationship and to begin the formal process of negotiations as soon as possible after the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the Union, such that they can come into force by the end of 2020.”

This clause provides both parties absolute clarity on the timetable for negotiations. This will help ensure that our negotiations can progress at pace and that we have our future relationship agreed by December 2020. It is in the interests of the UK and the EU to agree a deal that supports the flow of goods, the provision of services and business being done. That is what we are going to do.

In sum, this clause delivers on our manifesto commitment to the British public not to extend the implementation period beyond 2020.

Viscount Hailsham Portrait Viscount Hailsham
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Would my noble friend tell the House whether he thinks there are any negotiating advantages that flow from this clause?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
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It definitely concentrates the minds of both parties. As I said, it has been explicitly agreed in both the withdrawal agreement and the political declaration, as I have quoted, by us and the European Union.

It will ensure that we can move on with negotiating a future relationship with absolute clarity on the timetable. For this reason, the clause must stand part of the Bill. With regard to the questions of the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, about the EEA and the Scottish Law Society, I will write to her.

Baroness Butler-Sloss Portrait Baroness Butler-Sloss (CB)
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I am sorry to interrupt the Minister, but what has worried me in listening to this debate is what happens if there are impediments to negotiations from the other side which absolutely cannot be resolved by 31 December. Do the Government think that they may have to leave without a deal?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
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No. As I have just said, we very much hope that both sides will be able to reach an agreement. Both sides have committed to do so. I quoted the section in the political declaration whereby we and the EU have committed to getting the negotiations finalised and coming into force by the end of 2020.

Lord Newby Portrait Lord Newby
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My Lords, the Minister has in a sense just given the game away. They “hope” to reach an agreement. The Commission has said that it is impossible. The Prime Minister said yesterday that it was not inevitable. The key question which this amendment seeks to address is what happens if you cannot get to that point. When asked whether this could mean we leave without a deal, the Minister said no. So what happens if there is no deal? Is he accepting a bare-bones deal? I do not remember seeing that in the Conservative Party manifesto.

The Minister has done nothing to reassure me that there is anything in the Government’s approach that makes reaching a deal in this timetable even vaguely possible. In those circumstances, as I said in my speech, I do not believe that it is in the interests of anyone—neither economically nor in terms of the national interest, given the security and other issues covered by the political declaration—for the Government’s hands to be tied by law in this way. Therefore, I am wholly unpersuaded by the Minister. For today we will not put this issue to a vote, but we will return to it.

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Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle Portrait Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle
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My Lords, my noble friend Lady Jones was absolutely delighted to sign this amendment. I know that she, before I arrived in this House, did a great deal of work on many of the Bills referred to here. Your Lordships will all remember to some degree being a student at school, university or college, and that last-minute rush to write the essay. I am afraid that we have seen far too much of that kind of operation from the Government. Under normal conditions, the timetable here in this amendment would be a huge rush, but what we are saying is, “Let’s not have an even bigger rush than this provides.” These Bills have appeared in three Queen’s Speeches; surely they are oven-ready by now and we could have them very soon. They are going to be big meals that require lots of digestion. Please let us have a timetable that is clear, so people know where they are going.

My noble friend Lady Jones asked me to mention the latest reincarnation of the Environment Bill. We need to know when the environment enforcement body will be established. We have been told that it will happen as soon as possible; surely that has to be now.

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
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My Lords, I am grateful to the three speakers that we have had in this debate on Amendment 30: the noble Lord, Lord McNicol, the noble Baroness, Lady Bennett, and, briefly, the noble Lord, Lord Warner. I can be brief on this one. The procedures for introducing and scrutinising Bills are, of course, very well established, and those procedures are not without reason. All the Bills mentioned will be introduced with adequate time for scrutiny. To ask for so many Bills to be published in draft is unprecedented, as it is for the Government to commit to a statement on the amount of time each Bill might spend in Parliament. Let me reassure noble Lords directly, however, that this Government are committed to ensuring that all the necessary legislation is passed by the end of the implementation period.

As the noble Lord intimated in his speech, versions of the Bills covering many of the areas noted in his amendment have already been published in previous Parliaments and are publicly available for study. Others were mentioned in the Queen’s Speech. However, I am sure that the House can appreciate the tremendous amount of work being done to make sure that these Bills best achieve their policy aims. In some cases, this means that the Bills will differ slightly from the previous versions. I can assure the House that the Government are committed to proper scrutiny and that we will balance the need to have the necessary Bills in place by the end of the implementation period with adequate time for Parliament to scrutinise them.

I suspect that the noble Lord got the answer he was expecting, so I hope he will feel able to withdraw his amendment.

Lord McNicol of West Kilbride Portrait Lord McNicol of West Kilbride
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My Lords, I thank the noble Lords who have taken part in this very short debate, and I thank the Minister for his response. The reason for launching this is that we want to secure proper time for scrutiny, debate and discussion. The Trade Bill was my first Bill in this House. My noble friend Lord Stevenson and I put a lot of time and energy into that Bill and this House made some good, sensible changes to it. It would be a shame for that to go to waste. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

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Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle Portrait Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle
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My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Fox, used a few key words when he quoted from the respected committee. This is a regression. This is going backwards for the people of the United Kingdom. Far too often, this has been seen as an issue that concerns people from other parts of Europe coming here. We need to look at this the other way around, and far too little has been discussed about that. When this issue has been discussed, it has often been seen as an economic issue. The noble Lord, Lord Fox, made some powerful arguments about that. But the fact is that this is much more than an economic issue. The noble Lord, Lord Warner, made arguments about the NHS. Of course, we know that if you meet an EU citizen in the NHS, they are far more likely not to be in a queue with you seeking treatment but to be treating you.

I will focus very briefly on young people. There is a principle that young people should not have fewer freedoms and opportunities than their parents. They should be able to live, work and love wherever they want to be. It is a quality issue, because rich, wealthier young people from more privileged backgrounds will always have those options; it will be people from poorer and more disadvantaged backgrounds who will lose those options. The noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, talked about where we are going. What we are trying to do here—collectively, all of us—is to end up with the least worst Brexit, and the best possible mobility that we can have will ensure the least worst Brexit.

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
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My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Fox, for his amendment and for raising the important subject of a mobility framework. I also thank the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, the noble Lord, Lord Warner, my main interlocutors, the noble Baronesses, Lady Ludford and Lady Hayter, and the noble Baroness, Lady Bennett, for their contributions.

We are all aware that free movement of people between the EU and the UK will end as we leave the European Union. I am sure that noble Lords will appreciate—even if they do not necessarily agree—that seeking to mandate the Government to negotiate further free movement provisions goes against our entire approach. As we have previously announced, the Government will be introducing a new points-based immigration system built around the skills and talents that people have, not necessarily based just on where they are from.

I appreciate the desire to secure rights to travel, work, study and live in the EU in the future. We recognise the importance of mobility for economic, social and cultural co-operation, and we committed to agreeing the best deal for the whole of the United Kingdom. The political declaration that we have agreed sets out the aspects of mobility that the UK and the EU have committed to discussing in the future-relationship negotiations. These include: providing for visa-free travel for short-term stays; mobility for research, study, training and youth exchanges, and securing mobility for business purposes.

The noble Lord’s inclusion of the right to work across borders is well intentioned, but in our view unnecessary. The agreements that we have reached on citizens’ rights with the EU, EEA/EFTA countries and Switzerland protect the rights of these so-called frontier workers. These are UK nationals who are living in the UK or a member state but are working in another member state, or EU citizens living in the EU and working in the UK. That will take effect at the end of the implementation period.

For example, this will protect an individual who lives in London but works in Paris or Brussels, and vice versa. I hope that I have been able to reassure the noble Lord on this point. However, as we have argued in other amendments, in this situation it is not helpful for Parliament to set a negotiating objective for the Government in statute. This would limit the Government’s flexibility in negotiations and, as I said, the detail of future mobility arrangements with the EU is set out in the political declaration and will be discussed in the next phase of the negotiations.

The noble Baronesses, Lady Hayter and Lady Ludford, raised the important subject of the onward-movement rights of UK nationals in the EU. We recognised at the outset that this was a vital subject for those UK nationals who are living in the EU. I have to tell both noble Baronesses that we tried very hard to get it included in the negotiations, but the EU refused to discuss it in the withdrawal agreement and said that it was an issue to be discussed in the future relationship negotiations—so that is what we will do. I assure noble Lords that we tried very hard to get it included in the negotiations, and it was not for the lack of trying on our side that we were not able to conclude an agreement on that. On that basis, the details of future mobility arrangements will be subject to negotiations in the next phase of the talks.

I hope that I have been able to satisfy the noble Lord, Lord Fox, with my response to his amendment—although I suspect that I have not—and that he will feel able to withdraw it.

Lord Fox Portrait Lord Fox
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the Minister for his response. Frankly, I had not expected a great melding of minds. It is clear that from these Benches, and seemingly from all the other Benches, that we think the Government are wrong on this. The Government of course have a majority and therefore have the right to pursue their wrong-headed policies, but there will be many of us who will continue to remind them of, and take opportunities to change, that wrongness. As time unfolds and the Government begin to attempt to implement a complex points-based system, as they call it, they will find that they have neither the personnel nor the systems to do so quickly, and pretty soon they will find that we are accessing and bringing in at least as many people as we are now, if not more. Personally, I welcome that, but it stands against many of the things that the Government have said in the past. That said, I beg leave at this stage to withdraw the amendment.

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Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town Portrait Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town
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My Lords, I do not know about this talk of workers’ rights, but I started at 11 this morning, it is now nearly 10 pm and we are starting again at 11 tomorrow morning—sadly not being paid to be here; I am not a worker, so I cannot use the EU regulations. But that is rather beside the point. I am looking forward to the Minister’s “intellectual thoughts” as the noble Lord, Lord Fox, asked of him.

The Government’s aim is for a free trade agreement—“unfettered” trade—which, if we are not to undercut our competitors across the EU, is bound to involve a level playing field of regulations and state aid rules, as the noble Lord, Lord Fox, said. Michel Barnier has repeatedly stated that Boris Johnson’s ambition of a tariff-free, quota-free deal hinges on accepting this, and EU leaders suggest that level-playing-field commitments will be a precondition for the EU to conclude a free trade agreement. Emmanuel Macron has stated that

“the more ambitious the agreement, the more substantial the regulatory alignment”.

That does not mean all the same rules and institutions—we do not go along with that—but this is about the rules by which we can trade with the EU. Macron also said that a level playing field will make the negotiations “go pretty quickly”.

As we know, the Prime Minister keeps saying “Get Brexit done”, but this also means getting an FTA before the end of the year. If we do not uphold workers’, consumers’ and environmental rights, this will not help the Prime Minister to get his Brexit done. Appearing willing to undermine EU standards—and the Government are seen as undermining them—will immediately indicate to the EU that its companies may face unfair competition from ours. The Government’s deletion of the clauses upholding existing rights has already alarmed the EU and companies there, let alone our own workers and consumers.

Amendment 35 inserts the aims already set out in the political declaration—though of course they are not enforceable in that—where the Government agreed to

“maintain environmental, social and employment standards at the current high levels provided by the existing common standards.”

We are asking for this, from the political declaration, to be included in the Bill.

We have had 45 years of progressive integration of our employment rights and other standards alongside the EU. These regulations are good in themselves for the workers and consumers concerned and for the environment, but they are crucial for an open, fair and competitive continental market on whose growth and resilience all our well-being depends. Furthermore, as has been suggested, any future trade deal must incorporate these high levels of alignment and a level playing field with the EU in order to prevent an alternative vision—the deregulatory US deal—taking primacy over the EU deal. It sounds as though that it is something the noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard, would like, but we on this side of the House would not. Let us keep to the high standards that we have.

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
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My Lords, I first thank the noble Lord, Lord Fox, for so ably moving his amendment on the issue of close and dynamic alignment on single market rules. I have a sense of déjà vu, because we have of course discussed this subject many times, both during the passage of the previous EU withdrawal Bill and in many debates and Questions in this House. I will probably not surprise him with my answer but I will nevertheless plough ahead with it anyway.

It will, I am sure, not come as a shock to the noble Lord to find that the Government cannot support his proposed new clause in Amendment 35, for the reasons that I will set out. I will say, before that, that we want an ambitious future economic partnership with the EU, one that allows us to be in control of our own laws and benefit from trade with other countries around the world. Adopting his amendment would prevent that. We do not believe that dynamic alignment with future EU rules is in the best interests of this country. It is here in this Parliament, not in Brussels, where decisions should be taken over the laws that govern our country. That is the very essence of taking back control. This view is supported by many of the leading experts in the field, including the Governor of the Bank of England, who recently said in the Financial Times:

“It is not desirable at all to align our approaches, to tie our hands and to outsource regulation and effectively supervision of the world’s leading complex financial system to another jurisdiction.”

European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill

Lord Callanan Excerpts
2nd reading & 2nd reading (Hansard): House of Lords & 2nd reading (Hansard)
Monday 13th January 2020

(4 years, 3 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Moved by
Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
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That the Bill be now read a second time.

Lord Callanan Portrait The Minister of State, Department for Exiting the European Union (Lord Callanan) (Con)
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My Lords, it is indeed an honour to open today’s debate on a Bill of such historical significance and I am delighted that we have been able to secure our departure from the EU with a deal that gives certainty to businesses, protects the rights of citizens and ensures that we regain control of our money, our borders and our laws.

This Bill, which has passed its stages in the other place with a substantial majority, prepares our country to leave the EU at the end of this month by implementing the withdrawal agreement in domestic law and ensuring that the government can honour our international obligations. It also allows us to meet our commitments in the separation agreement we have concluded with EEA EFTA states and the agreement on citizens’ rights with Switzerland.

Before I turn to the Bill in more detail, I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the valuable work of the Select Committees of this House that have now re-formed. Their work throughout the EU exit process has been insightful and I look forward to engaging constructively with them during the passage of the Bill. I am also grateful to those Peers across the House who have already taken the opportunity to engage with myself and ministerial colleagues on this important legislation.

Part 1 of the Bill covers the implementation period. The withdrawal agreement sets out that during the implementation period EU law will generally continue to apply in the UK as it does in member states, thereby providing certainty to businesses and citizens as they will have to prepare for only one set of changes. The Bill will save and modify the legal effect of the European Communities Act 1972 for the duration of that period; it will preserve EU-derived domestic legislation and ensure that it continues to operate properly during the implementation period; and it provides a supplementary power to make any further technical modifications that may be needed.

The Bill prohibits an extension of the implementation period: it will end on 31 December 2020. With clarity on the timetable that we are working to, the UK and the EU will be able to progress negotiations and use the implementation period in order to secure the future relationship. This Government will work with the scrutiny committees in both houses to ensure appropriate parliamentary scrutiny of new EU law made or proposed during this period.

Part 2 gives the withdrawal agreement the same legal effect in UK law as it will have in EU law, as required by Article 4 of the withdrawal agreement. It means that individuals and businesses will be able to rely directly on the withdrawal agreement as a matter of domestic law. This is replicated for the EEA EFTA and Swiss separation agreements.

Citizens’ rights have been our greatest priority throughout the EU exit process. Giving legal effect to the agreements is a critical step in providing certainty to those who have chosen to make the UK their home. This Bill also takes a number of delegated powers to allow for changes to be made in relevant areas; for example, enabling the establishment of a permit system for frontier workers, providing for routes of appeal and ensuring that professional qualifications continue to be recognised and that social security co-ordination operates for those covered by the agreements. I reassure noble Lords that these powers are tied to the relevant articles of the agreements which they implement.

The Bill will also formally establish the independent monitoring authority which will oversee the rights of EU citizens and citizens of Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein who reside in the UK. This new UK-wide public body will be able to launch inquiries, receive complaints and bring legal action. It will be fully independent of government. The Bill requires that the IMA’s board must contain appropriate expertise on citizens’ rights in relation to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and the devolved Administrations will play a central role in appointing those board members.

The Bill also provides the mechanism to pay the negotiated financial settlement. This will take the form of a standing service provision until 31 March 2021. The majority of the remaining obligations will then be met through the annual supply process, bringing it in line with other government expenditure.

In addition, the Bill covers other separation issues. These provide clarity about what happens to processes and arrangements that are ongoing at the end of the implementation period. Many of the details give effect through the main provisions delivering the agreements in Clauses 5 and 6. However, technical changes will need to be made in certain scenarios. We have therefore taken a delegated power, limited to being able to implement Part 3 of the withdrawal agreement and the EEA EFTA agreement only, which ensures that, for example, our rulebook works for goods being placed on the market before the implementation period concludes.

The withdrawal agreement Bill will make provisions to deliver the protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland. The deal that the Government have negotiated with the EU protects the constitutional and economic integrity of the United Kingdom. It ensures that the whole United Kingdom leaves the EU customs union and that Northern Ireland remains in the UK customs territory. It also upholds the Belfast/Good Friday agreement. I know that the issue of the access of Northern Ireland goods to the rest of the UK is of great concern to many Members of this House and the other place. The protocol is clear that there is nothing in it which prevents the UK ensuring the unfettered access of Northern Ireland goods to the rest of the UK. Let me reassure the House that the Prime Minister’s commitments in this regard, as well as the commitments made in our manifesto, are clear and that the Government stand by them. Indeed, these commitments were reiterated in last week’s joint UK-Ireland publication New Decade, New Approach, which laid the foundation for the restoration of the Northern Ireland Executive over the weekend, something which I am sure noble Lords agree is a very positive event.

I would like to take a moment to focus on the powers in the Bill, and in doing so I thank the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee for its report. In particular, I am pleased that the Committee agrees with the Government’s use of the word “appropriate” rather than “necessary” in the construction of the powers. I seem to remember that this was a subject of much debate in this House during the passage of the withdrawal Act in 2018. In fact, I am reliably informed that it even sparked a fashion trend among our department’s lawyers who had tote bags produced bearing the word “necessary” on one side and “appropriate” on the other. Never let it be said that lawyers do not have a sense of humour.

The Government understand the remaining concerns around the use of delegated powers across the Bill and note the committee’s recommendation regarding a sifting mechanism. However, I hope that noble Lords will see that the circumstances are very different from those we found ourselves in with the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018.

First, the volume of statutory instruments made under this Bill will be significantly lower than that under the 2018 Act, meaning that there will be sufficient time for the normal scrutiny procedures to apply and for debates to be held, should noble Lords find them helpful.

Secondly, as the committee’s report recognises, the scope of each power is naturally constrained by the articles of the withdrawal agreement that it seeks to implement. For example, the power at Clause 7 can be used only in relation to setting the deadline for the grace period. The Government have also noted the concerns raised by the DPRRC about the clauses to implement the protocol. I understand noble Lords’ concerns but we are confident that our approach is the best way to ensure that the UK can fully implement the protocol and fulfil its international obligations.

The DPRRC has recommended that the consequential power at Clause 41 be moved to the affirmative procedure to enable Parliament to scrutinise any amendments to primary or retained direct principal EU legislation. However, I remind noble Lords that the negative resolution procedure does not prevent such scrutiny taking place and that Members will still have the opportunity to pray against such regulations, should they consider them inappropriate. Members can see examples of the kinds of consequential amendments that will be made to legislation in Part 1 of Schedule 5 to the Bill.

I should now like to focus on the question of legislative consent. The Bill touches on a number of areas of devolved competence, including important powers granted to the devolved Administrations to protect citizens’ rights. We have sought legislative consent from the devolved legislatures in Scotland and Wales for those areas, in line with the Sewel convention.

It is indeed disappointing that the Scottish Parliament has already refused its consent to the Bill, particularly as the vote took place even before the Bill had completed its Commons stages. I should note that the Scottish and Welsh Governments’ consideration of whether to recommend consent to this Bill turns not on the clauses for which we have sought legislative consent but on reserved matters. I reassure noble Lords that there has been substantial engagement with the Scottish and Welsh Governments before and throughout the legislative consent process, and we are committed to continuing to work collaboratively with all the devolved Administrations.

I turn to Clause 26 on the subject of historic CJEU case law, which I know has raised some interest, particularly among noble and learned Lords. We want to provide legal clarity. We have no intention of undermining the fundamental principles of hierarchy, precedent and judicial independence that are so central to our world-renowned legal system. Nor is this about giving the Government a permanent power to review this matter; the power will expire at the end of this year. My noble and learned friend Lord Keen is of course prepared to respond to any points raised on this subject when he closes the debate later.

I take this opportunity to reassure noble Lords—in particular, the noble Lord, Lord Dubs—that the Government are fully committed to the principle of family unity and to helping and supporting the most vulnerable children. Our policy on this has not changed. That is why the Bill places an obligation on the Government to lay a policy statement before Parliament in relation to a future arrangement between the UK and the EU regarding family reunion of unaccompanied children seeking international protection.

This country receives approximately 15% of all asylum claims from unaccompanied children in the EU, making the UK the third-highest intake country. The Bill does not change that. Our policy is unchanged, but the Bill removes a statutory requirement to negotiate. That is entirely appropriate because these negotiations have already been initiated. Clause 37 makes it clear that supporting the most vulnerable children remains of the utmost priority.

With approximately 80 contributors on the speakers’ list—although that has now come down to about 72—I will draw my remarks to a close. As always, my noble and learned friend Lord Keen is here and stands ready to address noble Lords’ contributions at the end of the debate. Passing this Bill will allow us to honour the result of the 2016 referendum, get Brexit done and focus on our other national priorities. I beg to move that the Bill now be read a second time.

European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 2) Act 2019

Lord Callanan Excerpts
Wednesday 8th January 2020

(4 years, 3 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Moved by
Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
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That this House, for the purposes of section 2(2)(b) of the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 2) Act 2019, takes note of the Report under section 2(1) of the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 2) Act 2019, published on 8 November 2019.

Lord Callanan Portrait The Minister of State, Department for Exiting the European Union (Lord Callanan) (Con)
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I will give noble Lords not entranced by the prospect of a further European Union debate at this time some more moments to leave the Chamber.

My Lords—I hesitate to use the plural—I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper. As this is my first appearance at the Dispatch Box since last term, I begin by wishing all noble Lords a very happy new year.

In moving these Motions today, the Government are meeting the legal obligations placed on them by Section 13 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 and the European Union Withdrawal (No. 2) Act 2019, or the Benn Act. For the benefit of the House, I will set out—briefly, given the late hour—how these obligations have arisen.

Noble Lords will no doubt recall that on 19 October last year, the other place considered a Motion seeking approval to leave the EU with the deal negotiated by the Prime Minister. An amendment was tabled to that Motion in the other place in the name of the then Member for West Dorset, which was subsequently passed. As a result of the amendment being passed, under the terms of Section 1(3) of the Benn Act the Government were required to seek an extension to the Article 50 period to 31 January. As a result of this extension being granted, the Benn Act then required the Government to publish a report by 30 November

“explaining what progress has been made in negotiations on the United Kingdom’s relationship with the European Union.”

The vote on 19 October also engaged Section 13(4) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, which requires the Government to

“make a statement setting out how Her Majesty’s Government proposes to proceed in relation to negotiations for the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU.”

The Government complied with both requirements on 8 November, with the report and Statement made available on GOV.UK and provided by the Printed Paper Office for the convenience of your Lordships. Under the Benn Act and Section 13 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act, the Government were then required to move a Motion in relation to those reports in five calendar days and seven sitting days respectively. That is why we are here today. I know noble Lords will have noticed that we have somewhat exceeded the five-day deadline. The Dissolution of Parliament prevented this debate taking place sooner, but the Government have sought to comply with the law as soon as practically possible.

For the benefit of noble Lords who have not read the statement and report, they make clear that the Government have no further plans for renegotiations. This is for the very simple reason that the Government had, and continue to have, no plans to further renegotiate the terms of our exit. So, despite the fact that a deal was already in place and we are now in the process of legislating for the implementation of that deal, it is a legal necessity for us to consider these Motions. As noble Lords will know—I repeatedly said it during the passage of those Acts—the Government will always comply with the law.

Having dispensed with these Motions today, in short order this House will be asked to consider provisions in the withdrawal agreement Bill that seek to repeal both Section 13 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 and the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 2) Act 2019. I hope that when these matters are considered in this House, noble Lords will agree with me that these requirements are no longer necessary and that, whatever one’s view on Brexit, they have served their purpose and it is now time for us to move on.

Section 13 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 and the European Union Withdrawal (No. 2) Act 2019 have detained the UK in the EU, and us in this House, for many hours already. This debate is about a government report and statement that make clear that we have no further plans to renegotiate the terms of our exit—a position clearly supported in the general election. So given the late hour, I will not seek to delay the House any longer than required as we dispense with these necessary legal obligations.

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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
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My Lords, I thank the noble Baronesses for their points. I am grateful that they have taken the time at such a late hour.

As I set out in opening, the Government continue to have no plans further to renegotiate the terms of our exit and we will always obey the law. Of course it was necessary to consider the Motions before us this evening, even though we are now in the process of legislating for the implementation of the deal. That is currently in the other place and will come to this House next week.

On the specific points asked by the noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, on the repeal of Section 13 there is no need for a further meaningful vote in Parliament. The public showed in the general election that they want to get Brexit done and to leave the EU with a deal on 31 January. The Bill will give Parliament the chance to repeal the conditions under Section 13 set out in the previous Parliament.

With regard to Section 19, we think it is unnecessary law, and it has no legal effect in practice. For this reason, it is being repealed. We have complied with the Article 50 extension requirements under the Benn Act, and we will shortly comply with the outstanding debate requirement. Beyond that, the Act serves no useful purpose, and there is no reason for it to stay on the statute book.

With regard to the repeal of the Cooper Act, the duties in the Act have been spent and no longer have any legal effect. The Act therefore has no future purpose and there is therefore no reason for it to stay on the statue book.

The noble Baroness’s point on Section 2(5) of the Benn Act was that, for further reports, it would apply only if the Commons defeated or amended the Motion referenced at Section 2(2), which it has not.

I move on to the points raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter. She referred to a further parliamentary vote on extending the implementation period. As she will understand, we will not be extending it. That was a commitment in the Conservative Party manifesto. As I am sure she has noticed, we won the general election on that commitment and therefore will not extend the implementation period. There is therefore no need for Parliament to have a vote on doing so.

I take the opportunity to reassure her that we are completely committed to parliamentary accountability. Ministers—whether me or others—will be here to answer questions on these topics, reply to debates in this House and appear in front of committees and so on of this House and the other place. Of course, the normal rules of parliamentary procedure will apply. In fact, we are essentially reverting to the procedures that operated under a previous Government involving her party—those of normal parliamentary scrutiny. There is no need to put special provisions on to the face of the Bill or into statute telling Parliament how it can carry out its role of scrutinising the Government.

I am sure that we will have extensive debates about ratification of the future relationship next week and probably in future weeks to come. The noble Baroness made some very interesting points about regulatory alignment. Again, as we have discussed many times, I do not agree with her on that, but this is really not the occasion to have those debates. There will be plenty of opportunity for them during the passage of the legislation over the next two weeks and indeed on many future occasions. Given the lateness of the hour, I think that now is probably not the appropriate time to go into all those details. I am sure that we will have those discussions in full in the future and it therefore probably makes sense for us to complete this debate.

We all look forward to the many hours that we will spend in this place considering the withdrawal agreement Bill, when, I am sure, this and many other related points will be raised and the Government will be provided with the appropriate scrutiny by the Opposition.

Motion agreed.

European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018

Lord Callanan Excerpts
Wednesday 8th January 2020

(4 years, 3 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Moved by
Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
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That this House, in accordance with the provisions of section 13(6)(b) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, takes note of the Written Statement titled “Statement under Section 13(4) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018”, made on 8 November 2019.

Motion agreed.

Brexit: Movement of Goods between Northern Ireland and Great Britain

Lord Callanan Excerpts
Thursday 24th October 2019

(4 years, 6 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Callanan Portrait The Minister of State, Department for Exiting the European Union (Lord Callanan) (Con)
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My Lords, with the leave of the House, I will now repeat in the form of a Statement the Answer given in the other place earlier today by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union:

“On 17 October the United Kingdom and the European Union reached political agreement on a new withdrawal agreement and political declaration for the future relationship. This includes a revised protocol for Northern Ireland/Ireland, which has been extensively debated in this House. This agreement is clear that Great Britain and Northern Ireland are one customs territory. Goods that are not at risk of moving to the European Union will attract no tariffs.

These arrangements mean that Northern Ireland would remain in the UK’s customs territory and could benefit from the UK’s new trade deals with third countries. For goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, those destined for the European Union will have to comply with European Union rules. To ensure that the correct tariffs are applied and that goods comply with the rules of the single regulatory zone, some information will be needed on goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

The deal also explicitly allows for the United Kingdom to ensure unfettered market access for goods moving from Northern Ireland to Great Britain. There will be minimal targeted interventions designed to prevent, for example, the trade in endangered species—something I would have thought this House agreed on. We will work with the European Union to eliminate these limited processes as soon as possible after Brexit.

The most important point is that these arrangements automatically dissolve after four years unless a majority of the Northern Ireland Assembly in Stormont votes to keep them”.

Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town Portrait Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town (Lab)
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Perhaps I may help the Government because I do not think they understand their own deal, which effectively ends the UK’s single market by imposing different tariffs and rules between Northern Ireland and Wales, Scotland and England. The Prime Minister keeps insisting that there will be no checks between GB and Northern Ireland, but Steve Barclay had to admit to our own committee that exit summary declarations will be required between Northern Ireland and GB. Today’s words were “minimal interventions”. Well, Mr Johnson, that means “checks”. The impact assessment says that some 215 million import and entry or exit declarations will be needed at a cost of between £15 and £56 each.

The Answer we have just heard states that the withdrawal agreement will ensure,

“‘unfettered’ market access for goods moving from Northern Ireland to the rest of the United Kingdom’s internal market”.

However, if you look at the Bill—which some of us have to do—the word “unfettered” has disappeared and it allows for regulations to facilitate access to the market in Great Britain. Can the Minister come clean and admit that trade between Northern Ireland and Great Britain will now be like sending something to a foreign country?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
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First, the noble Baroness is wrong: there will be no tariffs on goods from Northern Ireland to the UK. We have agreed these arrangements because of the unique situation of Northern Ireland. As we were told extensively when the original customs proposals were produced that this would result in checks in Northern Ireland, we compromised for the sake of getting a good agreement, which we were constantly urged to do. We have recognised the unique situation of Northern Ireland: we have provided a consent mechanism for Northern Ireland’s elected representatives to decide whether they wish to take part in these arrangements. Importantly, it ensures that there are no checks in Northern Ireland between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, and that there are no borders. It is important to bear in mind that there are already checks because of the single epidemiological unit of Ireland—for example, on live animals going between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. We are proposing a small number of administrative checks and we will work with the European Union to ensure that these are as minimal as possible, if they are needed at all.

Lord Bruce of Bennachie Portrait Lord Bruce of Bennachie (LD)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Will the Minister acknowledge that before this deal there was—and if this deal is accepted there will not be—friction-free movement between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK? In reality, businesses across the whole of Ireland will have to fill in tens of millions of forms to carry out the business they can do today without any such bureaucracy. This is hardly a free trade agreement of any validity. Is it not also a denial of the Government’s claim that the referendum was a UK-wide referendum that demanded a UK-wide solution? How dare a party that calls itself the Conservative and Unionist Party claim that it is defending the union when what it is actually doing is driving a coach and horses through it.

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
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I do not agree with the noble Lord: Northern Ireland is leaving the EU with the rest of the United Kingdom. It was a UK-wide referendum. There will be no forms to fill in. We think that all these checks, if they are required at all, can be done electronically. However, as I said, a joint committee has been established in the withdrawal agreement. We will work with the European Union through the implementation period to ensure that these interventions are as minimal as possible.

Lord McCrea of Magherafelt and Cookstown Portrait Lord McCrea of Magherafelt and Cookstown (DUP)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

On 8 December 2017, the then Prime Minister gave this emphatic unilateral commitment:

“There will be no new borders within the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”.


How does the present Brexit deal square with that commitment? Have the Government not sacrificed Northern Ireland in the present deal in the interests of getting a deal for Britain irrespective of its implications for Northern Ireland? Are the Prime Minister and the Brexit Minister actually aware of what they have agreed to?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
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The noble Lord speaks with great authority on these points. We accept that we have compromised with the European Union to get a deal. We think that these arrangements will be acceptable. The consent mechanism is built into them, by which, after four years, elected representatives in Northern Ireland will be able to decide whether they continue. During the implementation period, we want to work with the EU and the Government of Ireland to make sure that this new procedure works as satisfactorily and smoothly as possible.

Earl of Kinnoull Portrait The Earl of Kinnoull (Non-Afl)
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My Lords, the European Union Select Committee held a public evidence session on Monday and the Secretary of State gave evidence. He was asked during that session whether Northern Ireland businesses sending goods to Great Britain would have to complete export declarations. In answer he said:

“Just to be clear, the exit summary declarations will be required in terms of Northern Ireland to Great Britain”.


My question to the Minister has a yes or no answer: does he stand by the words of the Secretary of State?

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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
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It is right that some administrative processes will apply to goods moving from Northern Ireland to Great Britain. In the coming months, we will work with the EU and the Irish authorities to make sure that we can eliminate those processes in the detailed implementation of the new agreement.

Lord Lilley Portrait Lord Lilley (Con)
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My Lords, can the Minister confirm that the original withdrawal agreement included paper declarations A.UK for any exports from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, but that did not require the consent of the Northern Irish people? Can he further confirm that these documents are identical to those that Turkish imports into the European Union must fulfil, even though Turkey is part of a customs union, so the idea that a customs union obviates all border controls with the European Union is not true?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
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These are not customs controls; they are administrative checks that need to be made because of single market rules and single market membership. They are the result of international obligations that the EU implements through single market rules. However, my noble friend makes an important point.

Lord Campbell-Savours Portrait Lord Campbell-Savours (Lab)
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My Lords, every individual consignment from an individual supplier on the UK mainland to every individual customer in Northern Ireland would, under the proposed scheme, be the subject of an individual customs entry, so 100 separate Northern Ireland deliveries from a UK-mainland supplier could be the subject of 100 separate customs entries, possibly under different tariff headings. How else can you control fraud?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
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I do not believe the noble Lord is correct about that. On the details of implementation and exactly how the arrangements will be implemented on the ground in practice, we want to work through the joint committee with the EU, Northern Irish and Irish authorities to make sure that implementation is as smooth and frictionless as possible.

Lord Purvis of Tweed Portrait Lord Purvis of Tweed (LD)
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My Lords, 53% of all goods and services for sale in Northern Ireland come from GB and 65% of all exports from Northern Ireland come to GB, resulting in 419,000 HGV crossings over the Irish Sea. I telephoned the Brexit imports and exports helpline this morning to ask what information was available to businesses conducting this trade and was told by the Government, “We have absolutely nothing on this. Sorry”. Will the Minister apologise for trying to ram through an agreement in three days in the House of Commons and in a short time in this House when no information would have been provided to Parliament or to Northern Ireland businesses conducting this business on the costs and burden inflicted on the UK internal single market?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
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I have made the point a number of times that we will work with the EU and the Irish authorities to make sure that these interventions and processes are as smooth and pain-free as possible. However, I readily accept that to get an agreement and a good deal—as we have done and as we are constantly urged by the Opposition to do—we have to compromise. I think this is a good deal. We have worked collaboratively, as we have been urged to do. The Opposition told us that they did not want no deal; they wanted a deal. We have now concluded two different deals, both of which they keep telling us they do not like. The Opposition should just admit that the reality is that they do not want to leave the European Union at all—they do not want to implement the result of the referendum. I am pleased that the Liberal Democrats are happy to acknowledge that.