Lord Udny-Lister Portrait Lord Udny-Lister (Con)
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My Lords, although some would still care to deny it, it is a fact that no single electoral option has received more votes in UK history than that to leave the European Union. Indeed, the majority of the 17.4 million voters who turned out on that historic day to cast their votes to leave the EU did so on the simple premise that we in this place would take back control of our laws and untangle the UK from nearly 50 years of top-down EU bureaucracy. Today, through Second Reading of this Bill, the Government have shown that they will live up to the mandate and, in so doing, they have my full support.

Throughout my participation in other Brexit-related debates and listening to some of the contributions made by noble Lords, I have been rather confounded, as regretfully there appears to be an assumption by some that the only origin of standards and protections is the European Union and the European Union alone. I put it to your Lordships’ House that this view is complete baloney. It neglects the fact that for centuries this island nation has been the global benchmark and upholder of high standards, robust regulations and the origins of many legal and financial mechanisms which ensure fairness, competitiveness and probity in our global systems to this day.

Perhaps, in his summary, the Minister might reassure the House of this and of the fact that this country has a proud track record of creating sound regulation where required and, in some cases, more robust standards than even those of the EU. It would also be helpful if the Minister could confirm that the Civil Service in the UK is well up to the job and more than capable of writing regulations, because there has been a suggestion today that it is not capable of delivering that in the time available, which seems rather strange from so many people here.

I support this Bill, as it presents government with an unparalleled opportunity to cut red tape where it is not needed and allow our businesses the freedom to get on with innovation and transformation. With SMEs accounting for around 60% of UK employment, the more freedom we give them, the better and the stronger our economy will be in the long term. I hope that Ministers will seize this opportunity and remove as many of these regulations as possible.

The constitutional significance of this Bill cannot be downplayed, for through the ending of the special status of retained EU law, we are returning sovereignty to this Parliament and restoring the primacy to Acts of Parliament. Most importantly, we are putting the British back in control of the laws of the land and for that reason the Bill has my support.

Trade with the European Union

Lord Udny-Lister Excerpts
Monday 21st March 2022

(2 years, 3 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Grimstone of Boscobel Portrait Lord Grimstone of Boscobel (Con)
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My Lords, one of the reasons the Government have launched the export support service is to support UK businesses—it turns out that is primarily SMEs—with one-to-one advice on exporting to Europe. They can find all this information in one place. It is working well. There is a good volume of inquiries coming through, but I agree with the noble Lord that we have to do all we can to help SMEs in this important area.

Lord Udny-Lister Portrait Lord Udny-Lister (Con)
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My Lords, will the Minister please reassure the House that he is going to take into account Brexit freedoms as part of his negotiations and ensure that we maximise the opportunities in this country?

CPTPP (International Agreements Committee Report)

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Tuesday 1st February 2022

(2 years, 4 months ago)

Grand Committee
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Lord Udny-Lister Portrait Lord Udny-Lister (Con)
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My Lords, it is a pleasure to be a new member of the International Agreements Committee, and I start by thanking our chair, the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, and the other noble Lords for their warm welcome and introduction to the committee’s important work. I also draw your Lordships’ attention to my declaration in the register of interests as an advisor to HSBC bank.

Since joining the committee, I have had the opportunity with interest to familiarise myself with both the previous Sessions, the 10th report of this Session and, of course, the Government’s recent response to that report. Like many today, I welcome the Government’s commitment and action in ensuring that our accession to the CPTPP is both smooth and beneficial for all concerned. It will send a powerful message that the United Kingdom stands ready to champion free trade and fight the protectionism that has held back this country for far too long.

I turn to the impact of rules of origin on UK manufacturers. The Government are right to highlight the many benefits that the CPTPP rules of origin may provide to UK manufacturers in the long term. However, I fear that some industries may suffer unless the Government take bolder action to secure more generous local content thresholds. I would be grateful if the Minister could provide the Committee with an update on what work, if any, is being done to mitigate the concerns of the industry itself.

Furthermore, and without wanting to labour that point, while I gladly acknowledge that Her Majesty’s Government have made it abundantly clear that they will accede to CPTPP only on terms beneficial to the UK, are they able to provide the Committee with an update on whether any further consideration has been given to the use of side letters and/or other instruments to clarify certain policies or exclude certain provisions? I raise that point as I know it is of huge concern to those in the UK automotive industry. I hope that my noble friend will be able to put minds at rest in his summary remarks today.

It is further apparent that, when considering rules of origin, specifically in cases where we have existing FTAs in place, UK businesses may find it challenging to ascertain whether there is more benefit in their trading under localised bilateral agreements or the CPTPP. I fear that in such circumstances we could see businesses make costly misjudgments. Are the Government planning to introduce any measures to simplify that process or to put in place additional guidance so that UK businesses may have the confidence to know that they are always operating on the most favourable terms?

On consumer rights, it is of course important to acknowledge that the UK is acceding to an existing agreement, and with that come very limited options for the Government to seek the type of amendments that some would have. That said, I find myself reassured by the Government’s commitment to ensuring that standards, protections and consumer rights are protected.

Thanks to the sterling work of the Government, trade deals are already in place with the major economies of Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Japan, and the CPTPP is the next natural part of the nation’s onward-looking journey. I hope that the Government are seeking to enter the CPTPP not as a static partner but with the determination, innovation and energy that will be needed to help it evolve to meet the challenges and opportunities of tomorrow.

Having now left the European Union, the UK faces an unrivalled opportunity to unleash the benefits of free trade. With the EU itself acknowledging that 90% of future growth in global GDP will be outside the EU, and with the UK economy now surpassing pre-Covid levels and with stronger than expected growth, there could not be a better or a more exciting time for the UK to embrace this important partnership.

Steel Sector

Lord Udny-Lister Excerpts
Monday 12th July 2021

(2 years, 11 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Udny-Lister Portrait Lord Udny-Lister (Con)
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My Lords, the steel industry is badly undercapitalised and needs investment, both in labour and capital, so that it can modernise. This has already been asked but, first, will my noble friend agree to look again at energy costs? Even with the government subsidy, they are still way above those of our European—and certainly Far Eastern—competitors. Secondly, will he look seriously at putting a tax on scrap metal, which would ensure that it stayed in this country and was used in the newer electric arc furnaces, thereby making them viable?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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My noble friend is right to point to the problems for the sector. I mentioned in an earlier answer that we have provided more than £550 million in relief to the steel sector for its electricity costs but, of course, we keep these matters under constant review. We are aware of the problems that high electricity prices cause for the sector. On his question on scrap, we want to ensure that the metals recycling market continues to work effectively for all stakeholders, whether that is for metals recycled by steel producers or the cast metal sector.

Free Trade Agreement Negotiations: Australia

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Thursday 24th June 2021

(2 years, 12 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Grimstone of Boscobel Portrait Lord Grimstone of Boscobel (Con)
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My Lords, I think the House is well aware of the scrutiny processes that these agreements go through. The process culminates in the CRaG process, in which the other place has the ability to vote against these agreements, so there will be scrutiny there. That provides a real bulwark. I do not know the answer to the question about the European Union, and if I may I will write to the noble Lord about that.

Lord Udny-Lister Portrait Lord Udny-Lister (Con)
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My Lords, when I worked in No. 10 and was involved in the Brexit debate, I was told on many occasions by Members of this House and the other place from all political parties that Britain would never be able to negotiate any free trade agreements and did not have the capability—it was just folly—so I am really pleased today to be able to congratulate the Minister on getting this deal done, especially as the EU is still struggling with its deal. I am also delighted that he has not listened to the protectionist voices from various parts of our community.

Can the Minister please confirm to me that although the priority is the CPTPP, he will give equal priority to some of the others, particularly the GCC? In this, I declare my interests as the co-chairman of the UAE-UK Business Council, where tariffs are not the key issue. The key issue is the same as with Australia: professional qualifications, access to markets and generally the removal of red tape—all the things he has managed to deliver with the Australian deal.