There have been 8 exchanges between Jeremy Quin and Department for International Trade
|Tue 12th May 2020||Oral Answers to Questions||22 interactions (797 words)|
|Thu 28th June 2018||Oral Answers to Questions||3 interactions (48 words)|
|Tue 26th June 2018||Draft EU-Canada Trade Agreement Order||7 interactions (211 words)|
|Tue 26th June 2018||EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement||5 interactions (14 words)|
|Mon 4th June 2018||US Steel and Aluminium Tariffs||3 interactions (55 words)|
|Thu 29th March 2018||Oral Answers to Questions||5 interactions (80 words)|
|Thu 11th January 2018||Oral Answers to Questions||6 interactions (64 words)|
|Thu 12th October 2017||Oral Answers to Questions||5 interactions (55 words)|
It has been reported that the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory is conducting studies on Citriodiol, an ingredient found in insect repellent, to test its effect on covid-19. Can the Minister tell us if and how our armed forces are involved in those tests? If the tests show that the ingredient is effective against the virus, when will it be available for use on the covid frontline?
May I, too, put on the record my thanks to the armed forces, particularly for helping with building the NHS Louisa Jordan in my home city, Glasgow?
This Citriodiol issue is deeply serious. The Minister has just said himself that there is no evidence that it is effective in the fight against covid-19, yet it was dished out to the armed forces without being tested. Can he tell us on what basis it was given out? Will he publish the guidance that was given to members of the armed forces? Did it go through an ethics committee? Who signed off on it without it being tested? A false sense of security can be deadly.
What steps his Department has taken to support Government procurement during the covid-19 outbreak. 
In times of trouble, we rely on our armed forces as much now as we did 75 years ago, as embodied by Basildon resident and veteran Don Sheppard, who celebrated his 100th birthday last week. There are many who also rely on defence procurement for their livelihoods. How has my hon. Friend ensured that small businesses and the jobs they provide, which are particularly important in my constituency, are being protected at this time?
It’s always sunny here, Mr Speaker.
The UK’s world-leading defence industry is critical to our national security as well as our prosperity, particularly here in the north-west, as the Minister has just outlined, but its future capability is inextricably linked to the aviation industry, which is now suffering a collapse in demand. Will the Government now commit to bringing forward major research and development programmes and clean tech to help support the whole sector, especially SMEs and others, to retain jobs and capability?
I pay tribute to everyone involved in the covid support force. Will the Minister give an early indication of how this current deployment might influence the integrated review and whether defence planning assumptions will be amended to reflect the fact that the MOD has again provided extensive liability to support the civil power?
It is a feature of the free trade deal that is currently being signed by the European Union, and indeed the commitment of this Government, that chapters will be included in all those agreements that will protect exactly the elements that the hon. Lady identifies. They are in the current arrangements that we voted in favour of earlier this week and will be in future trade deals.
That absolutely matters; it matters fundamentally. Trade is one of the greatest promoters of prosperity on the planet. It supports more poor people into reasonable states of living across the world than almost any other policy. The Opposition voted against such a free trade deal last week—in fact, against two of them. All that can do in the long run is reduce the amount of free trade around the world.
I will make some progress.
This Government are clear that CETA is a good deal for Europe and a good deal for the United Kingdom. Our total trade with Canada already stood at £16.5 billion last year, up 6.4% on the previous year, with a services surplus of £1.9 billion. CETA will improve on this already strong economic partnership. It is an agreement that will potentially boost our GDP by hundreds of millions of pounds a year. It will bring down trade costs, boost trade and investment, promote jobs and growth and increase our ability to access Canadian goods, services and procurement markets, benefiting a wide range of UK businesses and consumers. More trade and more growth result in more money for the Treasury, with benefits for our publicly funded services. CETA is a comprehensive and ambitious agreement— the most comprehensive agreement between the EU and an advanced partner economy that has come into force so far.
I think that something we share across the House is the belief that we would prefer people to be able to trade their way sustainably out of poverty rather than having to depend on aid budgets, and, of course, free trade is one of the key ways of ensuring that that happens. My hon. Friend is right: it is important that we send a signal, and I hope we can add to the signal that we sent last time that it is not possible to believe in the concept of free trade while not agreeing with any of the specific agreements that make free trade happen. It is important that we have consistency throughout.
Break in Debate
On 18 October 2016, the Government confirmed their support for signature, provisional application and conclusion of CETA. Overriding scrutiny, Mr Speaker, is no minor matter. The Committee rightly called an emergency evidence session demanding that the Secretary of State account for his decision to override the Committee’s scrutiny reserve and to proceed with provisional application. The Secretary of State had the audacity to tell the Committee:
“I very much believe in the democratic process and the importance of transparency and, as the Committee knows, I have long been one of those Members who has been very much supportive of the scrutiny process and I’m sorry that the timescales meant that it was not possible to have a debate before decisions needed to be made on CETA.”
He went on to tell the Committee that this was
“down to the parliamentary calendar and the timescales set for us. However, I therefore reinforce my commitment to the Committee today to hold such a debate and I’m very happy to have that debate on the Floor of the House. Our officials are already working with business managers to identify a date most likely, we understand, in November.”
That, for the avoidance of doubt, was November 2016.
So, November comes around and, having had no indication of a debate being forthcoming, the Committee published its summary of that urgent evidence session and noted:
“We consider such a debate to be urgent and ask that it be scheduled before 13 December”.
[Interruption.] I know the Secretary of State does not like this, because it brings up all the ways in which he has sought to avoid transparency and scrutiny in this place.
By 30 November, the Secretary of State failed to secure a debate in the timeframe he himself had suggested to the Committee. On 7 December, the Committee repeated the need for a debate and called for it to take place before mid-January 2017, recognising that the Secretary of State would not be bringing forth a debate by the earlier stipulated deadline of 13 December.
It was farcical. The Secretary of State had absolutely made it farcical, but it got worse. My office submitted a freedom of information request on 15 December requesting details of the correspondence between the Department and business managers regarding scheduling a debate on CETA since 1 December 2016. It may come as no surprise that the Department failed to respond within the suggested timeframe. However, a response was forthcoming by 25 January. Staggeringly, it admits in its response that the first attempt to bring forward a debate on CETA was not in July 2016, as one might expect, and not even in September when the House returned after summer recess. It was an email sent from an undisclosed official to the Government Chief Whip’s office on 25 October at 1.57 pm, just 24 hours prior to the Secretary of State’s scheduled appearance before the Select Committee.
For the avoidance of doubt, I want to reassure the House that the Secretary of State did not misspeak. He did not mislead the Committee in any way when he told the hon. Member for Stone that
“our officials are already working with business managers to identify a date”.
They had been: for a whole 24 hours and 33 minutes. If it should be that prior to being summoned to give evidence to the European Scrutiny Committee on why the Government had blatantly ignored the Committee’s limited and conditional waiver and the condition that a debate take place, the Secretary of State had instructed his officials to come up with a cover, at least the literal interpretation of his words was strictly accurate. More troubling is his apology to the Committee implying that there had been efforts to find time to schedule a debate, saying,
“I am sorry that the timescales meant that it was not possible to have a debate before decisions needed to be made on CETA in the Council.”
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for pressing me on to the substantive part of the debate, but he will understand that the way in which international treaties progress through this House, the way in which they are scrutinised and the transparency with which that is done are matters of real importance. The reason why is that the substance of these treaties needs to be agreed in terms of a mandate. It then needs to be ensured that the scrutiny that applies is available to Members of this House at all stages. That is what in this situation entirely failed to happen.
The Secretary of State said:
“I am sorry that the timescales meant that it was not possible to have a debate before decisions needed to be made on CETA in the Council. This was down to the parliamentary calendar and the timescale set for us.”
“Not possible”? How did he know? He never bothered to ask. Why would the Government so determinedly pursue such a tack? The Secretary of State told us why when he admitted to the Committee in October 2016 that the
“UK could not be seen to block the agreement as it would send a negative signal to Canada.”
In a meeting between the Secretary of State and his Canadian counterpart that took place on 16 July, we are told by the then Canadian Trade Minister, Chrystia Freeland, that
“when I asked him if I could count on his and Britain’s continued support for CETA, he told me Britain would not just be supporting CETA, Britain would be pushing for CETA at the EU table.”
Heaven forfend that Parliament might have had a say in such a deal now that the Secretary of State had given his gentleman’s agreement to Canada!
There are two key issues that Members need to consider today. One is the issue of substance, and we will come on to the reservations on that score that exist throughout Europe, not just on the Opposition Benches, where they are currently being debated in constitutional courts and campaigned on by colleagues in the trade union movement. Incidentally, they were fully set out in Labour’s general election manifesto last year. The second issue is process. Why have the Government repeatedly attempted to avoid proper scrutiny of the agreement? The reality of today’s debate is that it is nothing more than a masquerading exercise designed to give the illusion of scrutiny when there has in fact been so little. We are now too late in the process and can do nothing to alter its course.
The WTO did get involved, but the essential point—[Interruption.] No, let us get this clear. The essential point of these arbitration courts is that investors invest, and if Governments change the rules and doing so changes their future profits, investors can sue for compensation, as was the case with the sugar tax. That would be the case if there was a plastics tax, for example, or if there was a diesel tax, and so on. That is why people are very worried, and the Government must not trade off the environment, the public interest and wider considerations of public law. Thankfully, there has been concern about this in Europe, which is why such an unnecessary system has not been applied in the Japan deal.
On Japan, 40% of its inward investment into Europe is to Britain. Why? Is it because the Japanese love British people? We do speak English, which is their second language, but it is basically because we are a platform, through the customs union and the single market, into the biggest market in the world. These are the facts. If we are not in the single market and the customs union, which we will not be after the transition period—if we go ahead with the barmy negotiation that is being suggested—that foreign direct investment will go to mainland Europe, and we may just be left on our own.
This is the situation we face. In particular, as has been said, President Trump basically has an America first policy. He does not recognise anything except a zero-sum game. We have had a conversation about imports and exports.
I will take the hon. Gentleman’s intervention in a moment.
The hon. Member for Stone (Sir William Cash), who is sadly no longer with us—I mean he is not in the Chamber—has always argued that we have to get out of the EU because we have more imports than exports, yet that is the case in Japan, as has been pointed out. There is a bigger picture here, because cheaper imports are often inputs that make our products less expensive relative to elsewhere, and there is a balance in relation to foreign direct investment as well. These are complicated issues, and I do welcome the deal. I will take the intervention of the hon. Member for Horsham (Jeremy Quin).
It was not me, nor any other Member of the House, who decided to pull Britain out of the European Union; it was the people of Britain, in a democratic referendum. I will send the hon. Gentleman a dictionary, and he can tell me which of the words “binary”, “referendum” and “democracy” he does not understand.
My hon. Friend raises an important point. In fact, the WTO has always shied away from this territory because of the implications it could have, even potentially for the integrity of the WTO itself. It is better that we find a better way to deal with the oversupply in the steel market and that no one tries to use the national security route as a remedy, because as I said, if the United States were to be successful in using it, what would stop other countries doing exactly the same on protectionist measures when it suited them?
I am delighted to say, as has been discussed so often today, that exports are up—not least in the education area. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has said, 90% of global growth is expected to be outside the EU. We will have a close and extremely important partnership with the EU, but the opportunities are out there, which is why he and other colleagues in this Department are so dedicated to building economic international opportunities for the country in the future.
Technology is at the heart of the Government’s industrial strategy, placing the UK at the forefront of the artificial intelligence and data revolutions. Exports of telecommunication, computer and information services increased from £17.8 billion in 2015 to £19 billion in 2016. Digital goods and services overall contributed £116.5 billion to the UK’s economy in 2016.
Like my hon. Friend, I am enthusiastic about the development of mathematics and digital and technical education. Some £406 million extra was announced in the industrial strategy to help address a shortage in science, technology, engineering and maths skills. The creative industries sector deal was published on Tuesday, and that highlighted the Government’s determination to ensure that we have the right digital skills for the future.
The UK is proudly spending 0.7% of gross national income on overseas development assistance—the first G7 country to honour its promise to do so. We are also committed to ensuring that developing countries can use trade as an engine of poverty reduction, and trade agreements play an important role in that. Our priority is to ensure that developing countries maintain their preferential access to the UK market as we leave the EU.
These texts are always delivered by Ministers in mellifluous tones, but they are often far too long. I know that there are people who scribble them for Ministers, but Ministers have a responsibility to recognise the virtues of the blue pencil.
The Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Bill, which had its Second Reading on Monday, provides exactly for the scheme of preferences to be taken across into UK law. I find it extraordinary that the Opposition parties voted against it. They voted against the UK having its own trade preferences scheme for developing countries. That is a disgrace. I very much hope that they will reconsider their position as the Bill passes through the House of Commons.
The right hon. Gentleman knows full well that, under state aid rules which apply not only to the European Union but to the World Trade Organisation, the Government cannot give subsidies to businesses to create unfair competition against other countries. However, as I said in an earlier answer, the Government have supported Toyota with a £21 million investment. Any support that is given to any businesses—in the automotive sector, and across the piece—will be fully compliant with all the rules by which we abide. Subsidies such as those from the European regional development fund are widely known about, and they are perfectly fair and perfectly legal.
The Department supports foreign investment in all parts of the United Kingdom through our overseas network, international events programme, bespoke sector support, online services and regional teams. We serve the whole UK by working closely with investment promotion bodies in the devolved Administrations and local enterprise partnerships in England to co-operate effectively across a range of investment support activities.
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. We have seen some truly amazing numbers coming in. Britain has a record number of inward investment projects, and it is worth bearing in mind the fact that 158,000 jobs have been created and a further 66,000 safeguarded over the past year or so as a result of foreign direct investment.