Kemi Badenoch contributions to the Trade Bill 2017-19


Thu 1st February 2018 Trade Bill (Eighth sitting) (Public Bill Committees)
Committee Debate: 8th sitting: House of Commons
7 interactions (355 words)
Tue 23rd January 2018 Trade Bill (First sitting) (Public Bill Committees)
Committee Debate: 1st sitting: House of Commons
11 interactions (1,205 words)
Tue 23rd January 2018 Trade Bill (Second sitting) (Public Bill Committees)
Committee Debate: 2nd sitting: House of Commons
5 interactions (700 words)

Trade Bill (Eighth sitting)

(Committee Debate: 8th sitting: House of Commons)
Kemi Badenoch Excerpts
Thursday 1st February 2018

(2 years, 7 months ago)

Public Bill Committees
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Department for International Trade

We also seek to ensure coherence and consistency between the Bill and the draft Animal Welfare (Sentencing and Recognition of Sentience) Bill, which the Government published last December and which will enshrine in law the recognition that animals are sentient beings capable of experiencing both pleasure and pain. Given that that is one of the flagship pieces of legislation being championed by the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, we hope that our last new clause might find favour with the Government after all—or perhaps the Minister is not able to agree even to this.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Mrs Kemi Badenoch (Saffron Walden) (Con) - Hansard
1 Feb 2018, 12:32 p.m.

I will be brief. We all believe in maintaining the very highest standards in animal welfare and food production; I do not think that is in dispute. The Government have done quite a lot in the last few months—we know about the ban on microbeads, to protect marine wildlife—but this is one of the areas in which we are able to go further and do better than we ever could while we were in the EU.

There is much to agree with in the statements from the hon. Member for Brent North; I, too, am against the export of live animals. However, we must remember the Bill’s purpose: ensuring the smooth roll-over of existing trade agreements. It is not about future trade agreements, so I do not believe that the Bill is the appropriate place for the new clause. In fact, if I were being cynical, I would say that this looks like a mischievous attempt to reignite the debate on new clause 30 that was proposed to the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, in order to generate press releases.

Our job is to make good law. The draft Animal Welfare (Sentencing and Recognition of Sentience) Bill was published on 12 December. It sets out to do exactly what the new clause would do, but even better. If Labour Members were serious about raising animal welfare standards, rather than virtue signalling, they would focus on the draft Bill. We should not tack on to the Trade Bill a new clause that is outside its scope.

As it happens, the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee yesterday released its report on the draft Bill. It made several recommendations for improving it, including bringing forward a new and completely separate Bill on animal sentience. The Government have to reflect on that report and its recommendations, and it would be inappropriate for us to pre-empt the Select Committee’s report and the Government’s reaction.

Alan Brown Portrait Alan Brown - Hansard
1 Feb 2018, 12:35 p.m.

As the hon. Lady said, nobody can argue against the new clause’s intentions: maintaining animal welfare and food production standards when entering into international trade agreements. I am sure that the Minister will say that the new clause is not needed, because existing agreements will roll over and they comply with all the legislation, but as we heard from witnesses, in the roll-over process everything is up for grabs, so there is an argument for protecting animal welfare and food production standards in the Bill, and I understand why the proposal has been made.

One concern that I have about the new clause is that it refers to UK law and does not recognise that law is devolved; animal sentience should also be a devolved matter once we withdraw from the EU. From my perspective, the new clause does not take cognisance of the Scottish Government and the devolved Administrations, so that causes me concern about how it is written.

The hon. Member for Saffron Walden said that the Tory Government are bringing in good law, but then admitted that the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee has made recommendations against the draft Animal Welfare (Sentencing and Recognition of Sentience) Bill. As a member of that Committee, I can say that witnesses have basically said that the current proposal as regards recognising animal sentience is not good law and not fit for purpose, and the Committee is recommending that the Government think again on that Bill in terms of sentience, so they are a long way from making good law.

I support the principles of the new clause, but as stated, I have concerns about it not recognising the devolved Administrations.

Break in Debate

Anna McMorrin Portrait Anna McMorrin - Hansard
1 Feb 2018, 12:49 p.m.

I thank the Minister for his intervention, but the fact remains that this Government did not vote for that amendment, so are we to keep that trust that this UK Government will introduce those welfare standards post-Brexit? I for one do not find that trust. I struggle to understand this decision by the Government, which is a massive blow for the welfare of wildlife, pets and livestock alike.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Mrs Badenoch - Hansard
1 Feb 2018, 12:49 p.m.

There is a draft Bill on sentencing and animal sentience coming in. Why does the hon. Lady feel that there will be no commitments in that Bill, given what it is called? What are her concerns about that Bill?

Anna McMorrin Portrait Anna McMorrin - Hansard
1 Feb 2018, 12:50 p.m.

I thank the hon. Lady for her intervention, but does she not realise that this Bill is about the rules and regulations during trade? That is why we need the new clause in the Bill.

Only domestic animals are covered by the Animal Welfare Act 2006; animals in the wild and laboratory animals are expressly exempt. As we seek new deals in our negotiations with countries that perhaps have much lower animal welfare standards, we are particularly concerned that there will be the temptation to lower our standards. The Bill needs strengthening to better protect UK animal welfare standards. I hope the Government will see some sense and support the new clause to ensure that we do not water down those standards.

Trade Bill (First sitting) Debate

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Legislation Page: Trade Bill 2017-19

Trade Bill (First sitting)

(Committee Debate: 1st sitting: House of Commons)
Kemi Badenoch Excerpts
Tuesday 23rd January 2018

(2 years, 8 months ago)

Public Bill Committees
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Can I say, before I go on to the next person, that I have at least six people who still want to ask a question and we have a maximum of 23 minutes, so can people bear that mind?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Mrs Kemi Badenoch (Saffron Walden) (Con) - Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 10:02 a.m.

Q I would like to bring Mr Howarth into the conversation. Going back to the purpose of the Bill and the need for the continuity agreements with those countries that are covered by EU deals, how practical is it, in your opinion, to transfer those agreements into bilateral trade deals?

Christopher Howarth: It is important, getting back to the Trade Bill, that it only gives a power for existing trade agreements. These trade agreements are already in force and companies already rely upon them. When we talk about impact assessments, the biggest impact assessment is that these agreements are already in force or have already gone through a scrutiny process and may come into force, such as CETA. Obviously, in leaving the European Union, we are moving to a different scrutiny system. Before, they could be decided by the Commission, the European Parliament by qualified majority voting or, in the cases of mixed agreements, you would have to get unanimity, occasionally from devolved Administrations as well. We are moving to a new system, but these agreements are already in force.

The relationship with the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill is that we are keeping retained legislation and we are keeping the EU standards, so if there are any amendments to these agreements, they have to be in line with the regulations—the food safety and environmental standards—that are being retained in UK law. The scope for actually changing things is quite narrow. These have been through a scrutiny process. They are in force. This Bill is necessary, in my opinion, so that the people who rely on these agreements can be sure that they will be transferred over in time.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Mrs Badenoch - Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 10:04 a.m.

Q And the practicalities?

Christopher Howarth: Trade agreements do traditionally take a very long time. In this case, they are already in force and we already have texts. Small amendments may need to be made around quotas—in some of the agreements we need to agree with the European Union and the counterparty how to split the quotas up—but the texts by and large have been agreed. In the future we may wish to come back to them to improve them or to fit them more to UK interests, but these agreements do exist. Trade agreements traditionally take a long time. I refer you to Parkinson’s law: that trade agreements tend to expand to the amount of time available to negotiate them. If you give trade negotiators 10 years to negotiate an agreement, it will probably take 10 years. In this case we have a fixed deadline, and I assume both sides will want to fit the negotiations and the necessary functions to that.

Barry Gardiner Portrait Barry Gardiner - Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 10:06 a.m.

Q You made an important point. Clearly we need to ensure that the trade we have with many of these existing partner countries continues. That is an essential focus, which I think is uncontroversial around this room, but when you are talking about the amendments that might be made—as these treaties cease to be simply EU treaties that we are part of and become bilateral relationships with these countries, new treaties and distinct legal entities, as the addendums to the Bill have made clear—do you agree that it would be a fine opportunity for many of these countries to say that they want greater access to our markets in return for having this new agreement with us, or that they might take the opportunity to protect their market a little bit more? Might one of the reasons why the Bill puts in place a Henry VIII power be precisely because it envisages a scenario where such amendments might be made and where we might have to accommodate them, and the Minister then adopts that power in order to do so?

Christopher Howarth: I think it is true to say that the agreements the European Union made were fitted around European Union interests and that if the UK were starting from scratch, we may have had other interests. The EU interests would protect French farmers and the French audio-visual industry. You would get a price on the other side, say with Canadian agriculture. If the UK was doing it, we might do it differently. That is probably a discussion that would take longer and we would come back to later, and these agreements would probably stay exactly as they are. On the scrutiny side, we had a sort of mirror of this debate in the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill negotiation and discussions in Parliament. There may be some—

Break in Debate

Barry Gardiner Portrait Barry Gardiner - Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 10:40 a.m.

Q Mr Ashton-Bell, can I pick up on something you said because I noticed that you were nodding when Mr Burke was saying that. You said you struggled to understand how we could get the best deal without engaging every part of society in the debate. You also posed the question of who makes the fundamental decision. Do you therefore agree with Mr Burke that it would be helpful to have, in the nine places available on the TRA, statutory representatives perhaps of small business, the trade unions and producers? At the moment, the Bill has it as a blank sheet for those nine spaces, and nobody is really quite clear who might be appointed. Perhaps you could all comment on that, starting with Mr Ashton-Bell.

James Ashton-Bell: My organisation does not have a defined position on that blank sheet of paper you have just described, but to follow your rationale, and consistent with what I have said so far, bigger organisations do not have a monopoly on understanding how trade impacts the economy. In anything where you are making choices about trade and how it will impact the wider economy, you should have a wide and balanced group of people advising Government, or an independent authority, about how to make those choices. That means, indeed, that small business are very much equal to big business, and workers also, because workers are just as impacted as the businesses themselves.

Chris Southworth: I just want to clarify my point. It is exactly the same: the representation is a critical point. An independent body, yes, but there must be representation within that independent body to represent all the important voices, which includes all those here, but I would also include NGOs and civil society, who have equal interest in the implications of trade. They must be at the table and that has to be in everyone’s interest, including business—big, small and medium.

Martin McTague: Barry, it will not come as a massive surprise to you that, yes, I do agree that small business should be a serious voice on this. It is nice to know that James supports me. That is a welcome change. [Interruption.] It is something that we have clearly got unanimity on.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Mrs Badenoch - Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 10:43 a.m.

Q Speaking about the representation on the Trade Remedies Authority, there have been suggestions that Parliament should have a greater role on this board. What impact would that and other stakeholders have on the impartiality, accountability and timeliness of decisions? Could the panel tell us what they feel about having various nominations to non-executive membership? What impact would that also have on the independence and impartiality of the Trade Remedies Authority?

Chris Southworth: Ultimately, it is about having a rounded decision made by an independent body. That political oversight is critical—James is completely right. Ultimately, it is going to come down to a political decision whether a decision is made one way or the other. If you operate in an organisation like the World Trade Organisation, then all these voices come into play. It is incredibly important that the decisions prior to any engagement in a global environment are made in a good way that is inclusive. The role of Parliament is critical in that too.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Mrs Badenoch - Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 10:43 a.m.

Q You don’t think that that would slow things down?

Chris Southworth: Trade is slow, it is technical, and it is difficult. It involves implications for people’s lives and for businesses of all shapes and sizes in every region. There isn’t a component of public or professional life that is not impacted by trade. It is important that everyone has their say, so that when the negotiations begin, the negotiators and all the stakeholders are confident on what those positions are. It is equally important that, during the negotiation when important points come up that are difficult and tricky, which they always are at that stage, there is also an opportunity to come back and say, “What do you think? Do you agree with this, because we are going to have to make a compromise?” That could mean an implication for Welsh farmers, businesses in the midlands, or local communities in Sheffield. It could mean all of those things.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Mrs Badenoch - Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 10:44 a.m.

Q I am asking because I have had messages, particularly from farmers in my constituency, about remedies being very slow to be enacted. That is a real issue, so I would be looking for a very efficient remedies authority. I hear what you are saying, but I can also see a situation where the conversation goes on and on and no remedy comes forth. Justice delayed is justice denied.

Chris Southworth: Again, you need to come down with a political decision at some stage on whether or not it is right in terms of timing. The key point is: has there been proper consultation beforehand and has every stakeholder had the chance to voice their views in a proper structured format, not throughout the consultations, but in a proper structured way? That is the important point. Ultimately, there is always a sensibility around trade remedies, particularly if you are talking about things such as steel dumping. That has huge implications for a lot of people, particularly in geographies that tend to be vulnerable, so there is a difficult decision to be made. It is important that everyone has a chance to have their say about what that decision should be.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Mrs Badenoch - Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 10:45 a.m.

Q Does anyone else want to come in on the make-up of the board, impartiality, timeliness, and so on?

Tony Burke: I think we would agree with everything that was said about the make-up of the board. It has to be wide-ranging and it has to have expertise. On the point you raised: when we put our evidence in from the Manufacturing Trade Remedies Alliance—industry and the unions—we wanted a system that worked. Don’t forget, we have not done this for a long, long time. We needed to make sure that we got it right. There were some folks’ voices saying, “Let’s have a fast-track. Look at America, it takes a long, long time”. We said, “No, if you do fast-track, you could get it wrong”. You need to have a system that works, step by step, but is widely consulted on, as has been said.

We may have problems in a particular industry, where we have to bring expertise in and we need to have people in that discussion at the remedies authority who know exactly what they are talking about and are able to demonstrate it. They can be very complex. When we look at the US system, it takes a very long time and moves very slowly. We do not want to rush it, but we need something that works and is as wide as possible. As I said earlier, I do not think impartiality comes into it, providing there was oversight from Parliament.

Faisal Rashid Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 10:47 a.m.

Q I understand there were 60,000 responses to the consultation. The trade White Paper was published the day after the consultation closed. I apologise if I am wrong, but I think you said earlier that you were quite comfortable with the process. Do you think it is practical and do you think the consultation feedback from the stakeholders has been taken into account?

Martin McTague: We believe it has been taken into account at this early stage, but a lot more consultation needs to take place. We have a position and we are developing that position on exactly how this will affect smaller businesses. At this stage, it is not a developed position.

Trade Bill (Second sitting) Debate

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Department: HM Treasury
Legislation Page: Trade Bill 2017-19

Trade Bill (Second sitting)

(Committee Debate: 2nd sitting: House of Commons)
Kemi Badenoch Excerpts
Tuesday 23rd January 2018

(2 years, 8 months ago)

Public Bill Committees
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HM Treasury

We are grateful for that.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Mrs Kemi Badenoch (Saffron Walden) (Con) - Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 3:15 p.m.

Q I have a general question for the panel. Listening to what people have said about agreements and given the need that we have to maintain existing trade relationships with 70-plus partners and, I think, 40-plus agreements in general, do you think the Government need to change their approach fundamentally and, if so, how?

George Peretz: If I might go first, one can see the difficulty. It is a commonplace of the legislation on Brexit generally that there is a lot to do in a very short space of time. There is certainly a case for doing things by statutory instrument that ordinarily one might be very reluctant to see done in that way, simply because of the process of time and the time it takes to get primary legislation through.

We were discussing a few minutes ago general policy in relation to how Parliament should scrutinise future trade negotiations. It is entirely a fair point to say that the Bill is not about that. There may well be a case for the Government to produce a Bill about that, but that is a different question. This Bill is not about that, but about the roll-over.

We have touched on the difficulties. You have a number of difficulties in scope: what an international trade agreement is goes beyond trade and customs agreements. As I think Holger Hestermeyer pointed out, technically the definition includes the EEA agreement and the Turkey customs union agreement. If you think the Government have rather wide powers to implement the EEA agreement—one assumes the Government have no intention of using it that way—it is quite a wide power to give them.

There are questions about scope and about whether negative procedure is right, and there is the question Michael touched on about what is an existing agreement. The cynic in me as a lawyer tends to say from general experience that if you go to the other party to a contract and say, “I need to change this contract,” the normal response of a well-informed and well-advised counterparty is, “Well, yes, but let’s take the opportunity to get some other things in it.” So things are often not that simple. You may have quite wide and important changes being made, but I do not think there is a right legal answer. It is a question for you to think about as to whether this is an appropriate power to give the Government, given the need to do things quickly.

Kemi, are you content?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Mrs Badenoch - Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 3:18 p.m.

Q Yes, unless anyone has anything further to add.

Michael Clancy: We do not have enough time—there are 430-odd days between now and 29 March 2019. Trying to get through primary legislation, if we were to scrap this and go for another Bill, would be problematic to say the least. The intergovernmental conference in October is really the defining factor that we have to aim at. Then there are all these orders, which are going to be put through. If one waits until this Bill gets the Royal Assent before the orders start to be consulted on, there are difficulties about that. I am afraid that I would be for looking to keep this Bill and to move it along and see what improvements can be made to it to make it a much better and more robust piece of legislation.

Professor Winters: May I comment? In principle—I am not a lawyer and cannot really comment on how one can do this—essentially there is the very short-term, immediate problem of all these things that have to be done, but we do not want that to define the long-term by default. I think we need to have a very clear understanding from the body politic in general. The trade policy is an important instrument for a sovereign country to operate. It can be done well or it can be done badly, and we do need to continue to review it and go back to some of these things, so that even if we have to patch something up in the near future, which as near as dammit is the status quo, that should not say it is therefore closed forever. We need to go with our partners and say, “We need to reopen this.”

Let us be crisp, Bill Esterson.