All 2 Lord McNally contributions to the Trade Bill 2019-21

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Tue 8th Sep 2020
Trade Bill
Lords Chamber

2nd reading (Hansard) & 2nd reading (Hansard) & 2nd reading (Hansard): House of Lords & 2nd reading
Wed 6th Jan 2021
Trade Bill
Lords Chamber

Report stage:Report: 3rd sitting (Hansard) & Report: 3rd sitting (Hansard) & Report: 3rd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords

Trade Bill

Lord McNally Excerpts
2nd reading & 2nd reading (Hansard) & 2nd reading (Hansard): House of Lords
Tuesday 8th September 2020

(3 years, 10 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Trade Bill 2019-21 Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: Consideration of Bill Amendments as at 20 July 2020 - (20 Jul 2020)
Lord McNally Portrait Lord McNally (LD)
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My Lords, I welcome the speech by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Blackburn, not least because I speak as Lord McNally of Blackpool, and it was encouraging to hear him talk about some of Blackpool’s problems and some of its successes, because both should be remembered.

I also welcome the Minister, not just for this Bill but for his vast knowledge of China. I suspect that his experience will be needed now as much if not more than when he was encouraging the golden age of our relationship with China. I share with the noble Baroness, Lady Jones, an admiration for his wonderful bedside manner—but the wrong policies put forward in a wonderful bedside manner are still wrong, so I hope that he will listen to some of the experience in this House during the task ahead. It cannot be suggested that this is just some kind of nodded-through technical Bill to cover matters already discussed and decided. The evidence against it is far too strong.

I also ask the Minister to read the report of yesterday’s Grand Committee debate about the powers of Parliament. The CRaG Act was produced when we were firmly ensconced in the EU, and it is stretching credulity too far to suggest that its powers and responsibilities do not need to be reviewed, as is true of the royal prerogative.

We cannot allow this Bill to be nodded through as a mere technical transition of existing and agreed measures. Too many sectors, from intellectual property to the Green Alliance, from farmers to the BMA, have asked for their interests to be better protected during the passage of this Bill. Too many sectors have had their concerns fobbed off with “it’ll be all right on the night” bravado from Ministers. I was interested in the warnings of the noble Earl, Lord Devon. There is a very real danger that a Government desperate to prove that they can get trade deals will indulge in a race to the bottom, putting at risk environmental, work and safety standards, and creative and cultural assets. I urge the Minister to look again at the Djanogly amendments, which were not carried in the other place, because nothing would give greater confidence in the intentions of the Government than if they were to bring the Djanogly amendments back and pass them in this House.

Trade Bill

Lord McNally Excerpts
Report stage & Report: 3rd sitting (Hansard) & Report: 3rd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Wednesday 6th January 2021

(3 years, 6 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Trade Bill 2019-21 Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: HL Bill 128-R-III Third marshalled list for Report - (22 Dec 2020)
I urge the Government to support the amendment and display their commitment to leading the world on this important issue of online harms to our children.
Lord McNally Portrait Lord McNally (LD) [V]
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My Lords, as ever, it is a pleasure to follow the noble Baroness, Lady Kennedy. I also want to speak in support of the amendment. My intervention is based on a long-term commitment to seeing age-appropriate design embedded—as it was in the Data Protection Act 2018—activated and written into future legislation. That commitment owes much to the efforts and persistence of the noble Baroness, Lady Kidron, as has been noted by my noble friend Lord Clement-Jones and others.

My fears for the future of that commitment have not been helped by awaiting the implementation of the long promised internet harms Bill. The harms identified by the 2018 Act are real and present now, and delay leaves ongoing harms unchecked. For over a year I have been working with the Carnegie UK Trust on a paving Bill intended to ease the passage of the online harms Bill. In its briefing for this Bill, the Carnegie team had this to say:

“At Carnegie we remain concerned about the opaque nature of the discussions on the UK/US Trade Agreements and the risks that the wholesale imports of provisions relating to section 230 of relevant US legislation”—

that is, the legislation referred to earlier in the debate—

“may significantly restrict the ability of the UK to enact the systemic online harms regulation it intends”.

My concerns were further increased by the briefing from the 5Rights Foundation, which warns that the US tech lobby is working to ensure that US domestic legislation protects big tech companies from liability, and that that is written into all US trade agreements—a warning that Lord Sheikh emphasised.

If such clauses were to appear in a future UK-US trade deal, they would have a chilling effect on all the advances the UK has made to protect children online. So I believe that this amendment is necessary to protect safeguards already in law or proposed in future law, but which could be voided by clauses written into trade treaties.

I believe the good intentions expressed by the Minister, but we are only six days into our new liberties, so claiming that there are no problems is a little premature. I am a little worried about the self-styled buccaneers in his party, whose idea of behaving in accordance with commitments to the law may be equal to that of the old buccaneers.

Although the amendment would be a valuable addition to the Bill, we must also address the wider issue of the use of the royal prerogative in making treaties. There is an urgent need to review how Parliament deals with trade and other treaties. The 2010 Constitutional Reform and Governance Act—the CRaG Act—is now not fit for purpose. It was drawn up when we had already spent 30 years in the EU, which then had responsibility for our trade treaties. The CRaG Act is out of date, but so too is the concept of the royal prerogative, which is a useful fig leaf for giving Ministers power and preventing Parliament from having power.

A Government who came to power promising to return power to Parliament, not to the Executive, should really examine the CRaG Act, the royal prerogative, and how we handle trade treaties. As has been said, there are lots of Governments, chiefly the US Congress, who have powers to scrutinise. American Ministers, and other Ministers in the same situation, simply have to live with that kind of scrutiny. Let us pass this amendment, but let us then put down a firm marker that there is other work to be done before Parliament can regain sovereignty over treaties.

Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle Portrait Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle (GP) [V]
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My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow my noble friend Lady Jones of Moulsecoomb in thanking the noble Baroness, Lady Kidron, for tabling Amendment 23. My noble friend and I do not usually speak on the same amendment, but there is a particular range of issues that I want to speak to on this one—issues that no other noble Lords have addressed. I am talking about controlling advertising, a fast-rising area of concern.

When I talk about advertising I also mean some of the broader online issues such as product placement and payments to influencers, which are effectively indirect forms of advertising. This is where I agree with a comment made by the noble Lord, Lord Vaizey, yesterday, which may surprise the House. He expressed concern about differential controls on advertising for broadcasters in the UK, which do not apply online. Yet we know that consumption of media is very much blending now; indeed, the divisions between broadcast and online material, from consumers’ point of view, are pretty artificial these days.

In some areas we already have quite tight controls in the UK for broadcasters and others—on smoking advertising, for example, as well as some controls on gambling advertising, and limited controls on alcohol advertising. We have also seen, particularly in the London underground, controls on the advertising of unhealthy food. As we start to face up to our role as chair of COP26, and face the climate emergency and the nature crisis, a broader concern about advertising is rising, in relation to its place in driving consumption, and driving the destruction of our planet.

The amendment is about children in particular. It is Green Party policy that all advertising directed at primary school age pupils, who psychologists tell us cannot distinguish between advertising and programmes, or editorial content, should be banned. In the online context, it should be possible to create a situation in which we can protect children up to a certain age from online advertising.

I note that just before Christmas, on a question about gambling advertising, the noble Baroness, Lady Barran, speaking for the Government, said:

“We very much welcome moves by the major platforms that give individuals greater control”.—[Official Report, 14/12/20; col. 1518.]

over gambling advertising. Should a future Government decide to enforce even the rights of users to block advertising, I suggest that we do not want to see trade Bills stopping that happening.

I conclude by referring to what the noble Baroness, Lady Kennedy of The Shaws, said. What we are talking about here is giving guidance and democratic control—sovereign control—to our trade negotiators in future trade deals.