Draft Cat and Dog Fur (Control of Movement etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2022

Penny Mordaunt Excerpts
Tuesday 6th September 2022

(1 year, 5 months ago)

General Committees
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Minister for Trade Policy (Penny Mordaunt)
- Hansard - -

I beg to move,

That the Committee has considered the draft Cat and Dog Fur (Control of Movement Etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2022.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Ms Elliott. As a courtesy, I should say that my phone is off before the jokes start. I should also declare an interest as the humble servant of four cats at home.

I am sure that all Members are of one mind that the slaughter of cats and dogs to trade in their fur is completely wrong. Since 2008, the import, export and placing on the market of cat and dog fur, and products containing their fur, has been banned in the United Kingdom, and it will continue to be. When the ban entered into force it was at EU level, but I am proud that the United Kingdom played an influential role in its introduction. The Government rightly chose to keep the ban in place upon the UK’s departure from the European Union, and today we are seeking to secure this statutory instrument to ensure our robust position is maintained.

The SI replicates, clarifies and makes operable the prohibition on the import, export and placing on the market of cat and dog fur, and products containing such fur.

Ruth Cadbury Portrait Ruth Cadbury (Brentford and Isleworth) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am interested in the definition of fur. Does it relate to fur and pelts, as in pelts with fur on, or does it also include combed fur that is not attached to a pelt and has been removed from a live animal?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Hansard - -

The definition includes products containing that fur, so it is a broad definition.

The regulations are simple and do not introduce new policy; instead we are correcting technical deficiencies in the retained EU law and amending domestic law to ensure that the regulations work for the UK now that we have left the EU. The SI ensures the continued enforcement of the ban, as well as clarifies the criminal penalties for breaching it in each of the UK’s criminal law jurisdictions in accordance with the primary legislation that that applies to. In doing so, we are ensuring that any doubt regarding those penalties is removed. The SI also replaces references to the European Union and its institutions and legislation with the equivalent references to Great Britain.

I am sure that there are many things that Members wish that the SI might do, but its scope is very limited. For example, Members may want to end the existing derogation powers for educational purposes, or want the draft regulations to cover other species. But that would be beyond the powers under which the SI is made. It cannot introduce new policy and it is simply ensuring that the ban on the trade in cat and dog fur is fully maintained now that the UK has left the EU. In doing so we are sending a clear message across the world that that is the case.

Drafts of the regulations were shared with the devolved Administrations, and we are confident that there is agreement across the UK on the importance of maintaining the ban on the trade in cat and dog fur. To waiver would risk cat and dog fur crossing our borders and entering our market, and that is not acceptable to this Government. I very much hope that Members will be unanimous in their support for the SI and what it seeks to achieve.

--- Later in debate ---
Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Hansard - -

I thank all hon. Members who are broadly supportive of enabling us to tidy up this particular area and ensure that the measures are in statute.

I will start on the wider issues of animal welfare. The Committee will be aware that we have done a huge amount in recent years, but we also have a proud history of protecting and improving animal welfare, as many Members have alluded to. Fur farming has been banned in England and Wales since 2000 and in Scotland and Northern Ireland since 2002. Beyond cat and dog fur, there are existing restrictions on the trade of seal furs and skins, and in May of last year, DEFRA published a call for evidence on the fur trade in Great Britain. The evidence gathered, and wider engagement with the fur sector, will be used to inform any future action on the fur trade in Great Britain. Many other concerns have been raised during the debate about the future of such matters. We will wait to see what the new Administration do with work that is currently in train.

The Government published the “Action Plan for Animal Welfare” in May of last year, setting out domestic and international animal welfare and conservation reforms. Its delivery requires primary and secondary legislation. The Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill, which was reintroduced in May, delivers on three of the Government’s manifesto commitments: banning the export of live animals, cracking down on puppy smuggling, and banning the keeping of primates. That Bill was secured in a carry-over motion in April and reintroduced in May, and is awaiting confirmation of Report stage, which will hopefully happen in autumn. We have done many other things in recent years, particularly on the international stage on endangered species.

Members raised enforcement and better labelling. As I have explained, the SI is narrow in scope, but work has been going on at DEFRA to ensure that we have better enforcement, whether for such fur products or for our food supply chains. We have the ambition to have the best border in the world by 2025.

In addition to the integrity of supply chains and labelling, in this role I have done a lot of work with DEFRA colleagues to make use of new technology. It is possible through some technology that exists now, but that did not at the time the regulations were written, to test in different ways, identify not just the nature of the product but where it originates from, and to track it. With our ambitions for our border, we would want to update that, but that is not the reason why it is not included in the regulations—the reason is the narrow scope of the powers in the SI.

Stella Creasy Portrait Stella Creasy
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Will the Minister give way?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Hansard - -

If I could just make some progress on—

Stella Creasy Portrait Stella Creasy
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I just do not want to misunderstand what the Minister was saying. To clarify, is she saying that the rules about analytical requirements are not being imported because of the narrowness of this SI process, or because the Government have an alternative proposal in place? Surely, if the regulations replicate previous legislation that already had those analytical rules in place, that would be within scope.

--- Later in debate ---
Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Hansard - -

That is a further reason to complete this SI Committee swiftly.

Let me be clear: this is not about enforcement or about the issues that the hon. Lady raised. Those are practical matters and would not be in the scope of any legislation. They are about our own enforcement bodies and how they operationalise the requirements that we set out. In this SI we are not talking about how things would be tested and checked operationally. That is not the point of it. It is a very narrow SI that is designed to ensure that we have clarity about our own intent. I can reassure the hon. Lady that it is not intention that the Secretary of State would derogate from the SI’s provisions. That is not what we wish to do, and nor have we ever done that while those provisions were in EU law. The scope is extremely narrow, however, and we are not intending to open it up to other issues.

I know that people will have concerns about other species and future policy and whether we will derogate. That is not this Government’s policy and we will not seek to derogate. If a future Government chose to do so, that would have to be done through another legislative vehicle, because such derogation would not be within the scope of the SI.

Stella Creasy Portrait Stella Creasy
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Previous legislation that we are copying into GB law set out explicitly how an analytical process would take place to ensure that the provisions were operable. As the Minister herself said, the SI is about making those provisions operable, but she is now saying that the enforcement element will be carried out by A Another body or A Another process. I hope that she can understand that for those of us who want to see the legislation succeed now that we are out of the EU it is rather troubling that the Government have not thought through how to make that happen, given that the EU legislation did think that through. Perhaps the Minister can clarify when the Government might be able to tell cat and dog lovers that the laws are operable.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Hansard - -

The enforcement bodies that will operationalise the rules that we set here know how to do that—they have been doing it for a long time already. The difference between the previous EU legislation and what we are discussing today is the fact that it will be the United Kingdom that must be made reference to. We are not reporting to the EU Commission on these matters, and that was the requirement in the previous legislation. That is the difference in the element that the hon. Lady has highlighted, if I have understood her correctly. The scope of the SI is not about how we operationalise; we are not here to discuss how testing is done, what particular technology is used or the protocols surrounding that. That is an operational matter. That is not a matter for the SI, which is simply transposing the relevant parts of the previous legislation and clarifying the fact that we have left the EU. It will not make reference to the EU but to the UK.

Stella Creasy Portrait Stella Creasy
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am grateful to the Minister for giving way again. I do not wish to delay our proceedings, but it is worth reading into the record that the provisions of EU regulation No 1523/2007 were exactly about the operation of the analytical approach. The point about sharing information with other EU countries was about being able to identify cat and dog fur and the techniques that companies were using to try to avoid the regulations. By removing those regulations, we are removing a means of enforcement. I am pleased to hear that the Minister thinks there are UK bodies that will conduct that analysis, but all we are asking for is clarity as to when the two approaches will match up. Without the protection of the EU requirement, we do not have that analytical approach, because that was a direct enforcement requirement under 1523/2007.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Hansard - -

Although we are catching up with the legislation we are discussing, out in the real world people are continuing to monitor, track, test and share information. It is not the case that there is a gap in coverage. The SI is simply tidying things up for the UK statute book. I am quite sure that my colleagues at DEFRA will be able to give the hon. Lady as much detail as she needs about the technology that is being employed and the intelligence gathered on such products. Of course it is very important not just that we work with our European partners on this but with partners around world, because I am afraid to say that this horrible trade goes on in too many other countries. We have a clear role to play in trying to improve animal welfare standards there.

Moving on to other issues that colleagues have raised, as I speak, the Trade (Australia and New Zealand) Bill is being debated on the Floor of the House. I refer hon. Members to the analysis of the trade Bills, and to the Trade and Agriculture Commission report on animal welfare standards and other issues. When we talk about EU retained law and UK law on welfare standards, it is important to remember that there is not necessarily an equivalent in other countries; Australia was mentioned, but we are talking about local guidelines and practice. There is not equivalent regulation that would be on a par with UK law or EU retained law. It is important to point that out.

I think I have covered all hon. Members’ points—

Stella Creasy Portrait Stella Creasy
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Northern Ireland?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Hansard - -

On Northern Ireland, the Government are obviously committed to the unfettered movement of goods between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. The statutory instrument makes our desire to protect cats and dogs compatible with the Northern Ireland protocol situation. The hon. Lady will be aware that the UK is making a huge effort to ensure that trade is as frictionless as possible. I have sat longer than anyone on the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee, and I can tell her that we have acted in good faith and made proactive, positive suggestions on a whole raft of fronts, including on veterinary agreements. We will continue to work to ensure that burdens are lifted from Northern Ireland businesses and opportunities are maximised.

Stella Creasy Portrait Stella Creasy
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Could the Minister clarify—I did ask—whether there will be two separate systems running coterminously? Obviously, there are now different systems for EU trade and GB trade. It is true that until the resolution of the Northern Ireland protocol situation, a trader in Northern Ireland will have to complete two lots of paperwork if they want to sell Parka coats that may or may not use cat or dog fur.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Hansard - -

As the hon. Lady will be well aware, there are a number of matters that we want rectified through a resolution of the Northern Ireland protocol issues, and we will continue to work on that. She will know that my Department has set up a couple of services to assist Northern Ireland businesses. We are continuing to lift burdens; we would be delighted if the Opposition helped us in that, and encouraged the EU to do more. Again, this is a technical issue; it does not impact the work that has been going on for many months—indeed, years—to monitor and track these products, and to ensure that they do not get into the UK market. I hope that gives her reassurance. I am happy to ask DEFRA to give her further assurances, if she wants to know the detail of the operational matters that she raises.

I hope that I have addressed all Members’ issues of concern, and that I have unanimous support for ensuring that Felix and Fido can have confidence in the integrity of the UK market.

Question put and agreed to.

Oral Answers to Questions

Penny Mordaunt Excerpts
Thursday 21st July 2022

(1 year, 7 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Michael Fabricant Portrait Michael Fabricant (Lichfield) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

12. What progress her Department has made on securing UK membership of the comprehensive and progressive agreement for trans-Pacific partnership.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Minister for Trade Policy (Penny Mordaunt)
- Hansard - -

The UK is well on the way to joining CPTPP, one of the largest trading blocs in the world. We are now in market access negotiations, which are the final phase of the accession process.

Michael Fabricant Portrait Michael Fabricant
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

May I first say what a great pleasure it is to ask my right hon. Friend—and she will always be my friend—this question? Will she say—[Interruption.] Sorry, that was an emotional moment, Mr Speaker; I hope you will forgive me. Will she outline the real advantages that CPT—whatever the bloody thing is called—[Interruption.] Whatever the ruddy thing is called. Will should outline the benefits of membership, and will she perhaps also say what sort of difference it will make to our trading relationship with the United States, which is also a member?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Hansard - -

I thank my very dear hon. Friend for that question. He is right to point to the benefits of joining this trading bloc: 99.9% of all UK goods are eligible for tariff-free access, it will increase wages in this country, and obviously it will help our relationships with other nations outside the bloc. The UK moving to the accession process will encourage and strengthen other like-minded free-trade nations around the world to co-operate and do more together, and to reform the World Trade Organisation.

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I welcome the Minister’s answer. If the United Kingdom becomes part of this bloc, will the Minister outline what trading advantages will come directly to Northern Ireland and its businesses? We obviously want to gain from it as well.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Hansard - -

Those very same benefits will also apply to Northern Ireland, and the hon. Gentleman will know that we are providing extra support to help with the particular export opportunities, including for services, that are so strong in Northern Ireland. We are determined not only with this accession, but with the other FTAs we are doing, that all businesses can benefit, because that is obviously our end goal.

Andrea Leadsom Portrait Dame Andrea Leadsom (South Northamptonshire) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I pay tribute to my right hon. Friend for a fantastic, brave, clean campaign for the leadership of the Conservative party and to be Prime Minister.

As a passionate Brexiteer, does my right hon. Friend agree that being a force for good in the world for free trade is an absolutely honourable goal and one that the UK should promote at every opportunity?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Hansard - -

I thank my right hon. Friend. I am amazed to find myself here this morning given my reported work ethic, but here I am.

My right hon. Friend is absolutely right that the UK, a G7 nation, leaving the regulatory orbit of the EU is an international event. It gives us a huge opportunity, alongside nations like the United States, to set out our view of the world and of capitalism and to fight for the things we believe in.

Margaret Ferrier Portrait Margaret Ferrier (Rutherglen and Hamilton West) (Ind)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Environmental campaigners have raised concerns that joining the CPTPP would put our deforestation commitments at risk because it drops generic trade tariffs. What assurances can the Minister provide that our trade deals will not put our environmental commitments at risk?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Hansard - -

I would point to the forestry programmes that this nation has funded—some more than 30 years old—in parts of the world that are covered by this trading bloc. This country has an important history under successive Governments of protecting not only our own environment but that of other nations. I ask the hon. Lady to point those programmes out to any of her constituents who are concerned.

Ruth Cadbury Portrait Ruth Cadbury (Brentford and Isleworth) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

From swerving eight invitations to attend the International Trade Committee to avoiding bringing a debate with a vote to this Chamber before ratification, we have seen a truly shameless attempt from the Department for International Trade to dodge to any form of scrutiny of the trade deal with Australia. With the UK now negotiating membership of the CPTPP, I have a simple question: will the Minister promise that this House will be granted a full and timely debate before any deal is ratified—yes or no?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Hansard - -

I will ask my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to set out any parliamentary business and timetable for any future trade agreements. We have clearly committed to a particular process. For my part, every time the International Trade Committee or other body of this House has asked me to go before it, I have. That is the attitude of the ministerial team, and we will continue to do that.

Kerry McCarthy Portrait Kerry McCarthy (Bristol East) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

14. What assessment she has made with Cabinet colleagues of the impact of the Australia and New Zealand free trade agreements on employment in the UK food sector.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Minister for Trade Policy (Penny Mordaunt)
- Hansard - -

The trade deals with Australia and New Zealand are expected to increase bilateral trade by 53% and 59% respectively in the long run.

Kerry McCarthy Portrait Kerry McCarthy
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

It has been revealed that when the Foreign Secretary was Secretary of State for International Trade she ignored advice from her officials that the Australia and New Zealand trade agreements would shrink our food and farming sectors. I think we can all agree that that is a disgrace—[Interruption.] I am glad someone got the joke. The food and farming sectors are already hurting due to severe labour shortages and rising costs, and these rushed trade agreements could be the final nail in the coffin. If the Foreign Secretary cannot be trusted to do the right thing for farmers, can she be trusted to run the country?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Hansard - -

If the hon. Lady would like to write with the specific details, I am sure the Department will be able to provide a full answer to her assertions. The economic modelling was based on full employment, which does not reflect the change in employment between sectors and, critically, does not estimate jobs lost or gained in any sector. However, if she writes with the specific details, I am sure we can address that for her.

Liz Twist Portrait Liz Twist (Blaydon) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

15. What steps she is taking to help increase the (a) volume and (b) reach of UK exports.

--- Later in debate ---
Alicia Kearns Portrait Alicia Kearns (Rutland and Melton) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I have always been struck by the quiet diligence with which the Minister for Trade Policy, my right hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth North (Penny Mordaunt), does her job. Can she please update me on progress on signing individual deals with US states, which my farmers in Rutland and Melton are particularly interested in?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Minister for Trade Policy (Penny Mordaunt)
- Hansard - -

This week we have continued our negotiations with Utah; yesterday, we also signed the second state-level memorandum of understanding with North Carolina, which will be based on green growth. We are currently negotiating with half of all US states. The first eight deals that we will sign will cover 20% of the US economy and that will open up procurement, enable mutual recognition of qualifications, and enable British businesses to take a larger share of exports of both goods and services.

Sarah Green Portrait Sarah Green (Chesham and Amersham) (LD)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

T4. There was cross-party agreement during the urgent question earlier this week that Parliament has not been given the opportunity to properly scrutinise, debate or vote on the Australia trade deal, despite assurances from the Government that time would be made for debate. I heard the Secretary of State’s response to my right hon. Friend the Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr Carmichael). What assurances can she give that future trade agreements will make it to the Floor of the House for debate and a vote before they are ratified?

Tim Loughton Portrait Tim Loughton (East Worthing and Shoreham) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Topically, the Government have announced yet another deal with the American states, in no small part due to the allegedly “work-shy” efforts of the Minister for Trade Policy, my right hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth North (Penny Mordaunt). Think what she could achieve if her focus was actually on the job!

The economies of many of these American states are larger than those of European countries. Texas is the 12th largest economy in the world. Can my right hon. Friend give us a cumulative total of the sort of economies that we are dealing with in these trade deals and that are likely to be signing up over the next few months? I think that total is considerable, thanks to her efforts.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Hansard - -

States such as California and Texas are super-economies: if they were nations, they would be the seventh and eighth largest economies in the world. We hope that Texas will be in the first eight deals that we sign. In addition to the potential for their economies and ours, this is also about bringing together smart people, money and ideas to solve problems that we are all grappling with. Texas in particular is doing a huge amount on fintech blockchain; the synergy between what it is doing and the innovation in the City of London could be really special.

Christian Matheson Portrait Christian Matheson (City of Chester) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Small businesses in my constituency wanting to export to the European Union tell me that they have to fill in customs declarations of up to 70 pages. Why are the Government putting such barriers in the way of small business exports?

Oral Answers to Questions

Penny Mordaunt Excerpts
Thursday 16th June 2022

(1 year, 8 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Sheryll Murray Portrait Mrs Sheryll Murray (South East Cornwall) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

3. What steps her Department is taking to increase trade with Commonwealth countries.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Minister for Trade Policy (Penny Mordaunt)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

Mr Speaker, may I also associate myself with your remarks about Jo Cox and her legacy? My thoughts are with her family today.

Pre-pandemic, the combined GDP of the Commonwealth was $9 trillion, and nearly 80% of that was due to four nations: us, India, Canada, with which we are now negotiating a free trade agreement, and Australia, with which we have already secured a from-scratch FTA. With 27 economic partnerships, we intend to boost our intra-Commonwealth trade to $2 trillion by 2030.

Sheryll Murray Portrait Mrs Murray
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

In this year of the platinum jubilee, what better time could there be to cement our bond with Commonwealth countries? Does my right hon. Friend agree that this would be an excellent year to redouble our efforts to increase trade with those nations, which have such a strong history with our own?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I thank my hon. Friend for raising that. Yes, we have the jubilee, and we also have the Commonwealth games, and the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting is approaching. It is right that we celebrate and enhance the power of our Commonwealth family. We are united in our commitment to democracy, peace and prosperity, and we will continue to work with our partners to capture the potential of the Commonwealth advantage, which on average allows for 21% lower bilateral trade costs between Commonwealth countries, compared with most non-Commonwealth countries. We should put all our weight behind maximising that.

Rachael Maskell Portrait Rachael Maskell (York Central) (Lab/Co-op)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

4. What discussions she has had with Cabinet colleagues on the impact of trade with China on surveillance technology.

--- Later in debate ---
Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Minister for Trade Policy (Penny Mordaunt)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

The Trade Remedies Authority seeks to defend UK industries from unfair trade practices. It was established last year and has already begun a series of investigations and making recommendations to support businesses in sectors vital to the UK national interest.

Liz Twist Portrait Liz Twist
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Hydro, which produces aluminium extrusions at its Birtley factory in my constituency, is concerned that the final measures proposed by the Trade Remedies Authority will not protect it from imports from China and that they are nowhere near as strong as EU tariffs. Will the Minister or the Secretary of State meet me and Hydro to discuss the situation and how the proposed TRA decision will affect the company?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I thank the hon. Lady for her question. The provisional rates are based on the evidence that the TRA had gathered at that point in its investigation. Companies will have to pay provisional duties only if there is a decision to apply a definitive anti-dumping duty. The TRA was in Parliament last week, I think, willing to talk to Members of Parliament. It is always open to doing that, as well as to speaking directly with businesses, but I shall pass on her comments to the Secretary of State. She is not here today because of MC12—the World Trade Organisation’s 12th ministerial conference—but I will ensure that the hon. Lady’s concerns are passed on to her.

Theresa Villiers Portrait Theresa Villiers (Chipping Barnet) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

8. What steps she is taking to promote UK food exports around the world.

--- Later in debate ---
Craig Tracey Portrait Craig Tracey (North Warwickshire) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

10. What steps her Department is taking to encourage the US Administration to lift tariffs on imports from the UK.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Minister for Trade Policy (Penny Mordaunt)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

On 1 June, section 232 tariffs on imports of UK steel and aluminium products were lifted. We have also secured the lifting of the long-standing US ban on the import of British beef and lamb.

Craig Tracey Portrait Craig Tracey
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Minister is doing excellent work to help pave the way for UK businesses to do more trade in the US, and lifting tariffs is just one of the ways we can do that. Will she set out what more the Government can do to support our leading service sectors, as well as help our small and medium-sized enterprises to get their foot in the door?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I thank my hon. Friend for raising that point. In addition to a free trade agreement, which will assist us on tariffs and those kinds of barriers, we are pursuing a twin-track approach with US states. That will help our service sector in particular. We are also looking at the mutual recognition of qualifications in accounting, auditing, legal services and so on. Next week, we are holding a UK-US SME dialogue in Boston to help us open up procurement possibilities for companies that would find it difficult to seek out those opportunities.

Diana Johnson Portrait Dame Diana Johnson (Kingston upon Hull North) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

11. What steps her Department plans to take to help secure an agreement at the World Trade Organisation on ensuring global access to covid-19 vaccines.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Minister for Trade Policy (Penny Mordaunt)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

Negotiations on the response to the covid-19 pandemic are taking place at the World Trade Organisation’s 12th ministerial conference this week. Although I cannot comment on live negotiations—and they are very live today—the UK is seeking a comprehensive multilateral declaration addressing the trade policy issues that will make a real difference to global access to vaccines.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Sir Christopher Chope. [Interruption.] Oh, sorry. I call Dame Diana Johnson.

Diana Johnson Portrait Dame Diana Johnson
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I would like to have my say! Thank you, Mr Speaker.

I think there is broad agreement across the House that the world will not fully defeat covid until its vaccination levels are the same as those we have been very fortunate to get through the NHS. Will the Minister go further and give more detail on what we are asking for in those negotiations? She was quite brief in what she said.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

The right hon. Lady’s question is very timely. The negotiations are going on as we speak, so I do not want to comment on those live negotiations. She will know that we firmly believe that having strong intellectual property rights is key to ensuring that investment is going into the science base and that these products and vaccines will continue to be developed. We need that to happen, as well as to ensure that there is equity and that the world can make use of these amazing products.

Gareth Thomas Portrait Gareth Thomas (Harrow West) (Lab/Co-op)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Perhaps the reason that the Minister of State does not want to give any more detail is that in Geneva this week the Secretary of State has actually been leading efforts to water down or block any deal on access to covid medicines. I gently ask the Minister of State this: with so few people in developing countries having had their first covid vaccine, why are Ministers so determined to prevent some of the richest companies across the globe from giving the poorest people in the world the tools they need to stop transmission and save lives?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

That is a ridiculous mischaracterisation of this country’s stance. We are one of the largest donors to the covid advance market commitment, which is ensuring that the vaccine is being rolled out in 92 developing countries. We are at the forefront of that effort. What the Secretary of State is trying to do is ensure that investment in the science base that created these vaccines remains strong. We need to do both of those things if we are going to vaccinate the world.

Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope (Christchurch) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

12. What steps she is taking to promote trade between the UK and California.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Minister for Trade Policy (Penny Mordaunt)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

Across the US, we are unlocking barriers for business at state level, while also engaging at the federal level. There is huge potential for growing trade in California, and I have visited California three times as part of the Department for International Trade stateside tour.

Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer, but as California is the fifth largest economy in the world, will she redouble her efforts and, in particular, give us a timescale for securing a memorandum of understanding with the state of California similar to that which she successfully negotiated with Indiana?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

We are currently talking to about 25 states with regard to memorandums of understanding, including California. Larger economy states will take longer than smaller economies to arrive at the final MOU. We think that within the first eight we will have some super-economy states, including Texas. California will be a little way off, but I hope to conclude a large number of these MOUs by the end of this year, and we expect to sign further in the coming weeks.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The UK Government, as we have heard, are in talks with 25 individual US states, in the hope of establishing tailored free trade agreements. I believe that the Cabinet has set California and Texas in its immediate sights. If the UK Government have no qualms in entering into trade agreements with sub-state actors such as those US states and do not think that that violates US sovereignty, why do they oppose the Scottish Government entering into their own free trade negotiations?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

This argument, I am afraid, is a false one, and it has also been perpetrated with regard to the Australia deal. The structures and kinds of regulations and laws that we are talking about are not equivalent. In Australia’s case, we are not talking about law or EU retained law; we are talking about guidelines that sit at state level. Obviously, the MOUs that we are agreeing with US states are not free trade agreements in terms of tariffs; they talk about our regulation, mutual recognition of qualifications and all of those things. Within those MOUs, we are actually doing partnerships between particular locations of the UK, which could include the devolved nations. Northern Ireland has such an MOU with other parts of the US, and I encourage the Scottish Government to get on board, because there would be massive advantages to people in Scotland if they did so.

Richard Fuller Portrait Richard Fuller (North East Bedfordshire) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I commend my right hon. Friend’s progress in her discussions with California, but she will know that many leading companies have left California for Texas because of that state’s low-tax, light-touch, pro-growth regulation. Will she update the House on the progress that she is making in her discussions with Texas? What lessons has she learned and passed on about the scope for regulatory reform in this country?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

There is massive scope for such reform, which is one reason why we are pursuing this agenda. My hon. Friend is absolutely right that business is seeking out business-friendly states in the United States. There is now some competition to secure MOUs with us, and we are going after states that are really open for business and open to bringing people, ideas and money together to solve the world’s problems. Texas will be a trailblazer state; we have signed with Indiana; and Oklahoma, the Carolinas and others are really pushing the agenda forward. There are massive potential benefits for us, and for the United States too.

Neale Hanvey Portrait Neale Hanvey (Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath) (Alba)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

13. What recent discussions she has had with Cabinet colleagues on measures to support companies to exploit export opportunities in international markets.

--- Later in debate ---
Theresa Villiers Portrait Theresa Villiers (Chipping Barnet) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

T1. If she will make a statement on her departmental responsibilities.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Minister for Trade Policy (Penny Mordaunt)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

The UK signed a trade and economic development memorandum with the state of Indiana on 27 May. The first such arrangement between the UK and an individual US state, it forms part of our twin-track approach to trading with the United States, seeking out ways to unlock barriers for business at state level in addition to our engagement at federal level. We are to sign further memorandums of understanding in the coming weeks.

Theresa Villiers Portrait Theresa Villiers
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

May we have a cross-Government effort on post-Brexit reform to ensure that our regulation does more to facilitate competition and new market entrants? That is crucial not only to grow our domestic economy but to secure trade agreements and boost international trade.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I thank my right hon. Friend for her question. She is one of the authors of the appropriately named TIGRR report—the report of the taskforce on innovation, growth and regulatory reform—which pointed to some great ideas and focused on how we can ensure that our regulation is enabling, not a barrier to deepening trade ties and opening up opportunities for our citizens. In addition to our work on our domestic regime, we are, as I said earlier, working with other nations and getting our regulators to talk together, so that we can improve our international trade opportunities.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds (Torfaen) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Mr Speaker, I echo your words about Jo Cox, whose ongoing legacy is testament to her remarkable dedication and compassion. Members across the House will be thinking of her family today.

Steel is a foundational industry for our economy, yet Members across the House will be aware of the difficulties that steelworkers have been through in recent years, from the US tariffs to the current cost of living crisis. The clock is ticking for the UK steel sector, with just 14 days left for the Secretary of State to make a decision on whether current trade safeguards remain in place. Will the Minister of State help to remove the uncertainty by urging the Secretary of State to make that decision today?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

The Secretary of State needs no urging, but it is important that she is able to make the right decision on this. The steel safeguards reconsideration is ongoing. I know the deadline is looming. My right hon. Friend is carefully considering all the information that has been presented to her. Obviously, we expect a decision very shortly. We understand its importance to the steel sector, both producers and end users.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

To say that a decision is expected shortly simply is not good enough. To ensure that this vital industry can survive, Ministers must stop dragging their feet and act urgently to safeguard the steel sector. Jobs and livelihoods in our communities are at risk. Labour backs UK steel. Does the Minister of State not accept that the reality is that, with time passing, Ministers are too busy propping up the Prime Minister to act decisively for the people?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

With regard to the right hon. Member’s last comment, it is always a good indication that we do not have to look at the ONS statistics to know that the trade numbers are going the right way when the Opposition spokesman wants to ask questions that are not related to trade. This Secretary of State has done a huge amount to support the steel and aluminium industries of the UK, not least in managing to renegotiate the decision on section 232 tariffs. She will continue to do that and she will make an announcement on the safeguarding issue very shortly.

Peter Aldous Portrait Peter Aldous (Waveney) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

T2. As the UK decarbonises our economy to deliver net zero, it is vital that a carbon border adjustment mechanism is implemented to prevent carbon leakage to other parts of the world, to ensure that our own domestic producers are not undercut and to create jobs. Will my right hon. Friend provide an update on the Government’s work to deliver the mechanism, particularly with regard to international co-operation with the EU and the US?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I thank my hon. Friend for raising this important issue. We recognise that the risk of carbon leakage is a very real one, and on 16 May we announced our intention to consult on a range of possible mitigation options, including product standards and a carbon border adjustment mechanism. We are working with our international partners and we are clear that any policies we consider will have to fit in with other UK priorities, which include the cost of living, economic growth, and our commitment to the World Trade Organisation, free and fair trade and the needs of developing nations.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I call the Scottish National party spokesperson, Anum Qaisar.

--- Later in debate ---
Helen Hayes Portrait Helen Hayes (Dulwich and West Norwood) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

T3. This morning we have heard some frankly staggering attempts to present a dreadful UK-EU trade context as some kind of triumph, but that simply will not wash with my constituents who are struggling with increased red tape when exporting to EU member states. Rather than building stronger trade links with our closest neighbours, Ministers are now ripping up the agreement they negotiated and risking a trade war with the EU. What is the Secretary of State doing to improve trading links with Europe and to end disruption for businesses?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I remind the hon. Lady of the trader support service and the export support service, which are there to provide bespoke support to businesses. I encourage her to put them in touch with her constituents.

I am afraid the figures do not bear out what the hon. Lady is saying. The increase in goods exports to the EU, to which the Under-Secretary of State for International Trade, my hon. Friend the Member for Finchley and Golders Green (Mike Freer) alluded, has in part been driven by an 8.1% increase in exports from the UK to the EU in April compared with March. We are bouncing back from the pandemic and the difficulties as we changed our border and left the EU. The country is improving on that front. Where issues remain, whether for the hon. Lady’s local businesses or for the Northern Ireland protocol, we are determined to resolve them.

Jamie Wallis Portrait Dr Jamie Wallis (Bridgend) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

T6. Many of my constituents work in the nearby Port Talbot steelworks, located just outside my Bridgend constituency. Will my right hon. Friend give an assessment of the impact on the UK steel sector of removing US tariffs on UK steel?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I thank my hon. Friend for all his work to champion the steel industry. The 500,000-tonne annual quota secured for steel exporters is almost double the annual volume of UK steel exports to the US between 2018 and 2019, and it provides a significant opportunity for the UK industry to increase its supply to US customers.

Patricia Gibson Portrait Patricia Gibson (North Ayrshire and Arran) (SNP)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

T4. According to the latest figures from the Food and Drink Federation, despite the Minister’s earlier remarks, UK food and drink exports to the EU in the first quarter of 2022 were still £600 million lower than in the first quarter of 2019. Given the continual shortfall in post-Brexit trade with our largest trading partner, does she think embarking on a wholly unnecessary trade war is wise? If not, what will she do to avert it?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

The statistics I quoted are from the Office for National Statistics. Across all goods there is a marked improvement, but we want to do more in the food and drink sector. That is why we are putting in place bespoke food, drink and agriculture attachés around the world to ensure our farmers and producers have more opportunities in global trade.

Scott Benton Portrait Scott Benton (Blackpool South) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

A trade deal with Israel would slash red tape and increase investment opportunities for both the UK and Israel. What progress have the Government made in securing a bilateral free trade deal with our close ally?

--- Later in debate ---
Sheryll Murray Portrait Mrs Sheryll Murray (South East Cornwall) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Will my right hon. Friend update the House on post-Brexit trade opportunities?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

Obviously, we have agreed an enormous number of trade agreements, including several from scratch. We have a new export strategy and more support for British business; we have a new export finance mission; we are an Association of Southeast Asian Nations dialogue partner; we have a voice back at the World Trade Organisation; we have created the Trade Remedies Authority, to help support our own economic interests; we have set our own global tariff regime; we have streamlined nearly 6,000 tariff lines, lowering costs for business, and scrapped thousands of unnecessary tariff variations; we are creating a single trade window; we will have the most effective border in the world by 2025; and Mr Speaker will be very pleased to hear that we are bringing forward measures to ensure that cat fur products are not allowed to be traded. All this is in addition to blue passports and the prospect of the crown stamp on a pint of English beer.

Carol Monaghan Portrait Carol Monaghan (Glasgow North West) (SNP)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

T8. A recent London School of Economics report has found that between the end of 2019 and September 2021 UK-EU trade barriers led to a 6% increase in food prices in the UK. Will Ministers start being truthful and admit that the soaring prices are being caused not by the war in Ukraine but the Government’s post-Brexit trade agreement, which is causing so much hardship for my constituents in Glasgow?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

The hon. Lady will know that work in government is looking at our global tariff and our tariff regime, with specific reference to ensuring that we are helping on the cost of living issues, which are really affecting our constituents. Leaving the EU has enabled us not only to make those decisions, but to treat developing nations with better preferences on tariffs, helping their economies as well as our own.

Martin Vickers Portrait Martin Vickers (Cleethorpes) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

We heard a lot in the reply to an earlier question about exports of cheese. What initiatives are the Government planning to extend the export market for seafood? My constituency and neighbouring Grimsby are major centres for excellent seafood.

Chi Onwurah Portrait Chi Onwurah (Newcastle upon Tyne Central) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Rwanda is an excellent opportunity to promote trade with the Commonwealth. As chair of the all-party group on Africa, I am well aware of the important role that diaspora communities can play in growing trade, where familial and friendship links are so important. Newcastle, like many cities and towns in this country, has a number of Commonwealth diaspora communities. What specific help can people in Newcastle expect from this Department to trade with the countries they, their parents or their grandparents may have come from?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I thank the hon. Lady for that important question. She will know that both import and export figures with regard to Commonwealth nations are increasing quite substantially. There are many schemes that both our Department and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy have in place. Obviously the local enterprise partnership networks are also assisting with this.

Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope (Christchurch) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

When a group of us from the British-American Parliamentary Group visited California last month, we were much impressed by the work of our trade teams in Los Angeles and San Francisco. However, those teams would be able to be even more effective if they had more flexibility to employ local staff, in line with prevailing labour market rates, as filling vacancies is a problem. What will the Government do to enable them to do that?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

We are doing several pieces of work on that, but one thing we are looking at in respect of our memorandums of understanding and our economic dialogues with individual states is the mutual recognition of qualifications. We are focusing on technical trades in particular, with legal, accountancy and audit, engineering and architecture being the trailblazers. This will not only help UK firms to win more business but help with the labour-market issues that are affecting businesses on both sides of the Atlantic.

Margaret Ferrier Portrait Margaret Ferrier (Rutherglen and Hamilton West) (Ind)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

How are Ministers planning to promote the Trade Remedies Authority to businesses in Scotland, to increase the awareness and take-up of its services where necessary?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

They should follow the hon. Lady’s example: I know that she attended the session with the Trade Remedies Authority. It is incredibly important that we get the message out to businesses that the TRA is an independent body with which they can take up issues. I thank the hon. Lady for attending and for enabling me to say that at the Dispatch Box today.

Richard Fuller Portrait Richard Fuller (North East Bedfordshire) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

There are significant opportunities for British exporters to the Gulf states that are members of the Gulf Co-operation Council, not least because we already export a lot and because the barriers for our exporters are greater than those for GCC exports to the UK. Will my hon. Friend update me on what progress is being made on achieving such a deal?

Oral Answers to Questions

Penny Mordaunt Excerpts
Thursday 21st April 2022

(1 year, 10 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Laurence Robertson Portrait Mr Laurence Robertson (Tewkesbury) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

1. What steps she is taking to help increase UK trade with African countries.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Minister for Trade Policy (Penny Mordaunt)
- Hansard - -

Overall UK-Africa trade stood at £32 billion last year. We will increase that and achieve our investment goals. By 2030, Africa will have 1.7 billion consumers, and our post-Brexit trade policy will enable those nations to grow their economies and create opportunities for UK businesses.

Laurence Robertson Portrait Mr Robertson
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the Minister for that response. In all my visits to Africa on trade missions, it has been clear that people there really do want to do business with British companies, perhaps in preference to doing business with the Chinese. Will we do everything we can to make British companies realise the opportunities that exist in Africa?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

First, let me place on record our thanks for everything my hon. Friend has done to improve trade with the continent and with Ethiopia in particular. He is right to say that there are massive opportunities there, but our great businesses face tough competition, including from China’s growing influence and impact on the region, particularly through soft infrastructure at the moment. In recent months, we have strengthened our situational awareness of what China is doing and are actively supporting UK businesses to reach those opportunities early. We are doing that through providing competitive finance and support across the continent.

Tim Farron Portrait Tim Farron (Westmorland and Lonsdale) (LD)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

As many African countries depend in normal times on Ukraine, Belarus and Russia for almost 100% of their grain, we find ourselves in a situation where we are trading in the same commodities markets as African countries, pushing up the prices for some of the poorest people in the world. Will the Minister acknowledge that, look again at the Government’s cut in aid and put that back to where it was? Will she also perhaps consider that the best way we can deal with that situation is by backing British farming, so that we can feed ourselves and not be robbing the food that should be feeding the poorest in the world?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

Let me put the aid budget in context. If we trebled the aid budget, it still would not be enough to deal with some of the situations that that continent is facing at the moment. A group in Whitehall is looking at all these issues, including food security, both in Africa and in Ukraine. Within that, there will be opportunities for other nations to start being able to supply, to step in and fill that gap. Obviously, we will want to ensure that Ukraine’s food security is looked after as well. A huge amount is going on in Whitehall, and if the hon. Gentleman would like some more information, I am sure we could supply him with the detail.

Caroline Ansell Portrait Caroline Ansell (Eastbourne) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

2. What steps she is taking to help support British international English language schools recover from the covid-19 pandemic.

--- Later in debate ---
Liz Twist Portrait Liz Twist (Blaydon) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

23. What steps she is taking to help ensure that workers’ rights are maintained in all UK trade agreements.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Minister for Trade Policy (Penny Mordaunt)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

Both agreements with Australia and New Zealand commit parties to maintain international labour standards.

Chris Elmore Portrait Chris Elmore
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Minister will be aware that the TUC was first promised a seat on a trade advisory board in November 2020, and 18 months on it has still not been offered that seat. It was quite right that life sciences, transport, financial services and various other bodies have seats on these trade boards. Why do the Government have a problem with the TUC or any of our trade unions, which do an enormous amount of work in protecting workers’ rights in this country?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

The issue is that the unions have not taken up the seat they were offered, but my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has included dialogue with unions in our trade negotiations at every opportunity—most recently, with the work she has been doing to secure a US FTA—and we will continue to do that. They are important stakeholders, and they will always be offered a seat at the table.

Liz Twist Portrait Liz Twist
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Can the Minister tell the House whether the issue of labour standards in supply chains has been raised with India during the trade negotiations?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

The hon. Member will know from the trade negotiations that we have concluded already, that this always forms a part of those negotiations through our discussions and consultations. I can get her chapter and verse on that and some details. It is not one of the FTAs I look after, but I can assure her that that is a core part of our negotiations.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I call the shadow Minister, Ruth Cadbury.

Ruth Cadbury Portrait Ruth Cadbury (Brentford and Isleworth) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

In 2019, the UK signed a trade deal with Colombia. Two years after that deal, Colombia remains the deadliest country for workers and trade union members, with 22 assassinations in the last two years alone. However, the UK’s trade deal has no clear enforcement mechanisms to protect the rights of workers or trade unionists. Will Ministers learn anything from this failure, especially when they negotiate future trade agreements with Gulf states?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I refer the hon. Member to some remarks on this issue that I made last year in Westminster Hall, where I took the time to list some of the activists—trade union activists, environmental activists—who have been brutally murdered. I listed those people on the Floor in Westminster Hall because it is important that we shine a spotlight on those issues. She will know that we have also taken great efforts to raise this issue at the UN, and I think we are upholding our obligations to those people in doing that.

Chris Green Portrait Chris Green (Bolton West) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

14. What steps her Department is taking to support UK manufacturing exports.

--- Later in debate ---
Laurence Robertson Portrait Mr Laurence Robertson (Tewkesbury) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

T2. In spite of the ongoing conflict in Tigray, a number of businesses have contacted me to say that they want to increase the amount of business that they do in Ethiopia. Will the Minister keep the dialogue going with the Ethiopian Government? That will help our businesses and may help to bring the conflict to an end.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Minister for Trade Policy (Penny Mordaunt)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I completely agree with my hon. Friend. UK exports to that country were up 7.2% on the previous year. He will know that recently we have had a UK-led consortium committing $8 billion of investment into telecoms, which will significantly increase growth and jobs and help the digital economy in that country. I thank him again for the role that he played in securing that investment.

Christine Jardine Portrait Christine Jardine (Edinburgh West) (LD)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

T5. This morning, much has been made of our links with Ukraine, and that comes at a time when the Prime Minister is in India for trade talks. We also hear reports of a $2 billion increase in India’s trade with Russia. What implications does that have for our relationship with India and for our sanctions on Russia? Will that be taken into account in the Prime Minister’s dealings? Will he be putting pressure on India to sanction Russia?

--- Later in debate ---
Damian Collins Portrait Damian Collins (Folkestone and Hythe) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

T6. States in the USA such as Texas and California have a larger GDP than many European nations. Aside from the UK-US trade negotiations, will the Minister say what progress is being made on trade deals between the UK and individual states in the USA?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

We are making considerable progress on that. We are in discussions with around 20 US states. I have just returned from Texas, which if it were a country in its own right would be the seventh largest economy in the world. We are going to do a state-level agreement with Texas, we hope, by October this year. We will start signing those agreements with US states next month. The first eight we have in the pipeline will be equivalent to 20% of the United States economy.

Chi Onwurah Portrait Chi Onwurah (Newcastle upon Tyne Central) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

During the recent British-American Parliamentary Group trade and security delegation to the US, we received the unequivocal message that any US-UK trade deal would have to be worker-centric. We also heard that the Secretary of State had said during the Baltimore dialogues that levelling up was the British equivalent of worker-centric and that therefore any levelled-up trade deal would have workers at its heart. Can she confirm whether that is the case and, if so, how she will ensure a worker voice at every trade meeting and discussion?

--- Later in debate ---
Robert Syms Portrait Sir Robert Syms (Poole) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Can we have an update on our joining the trans-Pacific partnership? That is important not only because of the growing markets, but because of the international challenges, stability and defence in the region.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

My hon. Friend is absolutely right; we have reached a major milestone on that accession process by moving to market access negotiations with that trade bloc. In addition to opening up a new market, this will also help us on such matters as maritime security and meeting the goals of the integrated review. CPTPP has strong rules against the unfair trade practice whereby some countries—China has been mentioned—give unreasonable advantages to state-owned enterprises or discriminate against foreign investors. Our vision for that part of the world has trade at its heart.

Oral Answers to Questions

Penny Mordaunt Excerpts
Thursday 3rd March 2022

(1 year, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Kevin Hollinrake Portrait Kevin Hollinrake (Thirsk and Malton) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

5. What steps she is taking to support farmers and food producers through trade deals.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Minister for Trade Policy (Penny Mordaunt)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

Our aim is to support and promote farmers and producers, to create opportunities for them and to ensure they have the knowledge and support to capitalise on those new opportunities, to be a positive force for improving standards and to ensure that our producers do not face unfair competition.

Kevin Hollinrake Portrait Kevin Hollinrake
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Environmental regulations and restrictions, on pesticides for example, are there for good reason, but they cost our farmers money either in sourcing alternatives or in lower yields. The farmers I speak to are very concerned about the use of chemicals, such as Paraquat in Australia and neonicotinoids in large parts of the European Union, that they are not allowed to use here. Their costs are therefore higher. Will these matters be addressed in the trade deals so that we get a fair and level playing field?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

There are many things we can do to drive international standards, to improve animal welfare and to encourage others not to use particular pesticides that affect insects we are keen to have around a bit more. There are many things we can do outside free trade agreements, and we have done them. As my hon. Friend knows, we have championed many of these issues.

I have a responsibility to understand the opportunities for our farmers not just in volume but in value, and to understand the additional costs they may face in producing very high-quality produce, which is obviously welcome. I have a deep and growing understanding of these matters, and I work closely with our colleagues in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. We understand the detail, we are talking to agriculture commissioners and Ministers around the world, and we will arrive at the right place in all the trade deals, which are obviously bespoke to each nation.

Gareth Thomas Portrait Gareth Thomas (Harrow West) (Lab/Co-op)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

In October 2020 the Department for International Trade said that, within five months, up to 77 extra British food and drink products would get protected status in Japan, thanks to the UK-Japan trade deal, highlighting Carmarthen ham, Shetland wool, Yorkshire rhubarb and Lakeland Herdwick lamb among the products that would benefit. Can the Minister confirm that, despite all the time that has passed, during which 56 new EU products have been recognised in Japan, fewer than half the UK products we were promised have even reached the consultation stage, including none of the specific products I mentioned?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I would be happy to update the hon. Gentleman with the specifics, but our analysis shows that the deal we have done with Japan will, in the long run, increase our trade but also improve our workers’ wages. These are good things. We obviously require other nations to put through legislation, to scrutinise and to get processes through their own Parliaments and committees, but that is what we will work towards. Those things will improve our economy and make a real difference to our workers and producers.

Sarah Olney Portrait Sarah Olney (Richmond Park) (LD)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

6. What support her Department is providing to SMEs that trade with the EU.

--- Later in debate ---
Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Minister for Trade Policy (Penny Mordaunt)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

On 18 February, Japan announced that the UK can move to market access negotiations, the next phase of the accession process. We aim to have concluded negotiations by the end of this year.

David Duguid Portrait David Duguid
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank my right hon. Friend for her response. The CPTPP is a great opportunity to deal with a growing economy, a growing market, and a market that is precisely for the kind of high-quality food and drink products that are produced in Scotland, and in my constituency of Banff and Buchan. Contrary to some reports in recent weeks, will my right hon. Friend provide a firm commitment that in no future or current trade deal will we allow the import of hormone-injected beef or any other foodstuff that would be illegal to produce and sell in the UK?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I thank my hon. Friend for giving me the opportunity to flatten that myth. The UK’s import standards include a ban on using artificial growth hormones in domestic and imported products, and our trade deals do not and will not change that. I hope that he will call out people who are scaremongering about these deals, as the deals are good for our producers and good for driving global standards, and they will be good for our economy and wages in this country.

Geoffrey Clifton-Brown Portrait Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

My right hon. Friend and her Department are to be massively congratulated on having got to the final stages of the CPTPP agreement. It is a market worth £8.4 trillion. Does she agree that it presents an enormous opportunity to propel our exports into a very high growth area of the world in the Pacific Rim and that it will have particular implications for certain sectors such as food and drink and financial services?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I thank my hon. Friend for his kind remarks. There are indeed many people across the Department and our network around the world who are to be congratulated on getting us this far. He is right: there are massive benefits in market opportunities, but the deal will also have a disproportionately positive effect on sectors here that have high wages. That will really help in creating jobs with above average wages. We will work very hard to ensure that we can realise those opportunities in the shortest possible time.

Joanna Cherry Portrait Joanna Cherry (Edinburgh South West) (SNP)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

13. What steps her Department is taking to (a) reduce barriers to and (b) increase the speed of the flow of goods from the EU to the UK.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Minister for Trade Policy (Penny Mordaunt)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

Removing barriers to trade is the core business of this Department, and we have plans to introduce the best border in the world by 2025.

Joanna Cherry Portrait Joanna Cherry
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the Minister for her answer. Unfortunately, Brexit has erected trade barriers with the European Union, and businesses are struggling with imports and exports. A new business in my Edinburgh South West constituency lost thousands of pounds importing a consignment of honey, because it lacked the correct paperwork. A huge amount of effort went into sorting out that paperwork, which was ultimately unsuccessful. The Scottish chamber of commerce tells me that Scottish businesses are effectively spending twice as much in costs due to inconsistencies in interpreting rules for imports and exports across the European Union and its partnership countries. This situation has been brought about by Brexit, so the Government have a responsibility to help businesses, such as the one in my constituency that I mentioned. Will the Minister reopen the Brexit support fund to help business?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I would say two things in response to that. First, much of the friction that the hon. and learned Lady is talking about is coming from the EU’s requirements on us. In voting for Brexit, it was not our intention, or the nation’s motivation, to erect trade barriers. The problem was that the price of frictionless trade was too high. That is why the UK has left the EU. What we want to do is remove barriers; we want as frictionless trade as possible. I hope that she will help us make the case to the EU to do that.

We have the Export Support Service which the Under-Secretary of State for International Trade, my hon. Friend the Member for Finchley and Golders Green (Mike Freer) has spoken about, and also the Trader Support Service, which is focused absolutely on these issues. There is also financial support to enable businesses to export or to get their sectors better prepared for some of the challenges that they are facing. Our door—I speak for all Ministers—is always open to the hon. and learned Lady if she wants to raise individual cases. We stand behind our producers, our manufacturers and our exporters, and we will do everything we can to ensure that they are maximising the opportunities available to them.

Hywel Williams Portrait Hywel Williams (Arfon) (PC)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

15. What steps she is taking to support agricultural exports to the EU.

--- Later in debate ---
Tonia Antoniazzi Portrait Tonia Antoniazzi (Gower) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Farmers in Wales and in Gower are rightly angry because the Government’s own assessment shows that it is the beef and sheep markets that are going to suffer in the light of the Australia and New Zealand deals. Farmers in Wales cannot and never will be able to compete on price. How do Ministers and the Secretary of State square that circle and protect the livelihoods of farmers in Wales?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Minister for Trade Policy (Penny Mordaunt)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

In all these deals we need to stay focused on what are the actual benefits and what are the actual risks for farmers and producers. To give one example, currently New Zealand does not use even half of its quota, so the notion that this market is suddenly going to be flooded with sheep meat from New Zealand is not correct. We need to look at the facts on this. There will be opportunities for our producers and that is what we need to stay focused on.

Tom Hunt Portrait Tom Hunt (Ipswich) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

T3. Both myself and my hon. Friend the Member for Peterborough (Paul Bristow) had the great privilege of visiting Bangladesh last month with the Al-Tazid Foundation, where we had the opportunity to meet not only His Excellency the High Commissioner, who is doing such a fantastic job, but the Bangladeshi Foreign Minister. We also took part in the business side. Bangladesh’s economy is growing at great pace; it is an increasingly dynamic economy. I appreciate that we are going to do a trade deal, but can the Secretary of State outline what steps are being taken by the Government to intensify trade, co-operation and investment between our country and Bangladesh?

--- Later in debate ---
Kevin Hollinrake Portrait Kevin Hollinrake (Thirsk and Malton) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

T4. Some pork producers, including Cranswick, which has premises in Thirsk and Malton, did the right thing and self-suspended export licences to China due to a covid outbreak. Seventeen months later, those licences have not been reinstated. Can we do whatever we can to get these licences back in place? It would help Cranswick, those other producers and the pig industry generally, which is suffering quite badly.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

My hon. Friend is right to raise this issue, and it needs to be resolved swiftly. Ministers from across this Department are lobbying to that effect, as are our Ministers in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and the Prime Minister has raised it personally.

Rachael Maskell Portrait Rachael Maskell (York Central) (Lab/Co-op)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

It cannot be business as usual. As many countries are needing to divest and diversify their energy supply away from Russia, what trade mechanisms can the Secretary of State put in place to ensure that the UK can be part of that effort to assist those countries achieving that objective?

--- Later in debate ---
Bill Esterson Portrait Bill Esterson (Sefton Central) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

When the Secretary of State responded to the question about luxury goods by not answering it, it begs the question, why not, and raises the question of whether there are conflicts of interest behind it. The contrast with Syria, where export controls were put in place, is stark. If it was appropriate for Syria, why is it not appropriate for Russia? I remind her of her words. She talked about working with allies and tightening the screw, so will she now, with her colleagues across Government, put in place that ban on luxury goods?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

First, as someone who has been personally threatened by Alexander Temerko, I would just say that the hon. Gentleman is wrong to make insinuations about Members of Parliament in that respect. If we are going to assist this situation, stop those who are enemies of this state and have clean politics at both ends of this House, we need to focus on individuals, their moral obligations and what they have and have not done. The hon. Gentleman caveated his remarks to the Prime Minister yesterday in that spirit, so I caution him to follow his own advice.

On the issue of luxury goods, many products have been exported not only to Russia, but to other countries supporting Russia’s appalling, barbaric war.

There are obviously complex legal obligations surrounding that, which is why the Department has stood up the export support service. There was much criticism of Italy’s carve-out on those products, which I think was wrong. Our objective is clear: Russia must pay the price for this barbaric war and our policies will do that.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Order. We ought to be cautious about the language we use against Members. I support the Minister, who is suffering heavily from intimidation from people who I would not support. Let us be a bit more cautious about how we put things in future.

Points of Order

Penny Mordaunt Excerpts
Wednesday 2nd March 2022

(1 year, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the hon. Gentleman for giving me notice of the point of order. The Minister is willing to respond immediately.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Minister for Trade Policy (Penny Mordaunt)
- Hansard - -

Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. Thank you for this chance to respond. The hon. Gentleman knows—as I have given evidence to his Committee in the short time I have been a Minister, and the Secretary of State for International Trade has given two evidence sessions with a further evidence session coming up, along with our first and second permanent secretaries and the director general for trade negotiations appearing before the hon. Gentleman’s Committee and the Public Accounts Committee last month, and also private briefings with his Committee and the New Zealand chief negotiator during negotiations—that we are completely committed to sharing documents with his Committee before publication where we are able to. We laid the free trade agreement before Parliament as soon as possible after it was signed and sent copies to his Committee shortly after signature. We also laid a written ministerial statement, again on the day, and sent a “Dear colleague” letter the day prior. No discourtesy is intended: we take scrutiny of these trade agreements very seriously. I will be happy to follow up with the hon. Gentleman’s Committee to give further reassurances.

None Portrait Several hon. Members rose—
- Hansard -

--- Later in debate ---
Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Angus Brendan MacNeil
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. There has been no detail of the sought scrutiny timeline and the Committee and its staff—and up in the House of Lords there is the same feeling—are very disappointed with the Department for International Trade. When can we have the scrutiny timeline, please?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Hansard - -

Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. The hon. Gentleman knows, as I gave evidence to his Committee, that we are determined not only that we have a good and very clear scrutiny timeline, but that there is a decent amount of time for Trade and Agriculture Commission recommendations and so forth and for this House, including his Committee and also the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, to examine them. I will be happy to make sure the Secretary of State follows up with the hon. Gentleman’s Committee.

Paul Holmes Portrait Paul Holmes (Eastleigh) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Taking into account how hard our security officers in this place work, may I ask for your clarification on the following matter? Last night while voting I had a long-standing meeting with a member of the public. He sought access to the parliamentary estate to meet me but was not allowed access via Cromwell Green because of apparent covid regulations even though I was under the impression they had ceased. A number of colleagues have told me since that they have also had members of the public held at the entrance of the parliamentary estate, and also in the current inclement weather. Can you confirm, Mr Speaker, that the regulations have changed and members of the public can access the estate when we have prior arranged meetings?

UK-Andean Trade Agreement: Human Rights

Penny Mordaunt Excerpts
Wednesday 2nd February 2022

(2 years ago)

Westminster Hall
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts

Westminster Hall is an alternative Chamber for MPs to hold debates, named after the adjoining Westminster Hall.

Each debate is chaired by an MP from the Panel of Chairs, rather than the Speaker or Deputy Speaker. A Government Minister will give the final speech, and no votes may be called on the debate topic.

This information is provided by Parallel Parliament and does not comprise part of the offical record

Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Minister for Trade Policy (Penny Mordaunt)
- Hansard - -

I start by thanking the hon. Member for Rochdale (Tony Lloyd) for securing this important and well-attended debate. These debates are very helpful to get things on record and to raise awareness about particular issues. They are also very helpful to Ministers, because they enable us to take some time to do a deep dive into areas that we normally would not pay a huge amount of attention to, because of the demands on our time.

The debate has caused me to take some time this week to look at the tragic details of the cases that he and other Members have raised—there are hundreds of cases. These are not just lists of names; there are stories behind them about what those individuals were working towards and what they were trying to secure for their communities. These are people who have been killed and murdered and, as hon. Members have said, been victims of other crimes too, including sexual violence. They were trade unionists, they were protestors and they were environmental campaigners—as well as many other things. Their murders, and the murders of members of their families, including children, are horrific. Colleagues have done the House a service in reminding us about what has gone on and what continues to go on. I thank the hon. Member for Rochdale for that.

Patrick Grady Portrait Patrick Grady (Glasgow North) (SNP)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the Minister for giving way, I congratulate the hon. Member for Rochdale (Tony Lloyd) for securing this debate and I apologise for arriving a few minutes late. While the Minister is paying tribute to those who have been murdered, I want to add to the record Dr Luz Marina Arteaga, a social leader from the Matarratón and El Porvenir communities in Colombia. I and the hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) had the huge privilege of meeting her several years ago during our visit with the ABColombia group. She was found dead towards the end of January, murdered for standing up for the rights of her community. We have written directly to the Foreign Secretary about that—I hope we will hear back soon. I want to add that to the record and emphasise the necessity for accountability mechanisms in these trade deals. As the hon. Member for Rochdale said, these are not worth anything in writing if they are not acted upon.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Hansard - -

I thank the hon. Member for raising that particular case. If we were to raise every case we would be here for several weeks; there are large numbers of individuals and their families falling victim to this activity. The countries that the hon. Member for Rochdale is concerned about are of concern to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office; they are on its watchlist for human rights abuses. As well as the levers that the Government have, which I will come on to, we have a huge amount in the UK that we can deploy to try and improve this situation. Our trade unions are a part of that suite of things that we have to offer as a country. When we talk about global Britain, we often do not talk about what they do, but I know from previous roles that they do a tremendous amount to build capacity and highlight the plight of vulnerable individuals. We have done good work both in the FCDO and in other Departments—the Department for Work and Pensions, for example—to try to use that knowledge and expertise to grow capacity in organisations elsewhere.

Government can be a catalyst for reform and for improving human rights around the world. In formulating our trade policy, for which I hold the brief, I try to balance off what the best way of doing that is. I am very conscious that trade in itself is a force for good. Our trade dialogue gives us a platform to raise human rights issues. Just in autumn last year, I and another Minister from our Department went to Peru to discuss issues related to trade, and were able to raise other issues alongside that debate. Trade is also important for poverty alleviation. I am very conscious that, as we come out of the pandemic and, we hope, recover swiftly from that economic blow, removing barriers to trade is a vitally important component of that.

I am also acutely aware that the communities that hon. Members have mentioned this afternoon have suffered terribly during the pandemic. Many of them have lost millions of jobs, and those individuals have little or no state support, and so are more vulnerable to exploitation. Organisations, civil society voices and trade union voices that we want to strengthen are increasingly important at this time.

We have many other tools in Government outside of our trade negotiations. We shape our official development assistance programmes to reflect concerns about human rights. To give the hon. Member for Rochdale an example from another situation, we reshaped our ODA programming following the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar. We still wanted to work there, and there was a need for us to be there, but it was not appropriate to continue as we had been. We do adapt—our policies are not set in stone. They can adapt, and our FTA policies and programmes enable us to do that.

We have spent to date £68 million through the conflict, stability and security fund to support the implementation of a peace agreement in Colombia, as the hon. Member for Rochdale will know. As I said, that country is on the FCDO’s human rights priority country watchlist. Our Minister met with human rights defenders and social leaders in November last year to talk extensively about those issues.

Ian Lavery Portrait Ian Lavery
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

There have been 40 community activists killed already this year, and there have been 13 massacres. As I have said twice already, that cannot continue. Can the Minister give this House assurances that, in any discussions with the Colombian authorities, No. 1 on the agenda will be human rights in that country? We should be doing everything that we possibly can to remedy that issue. If they will not listen, if they continue to turn a blind eye, does the Minister have any ideas about how best to progress this?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Hansard - -

When we meet Ministers and other people who can assist us in other countries, that is absolutely part of our core script. On visits, we as Ministers, but also our officials, will listen to organisations in country as well. It is incredibly important that we do that and that we have a good understanding. Of course, through our networks around the globe, and particularly in those countries, we ensure that these things are monitored and reported back to our ministries. I will come on to what we can do, because as the hon. Member and other hon. Members have said, the situation persists.

Crucially, we have also put in place a multi-million pound project to help to transform the approach taken by the Colombian national police on human rights, social conflict and gender. I mention those things because addressing them is part of how we—the UK—can help to resolve the situation, and protect and strengthen civil society.

The hon. Member for Rochdale asked me some specific questions on our engagement. I have mentioned the engagement that my Department has had with Peru recently. Last year, three UK Ministers visited Colombia. In addition, there were regular calls between officials, as well as virtual visits—given some of the restrictions we faced—by Lord Ahmad and the UK international ambassador for human rights. Most recently, a Foreign Office Minister visited Colombia in November to attend an event marking the five-year anniversary of the signing of the 2016 peace agreement, which obviously provided opportunities for her to raise these issues, which she did.

I will respond to some of the questions that the hon. Member for Rochdale asked about our position on monitoring; then I will answer the questions put by the hon. Member for Wansbeck about how we can apply some teeth to such monitoring.

The hon. Member for Rochdale asked about monitoring of the commitment and ensuring that we deal with countries that try to adhere to the core standards of the agreement. We have an annual trade committee, under which we have several specialised committees, with those countries’ partners. That is obviously the successor to the EU structure, which he alluded to. It meets on an annual basis and is due to meet again in March. It helps to ensure compliance with the terms of the agreement, as well as providing a framework for ensuring that commitments are met and that the agreement is functioning effectively. It also supports our objectives, including our human rights objectives.

Regarding the UK’s domestic advisory group—clearly, the countries have their own such groups, but I will talk about ours—we launched a public expression of interest for that in January. It is an independent group of expert organisations that will monitor the implementation of the trade and sustainable development chapters of the UK’s FTAs, including those with the countries that the hon. Member for Rochdale is concerned about. The UK’s DAG is expected to be in place shortly—later this year—and engagement with the UK Government and partner countries will be regular and ongoing. Partner countries to these agreements will also establish their own respective DAGs and we have discussed the issue at the UK’s first trade and sustainable development committees, which began last year and will continue this year. We have regular discussions with those countries at ministerial and official levels, and our annual trade committee and associated sub-committees provide a platform to do that.

The countries’ trade agreements include binding provisions on trade and sustainable development, or TSD, on both labour and environmental standards, and they provide for an annual TSD committee, which I have already alluded to. Those are an opportunity for the UK to raise concerns with partner organisations and we will do so if necessary. However, that is how we will monitor what is happening. What hon. Members want to know is how we will apply some teeth to this process.

Clearly, we take a bespoke approach to our FTAs, but all our FTAs contain either chapters or parts based on human rights. Those provisions differ and have a different focus, depending on the particular needs of the situation that we are dealing with. For example, there may be chapters on gender or indigenous people. That is what “good” looks like in an FTA; that is what we work to. However, the reasons for including such provisions are not just because it is a nice thing to do—

Virendra Sharma Portrait Mr Virendra Sharma (in the Chair)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Order.

Question put and agreed to.

Oral Answers to Questions

Penny Mordaunt Excerpts
Thursday 20th January 2022

(2 years, 1 month ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Mary Robinson Portrait Mary Robinson (Cheadle) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

14. What progress her Department has made on securing UK membership of the comprehensive and progressive agreement for trans-Pacific partnership.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Minister for Trade Policy (Penny Mordaunt)
- Hansard - -

We have made good progress in negotiations and we hope to have concluded them by the end of this year.

Steve Baker Portrait Mr Baker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Is CPTPP not now one of the greatest opportunities we have to reshape the basis of international trade, to the benefit of not only the whole UK and the world, but great British businesses such as Oxford Instruments in Wycombe?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Hansard - -

I thank my hon. Friend for the work he is doing to champion his local businesses. He is right: it is an £8.4 trillion market that we are opening up. However, this is about not only the economic benefits, but the benefits of those closer trading ties to enable people to work on problems that we are all facing around the world, in tech, the environment, healthcare and other sectors. That has got to be good for the progress of humanity as well.

Mary Robinson Portrait Mary Robinson
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Many people in Cheadle work in the tech sector, where jobs in digital, HealthTech and FinTech provide high-skilled, well-paid work. Given the high rate of northern unicorn start-ups, does my right hon. Friend agree that new trading partnerships can open up markets for future growth and for levelling up in the north?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Hansard - -

My hon. Friend is absolutely right; the pay for people working in those sectors is about 50% higher than the UK average, so the more jobs we can create in those growth sectors, the better. I thank her for the work she is doing to champion her local businesses and expand those opportunities for her constituents.

Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Angus Brendan MacNeil (Na h-Eileanan an Iar) (SNP)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

For every £490 of Brexit damage, CPTPP should recover about £8 of it, but that is at risk if the UK patent attorneys’ membership of the European Patent Organisation is undermined or removed. At the moment, UK patent attorneys, who represent about a fifth of the patent attorneys in Europe, deal with a third of the patents of Europe. What assessment has been made by the Government of the damage that could be done to them through CPTPP and will that assessment be published so that they will know?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Hansard - -

CPTPP is not doing damage and our accession to it is opening up markets. I work closely with all kinds of professional bodies, including those looking at patents, intellectual property and so forth. These are key sectors where we want to break down barriers to trade. As well as free trade agreements, we are looking, as the hon. Gentleman will know, at memorandums of understanding not only with countries across the world, but with states in the United States, to enable those non-tariff barriers to trade to be removed. We want to work with the EU. I know that the hon. Gentleman has not come to terms with the fact that we have left the EU and that we are looking to expand our trading opportunities. Some 99.9% of the businesses in his constituency that export will benefit from CPTPP, and I look forward to the day when he welcomes that.

Kerry McCarthy Portrait Kerry McCarthy (Bristol East) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The national food strategy published last year said that to allow lower environmental and welfare standards in future trade deals would represent

“an extraordinary failure of joined-up thinking”,

yet that seems to be exactly the Government’s approach. As we await the Government’s White Paper in response to the national food strategy, what discussions is the Minister having with colleagues in other Departments to make sure that in that White Paper we firmly pin down that we will not accept lower standards?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Hansard - -

As I have alluded to, as well as the economic benefits that we hope trade agreements will bring, they are about highlighting the fantastic food safety, quality and welfare standards of our local produce and are an opportunity to champion that. For example, on my recent visit to the United States I met the agriculture commissioners of every state and talked about the practices and values that sit behind what we do here in the UK. The United States is interested in that and wants to reform some of its practices. I know that the hon. Lady is passionate about this agenda and hope she will support us in ours.

Bob Blackman Portrait Bob Blackman (Harrow East) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

3. What progress she has made on a free trade agreement with India.

--- Later in debate ---
Alex Cunningham Portrait Alex Cunningham (Stockton North) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

4. What progress her Department has made on securing a free trade agreement with the United States.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Minister for Trade Policy (Penny Mordaunt)
- Hansard - -

We have had five productive rounds of negotiations to date and have agreed a significant proportion of the legal text across multiple chapters.

Alex Cunningham Portrait Alex Cunningham
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The 2018 Tory manifesto on which the Minister stood said that a trade agreement with the US would be completed by the end of 2022, but the agreement is shrouded in secrecy. As the Secretary of State said, she toured the US last month, playing up what she described as a “massive opportunity”. Can the Minister advise us at what stage the negotiations are now, and confirm that the promise to the electorate will be fulfilled and a deal put before this House by the end of the year?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Hansard - -

I have just outlined where we are to date in terms of how much has been written and agreed to. I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman did not congratulate my right hon. Friend on having started discussions on section 232 and the announcement that was made yesterday by the Administration. He will know that we are concurrently negotiating memorandums of understanding with states. These things can only be done at state level; I am talking about regulated and regulator discussions, mutual recognition of qualifications and so forth, which will reduce massively the cost of doing business with the United States. We are making good progress on that twin-track approach. If he thinks that we should move a little faster, perhaps he might like to say that to the US Administration.

Virginia Crosbie Portrait Virginia Crosbie (Ynys Môn) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

5. What steps her Department is taking to increase trade with Australia.

--- Later in debate ---
Afzal Khan Portrait Afzal Khan (Manchester, Gorton) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

9. If she will take steps with Cabinet colleagues to ban the import of Chinese cotton and solar panels from Xinjiang.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Minister for Trade Policy (Penny Mordaunt)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

We continue to keep our policy response under close review and are working with international partners to hold China to account for any violation of human rights.

Afzal Khan Portrait Afzal Khan
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

China is the largest cotton producer in the world, with 84% of cotton coming from the Xinjiang region. The region also produces 45% of the world’s supply of the key component in solar panels, polysilicon, which means that the supply chains are tainted with forced Uyghur labour. In a response given in the other place, the Government outlined that they would

“continue to pursue a positive economic relationship with China and…increase trade with China.”—[Official Report, House of Lords, 21 October 2021; Vol. 815, c. 252.]

In light of the genocide against the Uyghur Muslims, does the Minister think that is an acceptable approach, and will the Minister now follow in the footsteps of the US and ban imports from China’s Xinjiang region?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

First, I thank the hon. Gentleman for raising the issue. The more we can talk about it, keep it on our agenda and raise the profile of such matters consistently, the more helpful it is. We are looking at what other nations are doing and we keep our policies under review. He is right: we need a mix of targeted responses against states and also companies that have those practices. We have a good track record on combating modern slavery and being a global leader in this field, but we also need the transparency and tools for consumers and customers of those businesses to find other suppliers if they have concerns. We will keep the matter under review, and I can tell the hon. Gentleman that we take those matters very seriously.

Stephen Farry Portrait Stephen Farry (North Down) (Alliance)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

10. What assessment she has made of the implications of the Australia and New Zealand free trade agreements for concluding a veterinary agreement with the EU.

--- Later in debate ---
Ruth Cadbury Portrait Ruth Cadbury (Brentford and Isleworth) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

In December, the Government snuck through a change to the UK’s arms export rules, and charities such as Oxfam have warned that these changes will lessen transparency over arms exports and could see UK arms being used against civilians such as those in Yemen. What steps is the Minister taking to ensure that UK arms exports are not used to commit breaches of international humanitarian law?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Minister for Trade Policy (Penny Mordaunt)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

The Government have not “snuck through” such changes. We are very open and transparent about the policies that sit behind our very good arms export controls, which are also scrutinised by this House. The Department is due to meet a number of stakeholders; I can check whether Oxfam is part of that. We meet regularly to discuss these issues. We have one of the best arms export regimes in the world; it is flexible and changes as situations change. The hon. Lady will know that we recently made some new changes because of what is happening in parts of the world. She should be confident in what we are doing on that.

Antony Higginbotham Portrait Antony Higginbotham (Burnley) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

T6. The Government will be aware of the global shortage of semiconductor chips. The impact of that is being felt far more by SMEs than the largest companies, which can make large purchases years in advance. What steps are the Government taking to support those SMEs to import semiconductors so that they can keep operating? If I write to the Department, will they look at a specific constituency case of mine?

--- Later in debate ---
Afzal Khan Portrait Afzal Khan (Manchester, Gorton) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Can the Minister outline how much cotton and how many products to construct solar panels have been imported into the UK from Xinjiang in the past year?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I can certainly write to the hon. Gentleman with the information that our Department and others may hold on the matter. May I reassure him again that it is welcome that he has raised it today and that we are taking it very seriously?

Paul Howell Portrait Paul Howell (Sedgefield) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Earlier, I mentioned a company in my patch called Gestamp. The motor trade is a worldwide business; Gestamp supplies to Jaguar Land Rover, Nissan, Volvo and all their factories throughout the world. What is being done to help its research and development efforts to make sure that it remains a world leader?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I think that a letter is winging its way towards my hon. Friend about various issues that he has raised with us, which will outline what we are doing to ensure that we are competitive and creating the right environment to get inward investment. He will know that we have a huge focus and push on science and technology, spearheaded in part by the Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, my hon. Friend the Member for Mid Norfolk (George Freeman), as Science Minister. The points that my hon. Friend the Member for Sedgefield (Paul Howell) has raised with my Department are being listened to and are well made.

Peter Grant Portrait Peter Grant (Glenrothes) (SNP)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Yesterday, the permanent secretary of the Department for International Trade told the Public Accounts Committee that 85% of post-Brexit trade deals have simply replicated the deals that we already had with the European Union. Does it really represent such a resounding success at knocking down trade barriers if 85% of the barriers that the Government are knocking down are barriers that they put up in the first place?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

A lot of work needed to be done in all areas of Government, including trade, to roll over legislation to our statute book and move trade agreements to a new statutory footing. The opportunity has come for what we can do next. It is not just about the big economic benefits that we usually discuss in our meetings and sessions, but about what we can do to help developing nations. Many of the economic partnership agreements that have taken a long time to make, for example with countries in Africa, will not only provide economic benefits to the UK but lift millions of people out of poverty.

Marion Fellows Portrait Marion Fellows (Motherwell and Wishaw) (SNP)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Talks on steel and aluminium tariffs have started, but Washington has still to confirm the apparent virtual plan. The British economy, instead of becoming global post Brexit, is not. My constituents at the Dalzell works in Motherwell want to see progress on the punitive tariffs so that they can sell to the Americans. The relationship between President Biden and the current Prime Minister is not particularly rosy, but can the Secretary of State confirm that whoever is Prime Minister in the upcoming time, she will ask them to intervene and get this sorted?

Oral Answers to Questions

Penny Mordaunt Excerpts
Thursday 2nd December 2021

(2 years, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Peter Grant Portrait Peter Grant (Glenrothes) (SNP)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

13. What recent assessment she has made of trends in the level of UK trade with the EU.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Minister for Trade Policy (Penny Mordaunt)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

UK trade in goods with the EU has been increasing this year. According to the latest data available, goods exports in September were up by 5.7% on those in the previous month.

Steven Bonnar Portrait Steven Bonnar
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Between 2019 and 2021, the value of exports from Scotland decreased by 24%. In England the figure was 12%, in Wales it was 24%, and in the north of Ireland it was 15%. This follows a period of steady decline since 2018. It is economic vandalism. There is hardly a sector in the country that does not attribute at least some of the blame for its difficulties to Brexit. What agreement that removes all tariff and non-tariff barriers do the Government plan to make with another country that can account for 48% of all UK trade?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

Goods exports between Scotland and the European Union were up 4% in quarter 2 compared with the same period last year. We are getting growth back after a period of dealing with the pandemic and other shocks to the global economy, and I ask the hon. Gentleman and his colleagues to start focusing on those opportunities. I have had discussions this week with representatives of pretty much every other political party—I have talked to parliamentarians, metro Mayors, local enterprise partnerships and all sorts of bodies around the country in preparing for the further negotiations that we will have in the forthcoming weeks—but I have not heard a peep from his party.

Peter Grant Portrait Peter Grant
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

If the members of the Minister’s party had not cold-shouldered the positive and constructive suggestions made by the Scottish Government immediately after the referendum—if they had even bothered to open and read the document—we might not be in the mess that we are in now.

This month, our figure has improved slightly from an all-time low, which is nothing to celebrate. Exports of food and drink from the United Kingdom to Europe have halved. The Food and Drink Federation has described that as a “disaster” and said that there have been only tiny gains in other markets. There was never going to be a Brexit that would be good for British businesses, but why do the Government not finally come clean and admit that their botched handling of Brexit has made the position even worse?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Hansard - -

I ask the hon. Gentleman: what possible good could come from plugging every part of the UK economy back into the global economy, including the trading powerhouses of the future in emerging parts of the world? What possible good could come from championing a free trade policy globally that would end trade distortions and lift millions of people out of poverty? What good could come of that? I urge his party to get focused on those opportunities and to work with us and enable us to work with the businesses in his constituency to seize those opportunities. The country has decided that that is the future for the United Kingdom. I do wish that he would get on board.

Daniel Kawczynski Portrait Daniel Kawczynski (Shrewsbury and Atcham) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Is it not interesting that my right hon. Friend highlights the recent increase in exports to the European Union, in stark contrast to the doom and gloom that we heard from our opponents, who are saying that there will be a catastrophe and collapse in trade? Will she focus on the countries in central and eastern Europe and the Three Seas initiative—some of the fastest-growing countries on our continent—and build strong bilateral trade agreements with countries such as Poland and others?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I thank my hon. Friend for highlighting the opportunities that exist there. Clearly, we had good news recently on exports, but we also had fantastic news about inward investment and he is right to be optimistic. I think that our businesses are going to thrive in this new environment. There are some challenges that we have to address, but they are being addressed and we can see from the numbers that this is paying off.

Alistair Carmichael Portrait Mr Alistair Carmichael (Orkney and Shetland) (LD)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

11. What assessment her Department has made of the potential impact on UK farmers and crofters of the planned UK trade agreement with New Zealand.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Minister for Trade Policy (Penny Mordaunt)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

This deal brings new opportunities to agricultural producers, making it easier to trade with New Zealand. It is a gateway to joining the comprehensive and progressive agreement for trans-Pacific partnership—the CPTPP—a high-standard free trade agreement involving 11 Pacific nations. This will create new export opportunities for British farmers to those markets.

Alistair Carmichael Portrait Mr Carmichael
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I draw the House’s attention to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests. I have to say to the Minister that her confidence is not shared by hill farmers and crofters, or by the National Farmers Union and the National Farmers Union of Scotland. If the Government are confident in their assessment of the opportunities and threats from this agreement, will they commission an economic and environmental impact assessment, independent of Government, to show that they are correct?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

As the right hon. Gentleman knows, this will be independently scrutinised, and there is obviously the Trade and Agriculture Commission as well. We have ensured that any reports are produced in good time for all the relevant Select Committees of this House to scrutinise them. There are tremendous opportunities. I also work closely with my counterparts in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to ensure that we are dealing with the genuine concerns of that sector, and we will continue to do so as the negotiations and deals progress.

David Mundell Portrait David Mundell (Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Obviously the concerns of farmers and crofters will have to be addressed as the final agreement comes into place, but does my right hon. Friend agree that counter-seasonality offers a huge opportunity for British farmers to enter into agreements with farmers in New Zealand, so that markets across the world can be supplied all year round?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

There are certainly opportunities through that to grow the market further still. I also think that we have to dispel some myths. It is not the case that the market is going to be flooded with New Zealand lamb. New Zealand already has tariff-free access through its WTO quota, of which it uses only half, so it is not the case that those things are going to come to pass. There are some massive opportunities and it is those opportunities that we need to focus on.

--- Later in debate ---
Liz Twist Portrait Liz Twist (Blaydon) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

16. What assessment she has made of the potential effect on UK industry of the Trade Remedies Authority’s investigation into aluminium extrusions.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Minister for Trade Policy (Penny Mordaunt)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

It is an ongoing independent investigation by the Trade Remedies Authority. Although the authority indicated last month what it is minded to do, it would not be appropriate for me to try to pre-empt the outcome of the investigation.

Liz Twist Portrait Liz Twist
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

It has now been more than eight months since the European Commission imposed anti-dumping duties on aluminium extrusions from China. Will the Minister tell us why, by comparison, our Trade Remedies Authority has been so slow to act on this issue? Will she assure us that the authority will take into account the risk of Chinese imports being diverted into the UK after the EU decision?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I am afraid that, as I alluded to, I cannot comment on the investigation or its potential outcome. The TRA is carrying out its work methodically and thoroughly. I encourage the hon. Lady to ensure that the businesses in her constituency that have an interest in the issue make representations to the TRA. I am sure she is encouraging them to do so, and that evidence is critical in ensuring that we get the right outcome. I will undertake to keep her up to date as things progress.

Lee Anderson Portrait Lee Anderson (Ashfield) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

T1. If she will make a statement on her departmental responsibilities.

--- Later in debate ---
Alexander Stafford Portrait Alexander Stafford (Rother Valley) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

T2. Earlier this year, in partnership with Google, I arranged a digital course to train and upskill service sector businesses across Rother Valley. Will my right hon. Friend set out how our trade deals, including the recently announced New Zealand trade deal, support the service sector, 70% of which is based outside London and some of which is based in Rother Valley?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Minister for Trade Policy (Penny Mordaunt)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I thank my hon. Friend for what he is doing to improve digital skills in his constituency. In 2019, 40% of service exports to New Zealand were delivered digitally. Under the New Zealand deal, service exporters, particularly those in his constituency and region, will benefit from more opportunities to deliver services through digital trade. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, in her topical statement, referred to the Department’s focus on digital trade, which is vital for the future.

--- Later in debate ---
Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I thank my hon. Friend for highlighting that trade in itself is a force for good in the world, as well as having environmental chapters in trade deals. One example of that is our free trade agreement with New Zealand, which will include the most comprehensive environmental list of goods with liberalised tariffs in a free trade agreement to date. He is right to point to the technology being developed in the UK, which can provide solutions for nations around the world, whether they are developed or developing nations, to meet net zero.

Barry Sheerman Portrait Mr Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield) (Lab/Co-op)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Secretary of State has a long history of being a supporter of the creative industries and I know that, like me, she will be concerned about the possibility of Channel 4 being lost to Leeds if it is taken over by a global player and taken away—I hope she is concerned about that. We have the BBC in Salford and Channel 4 in Leeds, so does she agree that levelling up would be deeply damaged if we were to lose Channel 4 from Leeds?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I thank the hon. Gentleman for raising this important issue. The points he makes are well understood. We often talk about the BBC and soft power, influence and all it brings, but Channel 4 has also done some incredible things, particularly in the disability space, during the Paralympic games in 2012 and since. His points have been well made. This is a matter for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, but I am sure those in that Department will have heard him.

James Daly Portrait James Daly (Bury North) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Will my right hon. Friend update the House on what steps are being taken to establish a free trade agreement with our historical ally Pakistan, and specifically to encourage trade between our country and the Kashmir region?

--- Later in debate ---
Peter Grant Portrait Peter Grant (Glenrothes) (SNP)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I could never have thought that I was about to be called, Madam Deputy Speaker.

In a few weeks’ time, the United Kingdom will start to apply import controls to goods coming from the European Union. Last year, when the European Union started to apply its controls, a large number of small and medium-sized exporters, particularly in the Scottish food and drink industry, felt that they were simply left to sink or swim. What assurances can the Government give that small import businesses in Scotland will not be hung out to dry next year in the way that small exporters in Scotland were left hung out to dry last year?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I encourage the hon. Gentleman, if he has not already done so, to put businesses in his constituency in touch with our Department. The export support service runs alongside the trader support service—indeed they are joined up organisations—and we are there to provide bespoke support to businesses, to help them work through some of the challenges with new paperwork and so forth, and to give them the information they need to make business planning decisions. I encourage him to put those businesses in touch with us directly, and we will support them.

--- Later in debate ---
Martin Docherty-Hughes Portrait Martin Docherty-Hughes (West Dunbartonshire) (SNP)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Let us try again, Madam Deputy Speaker.

Exports from Ireland to GB soared in the first six months of 2021 after Brexit, as imports sent in the opposite direction declined. I wonder whether the Minister can come to the Dispatch Box and advise the House on this matter. With a post-Brexit imbalance in trade, with Irish imports up 20% in the first six months of 2021 and GB exports to Ireland down by more than £2.5 billion, do they not recognise that, for GB—not Northern Ireland—Brexit is a trade disaster?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

From figures that I mentioned earlier, the hon. Member will know that the situation is improving for Scottish businesses. He will also know that the bulk of the disruption and slowdown has been because of the pandemic. We are now coming out of that, and we would love to have a constructive dialogue with his party and its Members of Parliament to ensure that businesses in their constituencies are getting the right support to seize the opportunities that are now opening up. If we provide the right support for businesses, this should be an exciting time when they will be able to thrive. I encourage the Scottish National party to come to terms with the fact that we have left the EU, and that we are determined to make a success of this and to plug the economy of every part of the UK back into the global economy. The sooner that SNP Members come to terms with that and start pulling in the right direction, the better off their constituents will be.

Mike Wood Portrait Mike Wood (Dudley South) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Big landmark trade agreements such as those with Japan, New Zealand and Australia make the headlines, but the excellent work that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is doing to remove trade barriers around the world also creates big new opportunities for businesses in my constituency of Dudley South. What progress is being made on the work to remove the trade barriers that restrict the flow of British goods and services?

--- Later in debate ---
Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

What discussions have taken place with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and the Home Office to place Afghan refugees in work in places such as Mash Direct and Willowbrook Foods in my constituency of Strangford, and across the agrifood sector in Northern Ireland, which is in need of migrant workers to fill the vacancies that presently exist?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I would be happy to get those Departments to give the hon. Gentleman some further details. Every Department across Government, including the Department for Education, is focused on ensuring that people who are coming here to restart their lives in safety are given every opportunity, and that their skills can be utilised. We are also thinking about how we can help those who are still left in country. I undertake that the FCDO will write to the hon. Gentleman.

Jason McCartney Portrait Jason McCartney (Colne Valley) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

As the co-chair of the all-party parliamentary group for Fairtrade, I have been heartened by how many British people have been looking to support Fairtrade products, including bananas, coffee and chocolate, and to support Fairtrade producers and farmers around the world. Will the Minister continue to put fair trade at the heart of new trade deals so that we can continue to support these Fairtrade producers and farmers around the world?

--- Later in debate ---
Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

That story might be true in terms of how some people in the United States feel, but it is a false narrative. These are two entirely separate issues. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will be discussing the issue of steel and other matters next week with her opposite numbers in the United States, but we not do ourselves any favours if we perpetuate these false narratives. They are entirely separate issues. I again encourage the hon. Gentleman and his party to start talking about what the UK has done to protect peace on the island of Ireland, and our reasonable request to the EU. He might also like to talk to his American friends about what the EU has done to disrupt that, including triggering article 16 on the most sensitive of goods—vaccines. We have acted in good faith. We will do more to tell America that we have acted in good faith and are determined to be pragmatic, and Lord Frost is going to do that. The hon. Gentleman has to separate false narratives from how some in the US feel.

Oral Answers to Questions

Penny Mordaunt Excerpts
Thursday 21st October 2021

(2 years, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Minister for Trade Policy (Penny Mordaunt)
- Hansard - -

We now have trade deals with 68 countries around the world, plus the EU, covering trade worth £744 billion last year.

Alexander Stafford Portrait Alexander Stafford
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the trade deals we have secured, especially those with Commonwealth partners—such as the excellent deals with Australia and, more recently, New Zealand—are a shining example of global Britain in action, and that they are opening up fantastic opportunities for British businesses and consumers, be they in Rother Valley or across our great country?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

Global Britain means using our expertise, resources, talents and values as a force for good in the world, and furthering not just our interests, but the interests of the whole of humanity. My hon. Friend’s part of the world is helping us to do that; last year, Yorkshire and the Humber exported more than £240 million-worth of goods to Australia alone. I want those businesses in his constituency to benefit from the removal of tariffs.

Mark Pawsey Portrait Mark Pawsey
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I very much welcome the trade deals that the Government have secured, particularly the most recent one with New Zealand, but trade deals are a first step and it is now for British businesses to take advantage of them. Does the Minister agree that the role of skilled, professional salespeople with business-to-business selling skills will be critical to ensuring that we get the projected value from these deals, and that we need to give those people every support?