Controls on Incoming Goods from EU

Penny Mordaunt Excerpts
Tuesday 14th September 2021

(2 years, 7 months ago)

Written Statements
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Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Paymaster General (Penny Mordaunt)
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My noble Friend the Minister of State in the Cabinet Office, the right hon. Lord Frost CMG, has today made the following written statement:

On 31 December 2020, the UK left the EU’s Single Market and Customs Union. The Government put in place the staffing, infrastructure, and IT to ensure a smooth transition. Thanks to the hard work of traders and hauliers, we did not see disruption at our ports; and, despite dips in trade value with the EU in the early months, the monthly value of exports to the EU has recovered strongly.

Now the UK is an independent trading country, our intention is to introduce the same controls on incoming goods from the EU as on goods from the rest of the world.

The Government initially announced a timetable for the introduction of the final stages of those controls on 11 March. The Government’s own preparations, in terms of systems, infrastructure and resourcing, remain on track to meet that timetable.

However, the pandemic has had longer-lasting impacts on businesses, both in the UK and in the European Union, than many observers expected in March. There are also pressures on global supply chains, caused by a wide range of factors including the pandemic and the increased costs of global freight transport. These pressures are being especially felt in the agri-food sector.

In these circumstances, the Government have decided to delay further some elements of the new controls, especially those relating to sanitary and phytosanitary goods. Accordingly:

The requirement for pre-notification of agri-food imports will be introduced on 1 January 2022 as opposed to 1 October 2021.

The new requirements for export health certificates, which were due to be introduced on 1 October 2021, will now be introduced on 1 July 2022.

Phytosanitary certificates and physical checks on SPS goods at Border Control Posts, due to be introduced on 1 January 2022, will now be introduced on 1 July 2022.

The requirement for safety and security declarations on imports will be introduced as of 1 July 2022 as opposed to 1 January 2022.

The timetable for the removal of the current easements in relation to full customs controls and the introduction of customs checks remains unchanged from the planned 1 January 2022.

The Government will work closely with the Devolved Administrations on the implementation of this new timetable, given their devolved responsibilities for agri-food controls.

Full guidance to stakeholders will be provided on www.gov.uk shortly.

[HCWS285]

Government Response to Covid-19: Public Inquiry

Penny Mordaunt Excerpts
Thursday 22nd July 2021

(2 years, 9 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Paymaster General (Penny Mordaunt)
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Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker, and congratulations.

I have answered many debates on the pandemic from this Dispatch Box, and it has always been right to start by thinking of all those who have lost so much and who have been through such pain and distress in this cruel pandemic, which has even denied people the ability to grieve properly. Inquiries have many purposes, as the chairman of the Hillsborough inquiry ably stated. They are a stepping-stone to closure for families, although the hon. Member for Birmingham, Erdington (Jack Dromey) is right to say that they bring no comfort for their loss.

It is incredibly important that we place those individuals and others, such as NHS and care staff who have given so much during this crisis, at the heart of the inquiry. Having had the privilege of being the sponsoring Minister for the infected blood inquiry since February 2020, I know how it can be done well. I have just announced the compensation study, which will involve a consultation on the terms of reference for that study with those affected by infected blood. That is how we do things, and I would give people comfort by saying, “Look at how we do these very sensitive inquiries. Look at how we can do them really well.” We want to do the covid-19 inquiry really well, and we will place those affected at its heart.

I want to answer the many points that have been raised by hon. Members and put on record my thanks to the Backbench Business Committee for this debate. I thank all right hon. and hon. Members who have made contributions, and I thank the Chair, the hon. Member for Gateshead (Ian Mearns), and the Committee for their work. I also thank my hon. Friend the Member for Thurrock (Jackie Doyle-Price) for opening the debate.

Clearly, the Government agree with the Committee that there needs to be a statutory inquiry, and my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister confirmed that in a statement to the House on 12 May. The public inquiry will be established on a statutory basis with full powers under the Inquiries Act 2005.

Several Members have raised the timing of the inquiry, and I agree with many of the comments that have been made. We want to do this as swiftly as possible, but not to the detriment of the pandemic response. Several Members have recognised that this would place a significant burden on the whole of Government, our scientific advisers, our NHS and many others.

Although we want to start the inquiry in the spring—on the timetable, given what I have said about the work that needs to be done to set the inquiry up, I hope that I will be able to give hon. Members some comfort that that will start very shortly—of course we do not want to wait for that before commencing other work. As my hon. Friend the Member for Harwich and North Essex (Sir Bernard Jenkin), the Chair of the Liaison Committee, has suggested, we need to learn lessons now to enable us to continually improve our response, not just to this crisis but to other threats that may be out there. And we have continually learned—not just in Government, but ably supported by the excellent work of this House and its Committees, as well as the National Audit Office and many others.

We are already taking important steps to improve our resilience, which is why last week we launched the call for evidence to inform the development of a new resilience strategy. That call for evidence starts a proper national debate about what effective resilience should mean for us all, and will allow us to move towards a whole of society approach to resilience and build resilience into our everyday lives.

Bernard Jenkin Portrait Sir Bernard Jenkin
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am fully aware that the Government are learning lessons as quickly as possible, but they are underpowering their ability to strengthen public confidence. This just looks too much like the ordinary activity of Government. For example, if the call for evidence was going to be independently assessed—not by a statutory inquiry but at least by an independent chair, supported by a panel of independent people—and a report more independent than just a Government White Paper was going to be compiled, and if the panel was going to be able to take evidence from victims and others who have participated in the crisis, not necessarily Ministers and Government scientists, would that not strengthen public confidence that there was an element of independence injected into the process and that things were being done that they were not aware of?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Hansard - -

I agree with the thrust of what my hon. Friend says. Leaving the inquiry to one side for the moment, the call for evidence and, indeed, all the work that we have done improving not just our risk register but our risk assessment tools, because we recognise that we need to reform the methodology that sits behind it, are with external partners. For example, on the risk assessment, we are using various external stakeholders—with engineering skills, for example—to kick the tyres on our methodology, and it will be much more open and consultative than any previous process.

I will move on to how the inquiry could be established. Many Members have commented on having a panel. Clearly, some inquiries have taken that model. That is a very good point, and it is one that I know my colleagues are listening to. We have not rested on those findings; we have established many things to improve our response. I will go into this in slightly more detail, as many Members have raised these points. We have established a joint organisational learning system, jointly managed by the emergency services interoperability principles team and the civil contingencies secretariat. We established the UK Health Security Agency in April this year. We have a new situations centre. We have the Boardman reports, the first of which set out 28 recommendations that the Department is committed to implementing in full. The second report, which is a wider review, has identified a further 28 recommendations for improvements to procurement in Government. We are also steadfast in our commitment to intensify international co-operation. We want to reflect on the central role that the World Health Organisation has played over the course of the pandemic in achieving resilient healthcare systems.

We are seeking to implement improvements to systems and processes so that we are better prepared for any future crisis, whether it is a health issue or any other. Those improvements need to be embedded into the development of new capabilities such as the situations centre or the launch of the catastrophic emergency planning programme. With regard to those on the frontline, particularly local resilience forums, a huge amount of learning has gone on. We are currently funding a pilot to build capacity in local resilience forums. They are on the frontline. They should be in the driving seat for local decisions, and we want to build their capacity in that respect.

I very much welcome the Committee’s conclusions, and also the views of other Members of the House who have said that the inquiry should be forward-looking and primarily focused on improving our policy. I know that many are in agreement on that.

With regard to the chair of the inquiry, the Committee recommended, as we have heard, that the Government give proper consideration to a non-judicial chair. There are many ways that that could be set up. There could be a panel to sit alongside the chair. What is critical is that there is a genuine breadth of experience. While not wanting to slow the inquiry down, we really do need it to be led and supported by people who have that expertise.

The Government are extremely grateful to the Committee and this House for their thoughtful considerations on these issues. I hope that some of what I have said may provide reassurance to all those who have been affected by these terrible events. Retaining their confidence, and the confidence of all who have been involved in this crisis, is vital if we are going to get a good result in this inquiry. I want to assure Members that we will also be working with the devolved Administrations in this regard.

Jack Dromey Portrait Jack Dromey
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I welcome the Minister’s comments about the importance of engagement with the families. Will she agree to meet the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice campaign?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Hansard - -

I would be happy to meet anyone who has been affected. I am not the sponsoring Minister for this inquiry. However, I have always found in my engagements with victims in inquiries where I am the sponsoring Minister that they are incredibly helpful in making sure that we are doing the right thing. I may not be the Minister whom it would be most beneficial for that campaign to meet, but the hon. Gentleman certainly has my assurances and my commitment to ensure that the inquiry is the best it can be.

Bernard Jenkin Portrait Sir Bernard Jenkin
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Will my right hon. Friend place on the record who is the sponsoring Minister?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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At the moment the Prime Minister is the sponsoring Minister. Clearly, he will want to delegate some functions to other Ministers. I tend to do a lot of this work in the Cabinet Office, and I stand ready to play my part, but the Prime Minister himself is taking the lead. I think that is very understandable given the nature of this inquiry. In closing, I wish all colleagues well for the recess.

Border Operating Model

Penny Mordaunt Excerpts
Tuesday 20th July 2021

(2 years, 9 months ago)

Written Statements
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Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Paymaster General (Penny Mordaunt)
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My noble Friend, the Minister of State in the Cabinet Office (the right hon. Lord Frost CMG), has today made the following written statement:

 Today, the Government will publish an updated border operating model. This will reflect the revised timetable for introduction of the next stage of UK import requirements as well as including additional detail on policies and processes.

 This updated border operating model will continue to help businesses, which trade with the EU, to understand the approaching new requirements as well as those which are already in effect. We are also encouraging businesses to go to gov.uk/guidance/help-and-support-if-your-business-trades-with-the-eu to gain access to the host of resources the Government have created to assist traders.

 A copy of the updated border operating model has been deposited in the Libraries of both Houses.

[HCWS205]

DRAFT EUROPEAN UNION (FUTURE RELATIONSHIP) ACT 2020 (REFERENCES TO THE TRADE AND COOPERATION AGREEMENT) REGULATIONS 2021

Penny Mordaunt Excerpts
Monday 19th July 2021

(2 years, 9 months ago)

General Committees
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Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Paymaster General (Penny Mordaunt)
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I beg to move,

That the Committee has considered the draft European Union (Future Relationship) Act 2020 (References to the Trade and Cooperation Agreement) Regulations 2021.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Sir Edward. As hon. Members will be aware, and following the negotiations that took place last year, on 31 December 2020 the process of transition to our future relationship with the European Union was completed. We have recovered our economic and political independence, upholding a key demand of the British people and fulfilling our manifesto commitments. We are now focused on seizing the opportunities of being an independent sovereign nation.

The first trade and cooperation agreement partnership council, which took place in London last month, represented the start of the TCA governance. Both the substantive partnership council agenda items, and the formal launch of the wider governance apparatus, signal a milestone in the future relationship between the UK and EU. The secondary legislation before the Committee is required to help to ensure the future functioning statute book and provide clarity for businesses and citizens alike.

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

The Minister might have seen the media story over the weekend about a suggestion that the UK-Ukraine trade deal, which the Prime Minister signed, contained a series of errors apparently still binding the UK to certain EU rules. I wonder whether she could explain what those mistakes were and how they relate to the statutory instrument, or whether we will have to come back to debate another statutory instrument, given those errors.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I do not intend—you will be relieved to hear, Sir Edward—to talk about things outside the scope of the particular correction that we are making this afternoon. I think that all Members should welcome the trade agreements that we are signing. The Department for International Trade has done a sterling job in rolling over agreements, but also in forging new ones. I am sure we want them to be technically accurate. If there are any difficulties, I am sure that both parties—both our Department for International Trade and whomever we are signing that particular deal with—will make those corrections, but I am keen to emphasise that this extremely dry and narrow amendment is technical in nature and is not new policy, as the hon Gentleman will understand. It is simply to ensure that the statute book works coherently and effectively, allowing the legal revision process of the trade and cooperation agreement, as signed by the EU.

The instrument was laid by Lord Frost following the affirmative procedure in exercise of the powers provided for in the European Union (Future Relationship) Act 2020. Those powers allow Ministers to make amendments that they consider appropriate in pursuit of coherence and clarity following the legal revision process envisioned by the Trade and Cooperation Agreement.

Gareth Thomas Portrait Gareth Thomas
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

On the Minister’s point about the need for coherence and clarity, can she explain to the Committee whether the statutory instrument will in any way reduce the extra red tape that the TCA created for businesses, particularly those businesses, say in England, which want to trade with Northern Ireland?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I refer the hon. Gentleman to the debate that took place last week on the Northern Ireland protocol and, indeed, many other such debates that we have had, which are focused on the solutions that we are putting forward to deal with friction—unnecessary friction, as we see it. He will know that many things are going on to address those issues, particularly in relation to trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, and he will know that we expect further information about that before the summer recess. Again, I can appreciate why he might want to liven up the debate by talking about other issues, but we are making some very technical amendments that do not affect policy in any way. Largely, they are about the numbering of particular articles; he will appreciate the complexity and the flux when producing the innards of the agreement.

I draw the Committee’s attention to the use of the affirmative procedure, which allows colleagues in the House and in the other place, in their respective debates, to scrutinise the instrument and the background to it, which I will now set out. The trade and cooperation agreement, along with the security of information agreement and the nuclear cooperation agreement, was provisionally applied from 23:00 hours on 31 December 2020, in time for the end of the transition period, pending ratification. The Government subsequently agreed to the European Union’s request to extend the original period of provisional application to 30 April 2021, to give it more time to complete those processes. The EU completed the processes before the end of April, and the agreements therefore came into force on 1 May.

Due to the short time available between concluding negotiations and the end of the transition period, it was not possible to complete the necessary legal revision processes before the agreements were provisionally applied on 31 December. Instead, the agreements have since undergone a final process of legal revision. That legal revision process is provided for by article FINPROV.9, now article 780, of the trade and cooperation agreement. The processes identified typographical and other errors in the trade and cooperation agreement, which were corrected, and the articles were renumbered from article 1 through to 783.

I must make it clear that the substance and policy content of the agreement has not changed. Following the legal revision to the trade and cooperation agreement, some of the corresponding numbering and references to the European Union (Future Relationship) Act 2020 must be updated, and that is what this statutory instrument seeks to achieve. The instrument is required to update references in the Act, including numbering and annexes, to ensure that it matches what is contained in the revised trade and co-operation agreement.

It is vital that businesses and citizens are clear about their legal status and obligations. This instrument provides clarity and will allow businesses and citizens to pursue the opportunities of our agreement with confidence. I am sure that hon. Members will have questions about the extent of the changes that this instrument makes. I can confirm that the main changes to the European Union (Future Relationship) Act 2020 as a result of this instrument are the renumbering of the articles and the correction of cross-references to the trade and cooperation agreement in the Act. For example, in section 15(2)(a) of the Act, “Article TBT.9” will now become “Article 96”, to reflect the legally revised version of the trade and cooperation agreement. I will spare hon. Members of further examples, but there are many.

There was engagement with the devolved Administrations prior to the laying of the instrument, and they are content. I am grateful for the opportunity to note our thanks to them for their co-operation on this and, indeed, the wider body of secondary legislation delivered in the past year, carefully ending the transition period. I hope I have provided some helpful background to the instrument and that all members of the Committee agree that it performs a simple but important role in ensuring the certainty and clarity that citizens expect from our statute book.

--- Later in debate ---
Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I thank the hon. Gentleman for his support. He has done a good job of trying to liven up the proceedings, but I remind him that the statutory instrument is about changing the numbering of paragraphs in the articles and providing neat and tidy clarity both to us in this place and to our citizens and businesses.

The hon. Gentleman is right to focus on businesses. I will not go through everything I said in last week’s Backbench Business debate, but we have done a tremendous amount to enable businesses to be ready for the transition and to maximise the opportunities that will come with Brexit. They have done a tremendous job and we have been right to focus on them. I repeat that the EU’s obligations under articles 1 and 6 of the Northern Ireland protocol mean that it should take a pragmatic and risk-based approach to protecting its single market while also honouring the internal market of the UK. Last week, I gave copious examples not only of where that has not been the case, but of where we have been proactive in reducing unnecessary friction and proposing solutions. We have produced a dozen papers to tackle the remaining issues, which the hon. Gentleman was right to raise and which are of great concern to us. We are making progress on those issues.

The hon. Gentleman mentioned in particular the comprehensive veterinary agreement. He may not know this, but in last week’s debate his party spokesman committed Labour to supporting the Government’s proposal on a comprehensive veterinary agreement. Labour knows that the EU’s proposal cannot work for us. Again, we should take a pragmatic, risk-based approach. We have an advantage in the fact that we have been trading as part of the EU bloc. I welcome the pragmatic, positive step taken by Opposition Front Benchers to support British businesses. Long may that continue.

The hon. Gentleman pushed the scope of the debate by introducing the royal yacht, but I am very confident—

None Portrait The Chair
- Hansard -

Order. I have to say that the scope of the delegated legislation is extremely narrow. It is completely up to the Minister how she replies to the debate, but she should bear in mind that the royal yacht is perhaps one holiday trip too far.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Hansard - -

Thank you for your guidance, Sir Edward. I shall content myself with simply saying that I am confident that our British ships will be built in UK yards.

The hon. Gentleman mentioned trade deals. The biggest divide in politics at this moment is not between left and right, but between optimists and pessimists, and we on this side of the Committee are optimists. I am confident in our potential and in our businesses’ potential to maximise their exports. We wish to focus on growing those trade agreements, and I am sure the hon. Gentleman is in agreement with us on that.

I shall leave it at that, Sir Edward, and simply reiterate my thanks to Members for contributing to the debate. It has been technical, but this is important secondary legislation that demonstrates the Government’s commitment to ensuring certainty and clarity in the UK statute book. I commend the regulations to the Committee.

Question put and agreed to.

Northern Ireland Protocol

Penny Mordaunt Excerpts
Thursday 15th July 2021

(2 years, 9 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Paymaster General (Penny Mordaunt)
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I thank all Members who have spoken in this debate from all parts of the UK, from Essex to Edinburgh, from Lagan Valley to Clwyd West, and from Sheffield to Stone.

As Members of this House, we represent more than a geography; we represent the ambitions of our constituents—ambitions for themselves and their families and businesses, and their ambitions for our country. All of us in this place are ambitious on behalf of those who placed us here. It is those ambitions that the past few years have been about. Echoing what my hon. Friend the Member for Harwich and North Essex (Sir Bernard Jenkin) said when he opened this debate, there are some who still have not come to terms with the fact that we have left the EU and wish to relive the past. They did not understand those ambitions of the British people and it baffles them still. The decision our country took showed faith in democracy and a trust in all of us here to deliver. When people trust us in this way, we cannot let them down.

That is why many Members have been right to focus on the future. That is why we have stayed the course as a country and why we will continue to do so. It took principle, courage and determination, and it took us making an exceptional compromise. We agreed to apply EU law and to control the movement of goods within our own country without any democratic say beyond a vote in four years’ time—all in the interests of peace. No other country has agreed to such a thing. It was a hard thing to do. Brexit was an ambitious decision by an ambitious country. We believe, however, that we share many ambitions with our EU friends. My hon. Friend pointed out why that ought to be the case. We have ambitions to maximise peace, prosperity and security for us all as we emerge from a turbulent few years and from this terrible pandemic.

The protocol specifically states that the Belfast/Good Friday agreement should be

“protected in all its parts”

and that

“the application of this Protocol should impact as little as possible on the everyday life of communities in both Ireland and Northern Ireland”.If the situation in Northern Ireland is to be sustainable, it must be compatible with those principles, and in theory there is no good reason why that should not be the case. Look at how other trade boundaries operate. Look at how trade can be facilitated through a risk-based approach and through the use of technology. Look at the exceptional case that the UK is, having traded as part of the EU bloc for decades. Look at the obligations and commitments from all parties concerned—the commitments they made to protect

“the essential State functions and territorial integrity of the United Kingdom”,

as stated in article 1 and repeated in article 6, which underlined

“the importance of maintaining the integral place of Northern Ireland in the United Kingdom’s internal market”,

and said that the UK and the EU

“shall use their best endeavours to facilitate the trade between Northern Ireland and other parts of the United Kingdom…with a view to avoiding controls at the ports and airports of Northern Ireland to the extent possible.”

The trade and co-operation agreement said that any measures to protect the integrity of the EU’s single market should be pragmatic and risk-based.

Those principles and provisions are not being reflected in practice. Members have raised the issues this afternoon: Northern Ireland officials processing 20% of the EU’s total checks and controls on consignments from third countries of products of animal origin for a population of 0.5% of the EU’s; critical medicines at risk of being discontinued; companies who have given up delivering; unique disadvantages for Northern Ireland in facing little access to UK or EU tariff rate quotas for certain important products; long-standing trade flows being disrupted and firms struggling to cope with increased bureaucracy and costs, despite facilitations and grace periods; and the absurd prospect of a ban on chilled meats moving within the UK.

How is that situation compatible with those shared principles of ambition and pragmatism to promote prosperity and peace? How were the commitments that the EU made in 2017 and 2019 to specific solutions and alternative arrangements, and that the protocol could be superseded, compatible with the refusal to replace the Northern Ireland protocol or engage on alternative arrangements? How is this compatible with those principles in granting extension periods only the day before, or not extending the trusted trader scheme, or not focusing on goods at risk, or insisting that the only way to reduce burdens on the movement of food products is for us to accept EU law outright on SPS despite, as my hon. Friend has said, our putting an ambitious veterinary agreement on the table based on our respective high standards? I thank the hon. Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Louise Haigh) for her support for the Government’s proposals on that measure.

How is it compatible with, perhaps worst of all, triggering article 16 with no notice to create a hard border on the island of Ireland for the most sensitive of products—vaccines—feeding the perception that the EU’s years of claims to be prioritising the delicate balance in Northern Ireland were little more than lip service, and fundamentally undermining the confidence of many in Northern Ireland that the protocol could be made to work, or threatening legal action at the first sign of any disagreement instead of seeking to resolve problems consensually, or saying that Northern Ireland must be the price of Brexit? Never, Madam Deputy Speaker.

In contrast, we have worked hard to support those ambitions on prosperity and peace. For our part, we have honoured our commitments, with new IT systems as part of a world-leading customs system; £500 million for a range of support schemes—the trader support service, the movement assistance scheme, the digital assistance scheme—new facilitations by 1 January, such as the UK trader scheme, even though they were only agreed in December last year; temporary facilities for agrifood goods entering Northern Ireland and £60 million for the Northern Ireland Executive to administer them; and access to several UK customs databases, despite the technical challenges associated with data protection. The UK Government are working hard and in good faith to find solutions to the problems that many have mentioned. Those problems, as the hon. Member for Upper Bann (Carla Lockhart) said, cannot stand.

We have provided over a dozen papers with detailed proposals on how these problems can be addressed. In addition to that, we have made numerous proposals in other areas, including on tariff rate quotas and customs, and we have had a very limited reaction from the EU to these proposals. We have done all this because we know that we need to show that politics works. We must respond to people’s concerns and that means the EU working with us to ease the burdens on Northern Ireland, not prioritising the single market.

Mark Harper Portrait Mr Harper
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

On the point about prioritising the single market, it is less about that and more about the proportionality point that I mentioned. Is there either any agreement between the British Government and the EU or at least some move to some shared understanding of what the actual risks are to the single market, as opposed to the theoretical ones, so that we can move to a much more proportionate balance of checks and controls on both sides?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Hansard - -

My right hon. Friend is right that a seriously unbalanced situation is developing in the way that the protocol is operating. The protocol can be sustained only as long as it retains support in Northern Ireland; therefore, making it work is, you would think, in everyone’s interest. We need to focus on those shared and stated principles and common ambitions for prosperity and peace. It was ambition for our country that brought us to this point, and ambition is the parent of courage and determination. As we now need to think creatively, we have to find a new balance.

We need an approach to implementation that respects the delicate balance between the interests of all communities in Northern Ireland, and the economic and cultural links, east and west, as well as north and south. That is the thrust of the motion that we have been debating. The Government are ready to do that, and colleagues will not have long to wait. My hon. Friend the Member for Harwich and North Essex, who opened the debate, and all Members who have spoken, have done a service by demonstrating that support for such an ambition is the overwhelming mood of this House.

EU Relations: Withdrawal Agreement

Penny Mordaunt Excerpts
Thursday 1st July 2021

(2 years, 9 months ago)

Written Statements
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Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Paymaster General (Penny Mordaunt)
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My noble Friend the Minister of State in the Cabinet Office, the right hon. Lord Frost CMG yesterday made the following written statement:

The Government have been consistently clear that there should be no barriers on the movement of meat products from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. In order to avoid any disruption to those movements, the Government proposed to the EU that it would be sensible to extend the grace period agreed at the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee in December, which would otherwise have expired on 1 July, on certain conditions.

Following detailed discussions, the UK and EU have agreed to extend the grace period until 30 September. In line with that agreement, the United Kingdom has today set out a unilateral declaration, of which the EU has taken note, relating to the movement of meat products from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. This sets out the conditions under which meat products otherwise classed as prohibited and restricted goods will move from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. This agreement does not require the rest of the United Kingdom to align with any changes in EU agrifood rules during the grace period—there is no dynamic alignment.

The extension ensures that Northern Ireland consumers will continue to be able to buy chilled meat products from Great Britain. This is a positive first step but agreement is still required on a permanent solution, and this further period provides time for those discussions to proceed. This is also only one of a very large number of problems with the way the protocol is currently operating, for which solutions need to be found with the EU to ensure the protocol delivers on its original aims: to protect the Belfast (Good Friday) agreement, safeguard Northern Ireland’s place in the United Kingdom, and protect the EU’s single market for goods.

Attachments can be viewed online at:

http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2021-07-01/HCWS144/.

[HCWS144]

Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee: Eighth Meeting

Penny Mordaunt Excerpts
Wednesday 9th June 2021

(2 years, 10 months ago)

Written Statements
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Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Paymaster General (Penny Mordaunt)
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My noble Friend, the Minister of State at the Cabinet Office (right hon. Lord Frost CMG), has today made the following written statement:

The Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee met today, 9 June, at Admiralty House, London.

The meeting was co-chaired by the UK’s Lord Frost and European Commission Vice President, Maroš Šefčovič. The First Minister and deputy First Minister of the Northern Ireland Executive and 27 member state representatives attended.

The Committee received an update on the work of the specialised Committees since the last meeting on 24 February, and discussed progress on withdrawal agreement implementation, with particular focus on the Northern Ireland protocol and citizens’ rights. The first Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee annual report was also agreed and signed, this will be published in due course.

The UK set out the extensive steps taken to operate the protocol, by the UK Government, the Northern Ireland Executive, and by businesses in Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

The UK made clear its readiness for continued constructive engagement to find pragmatic solutions that ensure the protocol operates in a way that safeguards the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement in all its dimensions, minimises its impact on the day-to-day lives of communities in Northern Ireland, and maintains the integrity of the EU’s single market. The UK will continue to put forward ideas and options.

The UK underlined the urgency of a number of issues and noted it would continue to engage fully in discussions with the EU, with a view to finding substantial solutions to address the difficulties being caused by the protocol in Northern Ireland. The UK would, however, continue to consider all options available for safeguarding peace, prosperity and stability in Northern Ireland.

The UK demonstrated its commitment to EU citizens living and working in the UK, where it has registered over 5 million people in the EU settlement scheme. The UK urged the EU to provide appropriate support to all eligible UK citizens living in the EU, particularly in EU member states with upcoming deadlines for their residency schemes.

The UK restated its commitment to co-operating with the EU through the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee processes to make sure that pragmatic solutions are developed to implement all areas of the withdrawal agreement.

A post-meeting statement has been published on www.gov.uk here, giving a current assessment of the UK Government’s view on the Northern Ireland protocol.

[HCWS78]

Trade and Co-operation Agreement Partnership Council: First Meeting

Penny Mordaunt Excerpts
Wednesday 9th June 2021

(2 years, 10 months ago)

Written Statements
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Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Paymaster General (Penny Mordaunt)
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My noble Friend, the Minister of State at the Cabinet Office (the right hon. Lord Frost CMG), has today made the following written statement:

The Trade and Co-operation Agreement Partnership Council met today, 9 June, in person and by video conference.

The meeting was co-chaired by the UK’s Lord Frost and European Commission vice president, Maroš Šefčovič. The First Minister and deputy First Minister of the Northern Ireland Executive, Minister for Culture, Europe and International Development of the Scottish Government, Minister for the Economy of the Welsh Government, and 27 member state representatives attended.

The first meeting of the Partnership Council marks a new phase in the UK and EU relationship as sovereign equals.

The Partnership Council discussed sanitary and phytosanitary measures and customs and trade facilitation; fisheries; law enforcement; long-term visa fees; participation in Union programmes; and received an update on the institutional frameworks supporting the Trade and Co-operation Agreement. The parties agreed an indicative timetable for upcoming meetings of the various joint committees established under the agreement, and encouraged continuing work on the establishment of the Parliamentary Partnership Assembly and the Civil Society Forum.

The Partnership Council supervises the operation of the TCA, providing strategic direction to the work of the Trade Partnership Committee and 18 specialised committees.

The UK restated its commitment to co-operating with the EU through the Trade and Co-operation Agreement Partnership Council to ensure that all areas of the Trade and Co-operation Agreement were implemented.

A post-meeting statement has been issued on gov.uk at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-government-statement-on-the-meeting-of-the-partnership-council-9-june-2021

[HCWS77]

Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee: Eighth Meeting

Penny Mordaunt Excerpts
Monday 7th June 2021

(2 years, 10 months ago)

Written Statements
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Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Paymaster General (Penny Mordaunt)
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My noble Friend, Minister of State, Cabinet Office (right hon. Lord Frost CMG), has today made the following written statement:



The next meeting of the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee will take place in London on 9 June 2021, with delegations attending in person and by video conference.



The meeting will be co-chaired by the Minister of State at the Cabinet Office, right hon. Lord Frost CMG, and Vice President of the European Commission, Maroš Šefčovič.



The agenda will include five items:



Welcome and opening remarks from the co-chairs



Formal adoption of the agenda

Stocktake of Specialised Committee activity 24 February - 9 June 2021



Withdrawal Agreement Annual Report



Update on withdrawal agreement implementation



Citizens’ Rights

Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol



AOB



Concluding remarks



The UK delegation will include:



Minister of State at the Cabinet Office, right hon. Lord Frost CMG;

Paymaster General, right hon. Penny Mordaunt MP.



Representatives from the Northern Ireland Executive have been invited to form part of the UK delegation.

[HCWS68]

Trade and Cooperation Agreement Partnership Council: First Meeting

Penny Mordaunt Excerpts
Monday 7th June 2021

(2 years, 10 months ago)

Written Statements
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Paymaster General (Penny Mordaunt)
- Hansard - -

My noble Friend, Minister of State, Cabinet Office (right hon. Lord Frost CMG), has today made the following written statement:



The first meeting of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement Partnership Council will take place on 9 June 2021, in person and by video conference, hosted by the UK.



The meeting will be co-chaired by the Minister of State at the Cabinet Office, right hon. Lord Frost CMG, and Vice President of the European Commission, Maroš Šefčovič.



The agenda will include nine items:



Introduction



Welcome, opening remarks from the co-chairs

Formal adoption of the agenda



Sanitary and phytosanitary measures and customs and trade facilitation



Fisheries



Law enforcement



Long-term visa fees



Participation in union programmes



Update on institutional framework



Tentative timetable of meetings of Committees under the TCA

Parliamentary Partnership Assembly

Civil Society Forum



AOB



Concluding remarks



The UK delegation will include:



Minister of State at the Cabinet Office, right hon. Lord Frost CMG;

Paymaster General, right hon. Penny Mordaunt MP;

Ministers from the devolved administrations.

[HCWS67]