Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill

Baroness Ludford Excerpts
Baroness Ludford Portrait Baroness Ludford (LD)
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My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Hacking, might understand that there are lots of things that the Liberal Democrat Benches might want to achieve, but, unfortunately, we cannot do things on our own and we need rather considerable support from other Benches.

We have heard some very eloquent and forceful criticisms of the Bill. I commend all those speeches, not only but especially from my own Benches. I am sorry that I lack time to react to most of the speeches I appreciated, though that of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, has to be a witty exception. I will nick the terms used by the noble Lords, Lord McLoughlin, Lord Hannay and Lord Cormack, and the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, respectively: “all powers, no policy”, “scrappage scheme”, “constitutional monstrosity” and “the gift that keeps on taking”.

I warmly congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady O’Grady of Upper Holloway—we come from the same borough—on her maiden speech. She adequately and expertly refuted the assertion, made by the Minister a couple of times in this Chamber in the past fortnight, that UK employment law owes nothing to EU law. She is a very valuable addition to this House. I also welcome the noble Baroness, Lady Bray of Coln. I hope that she did not learn the wrong things from Ken Livingstone.

The contribution of the noble Lord, Lord Heseltine, reminded us how un-Conservative, and certainly un-Thatcherite, the Bill is, with its revolutionary approach to eradicating at a stroke EU laws crucial to business, as well as to unions and many other aspects of life. He rightly warned that any potential investor would be deterred by “a giant question mark”.

Only a few voices—was it 10? I did not count quite that many—were raised in fervent support of the Government. Otherwise, we heard from across the House, as we are hearing from commentators and interested parties outside, that the Bill is extremely unwise, ill considered and reckless. I do not know of anyone outside a rarefied circle of cheerleaders—that is, anyone sensible and reasonable, even for a Conservative—who thinks the Bill is a good idea. Can the Minister cite anyone?

Stephen Kon, competition lawyer at law firm Macfarlanes, said that it is hard to think of a piece of legislation that has been so broadly and deeply criticised. The Hansard Society says that the Bill’s approach to REUL is “fundamentally and irresponsibly flawed”. Journalist Peter Foster—from that woke, left-wing rag, the Financial Times—has said that this Bill

“is a reminder that the outwardly sensible Sunak government still comes with some pretty crazy baggage”.

The distinguished legal commentator, Joshua Rozenberg, has called the Bill “dangerous”. The experienced George Peretz KC says:

“Fiddling around with the law when you don’t know what the consequences of the fiddle are is not obviously a good idea”


and suggests that

“if you don’t know what the effect is of what you are doing, don’t do it”.

Sir Jonathan Jones KC, former head of the Government Legal Service, says

“it’s a very bad way to legislate”.

The Bar Council, as others have quoted, says that the Bill

“will damage the UK’s reputation for regulatory stability, predictability, and competence on which growth-promoting investment in critical sectors of our economy depends”.

As has been much quoted, the independent Regulatory Policy Committee of experts red-rated the impact assessment for the Bill as “not fit for purpose”. The chief executive of Wildlife and Countryside Link said that scrapping environmental laws would be “legislative vandalism”.

Noble Lords get the picture. But after director-general of the CBI, Tony Danker, said the Bill risked uncertainty and chaos, the Minister last week breezily brushed aside the fears of the boss of UK’s top business organisation as wrong. We are well beyond the era when the Tory party even claims to be the party of business. It has just gone rogue. This Bill is not some arcane or obscure exercise. It will affect substantive law and thus businesses and all kinds of organisations in the many fields already cited in this debate.

I will say a word to those complaining that this Parliament had no ability to block or amend legislation once it was agreed in Brussels. It was a supranational organisation, as has been said. Please remember that democratically elected MEPs and the UK Government made the decisions on the legislation, not in fact the European Commission, apart from some regulations about sheep meat prices or something. Of course, many of us in this Chamber are former MEPs.

The UK was rarely outvoted in the Council, and if there was a gap in UK parliamentary scrutiny, that was a failing of Westminster, since other national Parliaments, such as the Danish one, insisted on full accountability from their Governments on what they were agreeing to in Brussels. Indeed, they had a veto on what their Government did. I am sorry: do not blame Brussels, blame Westminster.

These are just some of the objections to the Bill. The huge legal uncertainty created will be very damaging. Businesses, workers, consumers and citizens are in the dark. Even lawyers, who might be expected to relish all the work coming their way, are quaking in their boots. The Government have no idea of how many instruments the Bill will affect; there is indeed no guarantee that all retained law subject to its provisions will be identified.

There will be very considerable legal confusion. For instance, no one knows what removing the supremacy, direct effect or general principles of EU law will mean. The meaning not only of regulations but of primary legislation, such as of the Equality Act 2010—already the subject of huge controversy—will not be the same next year as this. As our Delegated Powers Committee says, the Government

“need to explain what is behind the headlong rush and the impending and arbitrary end-of-year deadline”.

Can the Minister give the committee, me and others who have quoted this a coherent reply?

Where regulations are restated, previous judgments relating to these instruments would no longer be binding; workers and employers would be back at square one, and issues will have to go through the judicial system again, with all the length and expense of that process. The noble Lord, Lord Callanan, confirmed this in his opening speech, though he seemed to think it was a good idea. If lower courts are able to reject ECJ decisions, this may precipitate more—even opportunistic —litigation by some less reputable companies.

What happens if there are errors, either because the hard-pressed Civil Service, with its high turnover of staff, has perhaps lost its institutional memory and misses something, or if a regulation is accidentally switched off at the end of 2023? Is the Civil Service adequately resourced for this exercise? BEIS has said it needs 400 extra staff: what a waste when Whitehall faces so many other pressing issues.

The Government’s proposed wholesale deregulation—a slash and burn exercise—gives stakeholders no chance to say what should be kept. This is sweeping away the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 settlement which took a long-term approach, allowing departure from EU law over time and after consultation. The Government made a political commitment during the passage of that Act that, aside from technical tidying-up, primary legislation would be needed to make significant policy changes. This Bill breaks that pledge. It is simply anti-democratic and authoritarian in conferring massive powers instead on the Government. The Delegated Powers Committee called it

“a blank cheque placed in the hands of Ministers”,

as others have quoted.

The unexpected consequences of kicking out the EU undergirding of UK law could be very perverse and damaging, with what is left lacking legal coherence. In the field of construction, the Building Safety Act 2022 is premised on definitions in a set of 2015 regulations—the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations —implementing an EU directive and creating a framework for health and safety in construction. Unless these regulations are kept switched on, the 2022 Act of Parliament will have its underpinning yanked away. What then exists?

In employment rights, despite what the Minister has recently claimed, there are many topics for which EU law is the bedrock, even if added to—or gold-plated—in UK law, since, after all, EU law always only provided for minimum, not maximum, standards. Parental leave had no basis in UK law before the EU legislated, and it could be entirely removed or drastically altered by the Bill.

Many of the regulations affected are in areas of devolved competence. My noble friend Lady Randerson and others eloquently explained the harmful effect of this Bill on the devolved Administrations. Others have talked about the consequences for Northern Ireland and for the level playing field provisions in the trade and co-operation agreement—which, if we break it, could lead to trade retaliation. Will the Minister tell us about that?

To conclude, if, as the Government claim, there are real regulatory gains from altering retained EU law which could be agreed with or not, there are much better ways of doing that that have already been identified by this very Government, as others have said. The Financial Services and Markets Bill, which was quoted by the noble Lord, Lord Anderson of Ipswich, makes provision for an extensive new regime which has already been subject to considerable consultation. The Procurement Bill brings in new rules on that topic, and then there is the review led by Professor Sir Patrick Vallance to examine EU regulation in high-growth sectors. However, primary legislation and expert reviews require real, careful work, not a simplistic, arbitrary and ideological presumption that EU law must be slashed. They need Bills to be brought forward asking Parliament to legislate with democratic input from MPs, but also input from affected stakeholders of all kinds.

In short, this is a very bad Bill that does not deserve a place on the statute book—certainly not in the form in which it is now before us. The Minister referred in his opening speech to good governance. I think we would like to see some.

Employment Rights Legislation

Baroness Ludford Excerpts
Wednesday 1st February 2023

(1 year, 2 months ago)

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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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As I have said to the noble Lord on this issue before, our workers’ rights, of which we are very proud, do not and did not depend on our membership of the EU. We have standards far in excess of those provided by the EU. Regarding the regulations the noble Lord mentions, as with all retained EU law we will look at that and see whether it is appropriate for the UK economy, and if necessary we will modernise, update or replace it.

Baroness Ludford Portrait Baroness Ludford (LD)
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My Lords, when this came up in Questions on 23 January, the Minister, in response to the noble Baroness, Lady Wheatcroft, said that he had not seen the comments of CBI director-general Tony Danker, reported in the FT that day. He surely now has, but I will remind him. Mr Danker said that the plan to scrap EU laws wholesale is creating huge uncertainty for UK firms and risks throwing industry into some chaos; that companies are asking whether we are really going to erode maternity and paternity regulations and health and safety standards; and that he concluded that we need to recognise that divergence will often shrink our market size and add a skipload of red tape. Will the Minister recognise that business does not want this scrapping of EU laws?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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We will no doubt have this debate at Second Reading of the rule legislation on Monday. If those are the comments of the director-general of the CBI, then he is wrong. Our paternity and maternity regulations are far in excess of those guaranteed by EU minimums. We are proud of that and will continue with them.

Employment Rights

Baroness Ludford Excerpts
Tuesday 19th July 2022

(1 year, 9 months ago)

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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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I could not disagree more with the noble Lord. Given his record it is understandable, but the noble Lord is obsessed with trade unions, which, as I keep reminding him, represent only a minority of workers. The best workers’ right is the right to a job, and this Government are delivering record levels of employment.

Baroness Ludford Portrait Baroness Ludford (LD)
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We have a national shortage in the workforce of hundreds of thousands, which is a crisis for future growth. Just yesterday we saw a new report from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, which has found that the UK economy could potentially lose up to £39 billion a year from 2024 if we do not resolve labour and skills shortages. Does the Minister agree that improving employment rights is an important way of attracting people back into the workforce and retaining those already in it?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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The noble Baroness makes some valid points. We are very proud of our record on workers’ rights. It is about getting the balance right between a flexible economy and allowing employers to manage their workforces. That is what results in the record levels of employment we now have.

European Research Council

Baroness Ludford Excerpts
Wednesday 27th April 2022

(1 year, 11 months ago)

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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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I partly agree with the noble Lord. I agree that time is running out but not that the Northern Ireland protocol is the problem. The EU entered into an agreement which it is now refusing to implement; that is the long and short of the problem. As soon as some Members stop making excuses for the EU’s bad behaviour, we might succeed. We stand ready to associate with the Horizon programme as soon as the EU is prepared to sit down and implement the agreement that it signed.

Baroness Ludford Portrait Baroness Ludford (LD)
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My Lords, everyone agrees that UK participation in Horizon is of benefit to researchers in the UK, the EU and beyond, but also of mutual benefit is the UK’s commitment to stick to legal engagements that it has made. I am afraid that there is some pot and kettle going on from the Minister. Why are this Government again threatening to breach the Northern Ireland protocol and to take powers—we expect this in the Queen’s Speech—and undermine the trust that is essential to making other co-operation work? This is linked to the Northern Ireland protocol, but it is the Government’s failure to honour their commitments which is the problem.

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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I am sorry that the noble Baroness refuses to accept where the blame lies in this circumstance. The UK has not breached any agreements that we signed with the European Union. We have abided by all of them. The EU signed an agreement to say that we would associate with the Horizon programme but is refusing to implement that agreement. The Liberal Democrats and others should stop thinking that everything which the EU does is perfect and believe that there are some cases where it gets things wrong.

Postmasters with Overturned Convictions: Settlement Funds

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Wednesday 15th December 2021

(2 years, 4 months ago)

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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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I agree substantively with many of the points that the noble and learned Lord made. He is tempting me to comment on the lawyers of his profession who took part in funding the case of the 555 members and the amount that went on legal fees, which perhaps I should not do in this House. I sympathise greatly with many of the points he made. Perhaps I would go even further and say that even when the Post Office knew about many of these problems, it appears it then attempted to cover it up. However, these facts will emerge in the inquiry that is taking place. The judge who is leading it is doing extremely well and is progressing with exposing that injustice.

Those outside of the 555 settlement are able to secure compensation through the historical shortfall scheme, which is the other one I mentioned in my response to the noble Lord, Lord McNicol. On the third category, Paul Scully in the other place—I quoted his words earlier—certainly went further than the Government have gone before on those points, and he has promised to work with those who were affected.

Baroness Ludford Portrait Baroness Ludford (LD)
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My Lords, I absolutely join with others in welcoming this Statement and join in the tributes paid by the noble Lord, Lord McNicol, to the noble Lord, Lord Arbuthnot. I also welcome the Minister’s praise for the journalist Nick Wallis, which is the main route by which I heard about this.

My noble friend Lady Randerson talked about the way that individuals were picked off and given to understand that they were the only ones in trouble. There is a certain uncomfortable echo of that in the way that all these different categories are being treated differently and put in silos. We have these 66 people covered by this new scheme—those who have been acquitted. Then we have the 555 civil litigants who settled, and then I think the noble Lord said that there are around 2,500 applicants to the historical shortfall scheme, and there may be others. So there are thousands of other people who are all being treated differently. It seems that we need some kind of holistic approach, because they are all in the same moral boat. They are all the victims of the most appalling scandal. It is not a political scandal but a public scandal.

My honourable friend Alistair Carmichael in the other House had a debate in Westminster Hall in which he referred to the ongoing problems in the attitude of the Post Office—the arrogance. Can we cut through that arrogance? Will the Government cut through it and treat all these thousands of victims of the Post Office in a similar way and not divide and rule, which is unfortunately the echo that is coming to me?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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That is not an entirely fair comment. We as a ministerial team and a Government inherited this scandal. We are making endeavours within the powers and legal procedures that we have. We cannot ignore the fact that a civil court case has taken place and there was a full and final settlement. We have to negotiate within government for additional funding to be made available. I can assure the noble Baroness that the Minister for Postal Affairs is attempting to do so and is trying to work with the parties to bring this to a resolution. There is clearly moral equivalence between the different categories, even if there is not necessarily a legal equivalent at this stage. I am not a lawyer but, to be fair, there are differences in the cases. It would be right for the Government to try to compensate them all to the greatest degree possible within existing legal procedures, and my honourable friend is attempting to do that.

The noble Baroness referred to the culture of the Post Office. Again, her comment was a little unfair. The Post Office is under new leadership and it has committed to changing its ways. I can assure her that Ministers regularly discuss this matter with the Post Office. It has a programme of change, including the appointment of two recent postmaster non-executive directors to try to get some say in the senior leadership team from those working on the ground. I know that the new chief executive is committed to doing his best to overcome this scandal, right the wrongs and put the business on a sound footing in the future.

Free Trade Agreement: Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway

Baroness Ludford Excerpts
Thursday 14th October 2021

(2 years, 6 months ago)

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In closing, I note that, before Brexit, international agreements were the competence of the EU and scrutiny at all stages could take place both through the European Parliament and through the European Union Committee and our sister committee in the other place. This scrutiny has been lost, and to maintain the balance between Parliament and the Executive, a new system needs to be found and adhered to. I thought the Minister’s Written Ministerial Statement last December was a good step towards this, and I am very disappointed that its simple formula has not been followed in this free trade agreement’s genesis. Last month saw the publication of the International Agreements Committee’s report, Working Practices: One Year On. I very much hope that the draft concordat that it proposes, and that the International Trade Committee in the other place supports, will be agreed to.
Baroness Ludford Portrait Baroness Ludford (LD)
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I am not used to debates without speakers’ lists; I am a bit nervous about going first.

I thoroughly congratulate the noble Earl, Lord Kinnoull, on securing this debate before the expiry of the scrutiny deadline. As he noted, this is the first genuinely new post-Brexit free trade agreement, as opposed to a copy-and-paste of the agreements we enjoyed as an EU member state. As such, it has to be welcomed—but with some caveats. The committee notes that, although this is substantially a new trade agreement, there is a different government approach to parliamentary scrutiny for this one compared to others, such as the forthcoming Australia free trade agreement.

The committee says that government commitments on scrutiny have developed “iteratively”. A less diplomatic way of putting it might be that it is all over the place. Certainly, government commitments on consultation, publication of negotiating objectives, scrutiny of documents, briefings to the committees, access to the texts and so on have not been respected in the case of this agreement. My experience as a Member of the European Parliament was that if the negotiators—the Commission and the Council—took MEPs into their confidence early on, particularly through an approval of negotiating objectives, the further stages were much smoother. But of course, the European Parliament has much greater powers than the Westminster Parliament over trade agreements.

The committee called the layout of the parliamentary report, one of the explanatory materials, “hard-to-read”. It certainly is; I made the mistake of printing it out and it has the titchiest font that I think I have ever seen. The committee also said that the

“rationale for its production is unclear”

and that even the impact assessment was “less informative” than on previous occasions. I hope that this might get a commitment from the Minister to do better in future.

I am interested to note that this free trade agreement includes mutual recognition of professional qualifications, which the Government did not manage to secure in the trade and co-operation agreement with the EU, such that any UK qualified workers wishing to work in the EU have to meet the qualification requirements of each individual EU member state, such that host country rules apply. Can the Minister, as an off-shoot of the subject we are debating, tell us what progress has been reached in securing reciprocal arrangements with any EU member state on a sectoral basis for recognition of qualifications?

The committee notes that although the agreement applies differently in Northern Ireland compared with the rest of the UK, none of the explanatory materials—the explanatory memorandum, the impact assessment, the parliamentary report—makes any reference to that, which is quite strange. Northern Ireland officials advised the committee that

“there remain considerable complexities around how Northern Ireland will fully benefit from UK FTAs”,

and that the

“inability to fully comply with FTA measures for NI, where these conflict with … the Protocol”,

needs to be considered. Obviously, the protocol is much in our minds now—as ever. Can the Government provide the committee and the House with a full explanation of these difficulties—this interaction between the protocol and FTAs—and what they involve in terms of WTO transparency, potential trade dispute risks and any other factors?

The Northern Ireland Government apparently saw the detailed text of this agreement only shortly before the announcement that an agreement had been reached. The Scottish Government have complained that they did not have a full role and were not involved in any of the crucial detail on tariffs and goods access or consulted on significant aspects of the negotiations. Unlike some colleagues—I am sitting behind one—I am not well up on the role of the devolved Governments, but I am concerned if a professed unionist party that currently sits in government is failing to be inclusive in trade negotiations. Can the Minister explain the Government’s record in respect of this FTA and what they intend in the future?

As the committee notes, and as the noble Earl, Lord Kinnoull, repeated, this FTA is

“in part an exercise in damage limitation”.

We cannot get back, certainly via this FTA, to what we had as a member of the European Economic Area. I notice that the explanatory memorandum does not even mention the EEA in its background section; it has been airbrushed out of history. It compares this FTA only with the previous ones on goods only. A fair comparison would be what we had as all being members of the EEA. This reaches the same level of farce as “Don’t mention the war”—Captain Mainwaring style.

The impact assessment claims that the FTA

“delivers more opportunities across services and investment and a range of other areas including digital, procurement and telecoms.”

This again can be compared only to the previous 2019 and December 2020 agreements, which covered only goods. As the Law Society protested, this FTA comes

“nowhere close to replicating the level of market access members”—

that is, solicitors, the members of the Law Society—had “prior to Brexit”, when we were in the EU and the EEA, in the provisions giving complete freedom to provide services. That is what the comparison needs to be with. It is disingenuous of the Government not to mention and describe that, since we here are all going to know it. At least there are some mobility provisions in this FTA, unlike in the TCA with the EU, but they are only WTO mode 4, in the jargon, and thus more far more restrictive than the freedom of movement to work that we all had in the EEA.

A big gap is the failure to get diagonal cumulation on rules of origin. This is a subject for which I have always had to put a wet towel on my head, but what it means in practice is that while the UK, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein will be able to cumulate EU content, the EU has not reciprocated in the TCA. This means that Norwegian and Icelandic raw materials incorporated above a certain threshold into goods exported from the UK to the EU will attract tariffs as third-country content. Can the Minister give us any glimmer of hope of resolving that important issue in future?

The preamble reaffirms the commitment of all parties to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948. What about the European Convention on Human Rights? As far as I know, and indeed I do know, all the partners—Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and, at least for now, the UK—are members of the ECHR. So why is the ECHR not cited and namechecked in the text while only the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is? Should I be worried about that?

Lord Hannay of Chiswick Portrait Lord Hannay of Chiswick (CB)
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My Lords, speaking as a member of your Lordships’ European Affairs Committee, whose report we are debating, I welcome these three agreements. That may surprise the Minister, who has taken a certain amount of criticism on some of the other debates that we have had on trade agreements, but I do. It is important to avoid the legal and, potentially, practical hiatus in our trading relationship with those three countries that would have followed from our ceasing to be covered by the EEA at the beginning of 2021, this year. Now, as a result of those agreements, that will not happen, which is certainly good news.

However, I have to say to the Government that they would get more credit on an occasion like this if they did not claim, as official spokesmen have done, that these agreements were in some way a massive break- through, a first new-era post-Brexit set of free trade agreements. That is the sort of hyperbole that I am afraid, since it is not true, tends to discredit what is actually a perfectly well-done job. These are nothing of the sort. We have actually been in a free trade area relationship with these countries for many decades, since before we joined the European Community when we were part of EFTA with them. I have to admit—to my shame, because there is the problem of ageism—that I was part of the negotiations for the free trade agreement with Norway and the other members of EFTA when we joined the European Community.

UK Property Ownership: Overseas Jurisdictions

Baroness Ludford Excerpts
Wednesday 13th October 2021

(2 years, 6 months ago)

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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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We are already investing £20 million in the reform of Companies House to provide many of the services the noble Lord refers to, but many of the reforms also require primary legislation and we will legislate when we can. The noble Lord is not correct in his basic assertion: the UK’s anti-money laundering regime was reviewed by the Financial Action Task Force and the UK achieved the best rating of any country assessed so far in the round of evaluations.

Baroness Ludford Portrait Baroness Ludford (LD)
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My Lords, Guardian reporter Luke Harding, involved in analysing the leaked Pandora papers, has said, “There is a message for the super-rich here: don’t hide your cash under a palm tree because, sooner or later, an investigative journalist will find it.” That is just as well, because the Government seem very relaxed about dirty money buying up London. Why have only four unexplained wealth orders—McMafia orders—been issued since 2018 and none since July 2019? Is the Minister relaxed that a government assessment last November concluded that money laundering through the UK had actually increased since 2017?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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As I just said in the previous answer, we are absolutely not relaxed about this and we are determined to root out any financial chicanery and money laundering where possible. Investigations in which a UWO may assist are likely to be complex: application to a court for a UWO may take many months or years, but enforcement authorities continue to seek opportunities to utilise unexplained wealth orders in appropriate cases. These are difficult and complex matters.

Office of the Whistleblower Bill [HL]

Baroness Ludford Excerpts
Baroness Ludford Portrait Baroness Ludford (LD)
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My Lords, I warmly welcome my noble friend’s Bill and her excellent introduction of it. This Second Reading is well timed for two reasons: first, because it comes just after World Whistleblowers Day on 23 June, which was initiated by Transparency International, which it says is

“an occasion for us to celebrate the courageous individuals who come forward to report corruption”;

and, secondly, because it comes in the week following the publication of the report on the failings in the case of the murdered Daniel Morgan.

Apparently, but sadly ironically, the notion of drawing attention to wrongdoing by blowing the whistle originates from the Metropolitan Police force, which in February 1884 issued 21,000 whistles—the mobile phone of the 19th century. I learned this and many other things from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Whistleblowing, which I warmly thank for its work and especially for its reports, on which I am able to draw.

The statement by the panel of the Daniel Morgan report issued by the noble Baroness, Lady O’Loan, said memorably:

“We received evidence from serving and retired officers that in some circumstances, police officers who have sought to report wrongdoing by other police officers have been ostracised, transferred to a different unit, encouraged to resign, or have faced disciplinary proceedings. This is not conducive to a culture of integrity … We believe that concealing or denying failings for the sake of an organisation’s public image is dishonesty on the part of the organisation for reputational benefit and constitutes a form of institutional corruption.”


My first point is therefore about the huge value to society of whistleblowers and the harm caused by the failure to listen to them. Whistleblowers are the single most cost-effective and important means of identifying and addressing wrongdoing that affects the life and security of our citizens. My second point is that you would not know of that value from the way that whistleblowers are treated. They are often treated in an appalling and unlawful way despite the fact that by doing the right thing they risk everything to protect others, and my noble friend has enumerated these problems. In fact the whistleblower should be the best friend of the CEO—an essential mechanism for promoting a culture of openness, integrity and accountability and hence for winning the trust of the public, which is vital to effectiveness. That is what was so disappointing in the behaviour of the Met Commissioner.

We need a change not only in the culture and perception of whistleblowers but in the law. One of the most pernicious features of the present situation is, as two of my noble friends have mentioned, the gross inequality of arms between whistleblowers and employers. It is time for a radical overhaul to provide legislation that supports our citizens in the 21st century. The Bill is a valuable step in that direction and I fully support it.

Post Brexit: Small Service Businesses

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Monday 24th May 2021

(2 years, 10 months ago)

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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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As I said, we are working closely with the sector and across government to consider how we can help resolve these issues. I understand the noble Lord’s point. This has been very damaging to the creative industries. It is hard to quantify the impact at the moment. Given the pandemic, not many people are travelling anywhere, but we will monitor the situation closely.

Baroness Ludford Portrait Baroness Ludford (LD) [V]
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My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Frost, admitted last week to our European Affairs Committee that the Government rejected the EU’s offer of a visa waiver system whereby arts and culture workers, such as musicians, could tour on the continent without a mass of red tape. The Government now seem to be trying to reach bilateral deals with individual EU countries, but this may well be blocked by Brussels. What effective strategy do the Government have to give mobility to a sector worth billions to our economy?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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The proposals from the EU were complicated and would not have resolved many of these issues, so the noble Baroness should be wary of believing some of the propaganda she reads. We tried to reach a comprehensive agreement, but our proposals were rejected by the EU. I know that she will find this hard to believe but that is what happened in practice.

Workers’ Rights

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Tuesday 26th January 2021

(3 years, 2 months ago)

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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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We will of course always clamp down on unscrupulous practices where they occur, including on those who do not pay the minimum wage. I am proud that it was a Conservative Government who banned exclusivity clauses in zero-hours contracts, giving gig economy workers more control over the hours that they work. We will look to go further where we can.

Baroness Ludford Portrait Baroness Ludford (LD) [V]
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My Lords, as my noble friend Lord Fox said, there is no business demand for weakening job protections, but they would be severely hit by even worse border friction and possible tariffs. Can the Minister say how, in their review of employment rights, the Government are assessing the potential for EU trade sanctions under the level playing field provisions of the trade and co-operation agreement? Also, the tweet from the Conservative Party impliedly criticising the EU law for having no pay provisions is, as he knows, completely disingenuous, because the treaties bar the EU from having such provisions. The Conservatives would have been the first to complain if the treaty had such provisions.

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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I am surprised that the noble Baroness is asking about the trade and co-operation agreement, because the Liberal Democrats voted against it and therefore would have preferred no deal, but it is the case that, under that trade agreement with the EU, either party can consider whether divergence on labour standards merits a rebalancing of the agreement. We will of course completely comply with our obligations, as we do under all trade agreements.