Debates between Baroness Noakes and Baroness Garden of Frognal during the 2019 Parliament

Mon 14th Jun 2021
Tue 29th Sep 2020
Trade Bill
Grand Committee

Committee stage & Committee stage:Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard): House of Lords

Professional Qualifications Bill [HL]

Debate between Baroness Noakes and Baroness Garden of Frognal
Baroness Garden of Frognal Portrait Baroness Garden of Frognal (LD)
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My Lords, I have two very small amendments in this group, both taking us back to my unfavourite word, “substantially”. When we were discussing this last week, my main objection was that “substantially” always implies that something is missing. Last week it was applied to standards, and my argument then was that you cannot water down standards so should not use “substantially”. With these two amendments, my argument is that the word is completely unnecessary. In “substantially corresponds to”, “substantially” is a modifier and “corresponds to” is a modifier; you do not need them both, so I simply put this forward to ask if we can please neaten up the Bill by two words and take out “substantially” in both contexts.

Baroness Noakes Portrait Baroness Noakes (Con)
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My Lords, I speak on Clause 7 standing part of the Bill, rather than on the detailed amendments in this group. We had a brief discussion about the advice centre on our first Committee day, when the Minister told us that the current UK Centre for Professional Qualifications does not cost very much, although he would not tell us how much. The UK set up the Centre for Professional Qualifications because it was required to by the EU, so I do not understand why BEIS has not looked long and hard at whether it needs to carry on funding it now that we have left. Just because people have occasionally found an item useful is not a sound rationale to carry on spending money on it. There has to be a demonstrated need, and nothing in the documents on the Bill has established this.

Until I got involved in the Bill, I had not heard of the centre. I have since visited the website and am doubtless going to be included in its statistics on hits next time it reports to the Minister how successful it is. I did not find it useful at all. I first wanted to know how I could come to the UK to practise as a registered auditor, but the website gave me no information at all. It does not have a global search facility, so I could not even work out whether the information was hidden somewhere on the website. When I said that I was a UK professional accountant seeking to practise abroad, again it had absolutely nothing to tell me.

I suspect that, if the centre disappeared from the web tonight, no one—but no one—would miss it. Most of what is on the website can easily be found with a search engine and a couple of extra clicks. It is not a treasure trove of information; it is very minimalist. The best thing that could be done with it is to put it to sleep, which is why I do not believe that Clause 7 should stand part of the Bill.

Trade Bill

Debate between Baroness Noakes and Baroness Garden of Frognal
Committee stage & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Tuesday 29th September 2020

(3 years, 8 months ago)

Grand Committee
Read Full debate Trade Bill 2019-21 View all Trade Bill 2019-21 Debates Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: HL Bill 128-II(Rev) Revised second marshalled list for Grand Committee - (29 Sep 2020)
Baroness Noakes Portrait Baroness Noakes (Con)
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My Lords, listening to noble Lords who have contributed so far, it seems to me that they are losing sight of the fact that Clause 1 is really about enabling the UK to take advantage of the GPA, and they seem to be trying to make that much more difficult. Several noble Lords talked about a reduction in standards, and a race to the bottom was mentioned twice. Government policy is not to race to the bottom; it is not to diminish standards. We constantly hear that noble Lords in other parts of the House do not trust the Government. The noble Lord, Lord Fox, said that we need amendments to allay his suspicions. I have to say to him that we do not legislate just to allay the suspicions of Liberal Democrat Peers; we legislate for effective legislation.

Many of the amendments are just telling the Government how and when they have to go and negotiate on certain things. If they were passed, they would be quite burdensome on the Government, who have quite a lot to do to try to get us ready for a post-EU trading world for the benefit of the UK. Nothing really happens if there is no outcome from most of the amendments, which seems to me a flaw in them.

I listened carefully to what the noble Baroness, Lady Burt, said about SMEs. There is an issue about SMEs having access to public procurement opportunities in the UK, as well as the rest of the world, which is what we are talking about getting access to through the GPA. The answer is not to go and negotiate with other signatories to the GPA. The issue of SMEs not having the access that they think they could have would be better dealt with by more specific and targeted government action to remove any barriers to SMEs taking part in government procurement, wherever they are. I hope that my noble friend can say something about what can be done to enable those SMEs which wish to take part in government procurement—not all do, especially not international government procurement —to do so.

Baroness Garden of Frognal Portrait The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Baroness Garden of Frognal) (LD)
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I call the noble Lord, Lord Judd. Do we have Lord Judd?