Debates between Baroness Noakes and Viscount Waverley during the 2019 Parliament

Tue 13th Oct 2020
Trade Bill
Lords Chamber

Committee stage & Committee stage:Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard)

Trade Bill

Debate between Baroness Noakes and Viscount Waverley
Viscount Waverley Portrait Viscount Waverley (CB) [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Lansley, has succinctly made the case. The final countdown to the United Kingdom embarking on a new chapter in our proud journey has arrived. Transparency and inclusiveness are needed now more than ever. The noble Lord should be thanked for tabling these amendments. The word “trust” has been uttered many times in Committee. These amendments would assist that process. For a nation that built its reputation as a great trading nation, it is surprising how little is understood about how trade impacts. Taking the public’s trust is an imperative. These amendments would provide an important demonstration that the Government are serious about making trade work for everyone, and the promotion of international best practice. Demystifying trade, enabling all stakeholders to understand how it benefits the economy, and demonstrating that to the regions and communities up and down our land is essential.

It is time to look at these issues with fresh eyes, and to bring a more inclusive approach to finding solutions to the challenges we face. By inclusive, I refer to the United Kingdom’s multi-sector business organisations, together with representatives of consumers, civil society and workers. Strong social partnership between government, business and unions is the only way to deliver the required results. After all, a sustainable and inclusive approach would translate into economic growth, jobs and the maintenance of high standards.

Common rules and standards are the best mechanism to reduce red tape and bureaucracy and ensure that we all trade on a level playing field. An annual report, as proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Lansley, would help ensure that robust mitigation strategies are in place to assist companies in understanding, for example, the new trade preferences available and how they can benefit. The noble Lord has flagged that an export strategy should be in place by year-end. This would be extremely commendable.

Lessons learned from the past, to effectively distribute the benefits of trade and how to achieve it, are paramount. To that end, and relevant to the issues before us this afternoon, an All-Party Parliamentary Group for Trade and Export Promotion has indeed been launched, which I have the honour of co-chairing. Gary Sambrook, in another place, takes the lead, with MPs across the family of nations being actively involved. The noble Lord, Lord Lansley, kindly referred to this and he is a key participant. I am grateful to him for drawing attention to it. We are certainly working on a full programme, including, quite extraordinarily, a call at 4 am to review progress with a secretariat headed by Chris Southworth. I am delighted that the noble Baroness, Lady Mobarik, and the noble Lords, Lord Lansley, Lord Mann and Lord Purvis, are vice-chairs, contributing much with their combined wisdom. It offers constructive consideration of the issues that bring us together today, bringing together international trade policy, trade promotion, investment and trade finance under one roof, and into an inclusive forum. The APPG is ably supported with a secretariat run by an organisation that lives and breathes trade, the International Chamber of Commerce.

This morning we had our first meeting, made up of 30-plus organisations from around the UK, to learn of concerns and proposals. From this point, we will invite Her Majesty’s Government to attend these meetings, as I have little doubt that they will find areas of interest, in the spirit of delivering better solutions and outcomes that build confidence and trust in trade.

I end where I began, in supporting these amendments. We must work as a team united, so that the UK can go forward as a global player, but not before sorting ourselves out internally. I endorse the suggestion made by the noble Lord, Lord Lansley, and encourage the Government to adopt the amendment to the best benefit of us all.

Baroness Noakes Portrait Baroness Noakes (Con)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, I certainly support all that my noble friend Lord Lansley said about the importance of trade promotion and export promotion. Clearly, this is vital to underpin our success in a post-Brexit world. I also support the intention that underlies the amendment, which is to facilitate holding the Government to account for their delivery in those areas. I find it difficult, however, to support the amendment itself.

All amendments that call for reports need to be treated with a certain amount of scepticism. There is already a vehicle for delivering what the amendment asks for, which is the annual departmental report. If my noble friend had expressed his amendment in terms of a government-wide delivery on his aims, I could understand the need for it to be a free-standing report, but his amendment focuses on the Department for International Trade. Therefore, the annual report for the Department for International Trade should suffice.

There is also the International Trade Committee in the other place. We tend to be somewhat dismissive of the other place’s ability to scrutinise legislation well, but one of the things it does do well is to hold individual government departments to account. If you take the combination of a departmental report and the International Trade Committee in the other place, we have the mechanisms to achieve the very noble intents lying behind this amendment.