26 Baroness Chapman of Darlington debates involving the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Mon 6th Feb 2023
Mon 6th Feb 2023
Wed 9th Mar 2022
Wed 9th Mar 2022
Wed 9th Feb 2022
Advanced Research and Invention Agency Bill
Lords Chamber

Consideration of Commons amendments & Consideration of Commons amendments
Tue 1st Feb 2022

Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill

Baroness Chapman of Darlington Excerpts
Tabled by
Baroness Chapman of Darlington Portrait Baroness Chapman of Darlington
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At end insert “but regrets that this Bill threatens workers’ rights, environmental standards and consumer protections; that it has been introduced without a complete understanding of its scope or impact or what will replace the laws it revokes; that it creates damaging confusion and disruption in the economy during a cost of living crisis; is opposed by both business and workers representatives, including the Confederation of British Industry and the Trades Union Congress; that its legislative ‘sunset’ is arbitrary and will create a regulatory cliff-edge; that it ignores the concerns and lacks the consent of the devolved administrations; and that it undermines democratic scrutiny and accountability, providing ministers with unnecessary and unjustifiable powers.”.

Baroness Chapman of Darlington Portrait Baroness Chapman of Darlington (Lab)
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My Lords, I do not wish to move my amendment.

Baroness Chapman of Darlington’s amendment to the Motion not moved.

Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill

Baroness Chapman of Darlington Excerpts
Baroness Chapman of Darlington Portrait Baroness Chapman of Darlington (Lab)
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My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Fox, and to welcome the noble Baroness, Lady Bray, and my noble friend Lady O’Grady; I look forward to their maiden speeches. I take this opportunity particularly to welcome my noble friend, who has been an inspiration to women throughout the labour movement for many years—especially since she spent time in the 1980s with my husband organising members to join the T&G, some of it spent hanging around outside the back of hotels and other such salubrious places. I know that she will never forget her roots; her being here today just goes to show what a great engine of social mobility the trade union movement can be. I very much look forward to her speech.

Six years ago, when the Government introduced the then European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, which ensured that EU-derived law was incorporated into UK law, I sat in the other place and listened carefully to the Secretary of State as he laid out the Government’s case. That day, he told us:

“The key point of this Bill is to avoid significant and serious gaps in our statute book. It ensures that consumers can be clear about their protection, employees can be clear about their rights, and businesses can be clear about the rules that regulate their trade.”—[Official Report, Commons, 7/9/17; col. 334.]


Somehow, incredibly, the Government have come full circle. This new Bill does the exact opposite. Faced with no external pressure or deadline, the Government are willingly creating their own cliff edge: generating uncertainty rather than reducing it; creating gaps in our legal framework rather than filling them; bringing chaos to the structure of rights, protections and standards on which so much business, trade, employment and environmental protection depends. That is why the opposition to the Bill is so broad and has come from such diverse quarters. It is no mean feat to unify the CBI and the TUC, industry and environmentalists, farmers and factory owners, twitchers and anglers, doctors and lawyers, national parks and the National Trust, Scottish Parliament and Welsh Senedd, and many, many more. All are united in opposition to this Government’s plans. The CBI says that the Government is subjecting

“the public—and industry—to another round of mass confusion and disruption, just when we’re trying to exit recession.”

The TUC has called the Bill a “recipe for chaos”. The Institute of Directors says that it

“will impose a major new burden on business”.

The Federation of Small Businesses wants the sunset provisions removed. The National Farmers’ Union fears that it could unintentionally remove important regulatory safeguards. The Marine Conservation Society says that it

“poses a huge threat to marine life and environmental protections”.

The RSPB says that it will put at risk thousands of crucial laws that protect the natural environment and public health. The Government’s own Regulatory Policy Committee has called the Bill “not fit for purpose”.

It would be hard to find a less popular proposal but, despite the warnings of this unprecedented coalition, the Government plough ahead regardless, closing their ears to warning and criticism, with a Bill that is reckless, unpopular and—worst of all—unnecessary. The Bill is not about Brexit. We have left the European Union; we have been out of the EU for three years and the referendum was the best part of a decade ago. These questions are nothing to do with leave or remain; they are not even principally about our future relationship with the EU, although that too, like so much else, could be affected by this legislation. Principally at issue are how we govern our own country, how we regulate our economy, how we ensure rights for workers, how we protect the environment, and the proper role of this Parliament in making those decisions.

No one could reasonably object to revisiting specific laws derived from the EU in a sensible, orderly fashion. It is right and reasonable to ask whether there are areas in which we can do things differently or better—that is the essence of competent government—but what is needed is a smart approach to regulatory change. Ensuring that workers’ rights, consumer protections and environmental standards are maintained or indeed enhanced; carefully considering where we might do things differently and what should stay the same, on a case-by-case basis; listening to stakeholders from business and civil society; respecting the proper role of the devolved Administrations; and promoting a race to the top, not to the bottom—that would be the approach taken by a Labour Government. Instead, we have this uniquely reckless and wrong-headed approach to legislative change.

The Bill is unlike any other that I have seen in my time in either House. There are multiple reasons why in its current form it does not deserve to be on the statute book, but I shall focus on four. The first is the dangerous presumption in the Bill to remove all law which is not specifically retained; the second is the legislative cliff edge created by the so-called sunset clause; the third is the risk that it poses to rights and protections in countless fields; and the fourth is the extraordinary and unjustifiable powers given to Ministers of the Crown, and the disrespect shown to Parliament. I will take each in turn.

First, the upshot of the intention to remove all EU-derived law by default is one simple and absurd fact: no one knows exactly what laws will be revoked at the end of the year. The Government certainly do not know. They are still merrily adding new legislation to their online dashboard, checking behind government sofas for some other scroll of vellum that they may have overlooked. Nothing illustrates this farcical process more than the fact that, between the Bill passing Third Reading in the Commons and arriving before noble Lords today, another 1,000 pieces of legislation were added to the pile. Some may still be removed without being identified first, with indeterminate consequences. This is legislative Jenga. Never before in my time in either House have a Government brought forth a piece of legislation whose legal scope they are unable to define. The Government’s proposal is that this House should give Ministers the power to remove laws without them being able to say which laws will be removed. That is a nonsensical way to govern.

The second objection is to the sunset clause. All EU law that is not specifically retained will be revoked by the end of the year. That creates a completely arbitrary and unnecessary regulatory cliff edge at a time when business is crying out for stability. In fact, the Bill in effect contains three sunset clauses—2023, 2026 and for ever—since, under Clause 1(2), Ministers can choose to retain EU law until they choose to change it. If you were trying to design a Bill to undermine business confidence and inward investment, it would be hard to do a better job than this one. The Bill says to business, “The current rules that you operate under—the rules that you understand, rely on and are compliant with—may cease to exist at the end of the year. We can’t say which rules for certain yet, we can’t say what they will be replaced with, and the decision will be made by the Business Secretary on a whim.” If the Minister disagrees, could he tell the CBI, the FSB, the British Chamber of Commerce and the Institute of Directors why it is them who are wrong?

The cliff edge will generate an extraordinary volume of work for civil servants, especially in those departments with a large body of retained EU law, such as Defra. According to the Government’s own dashboard, Defra will have to assess, revise or amend more than 1,700 pieces of law—more than four pieces of law every day between now and the end of the year. That is not achievable. As the consumer watchdog Which? has said, this time pressure creates the risk of mistakes or errors that could have serious consequences. It is also a massive opportunity cost. That is why the RSPB says that the Bill will

“derail urgent action to tackle the nature and climate crisis”

by consuming the resources of departments. Amid a recession and a cost of living crisis, can frantically combing through a back catalogue of law against a self-imposed deadline really be the right use of Civil Service time? I know that many members of the Minister’s own party share these reservations about the sunset clause. It is not a partisan point; it is about competent government—and that brings me to my third principal objection.

This Bill puts at risk many crucial rights and standards and expects trust in the Secretary of State to be a substitute for legal protection. Let us just consider some of the areas covered by retained EU law, such as environmental protection, food safety, civil aviation codes, noise pollution, biosecurity, vehicle standards and employment law. Many of these protections were hard fought and hard won. They cannot be crudely dismissed as abstract red tape. Protections for pregnant women from workforce discrimination, paid annual leave, parental leave, protections for part-time employees, limits on weekly working hours—many of these rights and protections disproportionately affect women and the impact assessment recognises in three separate paragraphs that the Bill contains a threat to equality.

We cannot accept a situation in which these vital protections could be changed at the whim of the Business Secretary. This is made worse by Clause 15, which confirms that rights and protections can go in only one direction: down. The requirement to not increase burdens ensures there can be no race to the top on standards and rights. We must be clear that diminishing our standards could have serious implications for trade. It will complicate the issues created by the Northern Ireland protocol, make it harder to remove barriers in the Irish Sea and could create new difficulties in our trade with the EU.

Finally, I want to address the lack of scrutiny and accountability. This is another Bill brought forward in the name of Brexit that, rather than restoring parliamentary sovereignty, continues a trend of growing executive power. The Bill sidelines Parliament, minimises scrutiny, weakens accountability and hands Ministers unreasonable and unjustifiable powers. To do so in the name of democracy is double-speak.

The Bill contains no requirement for public consultation or impact assessments of proposed changes. Any parliamentarian who wishes to scrutinise or object to future legislation replacing retained law will be taking a gamble because, unless that legislation is passed in time, the current law in its entirety will simply fall away. The sunset clause puts a gun to Parliament’s head. This cannot be the right way to make law in our country.

While we acknowledge that the Bill has passed in the other place and will not frustrate it, we continue to have grave concerns about this legislation. It threatens workers’ rights, environmental standards and consumer protections. It puts our country on course to a self-imposed cliff edge. It undermines scrutiny and accountability and will weaken Parliament. We will seek to amend the legislation to address these issues.

This Bill rests on a fundamentally simplistic and inaccurate view of what regulation is and who it is for. The Government are trying to please some fantasy version of business, still fighting Brexit ghosts in their heads. But business does not want an uncontrolled bonfire of regulation. The truth is that good regulation enables business and trade. It creates stability and predictability. It raises standards. It protects companies as well as consumers, employers as well as workers. The truth is this Bill is a political hangover—the last promise of a Government who collapsed as they made contact with reality. While people are still paying the price in higher mortgage bills, the Government can still spare the public and business the disruption this Bill will generate. I urge them to change course now.

REUL Bill: Trade Unions and Workers’ Rights

Baroness Chapman of Darlington Excerpts
Monday 23rd January 2023

(1 year, 2 months ago)

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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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I will leave the appropriate Ministers to commentate on what is happening in Defra. The noble Baroness is right that a lot of retained EU law belongs in Defra. I am sure Defra is looking very closely at what can be changed, modified or repealed as we speak.

Baroness Chapman of Darlington Portrait Baroness Chapman of Darlington (Lab)
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My Lords, this is a dangerous way to proceed. It is very unlikely that the Government have thought through what they want to do with these 3,000 or maybe 4,000 pieces of legislation. It is also unlikely that in this House, in the three days the Government have so far suggested that we should have to consider them, we should be successful in doing our jobs as effectively as we might like. Will the Government please think again about the rash, foolhardy way they are going about rewriting important rules on workers’ rights?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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I can see that we will have lots of interesting debate when this legislation arrives. The noble Baroness is wrong; we are not just considering all the regulations in the timescale she identified. If the regulations need to be updated, then each will of course come to this House for consideration, as all secondary legislation does.

Carers: Unpaid Leave

Baroness Chapman of Darlington Excerpts
Tuesday 14th June 2022

(1 year, 10 months ago)

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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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My understanding is that it would need primary legislation.

Baroness Chapman of Darlington Portrait Baroness Chapman of Darlington (Lab)
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My Lords, it would not take very much parliamentary time—it could be done as a handout Bill to a keen Back-Bencher in the other place—so I do not think that the Government need to worry too much about that. However, when it is introduced, will the Minister make sure that measures in it include people caring for those who are suffering from a terminal illness?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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The noble Baroness makes an important point. As I said, we will look for alternative vehicles to deliver this policy. For the details, we will of course look at any proposals in potential legislation.

Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Bill

Baroness Chapman of Darlington Excerpts
Baroness Chapman of Darlington Portrait Baroness Chapman of Darlington (Lab)
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My Lords, we warmly welcome the arrival of the Bill and we are pleased that the Government have promised to introduce a further economic crime Bill in the next Session. In warmly welcoming the Bill, I would just like to make some points to noble Lords. This is significant progress compared with the position outlined by the noble Lord, Lord Agnew of Oulton, in January, when it appeared that the Government did not want to treat this as a priority issue. But now Putin has left them with no choice. Until now, I am afraid there has been a persistent and troubling lack of political will to act on these issues from the Government. It has taken war to bring about this change of position, and the Government should have acted sooner.

This is welcome, but we do not kid ourselves. The Bill does not resolve all our issues, but it is a stopgap and we will support it. It is the first instalment and we await the detail in part two. I welcome the noble Baroness’s assurances in her speech that part two will be extensive and we look forward to it. The Bill introduces a register of overseas entities, revisions to the function of unexplained wealth orders and changes to the Government’s sanctions regime.

There has long been a case for a new register such as the register of overseas entities. We have been promised it time and again, as far back as the Anti-Corruption Summit of 2016. But the Government have always failed to produce the goods when pushed to do so, and this we regret. We have had multiple consultation exercises on this issue, yet it has taken until now for the Government to move. We have known about weaknesses in the UK’s anti-money laundering regime for some time, with the Financial Action Task Force noting in 2018 that there was a need for substantial increase in resources devoted to financial intelligence as well as a series of other, fundamental reforms.

The truth is that for too long the Government have turned a blind eye to illicit funds being funnelled through the British economy—up to £100 billion per year according to the NCA. There is, as we know, no silver bullet to fight against economic crime. This new register is a much-needed tool, but it will not work unless we get the next Bill right, including by addressing the long-running concerns about the resourcing and powers of key investigatory and enforcement bodies.

Turning to unexplained wealth orders, this tool has not been as effective as hoped so far, so we welcome the various moves to strengthen the unenforced wealth order regime. It is vital that these orders are used. It is important that we understand why so few of those orders have been implemented so far—only 15 orders and four cases. This cannot be explained away entirely by the risk of legal costs. The capacity of the NCA, SFO, FCA, HMRC and CPS to handle these orders also needs to be considered. The Government’s new Clause 31, requiring the Secretary of State to publish annual reports into the use of unexplained wealth orders, is definitely a positive step and we welcome it.

The Bill amends the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018. The Government are making it easier to replicate the EU’s decisions in this and we welcome the collaborative working in this area with our international partners. This is a demonstration of strength and we back it. The campaign for an effective sanctions regime, though, began following the death of Sergei Magnitsky in 2009. The measures we are finally seeing now are welcome, but we do ask ourselves whether we will not be looking back and wondering whether we would be in a stronger position today had we acted sooner.

If we are to isolate Putin and his network of oligarchs and kleptocrats, the Government need to use these new powers immediately, bringing both pace and breadth to their response to events in Ukraine. While the Bill is not solely about Russia’s illegal and immoral invasion of Ukraine, it is regrettable that recent events have had to unfold before the Government have been prepared to bring these measures forward. Nevertheless, we will show solidarity with Ukraine by assisting the Government in the swift passage of this legislation. It is a common-sense approach to beginning to crack down on the shocking level of economic crime that has taken root in this country.

The Opposition have worked constructively with the Government since they announced the Bill and I am grateful to Ministers in the other place for adopting several of our key asks, including a reduced grace period for registering beneficial ownership and much harsher fines for those who break the rules. There remains, though, more to do. The grace period may have fallen from 18 months to six, but we on these Benches think it is still too long. Properties will be sold and other assets disposed of in far less time, severely undermining the effectiveness of the new register.

As drafted, the Bill does not yet do enough to crack down on the so-called enablers of money laundering and other forms of economic crime. They are arguably as guilty as those who seek to bring illicit funds to our shores in the first place. We know that Ministers are looking to bring forward amendments in a number of areas; we hope they will respond to concerns voiced by noble Lords in this debate today. Can the Government also offer us assurances that the follow-on Bill will be subject to normal processes, allowing both Houses to study and debate all the relevant measures in detail? I hope your Lordships will pass the Bill without undue delay but, in doing so, can we commit this evening to finally tackling the shameful spectacle of illicit money being laundered through our country?

Horizon Europe

Baroness Chapman of Darlington Excerpts
Wednesday 9th March 2022

(2 years, 1 month ago)

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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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I am delighted that the European Affairs Committee has supported our position on this. As I say, the blockage is not on our side. I hope that in its letter it acknowledged where the fault lies in this situation. The EU has an agreement to associate, which we signed up to in good faith. We stand willing to associate; it is the EU that is currently blocking progress.

Baroness Chapman of Darlington Portrait Baroness Chapman of Darlington (Lab)
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My Lords, we need to be pragmatic about this. The truth is that this is being held up and delayed because the Government have made such a hash of negotiations on the Northern Ireland protocol. I do not see any prospect of getting it resolved until that problem is sorted out. As this may take some time, are the Government reaching out to counterparts in the EU to make sure that, even if some further months elapse, we can still join the Horizon programme, albeit at a late stage?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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I am sorry that the Opposition seem to be supporting the EU position on this. The Northern Ireland protocol is a completely separate part of the agreement, and of course we stand willing to negotiate in good faith on that as well. The two are not linked. The EU has signed up to an agreement and should honour it; we will continue to press it to do so. The Northern Ireland protocol is also part of the same agreement.

North Sea Oil and Gas

Baroness Chapman of Darlington Excerpts
Thursday 10th February 2022

(2 years, 2 months ago)

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Baroness Chapman of Darlington Portrait Baroness Chapman of Darlington (Lab)
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My Lords, the energy price crisis is a fossil fuel crisis. This means we must go further and faster on zero-carbon energy, energy efficiency and clean energy storage. In their White Paper, the Government said that they would

“develop the existing checkpoints in our processes before proceeding with future licensing rounds.”

How is what the Government said yesterday consistent with that approach? Further, can the Minister explain whether he believes that any licensing decisions must be compatible with keeping warming to 1.5 degrees and how the Government will make that assessment?

Advanced Research and Invention Agency Bill

Baroness Chapman of Darlington Excerpts
Lord Fox Portrait Lord Fox (LD)
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My Lords, it came as no surprise that the Government used their majority to negate the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Browne. The noble Lord has, in his tenacious way, set out why he regrets that, and I agree with him. It is not to be—it will not go to a vote—but I hope that the ARIA leadership will be more careful when they write the contracts for the money that they will give than perhaps the Government seem to be with enshrining this in law.

I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Lansley, that the Science Minister’s comments were very helpful. They were more than we would usually get in these games of ping-pong, and that is to his credit.

As the Minister set out, since we sent this Bill to the other place, the name of the ARIA CEO has been announced. It is nice to see the Minister looking so pleased about things. He often looks quite downcast, so it is quite good for him to arrive with something that he can be pleased about. We wish Dr Highnam all speed and wish him well in what is a very important task.

Others have suggested that we look forward to the framework document emerging. In answer to the previous speaker, I do not think that the Minister has not shared with us something that he is sitting on; the Minister has not seen the framework agreement yet either, because it has not been written. However, we look forward to seeing it as soon as it has.

The Government have also had some important things to say about their focus for future research funding—I am talking here about the UKRI numbers. In their levelling-up White Paper, they announced the intention to increase the percentage of funding from what is rather dismissively called the golden triangle to other institutions, often but not exclusively further north. I should remind your Lordships that I am an alumnus of Imperial College.

Very briefly, I wanted to relate this to ARIA and, more importantly, to the commercialisation of innovation. There is a disparity between universities that are better at commercialising their innovation and thereby having another income stream, and those that are less good at that. I hope that ARIA is able to lead some excellence in that and spread the effective commercialisation of knowledge and innovation better. That would contribute to the Government’s levelling-up agenda at the same time.

I also recently met with the UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund—known as UKI2S—which, as the Minister will know, acts as a bridge between public sector research and private capital. I would be interested to know from the Minister how this organisation can fit with ARIA and improve our overall commercialisation. I am sure the Minister will admit that the UK’s record on commercialisation has been patchy in the past and could definitely improve. I would suggest that UKI2S is one of the models that ought to be taken into account. I hope that the Minister might meet with me and that organisation to discuss this and how it might play into this space with its track record in order to deliver on the promise of ARIA. I think we all share the Government’s desire to—in the Minister’s words—drive the agenda for strategic, industrial advantage. With that, we hope that in 10 years’ time, ARIA will be seen to have played an important part in achieving that objective.

Baroness Chapman of Darlington Portrait Baroness Chapman of Darlington (Lab)
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My Lords, we accept the reason given by the other place for rejecting Amendment 1, but we continue to disagree on the substance. I place on record my thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Browne of Ladyton, for his work on this amendment. His sparkling curiosity and polymath tendencies, combined with his government experience, make him ideally suited to this issue. He has been incredibly generous with his time and knowledge, and I am grateful to him for that.

The noble Lord, Lord Browne, suggested a sensible amendment to protect benefits arising from the UK’s creativity and ingenuity in ensuring that the taxpayer—the investor—retains the benefit of it. The majority of noble Lords agreed with my noble friend when we tested the will of the House. In the absence of any measures enabling sufficient scrutiny of ARIA’s activities, we felt we needed this amendment. We are clear that the benefits of ARIA’s investments must be felt in the UK. Lords Amendment 1 would have assisted in this; it would have given ARIA the option to treat its financial support to a business as convertible into an equity interest in the business, and thus to benefit from intellectual property created with ARIA’s support.

It would also have enabled ARIA to require consent during the 10 years following financial or resource support if the business intended to transfer intellectual property abroad or transfer a controlling interest to a business not resident in the UK. As my honourable friend Chi Onwurah said in the other place, we have to acknowledge that currently

“the UK does not provide a sufficiently supportive environment for innovation start-ups to thrive. That is why we have already lost so many of them.”—[Official Report, Commons, 31/2/21; col. 89.]

It is welcome that Ministers have said they agree with our concerns. It is just unfortunate that the Government did not want to take this opportunity to act on our shared concerns and seemed to lack the resolve to do anything about it on this occasion. Finally, I wish the new leadership of ARIA and the agency itself well. We look forward to the innovations and inventions that it is able to bring us.

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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I thank the noble Lord, Lord Browne, in particular, and all noble Lords who participated in this brief debate. I do not think there is a huge disagreement between us on this. The noble Lord, Lord Browne, wanted us to be more specific; our point is that ARIA already has the power and ability to do all the things he mentioned, but we want it to retain its operational independence and flexibility.

I will address a number of the points the noble Lord raised. He will have carefully noted, and from his ministerial experience will know, that in the National Security and Investment Act we deliberately did not define what national security is, following the practice of all previous Governments, to give ourselves the flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances.

The noble Lord also asked for further details on what the Science Minister said in the other place. We have published guidance to the sector on trusted research and supported it in publishing that guidance. We have broadened the scope of the academic technology access scheme and defined the rules on export controls as they apply to research activity. The terms and conditions for government research grants were also amended last September to require due diligence and checks for any overseas collaboration.

As expected, a number of noble Lords raised the framework document. The noble Lord, Lord Fox, is right: I have not seen a final version of the framework document precisely because it has not been finished yet. It will be negotiated between BEIS and ARIA’s leadership team, including the new chief executive and chairman when he or she is appointed, for which we are currently recruiting. I assure the House that as soon as it has been agreed, we will share it with the House as soon as possible.

My noble friend Lord Lansley asked a very good question about the retention of any possible revenues within ARIA. He will know from his government experience that the Treasury will wish to negotiate these matters directly with the agency, so I will not step on the Chancellor’s toes and get myself into trouble by overcommitting him on that. I am sure that ARIA and the Treasury will want to have a full and frank discussion on these matters.

On the questions from the noble Lord, Lord Fox, I assure him that we expect ARIA to work with all partners across the research and development landscape, including on the commercialisation of products. He asked for a meeting with me. I suggest that I am not the right person to meet on that issue; it would be more appropriate for him to meet the Science Minister, who has responsibility for pursuing this support for the agency, and I will certainly put that question to him.

The ARIA team has met UKRI and its sponsors. We are learning lessons from this and other mindsets and models for how ARIA can ensure the successful translation and commercialisation of its technologies. I hope that that provides the appropriate assurances for the noble Lord, Lord Fox.

I think I have dealt with all the questions that were asked. With that, I beg to move.

Mathematical Sciences

Baroness Chapman of Darlington Excerpts
Tuesday 8th February 2022

(2 years, 2 months ago)

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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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I thank my noble friend for her question. That sounds like an excellent event and I am sure we will want to do all we can to support it.

Baroness Chapman of Darlington Portrait Baroness Chapman of Darlington (Lab)
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My Lords, the UK’s position as a leader in maths would be more certain if we addressed inequalities in education at a young age. The Government should start by launching an urgent inquiry into the way A-level results were awarded last year, when we saw stark differences in the way that schools awarded top grades. As an example, one private girls’ school in north London nearly trebled its rate of A* grades awarded, so that more than 90% of its entries were assessed as A*. Pressure on teachers from senior leaders—not at all schools, but at some—to game the system is deeply troubling and unfair. This must surely be investigated in order to restore confidence in the system.

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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This is obviously an important subject but we are getting slightly off the original topic, which was maths research council funding. However, I would be happy to look at that issue in more detail and come back to the noble Baroness.

EU: Imports

Baroness Chapman of Darlington Excerpts
Tuesday 1st February 2022

(2 years, 2 months ago)

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Lord Grimstone of Boscobel Portrait Lord Grimstone of Boscobel (Con)
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My Lords, first, on the queues at Dover last week mentioned by the noble Lord, it is not the case that those short-term delays to freight movements were caused by new customs procedures. I am reliably informed that the primary cause was ship refitting, which reduced capacity across the short straits, and higher than expected freight volumes. On the noble Lord’s main point, I assure him that all Ministers properly co-ordinate with each other on these matters.

Baroness Chapman of Darlington Portrait Baroness Chapman of Darlington (Lab)
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My Lords, there are clearly problems with the smooth processing of documentation at our ports, including Dover— never mind what the Minister just tried to tell us. The Government are playing this down but they must resolve these issues quickly, certainly before any new measures are introduced later this year. Nevertheless, will the Minister welcome the 9% boost in trade to Belfast Harbour, reported in the Belfast Telegraph this morning, which is being attributed to Northern Ireland’s unique position as a result of the protocol? Can the Minister update us on conversations between the Government and the EU on this issue and will he ensure that the recent boost in trade in Northern Ireland is not jeopardised?

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel Portrait Lord Grimstone of Boscobel (Con)
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My Lords, making sure that the Northern Ireland protocol operates as smoothly as we intended will continue to be a priority for our relationship with the EU. While we have tried to operate this agreement in good faith, I frankly admit that the problems are significant and are growing. This must be resolved through a real negotiation between us and the European Union, which is why the Foreign Secretary is paying so much attention to this matter.