Lord Inglewood debates involving the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy during the 2019 Parliament

Mon 6th Feb 2023
Thu 2nd Dec 2021
Wed 28th Oct 2020
United Kingdom Internal Market Bill
Lords Chamber

Committee stage:Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Mon 26th Oct 2020
United Kingdom Internal Market Bill
Lords Chamber

Committee stage & Committee stage:Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Tue 13th Oct 2020
Trade Bill
Lords Chamber

Committee stage & Committee stage:Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard)
Thu 8th Oct 2020
Trade Bill
Grand Committee

Committee stage:Committee: 4th sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 4th sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 4th sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Tue 6th Oct 2020
Trade Bill
Grand Committee

Committee stage:Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
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
Tue 8th Sep 2020
Trade Bill
Lords Chamber

2nd reading (Hansard) & 2nd reading (Hansard) & 2nd reading (Hansard): House of Lords & 2nd reading
Lord Inglewood Portrait Lord Inglewood (Non-Afl)
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My Lords, I must begin by welcoming the maiden speakers to this debate this afternoon. Thinking about the subject of our discussion, I cannot recall from my experience a more spurious case for legislation than the one advanced in support of this Bill. The reason I say that is that the legislation subject to the provisions of the Bill was put on the statute book by the British Parliament in the European Union (Withdrawal) Act. That is how we do these things in this country. It is a British law, like any other, subject to all the usual, time-honoured mechanisms, procedures, safeguards and conventions. The Bill adds nothing to what can be done already. It merely threatens further weakening of the checks and balances of our constitutional arrangements, as has been pointed out from all around the House, including by the Minister.

I probably ought to sit down having said that. But there is a lot of contextual noise that has a bearing on our debate. As the noble Lord who spoke before me said, Brexit is done. Brexit is now the one of the “vanished pomps of yesterday”—

“one with Nineveh and Tyre!”

What matters is the future. A Government’s convenience matters—particularly to the Government—but it is not a reason in itself to change our nation’s constitutional equilibrium and balance. What I might describe as “shorthand” legislation on contentious issues undermines the workings of our democratic process, which provides political legitimacy to our Governments and, in particular, to the acceptance of legislation with which one disagrees.

As has been said already in this debate, the relationship between the Executive and Parliament has already moved too far away from Parliament and should not be allowed to go further. Speakers have commented that many businesses of all kinds are, in the face of very considerable adversity, trading into the single market, albeit considerably less than hitherto. Gratuitous divergence from single market standards threatens industry and commerce, particularly those involved in supply chains.

The country is in a mess of all kinds. Resolving that should be our national priority, not promoting this particular piece of self-indulgent and frivolous distraction, trying to build a New Jerusalem in a few months. In short, it is simple: as has been said, reasoned change, good; what is proposed, bad. In a form of words I never thought I would use in this House, the case for this legislation is collapsing under its own internal contradictions; it should not be resuscitated and should be allowed to die where it falls.

Storm Arwen

Lord Inglewood Excerpts
Thursday 2nd December 2021

(2 years, 7 months ago)

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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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My noble friend makes some good points, and I am obviously pleased to hear that his property was not too badly affected. As he knows, I know the area well and I am pleased that his power managed to be left in place. He makes some very good points about the totality of the damage, not just to public infrastructure and essential services, but to local authorities’ premises and the property of private businesses; it will be immense. Our priority at the moment is to get everybody restored and back on to the network, but we will need to learn the lessons and look at what we can do to help the affected communities in future.

Lord Inglewood Portrait Lord Inglewood (Non-Afl)
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My Lords, I declare an interest as chairman of the Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership and a landowner in Cumbria who was not directly affected by the power cuts. Can the Minister confirm that the capacity of the infrastructure to respond to events like this is equivalent in the various parts of England, in particular between the north and south?

Free Trade Agreement Negotiations: Australia

Lord Inglewood Excerpts
Thursday 24th June 2021

(3 years ago)

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Lord Grimstone of Boscobel Portrait Lord Grimstone of Boscobel (Con)
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The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, asks two important questions. If I may, I will consult my ministerial colleagues in Defra and write to him on these matters, so that I can give him a full answer.

Lord Inglewood Portrait Lord Inglewood (Non-Afl) [V]
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My Lords, I declare my agricultural interests in the register. In particular, I am a livestock farmer, but I have no fears about competing with Australian imports on price. However, does the Minister not agree that if agricultural imports from Australia—or from anywhere else, for that matter—are not subject to the equivalent welfare, phytosanitary and husbandry standards and so on that apply to domestic production, that gives foreign producers financial advantage over domestic producers in the UK market, and that this is unfair competition for UK producers? Further, does he not agree that arguments to the contrary echo the thought processes of those who supported the abolition of slavery but at the same time supported the slave trade?

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel Portrait Lord Grimstone of Boscobel (Con)
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My Lords, I am happy to confirm to my noble friend that there will be absolutely no diminution of the controls that we apply to imported agricultural produce. As he will know, our phytosanitary regime is very strong. I sometimes hear scare stories from noble Lords that, for example, hormone beef will be allowed into this country as a result of this agreement. I can put people’s minds completely at rest on this: we will be maintaining our strict animal health standards and our own animal welfare standards.

United Kingdom Internal Market Bill

Lord Inglewood Excerpts
Committee stage & Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Wednesday 28th October 2020

(3 years, 8 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020 View all United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020 Debates Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: HL Bill 135-III Third Marshalled list for Committee - (28 Oct 2020)
Baroness Morris of Bolton Portrait The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Baroness Morris of Bolton) (Con)
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The noble Lord, Lord Naseby, has withdrawn, so I call the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood.

Lord Inglewood Portrait Lord Inglewood (Non-Afl) [V]
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My Lords, this is been an interesting debate. These amendments are important, focusing as they do on food, foodstuffs and animal feed, and the legal framework surrounding them in the UK internal market that is about to come into being.

While I have passed a few law exams in my life, I want to come at the issues from a slightly different perspective, as a farmer. I spoke about a number of these matters during the passage of the Agriculture Bill. What I intend to do is along the lines described by the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, in respect of his amendment, which I am pleased to speak to: probe the Government and get a bit deeper into what their actual position and thinking might be. As a number of noble Lords have said, these matters are still pretty unclear.

In the context of the amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, perhaps I might say that, as a one-time chairman of Carr’s—one of the country’s largest animal feed suppliers—and as a farmer who had his livestock wiped out in the foot and mouth outbreak, I believe that the points he made merit serious consideration.

First, I declare an interest as someone who farms and manages land in Cumbria. I am also involved with a number of organisations that are stakeholders in and consultees on the forthcoming changes in policy across the UK, although I will confine myself principally to England in my remarks. I should also say that I am the chairman of the Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership. Agriculture is one of the most important industries in the county, both on its own account and for the role it plays in underpinning the visitor economy—as your Lordships will appreciate, that has been very hard hit.

One of the characteristics of the common agricultural policy was its intention, perhaps observed as often in the breach as in anything else, to establish a single market for agricultural products across the Union. One of its purposes was to establish even-handedness across the whole; albeit it was not a homogenous area and, indeed, as I have said already, it was not always successful. Surely this must be one of the aspirations of the UK internal market that we are now considering.

Noble Lords will understand fully that the systems of support for agriculture are evolving as particular outputs of agriculture are being expanded—I do not think that there is much objection to that—and that, as this is a devolved matter, much of the detail is being dealt with at that level. In this context, as was commented on by the previous speaker, Defra is almost exclusively an English department, albeit part of the UK Government. It is clear that the systems of support are being reconfigured quite significantly across the various home nations, in respect both of quantum and of impact, so there will be real variations.

These differences can and will have a real impact on the marketplace. Perhaps the best example I can quote is historical; I hasten to add that I do not expect the Minister to be familiar with the detail, and I expect it may raise a smile. However, the evidence is clear from what happened in the Cumbrian agricultural economy in the 17th and 18th centuries, when the rules of trade relating to the English-Scots border in the period from the Union of Crowns until after the Act of Union varied quite regularly. I draw the House’s attention to Professor Peter Roebuck’s book Cattle Droving through Cumbria 1600-1900, where this is all spelled out. More recently, in my own case, as a boy I went with my father to buy an Ayrshire bull near Lockerbie. When we got it home, we found that its Scottish licence did not allow us to deploy it in England, though fortunately I am glad to be able to tell the House that, after a bit of trouble, we acquired the relevant authorisation and put it to good use.

Setting aside what is, I think, generally accepted as a better settlement for agriculture in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland than in England, let us look at what is about to happen. England is hell-bent on phasing out direct payments. I am not opposed to that but doing so as soon as possible is a problem—unlike in Wales, which is not starting until 2022, and Scotland, which I think will start even later, in 2023, because they want time to be able to put their houses in order and get the policy sorted out.

We must not forget that farm income is predominantly derived from the sale of agricultural commodities and is likely to be so in the immediate future. All the evidence that I have been able to glean from appropriate discussions with stakeholders and consultees is that Defra is formulating its policies for the transition in cloud-cuckoo-land. Its sustainable farming systems were described to me by one interlocutor as “nationalisation by micromanagement”—something that the Government are, at the same time, committed to reducing in the context of planning, as is spelled out in the planning White Paper. Another person, discussing the generality, commented, “Well, you’ll go bust quicker taking the money than not doing so.”

There are clearly all kinds of ramifications of these kinds of things but, in the context of the Bill, the UK marketplace for agricultural products, as has been commented on by a number of speakers, is in imminent danger of being seriously distorted because of all the changes that are being considered. It is not even-handed across the union and it becomes a cancer in the market. As such, it merits the serious attention of the UK Government; as I have said, they just happen to be the English generator, and hence also the architect, of some of the forthcoming difficulties. Furthermore, what confidence can English farmers and English agriculture have that the internal market will not be rigged against them? What will the system of market regulation being put in place be able to do about it?

Baroness Morris of Bolton Portrait The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Baroness Morris of Bolton) (Con)
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The noble and learned Lord, Lord Morris of Aberavon, has withdrawn, so I call the noble Lord, Lord Liddle.

United Kingdom Internal Market Bill

Lord Inglewood Excerpts
Committee stage & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Monday 26th October 2020

(3 years, 8 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb Portrait Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb (GP) [V]
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My Lords, when the Conservative Party came up with its absolutely brilliant slogan about taking back control, many of us, for whom it resonated, felt that it meant that our Parliament would be taking back control. However, over the past year it has become obvious that that is not how the Government see it. In fact, they are using Brexit as an excuse to take more control of the country, which of course is extremely undemocratic. In this Bill, they are trying to seize control from the devolved Governments and Parliaments, and that, as the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, has just said, is extremely unhealthy for the UK. The Bill pretends to replicate what exists in EU law, but it has created a sort of Frankenstein’s monster, which is not at all what any of us were expecting. It is like a legal framework creating a bureaucratic bulldozer that the Government will use to grab more power.

It is obvious that this Government cannot win any seats in Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales, so they are using this Bill—this bureaucratic bulldozer—to force the elected Governments of the devolved nations to fall in line with Conservative Party policy. These amendments are important because they would stop that undemocratic move. Without them, devolution will be replaced with a sort of lowest-common-denominator system in which the devolved Governments will have to wait for the UK Parliament to take action on any policy or law that relates to the production, distribution and sale of goods and services in the UK before they can take action. That is clearly not what any of us expected. The devolved Parliaments must continue to have the right to make decisions on improving environmental standards and implementing other legitimate policies that will benefit their nations. Your Lordships’ House must amend this Bill and prevent yet another government power grab, and of course protect the rights of the devolved nations.

Lord Inglewood Portrait Lord Inglewood (Non-Afl) [V]
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My Lords, now that we are leaving the scope of the single market, the characteristics of the UK internal market become very important; that is why I put my name down to speak to this group and, in particular, to Amendments 2 and 59.

Superficially, it is easy to assume that the UK internal market should, and will, share the principal attributes of the EU single market but, of course, that is far from certain, not least because of the circumstances surrounding it all. After all, the creation of the EU single market was first agreed by member states in an IGC, which is very different from what we are looking at now in this country. The new arrangements have come into being in somewhat different circumstances and across a single territory in which there has been devolution—and within that, the different components clearly have different perspectives.

There is now much less consensus and no prior agreement. In these circumstances, within a devolved as opposed to a federal system, there are potential procedural problems where the UK Government and the English Government—if I might be allowed to call them that—are coterminous. It is not desirable for the repatriation of European competencies to drive a coach and six through the devolution settlement in these islands. For this reason, I believe strongly that Amendment 2 is important to provide a legal framework around the political procedures repatriating these powers. In my view, it is particularly important—I speak as both a unionist and a supporter of the devolution settlements—that England does not emerge as a bully boy imposing its will on the other countries. To do that would be to take the high road to the break-up of the UK.

I also want to touch on Amendment 59, in the context of my chairmanship of the Cumbria local enterprise partnership. As a border region and part of borderlands, any form of potential discrimination—be it direct or indirect, intended or unintended—poses a very real threat to our economy, much of which is focused on both sides of the Solway Firth. Competition law, environmental law and a number of other more general categories of social law are essential components of market economies in our kinds of societies in the 21st century. As a number of speakers have said, there is a real conundrum at the heart of this between local autonomy, which matters, and British cohesion and homogeneity, which also matter. I very much hope that the Minister will spell out exactly how the Government see these things interacting, because, as always, the devil lies in the detail.

Lord Empey Portrait Lord Empey (UUP) [V]
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My Lords, my concern in this group of amendments and, indeed, with the Bill as a whole is that a fundamental collision is taking place between what is happening in London and what is happening in the regions. I was never struck by the Sewell convention. I believe that we have not properly explained the source of funds to the devolved nations, and I do not believe that any country like ours should leave itself unable to function in certain parts of its own territory. Nevertheless, I believe that we are now paying the price for the haphazard, ill-thought-through lurch to different types of devolution that have been going on over the last 20 years in a virtually unco-ordinated way.

This collision is demonstrated by the fact that we had discussions taking place on the various common frameworks, which have been sort of set to one side and replaced with some of the provisions in the Bill. Probing amendments such as Amendment 2 are important. The Minister and his colleagues have to reassess where they are with all this because there is a pattern emerging—we have devolution and people are now more focused on their local identity. We see this happening in parts of England with the Covid crisis; it is really concerning. Some Members have already expressed their concern about the future of the union as a whole; I very much share that and have done so for some time.

Looking at the best way ahead, while the term “subsidiarity” is European, the general principle that you take decisions at the closest point to the people who are affected by them is a solid and sound way of doing business. There are examples of where the United Kingdom was until relatively recently still a very centralised country compared to some of our European colleagues and other countries around the world.

One other element not mentioned so far is that my own region of Northern Ireland will be subject to different laws on a whole variety of subjects, and it is not entirely clear to me where this will leave us. For nearly all of our economic activity, we will remain to all intents and purposes within the European Union, subject to European and state aid regulations, and there will be a whole, as yet unresolved, customs conundrum as far as our trade is concerned. How all these different measures are to be brought together in a coherent way is entirely unclear to me at this stage. I feel that this probing amendment and others in this group are important because they force the Government to explain to us how this will work in practice.

I accept the concept of common frameworks, in which you get general agreement from the devolved regions. Whether you agree with it or not, this Parliament has given them the power—the fact is that they have it and they are entitled to exercise the functions that have been devolved to them. We should not find ourselves in a situation where ultimately we sow the seeds of further clashes. That would undermine the union and our economy, and I certainly do not want to see that. The Government need to revisit these amendments and this section of the Bill. Unless it is clear and people know where they stand, we will have the sources of further friction built into our legislation—and we have more than enough of those at the moment.

I ask the Minister to address my point specifically: if Northern Ireland is effectively in the EU from an economic point of view, where is the line drawn between functioning under EU laws and regulations and, in the future, such things as market access being involved? I can see circumstances where there could be a significant clash. Procurement is one of the most obvious areas. A lot of small suppliers throughout the United Kingdom have felt that they have been discriminated against because Governments and various authorities have always tended to go to the bigger players. As was pointed out at the beginning of this debate, we could end up with almost the same threshold as we currently have as part of the EU. Will the Minister and his colleagues take seriously the concerns that Members of this House have been expressing about the fundamental clash—the collision—between our devolved settlements and our internal market? To me, that will be the key to making sure that this legislation does good and does not end up doing harm.

Trade Bill

Lord Inglewood Excerpts
Lord Inglewood Portrait Lord Inglewood (Non-Afl) [V]
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My Lords, I shall intervene briefly in support of the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, and speak to Amendment 77. We all know that carbon, and in particular net zero by 2050, are currently important political topics. I am afraid that, as far as many people are concerned, that is often where it starts and more or less where it ends, and thereafter it is thought to be something to do with the Government.

In recent months, in my capacity as chairman of the Cumbria local enterprise partnership, I have been involved on the fringe of how carbon policies should be developed and applied in the county. The key to doing that is to develop a language and accounting standards appropriate to accurately measuring the important aspects of the matter and then generating debate about it. The trouble is that to most people these things are at best unfamiliar, very often counterintuitive and almost incomprehensible.

We cannot, I believe, make serious progress in this area—to be serious, progress has to be accepted by the population at large—unless there is a widespread understanding and acceptance of these things in the same way as traditional accounting and economics are the basis of current politics. Green accounting and green economics will be as important as traditional accounting and economics. Indeed, they already are, and we are going through a revolution that is just getting under way. That has already been mentioned in the discussion about this amendment.

On top of that, if ever John Donne was right, it was when he said that no man is an island. I have been criticised by my scientist friends for saying that increasing the levels of carbon in the atmosphere is like putting the globe into a microwave. That may be bad science, but I think it makes the point. It is the globe that is the battlefield upon which this contest is fought, so it does not matter where the emissions originate; they impact everywhere. Therefore, as is frequently and rightly commented, how our economic life impacts both domestically and on the rest of the world is not simply a domestic issue, hence the importance of the amendment. I believe that it goes back to metrics, the language and engendering an understanding of the issues.

The crucial point about this particular topic is that it cannot be kept in a silo. Environmental policies and problems affect everyone around the globe. It is therefore very important that the Government take the lead in ensuring that these matters enter the general debate of political discourse, and it seems to me that what we are discussing with this amendment would be a very good place to start. We could begin to show that we are serious about what we are saying and to uphold our country’s credentials as one that is concerned about the environment.

Lord Oates Portrait Lord Oates (LD)
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My Lords, in speaking to the amendments I declare my interest as chair of the advisory committee of Weber Shandwick UK and as a non-executive director of the Center for Countering Digital Hate.

The Government’s policy on climate change, particularly their policy of net zero UK emissions by 2050, is a laudable one that is widely supported across this House, but regrettably one of its most notable features is the absence of any plan to achieve it. Just last week, in answer to a Question in the House from the noble Baroness, Lady Boycott, about sponsorship of COP 26 and concern that oil companies among others might use it for a spot of greenwashing, the Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Callanan, told the House:

“We are looking for companies committed to reaching net zero by 2050 with a credible short-term action plan to achieve this.”—[Official Report, 6/10/20; col. 516.]


In view of that Answer, I asked him whether he did not think it was time that the Government themselves had a credible short-term action plan to meet that goal. He agreed that it was, but, sadly, that one does not exist, although it is promised—“shortly”, I think he said, which I am afraid did not give me much reassurance.

Trade Bill

Lord Inglewood Excerpts
Committee stage & Committee: 4th sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 4th sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Thursday 8th October 2020

(3 years, 9 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-V Fifth marshalled list for Grand Committee - (8 Oct 2020)
Lord Bishop of Blackburn Portrait The Lord Bishop of Blackburn
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My Lords, having made my maiden speech a week or so ago at Second Reading of the Bill, I am very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Purvis, for proposing Amendment 35, to which I wish to speak, without, I have to say, the expertise of other contributors, but I shall speak in favour of the amendment on two counts, only simply, as I do not wish to repeat what has already has been said.

First, the need for parliamentary support in both Houses at a preparatory stage of reaching a trade agreement by setting objectives is wise and prudent. If parliamentary support in agreeing those objectives is required only once work on an agreement has begun and is in its later stages, it will prove nearly impossible for Parliament to wind the clock back, debate the objectives and revise a carefully crafted piece of work that has already begun. Undoing what has been worked on over a period with the other party in that agreement could also do serious damage to relationships and could threaten the finalising and reaching of an agreement, so early scrutiny by both Houses on objectives is essential. I know the argument against that position is that it might delay the process with lengthy debates and endless amendments on all kinds of detail, but surely a mechanism could be found to speed up the process even, say, in this House, and enable a fair wind to be given to agreeing the necessary objectives. Once such objectives have been agreed in one instance surely those that follow will not prove to be very different and could proceed more speedily. Agreements will vary hugely, but objectives will remain much the same.

The second reason for my support for Amendment 35 is that paragraph (b) of subsection (2) of the proposed new clause calls for a sustainability impact assessment on

“food safety, health, the environment and animal welfare.”

Selecting just two of that list, the NHS and agriculture, both need to be protected from agreements driven solely by lucrative financial gains. No one can argue against shrewd business arrangements, but finance is not the only factor to be considered. The duty to ensure the future of our fragile farming industry is crucial. Any trade deal that strengthens the decline of that sector is unwelcome. Any trade deal that advocates or allows the further dismantling or privatisation of the NHS must be resisted, and this amendment gives a strong assurance that those protections are guaranteed and are in place for years to come. We have to keep in mind more than just the present. Those who follow after us will pick up the consequences of our decisions and it is because of the seriousness of these concerns that the Bill without Amendment 35 is lacking. I give my wholehearted support to the noble Lord’s amendment.

Lord Inglewood Portrait Lord Inglewood (Non-Afl) [V]
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My Lords, I speak in support of all the amendments in this group. This is perhaps a paradox, as they may—to some extent—be mutually exclusive. They also touch on a number of other amendments on the agenda of today’s proceedings.

As I said in Committee on Tuesday, the congruence of leaving the European Union and the royal prerogative in a world which is very different from the 1960s and 1970s, leaves much domestic policy, in practice if not in theory, beyond Parliament’s reach. Since the United Kingdom Government are accountable to the United Kingdom Parliament for all their activities, both inside and outside the jurisdiction, Parliament has a genuine locus to impose—or at least place—a framework around government activities abroad. These activities directly determine what happens in this country.

Now that we have left the European Union, we are in reality—to put it in crude terms—tarting our way around the foreign and trade ministries of the world in search of improved and new agreements. This is an inherent consequence of Brexit. In the circumstances, it is the only sensible response to where we find ourselves. I have no complaints about this, though being a suppliant does not necessarily enhance one’s negotiating strength.

My complaint is about the goods we have for sale. Everything is more or less on the table, as is generally the case in the grubby world of politics and, for that matter, in the marketplace. Almost everything is for sale unless it is expressly stated that it is not. There are some things which should be stated as non-negotiable from the outset. I disagree with my noble friend Lord Lansley and agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Smith. In a negotiation, there is a difference between boundaries and aspirations. This is illustrated by the slightly surprising combination of the noble Lords, Lord Alton, Lord Forsyth and Lord Adonis, and the noble Baroness, Lady Falkner of Margravine, signing the same amendment which we shall discuss later in the passage of this Committee.

Sometimes it is appropriate to simply say “no” as, for example, in the case of the topical, but historic—and not completely analogous—piece of legislation which ended slavery in the British Empire. There was no more argument after that. In the real world, a policy statement leaves the matter in question on the table and hence in play. As a number of noble Lords have said, the CRaG Act is weak and reactive, not proactive. I believe a strong framework is needed around all the Government’s activities in this area, as these amendments propose. At this stage, I am not concerned by the minutiae. Others in this debate know much more about this than I do.

No doubt, the Government will say that they need flexibility to negotiate. They do. All Governments do, wherever they are and however they operate. They should not cross our domestically generated red lines. This was what taking back control was all about. It is the logical corollary of Brexit.

Earl of Sandwich Portrait The Earl of Sandwich (CB) [V]
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My Lords, I support Amendment 35 on parliamentary scrutiny. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Purvis, for tabling it. Listening to the noble Baroness, Lady Smith, I felt she was a little bit nostalgic for the European Parliament. That was not surprising. I have felt it too. It is not nostalgia we need but the procedure and ideas that came from the European Parliament when we are discussing CRaG. I will leave it at that.

However, I was encouraged by the Minister’s reply to the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, earlier on the enhanced scrutiny process, and of course this is only the preamble for Report, which will be very important. I hope and expect that the Minister will be sympathetic to this amendment. He should be, because I believe the Government have been working hard to stretch the CRaG framework above the baseline so that they can then cover a range of issues. For example, the new FCDO is looking at improving the EMs on human rights, and in Committee we have already covered matters such as food safety, health and the environment, which are all to be covered by a sustainability EM, as mentioned by the right reverend Prelate. All these issues, as the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, so sensitively mentioned, and as the Minister knows, are of huge importance and concern to the public, and they will loom large in the US deal. I know we are dealing with Parliament now, but we are also aware of the public.

Amendments 36 to 38 are also needed because they set out the terms of the reporting arrangements required by Parliament for every relevant free trade agreement so that it can be examined and debated properly within the narrow timeframe of 21 days. I was fascinated by the conversation of the noble Lord, Lord Lansley, about Amendment 63, which we will come back to.

NGO and trade union interest in trade deals and fair trade these days is at a much higher technical level and, although stakeholders and civil society are consulted in advance, they also need to be properly informed after negotiations are over and as every deal passes through Parliament. That is part of the process described in these amendments. We owe a lot to Jonathan Djanogly, as has been mentioned, and while I am not sure why reporting comes up in later amendments, I support those too.

The Bill is restricted to rollover agreements, but I understand from previous ministerial replies and statements that the Government are generally and genuinely ready to listen to suggestions and, as has been said, open to improving if not amending the CRaG process. We all look forward to the Minister’s confirmation of this.

Reporting on an agreement is also important for the scrutiny committees themselves, because it is part of their mandate to follow its progress in the months following ratification. I think we were grateful for the intervention of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Goldsmith. The recently concluded Japan agreement, which we will shortly all be examining, will provide the first test of these arrangements.

Trade Bill

Lord Inglewood Excerpts
Committee stage & Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Tuesday 6th October 2020

(3 years, 9 months ago)

Grand Committee
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Lord Bishop of St Albans Portrait The Lord Bishop of St Albans [V]
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My Lords, I plan to say a few words on Amendment 20, moved by the noble Lord, Lord Grantchester. I am also sympathetic to Amendments 23, 25 and 26.

Food production and environmental standards, as well as the safety that they enshrine, are crucial to a healthy agricultural sector that seeks to mitigate the dangers arising from poor practices and the low-quality products they produce. Ensuring continuity has been a big priority for a number of Members. Issues surrounding the responsible administration of antibiotics to livestock, for example, are not national issues but global public health ones. Despite the Bill covering existing trading arrangements, we should not forget that the raison d’être for leaving the European Union was the assertion of our sovereignty. It is therefore right that the existing arrangements, conducted while we were in the EU, ought to be scrutinised by the relevant departments to ensure that the UK does not inadvertently undermine measures to achieve reductions in the risk of disease or contamination—or, indeed, targets for antibiotic reduction.

This by no means seeks to discredit trading arrangements made while we were in the EU, which I am confident already abide by the regulations set forth in Amendment 20. However, the scrutiny put forward in this amendment will guarantee this and ensure that the UK reinstates its commitments to the environment, food standards and a safe and healthy agriculture sector globally through its existing trading partners. I look forward to hearing what reassurances the Minister can give us on this group of amendments, particularly on whether there is some way in which the broad drift of what many of them try to get at can be brought back in the hope that we do not have to table specific amendments on Report.

Lord Inglewood Portrait Lord Inglewood (Non-Afl) [V]
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My Lords, I am pleased to speak to these amendments because I believe that each and every one of them is important—not least because of their implications as much as their substance, which matters a lot. After all, the legislation around which they are drafted was made entirely properly via the so-called community method, endorsed by Parliament during our membership of the European Union. As a result, they are as legitimate a piece of law as any domestic statute.

When we left the European Union, it was entirely sensible to slide the then acquis directly on to the domestic statute book and to add a provision enabling amendment by statutory instrument. After all, there is a need for all kinds of consequential adjustment. But it does not follow from this that they have to be amended by statutory instrument, merely that they can be. Equally, perhaps, they can as effectively be amended by Act of Parliament.

Clearly, too, when we left the European Union, the power that Parliament bestowed on the Union in respect of international agreements fell away. This means that such international agreements now again revolve around the use of the royal prerogative. However, as has been pointed out on many occasions, the character of the interdependent world in which we now live means that binding international commitments have a much bigger impact on this country than much domestic legislation, which of course is why the CRaG Act was put on the statute book. The reality is, as many people have pointed out, that the procedures under the CRaG Act are a shadow of substantive full parliamentary procedures in terms of scrutiny, checks and balances, transparency and so on, not least because the crucial international decisions are essentially completed before and not after UK parliamentary deliberation, and by then it is a bit late.

The reality of the world that we live in is that Parliament is given Hobson’s choice. In my mind, for serious, wide-ranging legislative change, that is very undesirable and comes about because of a congruence of our leaving the EU and the role of the royal prerogative. Its effect on legislators and the public is substantial in terms of diminution of their involvement, and scrutiny of what is going on. That is one thing for minor technicalities, but not for major policy changes.

The Government have argued this afternoon that they have made promises in respect of a whole range of these things. Of course they have, but, equally, it was interesting that the Chancellor said earlier today that he would try—I repeat, “try”—to deliver as many manifesto promises as he could. Already there is a bit of a let-out there. And let us be clear: it is not unheard of for Governments to change. After all, I think we have had four in the last five years and, dare I say it, sometimes promises are broken. While it is convenient for Ministers to have Parliament rubber-stamp their wishes, it is not Parliament’s role to do so. Rather, we should deliberate on and then accept, refuse or amend the Government’s proposals—and that is slightly different.

The bulk of the amendments in this group reinforce Parliament’s role in developing agricultural and/or food law. It is difficult to think of anything more important domestically than the quality, wholesomeness and origins of the food that we eat here, be it from the perspective of human physical and mental health, its impact on the NHS and public expenditure or its impact on land management and the environment across the country. In a properly organised world, I suggest that significant changes in respect of these matters merit full parliamentary scrutiny, and at least the amendment is a move in the right direction.

The environment and climate change are in the same category. After all, all carbon emissions, wherever they may originate, do not respect national boundaries, and the effect of excessive emissions, regardless of where they originate, is in general terms a bit like putting the whole globe into a microwave.

On top of all this, where proposed domestic change to ex-EU legislation involves breaches of international legislation—something which it is clear from the events of the last few weeks that the country does not like—I do not believe that the Government should be able to proceed towards that unless either the proper international withdrawal legal procedures have been followed or they have first had express parliamentary authority to proceed.

These amendments do not go as far as I would like, but they are a real step in the right direction.

Lord Wigley Portrait Lord Wigley (PC) [V]
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My Lords, I am glad of the opportunity to speak very briefly in support of the amendments that address issues of food safety and the importing of agricultural goods. I had intended to add my name to the lead amendment, Amendment 20, and I concur very much with the points made very effectively by the noble Lord, Lord Grantchester.

As was mentioned in the first bank of amendments that we debated last week, dealing with environmental issues, in this Bill we are overlapping significantly with the debates that we had on the Agriculture Bill. That is again the position as we address the safeguards needed against importing food of inferior quality to that produced in the UK or the European Union.

I am not going to repeat the arguments that I put forward on Report of the Agriculture Bill, but it might be as well to remind the Committee that amendments on those issues were carried in the context of that Bill and they are equally relevant in the context of this one. I hope that the Government will bear that in mind as they seek to pass a Trade Bill—namely, to make it acceptable to all parts of this House. I commend Amendment 20.

Trade Bill

Lord Inglewood Excerpts
Committee stage & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Tuesday 29th September 2020

(3 years, 9 months ago)

Grand Committee
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This amendment raises some extremely important issues. We will find it challenging, going forward as a country alone, ensuring that any trade agreements we sign meet high standards in human rights, but that is what the Government have promised. It should therefore be straightforward to get that commitment into the Bill and to make sure that Parliament can scrutinise any proposed future trade deals to ensure that this is delivered.
Lord Inglewood Portrait Lord Inglewood (Non-Afl) [V]
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My Lords, I shall speak to Amendment 11, a wide-ranging amendment, and make some general comments arising from it. I am particularly concerned about the relationship between leaving the single market—going it alone—and international law, because in various permutations there are a number of aspects that impact on a whole range of things here in this country and more widely, as quite a number of speakers have already pointed out this afternoon.

In particular, I would like to know how the Government would react to an international commitment, hitherto embedded in EU law but also part of international law, which they disliked. As we know from wider political debate over recent weeks, adherence to the rule of law is important—to Parliament, to the public and to the Government. On the other hand, one of the curious consequences of exercising sovereignty in its rawest form is that you are able to overrule the rule of law, whatever you might have signed up to previously.

Clearly, international law has a different impact at home and abroad, but the old, clear line of demarcation between home and abroad, and the relationship between the role of Parliament and the exercise of the prerogative is, I believe, mere fancy, as has been mentioned by a number of speakers. Decisions taken abroad, outside the jurisdiction, may not be directly enforceable in the courts at home, but they define a Government’s standing and credibility and, if implemented, can have a far greater impact on the UK than much domestic legislation.

For all this, I believe that the Committee is fully entitled to a cogent, understandable and comprehensive description of the Government’s approach to these matters, and that it should be given from the Dispatch Box to ensure the whole story—a kind of Pepper v Hart process. How this question is answered may very well determine how my votes are cast if and when amendments to the Bill are pressed: and I dare say that the same may be true for others.

Lord Rooker Portrait Lord Rooker (Lab) [V]
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My Lords, I will say at the outset that I was astonished by the speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Falkner of Margravine. I shall not comment on it, but I thought it was astonishing—astonishingly negative, I might add. The noble Lord, Lord Lansley, was helpful in the sense that he correctly pointed out the obvious: namely, that the defects of Amendment 33, as he sees them, can be knocked into shape for Report. But that is the purpose of Committee, so I do not see it as a problem.

I was very proud to add my name to the amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Alton, and I agree with everything he said. We have some serious issues regarding China. In the normal meaning of the word, it is clearly using slave labour, and has been for many years. The issue of predatory purchasing of products around the world is really serious.

I hope that the Minister will have picked up by now that there is a general lack of trust in the Government. This has been brought about, I have to say, by speeches from the Prime Minister and other senior Cabinet Ministers. There is a feeling that we want to cut corners and buccaneer our way round the world, as we used to do. All that means is dropping standards and, as I said at Second Reading, less transparency.

I will not go over the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Alton. He will not remember this, but the last time I followed him was in 1978, just after his maiden speech. I said a few complimentary things about it and the late Eric Heffer went absolutely berserk. A review of dependency on China is long overdue. If we are subject to 229 categories of dependency, of which 57 are critical, that is a strategic issue for the Government to look at with our partners and friends, whether inside or outside the EU.

I understand what infrastructure means. I do not have a problem with trade in infrastructure, which is different to the trade in goods. The water for the cup of tea I have just had was boiled in a kettle made in China. The shop where I purchased it had 16 models of electric kettle; every single one was made in China. I am sad to say that the trousers I am wearing—which I would not be standing up in the House of Lords in—were made in China. That is not infrastructure, but I understand what that is; it is listed in the amendment.

It is time for a disengagement. Only one country in the world is named after a family; China is actually owned by a political party. We have to take cognisance of that. It is not the Chinese people, or even the infrastructure of China. It is the co-ordinated effects of the Chinese Communist Party and we ought to be aware of that. So I wholly agree with the sentiments of and the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Alton.

My message to the Minister is: there is a bit of a lack of trust in general, and the Government have to address that in this and other Bills. I too have been waiting for the telecoms Bill. Because of illness, I only got sworn in to the House in late June, so I could not participate in the debates on it, but there are some serious issues. I agree with the Government on telecoms; they are absolutely right. I agreed with Theresa May looking at Hinkley Point and I disagreed with the decision that was arrived at. These issues have to be looked at and addressed. The Minister has to take back to his colleagues that there is a general lack of trust in what the Government are saying and what they might do—hence these amendments.

Trade Bill

Lord Inglewood Excerpts
2nd reading & 2nd reading (Hansard) & 2nd reading (Hansard): House of Lords
Tuesday 8th September 2020

(3 years, 10 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Inglewood Portrait Lord Inglewood (Non-Afl) [V]
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My Lords, I must begin like other Members of your Lordships’ House by congratulating the Minister and my southern neighbour, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Blackburn, on their maiden speeches. My short remarks will be focused on my roles, first, as chair of the Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership and, secondly, as a UK parliamentarian.

Cumbria has been identified as one of the most seriously affected parts of England in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Livelihoods, jobs and standards of living depend on trade; its curtailment would be self-indulgent and gratuitous, and the consequences of that would be very damaging and hurtful to a lot of people who are least able to deal with it.

As a UK parliamentarian who was once a Member of the European Parliament, it seems to me that the role played by this Parliament in the matters under discussion is shabby and—as I intimated in Grand Committee yesterday—quite inadequate. In an era when so much domestic policy, and hence legislation, is forged not in Westminster but elsewhere around the globe, Parliament must press this, not least to honour its historic responsibilities to this jurisdiction.

Setting aside the question of whether it is appropriate for trade negotiations to be conducted under the royal prerogative—this can of course be changed by legislation—the Government are fully accountable to Parliament for their action both within and without their own jurisdiction. For hundreds of years, Parliament has had a responsibility for how government policies are implemented and put into legislation within this jurisdiction, regardless of where they were conceived. This makes the Hobson’s choice approach to treaty ratification and putting statutory instruments on the statute book an entirely unacceptable form of parliamentary procedure.

A number of speakers have argued for a range of matters to be put into the Bill—an approach widely supported in the country. As we have heard, the Government’s response is that they are already the law of the land, so it is unnecessary. However, this ignores the widespread suspicion that the Government may, at a stroke, rewrite the rules, possibly using the short- hand form of legislation that I have just described. Parliamentarians and politicians are not trusted, and Governments are trusted least of all. The sad truth is that the more the Government reiterate their mantra, the more distrusted they become. It is a matter of credibility, which is slow in coming at this point.

For me, two priorities have emerged from this debate: first, the wheels of commerce must be kept turning, and, secondly, the way in which Parliament handles these matters must be reformed.