Debates between Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale and Lord Grimstone of Boscobel during the 2019 Parliament

Japan Free Trade Agreement

Debate between Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale and Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Thursday 17th September 2020

(3 years, 9 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Grimstone of Boscobel Portrait Lord Grimstone of Boscobel (Con)
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I thank my noble friend for his comments about the agreement and I am well aware of his great expertise in Japan. As the Minister for Investment, of course it is always a matter of great regret for me if a major company decides not to pursue an investment opportunity in the United Kingdom. My noble friend will realise that nuclear has a huge number of manifestations; these are very large decisions that companies will take. We have maintained contact with Hitachi throughout the process. I believe that this was a decision by the Hitachi board. I have no information in what circumstances it might choose to revisit that decision, but I will say that I have huge admiration for Hitachi. I have spoken to Hitachi at the most senior levels on a number of occasions, and we would always welcome any investment from Hitachi into the United Kingdom.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, I declare my interests as noted in the register, but in particular my membership of the UK board of the UK-Japan 21st Century Group, set up by Prime Minister Thatcher when the noble Baroness, Lady Bottomley, was a Minister. The board met in its annual conference with Japanese colleagues last weekend and warmly welcomed the announcement of the trade deal: in particular the steps towards UK membership of the comprehensive trans-Pacific partnership.

It would also be appropriate today for us to welcome and congratulate Prime Minister Suga on his election yesterday as Prime Minister of Japan. He has a particularly strong commitment to UK-Japan relations and an understanding of the importance of the UK and Japan in maintaining an international rules-based system and that free and fair trade are at the heart of that. Can the Minister confirm that, when we see the details of this agreement and its implementation over the coming months, there will be nothing that will contradict our commitment to those international agreements on climate change and the sustainable development goals that see the UK and Japan committed to not only free trade but fair trade that helps preserve our planet and develop the global economy?

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel Portrait Lord Grimstone of Boscobel (Con)
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The noble Lord is yet another example of the vast expertise that we have in this House on these matters and, because of his special insights into Japan, I welcome his commendation of this agreement. He is right to say that Japan and the UK have very similar attitudes to these matters: both of us look to a rules-based economy in world trade. I can confirm that the matters to which he referred have been rolled over from the EU agreement. The EU agreement had very strong provisions in relation to sustainability, climate and other matters, and he will see once the agreement is made available to the House that we have preserved the impact of those measures. I join the noble Lord’s congratulations of the new Japanese Prime Minister: I wish him a long and successful period in post.