Draft Postal Packets (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2023

Ian Paisley Excerpts
Monday 17th July 2023

(9 months ago)

General Committees
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Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins
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If I may, I just want to set out the circumstances, because I very much hope that that will help with some of the concerns that have been raised. I know that there is a great deal of interest in these arrangements, so I am going to be absolutely clear with the Committee what these measures entail and, importantly, what impact they will have not just for our constituents, but for the United Kingdom family.

In short, someone in Great Britain sending a parcel to their friends or family in Northern Ireland will not need to engage with any customs processes. Nothing will change for those movements compared with today. Similarly, Northern Ireland recipients of parcels sent by their friends or family in Great Britain will not need to engage with any customs processes. Nothing changes compared with today. A grandchild in Blackpool—I pick Blackpool because that was where I went to school, and there is a wonderfully rich Irish community in and around Blackpool and Preston—sending a package to his grandparents in Belfast will not need to do anything new to send it and, importantly, the grandparents will not need to do anything new to receive it.

Businesses in Great Britain selling to consumers in Northern Ireland will not need to complete customs declarations, international or otherwise. Nothing changes. Northern Irish consumers buying from British sellers, including—hon. Members have raised this point with me—the likes of Amazon and other online shops, will not need to engage with any customs processes. Nothing changes. They will buy from the British seller and receive their goods without doing anything new; I say that very clearly for the sake of colleagues here today and for others outside this Committee Room who may be listening. Those facts are now recorded in Hansard and can be scrutinised. I say that very deliberately, so that those who have concerns understand exactly what we have set out in the framework.

The Windsor framework explicitly removes those requirements on goods being sold to Northern Ireland consumers and, of course, on goods being sent to friends and family. There will be no routine checks or controls applied to parcels. There will be interventions only on the basis of a risk-based, intelligence-led approach. That means that the overwhelming majority of parcels will not be subject to checks.

Parcels sent from a business in Great Britain to a business in Northern Ireland will be treated the same as equivalent freight movements. They can be moved through the new green lane when eligible, when it is introduced from October 2024.

Ian Paisley Portrait Ian Paisley (North Antrim) (DUP)
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Will the Minister give way?

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins
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I promise I will give way to hon. Friends and Members.

As will be the case for freight movements, the green lane will ensure that eligible goods will no longer require international customs processes; they will instead require only the provision of routine commercial information.

Ian Paisley Portrait Ian Paisley
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rose—

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Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins
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If I may, I will continue. In relation to the overwhelming majority of parcels, there will be no changes. The one instance in which there will be a requirement to go through green lane processes is where businesses are selling to business from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. I accept that this is—in the phrase used by my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office—a hard compromise. I accept that, and I say that with great respect, but we have to make the framework work because we have no alternative. I am not in the business—

Ian Paisley Portrait Ian Paisley
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Will the Minister give way?

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins
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I will give way to the hon. Gentleman in a moment; I am still answering my right hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham. Had the Prime Minister not negotiated the new Windsor framework, we would still be bound by the Northern Ireland protocol, and we know the many problems that that posed for both private residents and businesses, so this framework is a real step forward. This SI—which is a very, very small SI in the context of the framework, dealing as it does only with parcel movements—is a step forwards in ensuring that we protect the Union. However, I very much acknowledge and appreciate, as my hon. Friend the Member for Wycombe has, that for people who are committed to the Union and to leaving the EU, it is a hard compromise, but I am afraid that it is one we must take.

Ian Paisley Portrait Ian Paisley
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The Minister has come to the nub of this matter, because this is about business-to-business trade. I want to know the statistics on which she has based the claim that the vast majority of parcels will be private trade; perhaps she could share those. Secondly, could she outline who will ultimately pay the additional cost that will be put on business to do these things and how long any support will be in place?

Thirdly, the Minister must accept that this measure has the potential to lead to a diversion of trade, forcing businesses in England that really cannot be bothered with the burden of filling in forms to send a very small amount of their overall trade parcel to Northern Ireland. That will force businesses in Northern Ireland to divert trade and do their business elsewhere. Does the Minister accept that that is the likely outcome of this two, three or four years down the line from now?

Fourthly, does the Minister accept that the green lane she has outlined is the safety valve for all of this, in terms of most businesses being able to operate in it? The fact of the matter is that most businesses cannot operate in the green lane—that the green lane is there for only a very few high-class businesses. The vast majority of businesses in Northern Ireland—about 20,000—will not be able to operate in the green lane structure.

Finally, can the Minister—

None Portrait The Chair
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Order. Interventions need to be short. The hon. Gentleman indicated to me earlier that he may wish to speak. He might have an opportunity to put his other points when he is called to speak. Interventions need to be short, as he well knows.

Ian Paisley Portrait Ian Paisley
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Thank you, Mr Pritchard. It is just because this is such a detailed business-to-business issue that I wanted to put those questions. To be fair to the Minister, I think she will actually try to answer them, which I hope will be helpful. Finally—

None Portrait The Chair
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Order. On that point, I have given latitude for four points of intervention rather than one. The hon. Gentleman will be called to speak if he rises from his chair later, and he will have another opportunity. I know that he is an experienced Member and will respect the view and ruling of the Chair.

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Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins
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I am very open to ideas and suggestions, particularly from those parliamentarians who represent Northern Ireland, as to how we can improve that understanding within the Northern Irish business community but also, importantly, here in Great Britain, because I want businesses to continue trading, and indeed to grow their trade, with Northern Ireland.

There are experts in this room who know just how ambitious and powerful the messages of support were from the international community when the Windsor framework was signed about the opportunities available for this corner of the United Kingdom, so I very much hope that this measure is seen as part of that drive and that ambition to help Northern Irish businesses to grow.

Ian Paisley Portrait Ian Paisley
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I would like to come back to the point where the Minister indicated, essentially, that there will be discrimination between businesses, business dealings and trade. The Minister claims that this issue has been addressed and that this measure is compliant with the European convention on human rights. How does it comply with article 14 of the ECHR, which prevents discrimination between businesses and individuals?

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins
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Again, I just remind the Committee that we are dealing with parcel movements here; we are not litigating the entirety of the Windsor framework. As I say, we think it is a really positive step forward for the whole of the United Kingdom. Of course the hon. Gentleman is looking at it—quite rightly—very particularly through the lens of his constituents and Northern Ireland. However, in terms of the whole United Kingdom, and of all our businesses being able to have that certainty about how to deal with the EU, both in relation to Northern Ireland and in our wider relations with the EU, it is a good thing. After years of discussion, we now have an agreement that really gives us all, I hope, some clarity and certainty as to how we will conduct trade with the EU in the future.

As I say, I appreciate that hon. Members have rightly been scrutinising some parts of the agreement, but on the article 14 point, I am required as a Minister to satisfy myself as to the measures. I gently point to the fact that, in terms of individuals to individuals, nothing changes and, in relation to businesses—GB to NI only—nothing changes. It is simply where there may be onward traffic to the EU—as indeed, would be the case if there were onward traffic to the US—that that duty may be payable. I am veering into freight; I am conscious that, in relation to the small group of transactions we are talking about, there is a certain amount of overlap or mirroring, but we are, again, looking just at parcel movements for this SI.

Ian Paisley Portrait Ian Paisley
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The Minister talks about business to business, but who does business? It is people; people do business. Business to business is about people, and their rights—the company rights and the individual rights of the people doing business—are being trampled upon. Where businesses are doing that business on behalf of other people and consumers, those people are being discriminated against in terms of cost and the diversion of trade, and there will be general discrimination because we in Northern Ireland will be treated differently from the rest of the UK, or the rest of the UK will be treated differently from Northern Ireland—the point the Minister made to my right hon. Friend the Member for East Antrim.

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins
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Again, I will try to answer the hon. Gentleman’s intervention as fully as I can. The Windsor framework does not introduce any discrimination against anyone. Businesses do not have human rights in the same way that individuals do. Articles 6, 2 and 8 do not apply to businesses. On his point about the business treatment, the Windsor framework is a positive step forward from what would have happened under the Northern Irish protocol. We have to operate under what would have been because I cannot pretend that the protocol did not exist or that those strictures would not come in in due course. As I say, that is not a commentary on what was negotiated at the time under those extremely difficult circumstances, but the United Kingdom and the EU have got around the table, acknowledged the significant difficulties that have been identified and come up with the Windsor framework, which answers all those concerns and does so, I would say, in a way that really moves our relationship with the EU forward.

Oral Answers to Questions

Ian Paisley Excerpts
Tuesday 20th December 2022

(1 year, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Jeremy Hunt Portrait Jeremy Hunt
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My right hon. Friend always asks important and challenging questions. I do not agree with the way forward that he has outlined, but Ken Clarke revolutionised our education system by introducing Ofsted, which has led to a massive increase in standards in our schools. That was the reason I introduced the Ofsted system in our hospitals through the Care Quality Commission, which is also seeing a big improvement in standards.

Ian Paisley Portrait Ian Paisley (North Antrim) (DUP)
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God’s richest blessings to you in this Christmas season, Mr Speaker.

My constituent, who owns a small business, paid VAT on goods that they had ordered and brought back to Northern Ireland, only to receive a second VAT bill from the Republic of Ireland because of the Northern Ireland protocol. That makes doing business totally unaffordable. A previous Prime Minister said that businesses could tear these documents up. Can my constituent tear these documents up?

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins
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For the majority of businesses trading in Northern Ireland, VAT continues to be accounted for in much the same way as when they trade in the rest of the UK. We are confident that the implementation of the Northern Ireland protocol for VAT mitigates the risk of double taxation in Northern Ireland. We know of one example and HM Revenue and Customs is working with that business to see what more can be done, but I am happy to take up the hon. Gentleman’s question outside the Chamber.

Covid-19: Economic Impact of Lockdowns

Ian Paisley Excerpts
Tuesday 29th November 2022

(1 year, 4 months ago)

Westminster Hall
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Ian Paisley Portrait Ian Paisley (North Antrim) (DUP)
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Does my right hon. Friend accept that in Northern Ireland, the impact has been even greater? In a population of less than 1.9 million people, about 400,000 people are on waiting lists. The cancer waiting list and undiagnosed cancers are at an all-time high. The ambulance service is in disarray, and people in our wonderful nursing profession are being left high and dry, despite their expectations. They will not be rewarded, after being told that they were the most valuable people in society.

Sammy Wilson Portrait Sammy Wilson
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The other aspect to this is the excess deaths that we now have. At the time, I did not support the daily death toll being announced on the news. I thought it was wrong to do that. It is strange; there are now excess deaths due to lockdown and its implications on the health service, but we do not publish those numbers. It is a daily reminder of what happened, however. Families across the country are sadly being reminded daily of the impact on the health service of the decision that lockdown was the way to go, even though in many cases the hospitals that closed down, and were not open for normal service, were not dealing with covid patients. I mention that because it reminds me of the fear that was engendered even among health professionals. Many health professionals would phone me and say, “I don’t dare speak out, because if you do, you can get struck off.” Such was the atmosphere of fear.

An issue that I have not yet mentioned is education and the long-term impact of the unnecessary lockdown of schools. Children could not easily become infected or pass on the infection. Even if they did get covid, it had very little impact on them, but they have not escaped the long-term educational impact of being taken away from school.

It has been mentioned briefly, but not enough, that the most severe impact has been felt by the least well-off in our society. I remember going into people’s homes—I probably should not have visited them during lockdown, but I did, because they were my constituents. Those living in blocks of flats did not have a garden to put their youngsters out into, and they were worried that they were not geared up to help their youngsters with their educational needs. They were worried about the long-term impact on their education, and on their social lives. I think we have forgotten that the people hardest hit were the most vulnerable and most needy. I hope that this debate helps to remind us that we should not go down that path again, and that all these issues should be considered.

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Abena Oppong-Asare Portrait Abena Oppong-Asare
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I will take your comments on board, Mrs Murray.

We know that the impacts of covid-19—particularly the economic impacts—run deeper. Just this month, new information has been revealed detailing how some people, including a Tory peer, sought to use covid-19 and lockdowns for their own benefit. PPE Medpro was given £230 million in Government contracts after a referral to the VIP fast lane by a Tory peer. The extent of her involvement in PPE Medpro has now come to light, and tens of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money ended up in offshore accounts. The protective equipment produced by PPE Medpro was substandard: 25 million surgical gowns, which cost the taxpayer £122 million, were rejected by the Department of Health and Social Care after technical inspection because they were completely unusable. We also know that £6.7 billion was wasted on covid payments to businesses and individuals fraudulently or by mistake.

The economic impact of covid-19 lockdowns was immense, and was exacerbated by dither and delay in Downing Street, and hard-working businesses, families and individuals suffered as a result. It has left us with an economy that lags behind the pack. Wages are lower in 2022 in real terms than when the Tories came to power in 2010, and business investment is 8% below its pre-pandemic peak. The mini Budget from the short-lived Prime Minister and Chancellor crashed our economy.

The economic facts speak for themselves. We are now the only G7 economy that is smaller than it was before the pandemic. Other countries are still dealing with the economic impacts of covid-19, but we are doing worse. We are at the back of the pack, lagging far behind. The Chancellor said he wants to address the impacts, but again the economic facts speak for themselves.

Perhaps I am being a bit unfair to the current Chancellor and Government. They have quite a task on their hands. After all, for the 12 years in which their party has been in Government, low growth and low ambition have held our country back. What would Labour do fix the mess and grow our economy in the aftermath of covid? Back in January, we proposed a windfall tax on oil and gas giants—on the profits of rising prices and war. The Government ignored our calls and instead pressed ahead with their own windfall tax, which amounts to a huge giveaway of public money to the very oil and gas companies that are making record profits. Under the scheme, some oil and gas companies will pay zero tax this year, despite record global profits.

Ian Paisley Portrait Ian Paisley
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I have listened carefully to the hon. Lady. Some of us who turned up to Parliament during that terrible time voted against the Government’s proposals. I think I voted against every single Government restriction except one. The hon. Lady and her party, I think, voted for them all. There is a bit of complicity here: if somebody’s hands are on the steering wheel and they keep driving in one direction, it is hard for them to say in hindsight, “Something different should have been done.” This grates on me just a little because there were opportunities all along the road to say, “There’s a different course of action that can be taken here.”

Abena Oppong-Asare Portrait Abena Oppong-Asare
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I want to be clear that the Labour party did raise concerns throughout the pandemic that the Government were not looking at the scientific advice, and they took late action to address and deal with it.

To conclude, as we look to recover from the pandemic, we need an ambitious plan for growth. That is what Labour has presented and that is what we will champion.

Autumn Statement

Ian Paisley Excerpts
Thursday 17th November 2022

(1 year, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Jeremy Hunt Portrait Jeremy Hunt
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I would expect my right hon. Friend to look forensically at any comment that I make about defence. I was very clear in my words, first, that the Prime Minister and I recognise the need to increase defence spending, and secondly, that the update to the integrated review needs to happen before the spring Budget. This is not pushing something into the long grass; it is making sure we get the decisions right.

Ian Paisley Portrait Ian Paisley (North Antrim) (DUP)
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The £650 million of Barnett consequentials announced for Northern Ireland will go some way to plugging the gap that has been left by an inept Finance Minister in Northern Ireland. We welcome that; it only goes some way to plugging that gap, but it recognises that without Westminster firepower, Northern Ireland would be in a considerably worse-off place.

The energy payments are woefully inadequate for a lot of people in Northern Ireland. One thousand litres of oil in Northern Ireland costs over £900 today— £300 will not cut it. For the third time, could the Chancellor outline for us when those payments will actually be made to Northern Ireland? Secondly, with regard to the “next silicon valley” proposal, does he accept that unless the handbrake of the Northern Ireland protocol is replaced, Northern Ireland will not benefit from that proposal?

Jeremy Hunt Portrait Jeremy Hunt
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First, on the opportunity to be the world’s next silicon valley, I want Northern Ireland to be a central part of that. In fact, we have agreed to explore funding a trade and investment event in Northern Ireland, to attract more inward investment into the Province for that very reason. I am aware that when it comes to fuel poverty issues, it is a different situation in Northern Ireland. I have had a number of discussions with my officials, and I am aware that energy consumption patterns are slightly different. I will write to the hon. Gentleman with details on that, and I am happy to engage with him separately.

Financial Services and Markets Bill

Ian Paisley Excerpts
2nd reading
Wednesday 7th September 2022

(1 year, 7 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Bim Afolami Portrait Bim Afolami
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Lest anybody should think I have any particular specialist knowledge, I stress that this is entirely my own view, but I could imagine a scenario in which the Government, supported by this House, intended certain changes to a regulation such as MiFID II. A strategy document might say that the intention is for a, b and c to occur, but when the regulations were drafted, that intention might not appear to come through. In that instance, it would be very legitimate for the House or the Government to say, “No, what we intend is the following, and we will change the detailed regulation in order to achieve the aim—the democratic aim, supported by the Government and the House—that we seek to achieve.”

There are a couple of other areas in which I think the Government could have gone further in the Bill, and which I hope we will consider in the coming weeks and months. The first is the bank levy. I know that this is not always a popular thing to say, but in politics it is sometimes important to say unpopular as well as popular things. When we have an internationally competitive sector, if the tax burdens of jurisdictions with which we are competing for people, for capital, for institutions or for new investment reach a point at which they are significantly, or even a little bit, less than ours—and people may find those jurisdictions attractive for other reasons—we should consider finding ways of reducing our own tax burden, which has risen in recent years. The bank levy was one of those, but it came during the aftermath of the financial crisis, which happened quite a long time ago. I think we should consider getting rid of it, in order to emphasise as much as we possibly can that Britain is still the leading centre of financial services for the world.

I am not saying that this is a panacea; far from it. The Bill contains 300-odd pages because we have a great deal to do. However, the bank levy is a tax, and if we impose high taxes on internationally mobile capital or institutions, there may well be a penalty for this country in terms of attracting those institutions. I ask the House, and in particular those on the Treasury Bench, to reflect on that point.

My second point concerns ringfencing, which the former Chancellor mentioned. When I was at HSBC—I probably should have declared at the beginning that I worked at HSBC before I came to the House, and indeed in other institutions in the City—I had the good fortune to work for quite a long time on the internal restructuring of the bank as part of a strategy of which ringfencing was a huge element. HSBC and Barclays were the two big British banks that had big consumer retail bits and big investment banking bits.

Even at that time, it was obvious to many of us that the most critical part of what we were doing in ensuring the safety of those institutions—and indeed, because they were so big, helping to ensure the safety of the whole financial services sector—was the recovery and resolution power, and not just the ringfencing aspect. While I think the review that has been carried out is very capable and very thorough, I urge the Treasury to look a bit further, and to ask whether we still need ringfencing even under the terms of the way in which it has been reviewed. Can we look again at the thresholds? Can we make this less onerous for big institutions?

Why should we do that? I return to what I said about competitiveness. If there are ways in which we can improve our competitiveness without compromising on safety, I think we should consider them.

Ian Paisley Portrait Ian Paisley (North Antrim) (DUP)
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Let me take the hon. Gentleman back to his earlier point about competitiveness, and the possibility of certain institutions being turned off from investing or establishing themselves, or removing themselves from the United Kingdom. Where does he think the single largest threat comes from, if there is a turn-off?

Bim Afolami Portrait Bim Afolami
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I would posit two particular jurisdictions. First, I think of the London stock exchange. The House may not fully appreciate the amount of capital that it has, through capital raising by means of initial public offerings and various other measures. However, we have seen a dramatic fall-off since even five years ago, let alone 10 years ago. Meanwhile, Amsterdam’s stock exchange is doing very well. I think that, although Amsterdam as a jurisdiction will never rival London or, I should say, the UK, because we have huge advantages and huge strengths, we need to consider the threat to the London stock exchange from that source.

Secondly, there is the middle east, where various jurisdictions, including some quite surprising ones—particularly Dubai—are trying hard to make themselves attractive to, in particular, capital from America and Asia, and to make themselves into a hub for some of this work. Again, they cannot rival us, but it is not necessary to match us fully to damage our competitiveness, and I think it important to bear that in mind.

Ian Paisley Portrait Ian Paisley
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Does the hon. Member think that that when it comes to those locations, especially the middle east, there may be an opportunity for, let us just say, funds to arrive at those destinations without being scrutinised to the same extent as they would be here in the United Kingdom? Is that a potential threat to the banking sector?

Bim Afolami Portrait Bim Afolami
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I do not want to cast aspersions on any other jurisdiction. It is clear that we should be proud of our own high standards. I know we will probably get to discussing illicit money from Russia later this year, as we did earlier in this Session. In this country we take action and we pride ourselves on our higher standards—that is not always the case everywhere—but that aspect of competitiveness is not a race to the bottom. This is a really important point. We can be competitive and have high standards. We should not say that the drive for competitiveness means that we drop our standards and end up with corruption, money-laundering and all the rest of it. That is not necessarily true. In this country we are proud of our institutions, proud of our sector and proud of our ecosystem, but that does not mean that nothing needs to improve, and this Bill contains a huge panoply of measures that can help to strengthen our financial services sector.

My last point is about mutual recognition agreements. These are quite dry technical things but ultimately they allow for the easing of doing business between one jurisdiction and another—for example, between the UK and Switzerland, with whom we have built a very good relationship. We should do much more of that, but we should work with the International Trade Department to ensure that our trade deals include much more in terms of services provision and not just mutual recognition agreements that are separate from that. Services trade will benefit this country more than pretty much any other country in the entire world, and we need to work with our International Trade Department, with the Foreign Office and with our international ambassadors to achieve that aim.

Economy Update

Ian Paisley Excerpts
Thursday 26th May 2022

(1 year, 10 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend is rightly passionate about that subject, which he knows a lot about. Both the Education Secretary and the Exchequer Secretary are working hard to combat the low take-up of tax-free childcare. It is a generous benefit worth up to £2,000 a year and we want to make sure that everyone who can benefit from it does so.

Ian Paisley Portrait Ian Paisley (North Antrim) (DUP)
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This is a significant intervention in the economy—there is absolutely no doubt about that—and the Chancellor has said it is for the whole of the UK, which is one of the reasons why we celebrate being Unionists. The Road Haulage Association has indicated that the cost of living is higher in Northern Ireland by 34%. With that in mind, can the Chancellor confirm that the measures announced today apply to Northern Ireland without exception and whether the EU will have to be consulted about any of the measures before they apply?

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

As I said, when it comes to all the direct payments through the welfare system, we will take legislative powers to deliver them directly in Northern Ireland, where we believe we have the operational capacity to do so. As for the support for energy bills in the autumn, we are open to exploring how best to deliver that support to those in Northern Ireland. Ordinarily it would be Barnetted—it is worth £165 million—because, as the hon. Gentleman will know, the energy market is separate to that in the rest of Great Britain, but if there is a way for us to deliver that support directly, we are open to doing so. We just need to see whether there is a mechanism to do so.

Financial Statement

Ian Paisley Excerpts
Wednesday 23rd March 2022

(2 years ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. We started in October, and we have made progress today. The tax plan published today shows that we will continue to make progress, cutting taxes for businesses and people over the remainder of this Parliament.

Ian Paisley Portrait Ian Paisley (North Antrim) (DUP)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

The Chancellor is of course the Conservative and Unionist Chancellor for all of the United Kingdom, but is it not a fact that because of the deficiencies in the Northern Ireland protocol, none of his flagship programmes will apply to Northern Ireland until he goes cap in hand to the European Community and seeks its permission to apply these VAT differentials to Northern Ireland? If the European Community says no, what is the Conservative and Unionist Chancellor going to do for our part of the United Kingdom?

Northern Ireland Protocol: EU Negotiations

Ian Paisley Excerpts
Thursday 18th November 2021

(2 years, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Michael Ellis Portrait Michael Ellis
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I understand my hon. Friend’s desire to set a finite date but, as I am sure he will appreciate, that is not conducive to good diplomatic negotiations. I have no doubt that everything is being done as expeditiously as is reasonable.

Ian Paisley Portrait Ian Paisley (North Antrim) (DUP)
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A statement should have been made in this House at the earliest possible opportunity, but I welcome the point that has been made today as a result of this urgent question. Is the Paymaster General concerned that after the chiding the Government got for putting in place a protocol that has put a border down the Irish sea, we now appear to have a Joan of Arc-like stand-off, with the Opposition holding to the protocol as if it were something precious when it is destroying business and costing businesses in Northern Ireland £850 million? That is what is catastrophic: the friction of trade within the United Kingdom.

The Paymaster General mentioned sovereignty; I represent a constituency in the United Kingdom and so do all the Members in this House—we should not be doing Brussels’ work from these Benches. Brussels has destroyed part of the United Kingdom by insisting on the enforcement of a protocol in a disgraceful manner. I appeal to the Paymaster General, who knows that the Government’s Command Paper in July this year said that the conditions for invoking article 16 have been met: we are now in the jaws of December and those conditions remain met, so invoke article 16, and invoke it now. Stop dilly-dallying on this issue. Put businesses out of their misery in Northern Ireland.

Michael Ellis Portrait Michael Ellis
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I take this opportunity to apologise again for an oral statement not being made on Monday. I have mentioned that a written ministerial statement was made on Tuesday, but the hon. Gentleman makes a fair point on that issue.

On the hon. Gentleman’s substantive point, I agree that there is a major difficulty. The protocol is not delivering its core purpose and it is crucial that it has Unionist and nationalist party consent; otherwise, Northern Ireland cannot function, because of the power-sharing relationship with which the hon. Gentleman is extremely familiar. That is the foundation of the constitution and his point is understood.

On the business front, at least 200 companies in Great Britain no longer service the Northern Ireland market, so the hon. Gentleman’s point in that respect is perfectly valid. A significant number of medicines are still at risk of discontinuation. We saw recently in one of the national newspapers that even the trees for the Queen’s forthcoming platinum jubilee apparently cannot be supplied to Northern Ireland from Great Britain. There are problems with things that are, frankly, being shredded by the way the protocol is working.

Stoke-Leek Line: Reopening

Ian Paisley Excerpts
Tuesday 20th July 2021

(2 years, 9 months ago)

Westminster Hall
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Ian Paisley Portrait Ian Paisley (in the Chair)
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Members are very welcome and are of course aware that the social distancing rules no longer apply. They are no longer in operation. Members attending physically should clean their spaces when they arrive and when they leave. I think that is all I have to announce. It gives me great pleasure to call Karen Bradley to move the motion.

Karen Bradley Portrait Karen Bradley (Staffordshire Moorlands) (Con)
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I beg to move,

That this House has considered reopening the Stoke-Leek line.

Or, as I like to call it, the Leek-Stoke line.

This is a first for me. It is an honour to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Paisley. I know you are an impeccable Chair and your timing is even more impeccable, so I am delighted to serve under you. I am not sure whether you have visited the Staffordshire Moorlands. It is very much like the constituency that you represent—a beautiful rural area. It has amazing scenery, lots of great dairy farms, which you will understand, and some great tourist attractions, although, unlike the Giant’s Causeway, we have Alton Towers.

Many people come to visit the Staffordshire Moorlands. They come to see our amazing scenery. The Roaches, for example, is a place that people travel to from all over the world to do rock climbing and just to observe the views; from there it is possible to see lots of different counties—I think I once counted 16 of them—and all the way to Snowdonia. We cannot quite see the Isle of Man or Northern Ireland, but we can see into Wales.

We have the Manifold Valley, the beautiful Thor’s Cave, and a bit of Dovedale, which is also one of the great tourist attractions. As well as Alton Towers, we have the Peak Wildlife Park and Biddulph Grange Garden—beautiful places that people come to visit. We have amazing hospitality venues such as the Lazy Trout in Meerbrook, the Yew Tree at Cauldon, the Stafford Arms at Bagnall, and the Auctioneers—a community-run pub in Caverswall that I helped the community to buy and is a fantastic place to visit. We have wonderful independent shops in all our towns and villages, but in Leek we are very proud of our “Totally Locally” campaign and our local markets. We have a heritage railway in the Churnet Valley railway. We have so much to offer.

The question one might ask when looking at the map and seeing those wonderful attractions is, “How on earth can I get there?” I am afraid to say that unless someone has a car it is a struggle. Last summer—we are seeing it again at the moment—the villages of the Staffordshire Moorlands were totally overwhelmed with traffic; we got to the point where emergency vehicles could not get through. Villagers felt like prisoners in their own homes because of the cars that were parked, and there is simply no other way to visit the Moorlands than by car.

We have a fantastic mainline station only a few miles away in Stoke-on-Trent; the same line runs on to Macclesfield, of course. The train from Euston to Stoke takes one hour and 24 minutes when we are not on a reduced timetable as we are at the moment. If I can make a plea to Avanti rail: we need two trains an hour to Stoke-on-Trent as soon as possible, because it really is not working at the moment with only one an hour.

We have some buses, but I am afraid they are an endangered species. They are very difficult to find. If someone does find a bus, they might be able to travel into the Moorlands, but it is not easy. If someone gets to Stoke train station with a view to visiting Alton Towers, which puts on special buses, or the Roaches, the Manifold Valley or any of the other great attractions, they find that the only way to get public transport is to walk about a mile and a half to Hanley where the bus station is—because, of course, the bus station is not in the same place as the train station in Stoke-on-Trent. That person would then have to wait for a bus that is usually hourly. Perhaps they might be lucky and the buses might be every half hour, but it is not easy and it takes a significant amount of time to get to the Staffordshire Moorlands.

Even if someone can get to Stoke-on-Trent station by taking a taxi or finding a very amenable friend to give them a lift, to get from the station to Leek—which is where I live: the centre of the constituency—they could drive along the main Leek road, which is the A52, the A5009 and the A53. To do so means travelling through the constituencies of my hon. Friends the Members for Stoke-on-Trent Central (Jo Gideon) and for Stoke-on-Trent North (Jonathan Gullis) before reaching the Staffordshire Moorlands.

This route passes through some amazing parts of the city: Joiners Square, Abbey Hulton, Milton, then entering Stockton Brook and then on through Endon, Longsdon, and finally into Leek. The problem is that it is a single-lane carriageway. Actually, there is not a dual carriageway anywhere in the Staffordshire Moorlands constituency. One cannot legally go faster than 60 miles an hour, even though some motorcyclists believe otherwise. It is a genuinely beautiful route, which runs along a disused railway line. It is absolutely stunning, but it is a very slow road.

Alternatively, there is the A520, taking a route through the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent South (Jack Brereton) and then on to the Moorlands. That goes through Fenton and Longton, Weston Coyney and Meir, to Cellarhead, Wetley Rocks, Cheddleton, Leekbrook and then into Leek. All of these places are beautiful, ancient villages; they do not have capacity to make the road any wider. On visiting Wetley Rocks, one discovers it really is rocks, driving along the edge of the cliff, so there is nowhere to go to extend that road.

So I ask: what can we do? If you are lucky, Mr Paisley, you might find you could get off the train at Stoke and I would be waiting for you with my car, because I would be delighted to give you a lift to Leek—obviously socially distanced with appropriate facemasks and so on. If we were lucky, it could take about 30 minutes. However, I must say that I have driven from Stoke-on-Trent station back to my home in Leek, and it has taken over an hour and a half. During rush hour, those two A roads that are the main roads into Leek from the city are absolutely full. They happen, at the moment, to have an enormous number of roadworks on them as well, which does not help, but in normal times they are still absolutely full. There are some very difficult junctions on them, particularly the junction at Endon going up to Clay Lake and Brown Edge and on the A520. My hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent South and I both know about the issues around the Advanced Proteins site and the fact that we have an awful lot of very heavy vehicles travelling along that road and turning into the plant, causing congestion.

It really is not an easy journey, and it is getting harder. Given the volume of traffic and the demand for journeys between the Moorlands and the city, I do not see that it is going to improve any time soon, and the fact is that the Moorlands is missing out on the advantages of being only a few miles from the west coast main line. It is missing out on the opportunities that the Government’s investment in Stoke-on-Trent as part of the levelling-up agenda is bringing to the area, because people simply cannot rely on being able to work or live in the Moorlands and commute to the city given that the commute is so unreliable. We really do need an alternative.

There are two alternatives, and the debate title gives us a clue about what one of them is. There is another one, however, and it is that we could use the canals. We have a fantastic canal system built by James Brindley for the purposes of Wedgwood, to bring the raw materials from the Moorlands into the city where the potteries were founded in Burslem—the mother of the potteries in my hon. Friend for Stoke-on-Trent North’s constituency —but also around the whole city.

There are still fantastic potteries in the city, but it was the canals that made that possible. I love being on the canal—it is a really wonderful day out—but I think we would agree that it is probably not a good alternative for commuting into the city, given the speed at which one could travel. That then leaves us with one remaining alternative: to reopen the railway line between Leek and Stoke-on-Trent that closed as a victim of the Beeching cuts. When it closed it was probably not very well used, but I know now that the demand is there, and that people want to get back to being able to commute into the city from the Staffordshire Moorlands. Not only do we not have a dual carriageway, but we do not have a mainline train line running through the constituency. It would be wonderful to bring these things back.

This could be a fantastic clean, green alternative to roads. Residents live very close to the road, with houses along the whole way. My hon. Friends from the city will describe the experiences of their constituents who live alongside those roads, and the pollution and noise they suffer. We have this alternative; the line is there. Only a couple of weeks ago, the four of us here—myself and my hon. Friends the Members for Stoke-on-Trent Central, for Stoke-on-Trent North and for Stoke-on-Trent South—together with the leader of Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, Councillor Sybil Ralphs MBE, visited where the line travels between the Moorlands and the city at Stockton Brook. The line and track bed are there and we stood on them. There is quite a lot of weed but the line is there; it can be reopened. We were pleased to be there and see for ourselves that that could be done.

A bid has gone in to the Restoring Your Railways Fund. The bid is led by Staffordshire Moorlands District Council and Councillor Sybil Ralphs, and is supported by Stoke-on-Trent City Council, and its leader Councillor Abi Brown. We have the support of the local enterprise partnership, Staffordshire County Council, North Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce, the Peak District national park, local businesses and the key partner, the Churnet Valley railway. As I mentioned earlier, we have this wonderful heritage railway in the Moorlands, which has kept the track going for pleasure visits around the Moorlands on its steam trains. That heritage railway, with its use of the line, is a really important part of the bid.

I know the Minister is stepping in for my hon. Friend the Member for Daventry (Chris Heaton-Harris), who has sent his apologies. It is wonderful, though, to see the Minister in her place. I am hoping she will say that she will put personal endeavour into pushing this bid through. The bid has been submitted and we want to ensure that we get the funding we need, so that we can explore the possibilities.

We can see what could be achieved. We can see what the opportunities are for passenger services. That might be light rail; it might be different from what was envisaged when people closed the line—what it looked like then and what it might look like today. We want to see what the possibilities are for freight on the line, but we need to have that time and the expertise of officials at the Department for Transport to work with, to explore what is possible.

The line could not only go to Leek, but the line that the heritage railway uses now—to Froghall, through Cheddleton and Consall—could be used. That line goes to the village of Alton, where Alton Towers is. We have one of the largest cement plants in the UK at Cauldon, which is also the line used by the heritage railway. There are real opportunities to get freight off the road and on to the railway line.

In conclusion, I say to the Minister that all we want is a chance to see what is possible. I know she will use her best endeavours to support us on this. I look forward to hearing from my hon. Friends, who are all fully behind this bid.

Ian Paisley Portrait Ian Paisley (in the Chair)
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I thank Karen Bradley for moving that motion and painting such a pretty picture postcard and advertisement for the Staffordshire Moorlands. She probably won the record for name-checking every single village in a constituency. If Members wish to remove their jackets, please feel free to do so because it is stifling in this room today.

Northern Ireland Protocol

Ian Paisley Excerpts
Thursday 15th July 2021

(2 years, 9 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Jeffrey M Donaldson Portrait Sir Jeffrey M. Donaldson (Lagan Valley) (DUP)
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I congratulate my right hon. and hon. Friends on securing this debate today and on giving Members the opportunity to express their views.

For people in Northern Ireland, the political and economic stakes could not be higher, as the protocol presents the greatest ever threat to the economic integrity of the United Kingdom. The rigorous implementation of the protocol that some anti-Brexit parties in Northern Ireland have called for would be bad for consumers and bad for business. It would be socially disruptive, economically ruinous and politically disastrous for Northern Ireland. As Lord Frost has repeatedly pointed out, the Northern Ireland protocol in its present form is unsustainable, and it needs to go.

Over the last 50 years, if we have learned anything in Northern Ireland it is that, if our political arrangements are to last, they will require support from right across the community, and there is not a single elected representative in any Unionist party who supports the Northern Ireland protocol. The Government have promised that they will publish their plans for the future of the protocol before Parliament rises for the summer recess, and that cannot come a moment too soon.

Much has been said about how we got here, but, today, I want to set out where we need to go from here. My party will not prejudge what the Government have to say, but I want to make it clear what any new approach needs to achieve. That is why, today, I am setting out seven tests that I believe are important for any new arrangements. Our tests are grounded not in a Unionist wish list, but in promises that have already been made in one form or another to the people of Northern Ireland. It is not too much to ask that the Government stand by these promises.

First, new arrangements must fulfil the guarantee of the sixth article of the Act of Union 1800. That Act of Union is no ordinary statute; it is the constitutional statute that created the United Kingdom for the people whom I represent. The sixth article essentially requires that everyone in the United Kingdom is entitled to the same privileges and to be on the same footing as to goods in either country and in respect of trade within the United Kingdom. Under the protocol, this is clearly no longer the case. The House will be aware—you made reference to the legal challenge on this point, Madam Deputy Speaker—that the High Court has held that the protocol does not put the people of Northern Ireland on an equal footing with those in the rest of the United Kingdom. In defending their position, the Government lawyers made it clear that the protocol impliedly repeals article 6 of the Act of Union. That is a matter of grave concern to us, and it is a matter that needs to be put right.

Secondly, any new arrangements must avoid any diversion of trade, and I welcome what has been said already. It is simply not acceptable that consumers and businesses in Northern Ireland are told that they must purchase certain goods from the EU and not from Great Britain. In this regard it is notable that article 16 of the protocol already permits the UK to take unilateral safeguarding measures to ensure that there is no diversion of trade, and the Government must do that.

Thirdly, it is essential that any new arrangements that are negotiated do not constitute a border in the Irish sea between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. In line with the Act of Union, there should be no internal trade border in the UK. Northern Ireland’s place in the UK internal market must be fully restored. Fourthly, new arrangements must give the people of Northern Ireland a say in making the laws that govern them. That guarantee is implicit in article 3 of protocol 1 of the European convention on human rights, which clearly states that where people are subject to laws, they should be able freely to express their opinion on those laws. Northern Ireland does not have that in relation to EU regulations being imposed on it. Fifthly, new arrangements must result in no checks on goods going from Northern Ireland to Great Britain, or from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. The Prime Minister gave that commitment on 8 December 2019, and it should be honoured.

Ian Paisley Portrait Ian Paisley (North Antrim) (DUP)
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On that point about goods moving from Northern Ireland to GB unmolested and unhindered, was my right hon. Friend as shocked as I was when Retail NI, Manufacturing NI, Ulster Farmers Union and haulage representatives confirmed before the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee this morning that from January 2022, they will have to put in place documentary evidence of what they are moving from one part of the United Kingdom to the other part of the United Kingdom? Moving those goods does no damage and places no impediment on the European single market. My right hon. Friend must be appalled by that requirement.

Jeffrey M Donaldson Portrait Sir Jeffrey M. Donaldson
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My hon. Friend makes the point very powerfully.

Sixthly, new arrangements should ensure that no new regulatory barriers develop between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, unless agreed by the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly. That commitment was made in paragraph 50 of the joint report by negotiators from the European Union and the United Kingdom Government in December 2017. Our Government sadly failed to honour that paragraph when they concluded the Northern Ireland protocol. We expect that commitment, which was made by the Government, to be honoured.

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Ian Paisley Portrait Ian Paisley (North Antrim) (DUP)
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I congratulate the hon. Member for Harwich and North Essex (Sir Bernard Jenkin) on getting this matter on to the Floor of the House. I also welcome the comments from the right hon. Member for Chingford and Woodford Green (Sir Iain Duncan Smith) and the encouragement he has given with the survey results he has put on the record today saying to all the people of the United Kingdom that we are all as one in this. I would say, and I encourage my Conservative colleagues across the House to say, that Brexit cannot be properly done or properly completed until we resolve the issue of the Northern Ireland protocol, because it is an outstanding matter that does need to be resolved.

Daily, I am horrified whenever parcels arrive from GB to my constituents in Northern Ireland with a label on saying “Northern Ireland” and “foreign parcel”. Coming from post offices in GB to my constituents, this is reminding them day and daily that they are receiving foreign goods in their own country, when they are not; this is about ordinary commerce within the single market of the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom has in effect been partitioned by this protocol, and that is why we welcome this debate and why we welcome the fact that it must be fixed.

I must put on record my declaration—and I refer to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests—that I am currently engaged as part of the commercial case in the High Court against the protocol on behalf of commercial entities in Northern Ireland.

For all of the litigation that has been ongoing, it really will not solve this issue. What we actually need is political determination. The courts of the land are not there to drive this matter forward; it is for this House to do so. This House is sovereign for all of the United Kingdom, and the sooner this House and the Government determine that they are going to change the protocol, the better for us all. We are, in effect, at a fork in the road.

The protocol, of course, contains its own recipe to fix this: under article 16, it can be unilaterally removed where there is seismic social, community and commercial activity detrimental to a part of the United Kingdom. Section 38 of the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 also allows for it to be changed unilaterally by the Government, because this House is sovereign. So let us urge the Government to use their majority and to use the sovereignty of this House to fix this matter and to get Brexit done, as we all want to see it done, and let us use this House to put in place the mutual enforcement agreements that we know will be better for all of Northern Ireland.

The Northern Ireland Minister for the Economy recently wrote to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee saying that he had “significant concern” about the protocol because of the economic divergence that it is clearly creating for British firms in GB trading with British companies in Northern Ireland. He went on to say that this was creating “commercial discrimination”—commercial discrimination because of a protocol that was supposed to help us and that was supposed to give us the best of both worlds. It is not acceptable, and it has got to be changed.

At the heart of this protocol lies confusion. When a President of one of our European neighbours does not even know and acknowledge that Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom—Monsieur Macron—how could there not be confusion? The essence of the protocol is not constructive ambiguity. The essence of the protocol has been confusion about Northern Ireland’s place: is it in the EU customs union; is it out of EU territory; is it in UK territory; what is its actual status? That has confused the mix, and we have to make sure we move away from that confusion.

We do not in Northern Ireland have the best of both worlds; we are essentially in a commercial no-man’s land. Let me put some issues to the House on that basis. One of the last-minute revisions made to the protocol on 10 December last year—one that was shoehorned in under the radar—was aspects of the EU’s single-use plastics directive. That means that on top of the already burdensome, costly adaptations that businesses are having to make to continue to sell products in Northern Ireland, regulations will widen even further in January. This will mean that plastics labelling requirements will be imposed on producers for a range of items from wet wipes to drinking cups to tobacco products—a whole host of products that contain plastic—but no transposing regulations have yet been put in place, so we do not know what companies are going to have to do. We now have even more confusion and nonsensical red tape over the trade of wet wipes from GB to Northern Ireland. This will pose incredible problems for Northern Ireland.

Other commercial realities were identified this morning in the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, when manufacturing, haulage, retail and farming all came together and gave us the sorry picture that over 77% of their base is still experiencing daily problems with the operation of the protocol. There is an increase in wage inflation and an unacceptable spectre coming down the tracks that will mean Northern Ireland having to put in place even more red tape in January 2022 whenever it comes to putting its goods into GB. The overwhelming consensus is that this is not acceptable. Words have been very good, but we now require action by the Government.

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Sammy Wilson Portrait Sammy Wilson (East Antrim) (DUP)
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I, too, congratulate the hon. Member for Harwich and North Essex (Sir Bernard Jenkin) on securing this debate, and thank him for the continued support that he has given to us in our opposition to the Northern Ireland protocol and the effects that it has had on Northern Ireland.

The protocol, if it continues to exist, is a threat to Brexit. Indeed, that was borne out by the survey carried out last weekend by Savanta, in which 57% of those who were surveyed indicated that they believed that the Northern Ireland protocol was designed to frustrate Brexit. Indeed, 40% of remainers made the same point. It represents a bridgehead that the EU still has on the United Kingdom, a salient from which it will continue to attack our sovereignty and try to claw back the influence that it lost when this country decided to leave the EU.

There are three reasons why the protocol must go. The first is that it will be an ongoing means by which Brexit will be frustrated. We have already seen how the EU has used the protocol. In fact, it is taking the UK Government to court because the UK Government will not accept the EU’s interpretation of the protocol and how it should be implemented to impose the kind of restrictions that the EU demands. The British Government argue that the protocol was meant to deal with only those goods that could be at risk of going into the EU through the Irish Republic; any other goods were not at risk. The EU takes the view that we must prove that goods are not at risk before we can avoid the checks. In other words, 97% of goods that are currently being checked do not need to be checked. They do not go any further than Northern Ireland. Yet the EU is insisting that there is a risk that they might go into the Irish Republic. That is why we have such a high level of checks. There will be future laws that will create more need for restrictions. For example, the EU is bringing in changes to the law regarding the testing of lawnmowers. Lawnmowers could be the next goods that are refused entry into Northern Ireland because they do not comply with EU law, which now applies to Northern Ireland. That is the first reason. If we do not get rid of the protocol, there is always that opportunity for friction in relations between the UK and the EU.

Secondly, I do not care what people have said about there being no constitutional impact. Of course, there is a constitutional impact. The Act of Union has been changed. The Government’s own lawyers argued in the courts that the Act of Union was changed—that when this House voted for the protocol it voted impliedly to change one of the fundamental pillars of the Act of Union, which is that there should be unimpeded and equal trade between the different countries of this nation.

The protocol’s other constitutional impact has been to take powers from the Northern Ireland Assembly. I find it amazing that those who have representatives in the Northern Ireland Assembly, such as the hon. Member for North Down (Stephen Farry), can argue that there is nothing to worry about. His party has a Minister in the Northern Ireland Assembly and his party has Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly, yet 60% of the laws that will govern manufacturing in Northern Ireland will never be discussed, cannot be discussed, and, indeed, have to be implemented by the Northern Ireland Assembly without its having any say. The democratic responsibilities of the Northern Ireland Assembly have been undermined, and, of course, there has been a change in the Act of Union and in the constitutional position, and that contravenes the Good Friday agreement, which says that any change in the constitutional position of Northern Ireland has to have the consent of the people of Northern Ireland.

The last reason, which people have outlined very well, is the economic impact that all this is having on Northern Ireland. We already see the disruption to trade. Indeed, just this month the Ulster Bank purchasing managers index survey indicated that inflation in Northern Ireland is significantly higher than in the rest of the United Kingdom and about 50% more than the lowest region in the rest of the United Kingdom. Although that does not lie completely at the door of the protocol, it indicates that costs are rising higher in Northern Ireland because of the costs of the protocol—the delay in supply chains, the additional costs in administration and so on.

The protocol has a real impact on the future ability of Northern Ireland to compete. Of course, as laws in Northern Ireland change because EU laws are imposed, that will make it much more difficult for us to compete in our biggest market in GB. There will be those who say that we will get the best of both worlds, with a foot in the EU camp and a foot in the GB camp. That is not true, of course.

Ian Paisley Portrait Ian Paisley
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On the issue of having a foot in both camps, at today’s Northern Ireland Affairs Committee the Ulster Farmers’ Union made the point that Northern Ireland agriculture is now in a no man’s land and does not have the best of both worlds. How does my hon. Friend respond to the fact that that multimillion pound industry, our most successful, is now placed in that terrible situation?

Sammy Wilson Portrait Sammy Wilson
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I have heard time and again the argument that we have the best of both worlds, but I have not heard any examples of where being in the EU single market and being cut off from the GB market has had any beneficial effect. Indeed, any examples I have heard of improved trade have been a result of the trade agreement that the whole of the United Kingdom has with the EU. That is all that has ensured that those markets are open to companies in Northern Ireland.

There are alternatives. We have heard them mentioned today, including the mutual enforcement of each other’s rules. It is not that it is technically impossible—it is technically possible. It is not that it is economically impossible—it is possible. It is not that it is constitutionally impossible—it is simply a question of whether there is political will. Lord Frost must push this with the EU. There are alternatives that can satisfy both sides and ensure that the single market of the UK is maintained while the single market of the EU is protected.