All 2 Lord Howard of Rising contributions to the United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020

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Mon 19th Oct 2020
United Kingdom Internal Market Bill
Lords Chamber

2nd reading & 2nd reading (Hansard) & 2nd reading (Hansard): House of Lords
Mon 9th Nov 2020
United Kingdom Internal Market Bill
Lords Chamber

Committee stage:Committee: 5th sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 5th sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 5th sitting (Hansard): House of Lords

United Kingdom Internal Market Bill

Lord Howard of Rising Excerpts
2nd reading & 2nd reading (Hansard): House of Lords
Monday 19th October 2020

(3 years, 8 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020 Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: Consideration of Bill Amendments as at 29 September 2020 - (29 Sep 2020)
Lord Howard of Rising Portrait Lord Howard of Rising (Con)
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My Lords, comments of genuine legal concern criticising Part 5 must be respected, however disproportionate. However, most of the adverse comments are, frankly, sour grapes from remainers. That Britain would lose its reputation by passing the Bill is nonsense. There are endless examples of EU bad behaviour: the French shepherding illegal immigrants into British waters, or the EU wilfully breaking international law as with Airbus, et cetera, et cetera. The EU ignores the law with complete abandon. To quote the EU Advocate-General,

“it would be wrong to conclude that, once the Community is bound by a rule of international law, the Community Courts must bow to that rule with complete acquiescence and apply it unconditionally”.

There is a very strong argument that Part 5 would not be in breach of international law. There is not time to discuss detail, but the EU’s behaviour means that various articles of the Vienna convention give the UK the freedom to implement Part 5, if required. If anyone is in doubt, let me quote the noble Lord, Lord Pannick—one of this country’s most distinguished advocates:

“If, therefore, the UK and the EU were unable to reach an agreement on Northern Ireland/Ireland, despite good faith negotiations and despite the arbitration procedures, and if the UK were therefore to be faced (against its will) with a permanent backstop arrangement, the UK would be entitled to terminate the withdrawal agreement under Article 62 of the Vienna convention on the Law of Treaties.”

Furthermore, Section 38 of the withdrawal agreement Act, passed by your Lordships, fairly and squarely confirms the supremacy of Parliament. The Bill gives the power to act if Parliament so agrees. The Bill itself does not initiate anything, so whatever view you take, the passing of the Bill is not an illegal act.

The withdrawal agreement was signed in expectation of reaching a reasonable agreement. For the EU to threaten to withhold third-country status or use the Northern Ireland protocol to try and gain advantage in discussions is not acting in good faith. Monsieur Barnier saying that not even a pat of butter may go between England and Northern Ireland demonstrates this attitude. It is an example of the view expounded by Verhofstadt’s team that Great Britain will become the EU’s first colony. It is how Britain has been treated throughout negotiations. Last Thursday it’s the EU Council arrogantly restated that the its opening position was its continuing position. This is not negotiation but dictation.

With no clear argument against Part 5, we must put the interests of our country first and foremost. We must do our best to achieve what the people of Great Britain have consistently voted for and rid ourselves of EU control. Including Part 5 will show the EU that we are not a colony and are not prepared to be treated as one.

United Kingdom Internal Market Bill

Lord Howard of Rising Excerpts
Committee stage & Committee: 5th sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 5th sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Monday 9th November 2020

(3 years, 7 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020 Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: HL Bill 135-V Fifth Marshalled list for Committee - (4 Nov 2020)
Viscount Trenchard Portrait Viscount Trenchard (Con) [V]
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My Lords, I agree with my noble and learned friend Lord Clarke of Nottingham in so far as he praised the speech of my noble friend Lord Lilley twice for its pragmatism. Beyond that, I find myself in agreement with my noble friends Lord Lilley, Lady Noakes, Lady Couttie, Lady Neville-Rolfe and Lord Shinkwin and the noble Baronesses, Lady Hoey and Lady Fox of Buckley, that this Bill, including Part 5, is indeed necessary.

I salute the Government for their good sense in dealing now with the inconsistencies in the withdrawal agreement. It is regrettable that the inconsistencies were not cleared up at the time of signing that agreement, but it was reasonable to believe that the EU’s negotiators would act in good faith in their efforts to reach an agreement on the future relationship that would have solved most of the inconsistencies. It seems that it remains difficult for Mr Barnier and his team to accept that the UK is becoming a sovereign, independent country and will not accept terms that effectively require us to continue to adhere to EU regulations, especially concerning state aid, nor will it accept the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the determination of any part of our agreement on our future relationship or any connected enforcement proceedings.

I do not share the strong negative reaction of many noble Lords to the Government’s introduction of this Bill, for the reason that it seeks to disapply certain provisions of the withdrawal agreement signed by the UK and the EU in September 2019. I would argue that entering into the withdrawal agreement without first agreeing the framework for our future relationship with the EU was in itself a breach of Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty. Does the Minister agree that it could be argued that the signing of the withdrawal agreement and indeed the subsequent enactment of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 clearly breaches international law?

The noble Lord, Lord Kerr of Kinlochard, was wise to draft Article 50 as he did. I regret that the European Commission ignored its terms and the previous Government acquiesced in their insistence that agreeing the framework for our future relationship should be deferred. This makes it much more difficult to agree the future relationship, as we are now trying to do with very little time remaining before the end of the implementation period. If we had observed the terms of Article 50, a significant part of the provisions of this Bill, especially those that affect the Northern Ireland protocol, would not have been necessary. Furthermore, David Wolfson QC argues convincingly that the sovereignty of the Crown in Parliament means that the Government are bound to proceed with any Act of Parliament even if it should give rise to a claim under an international treaty. Mr Wolfson argues that there would be

“no breach of the rule of law.”

A similar position has been supported by Jolyon Maugham QC, who has argued that parliamentary sovereignty enables Ministers to advise on and recommend, and Parliament to enact, legislation that breaches international law. He observed:

“Whether it is a ‘good idea’ to breach international law”—

by implementing these measures—

is a political judgment”.

The noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer of Thoroton, said that the passage of this Bill in this form risks making the UK “an international pariah”; many noble Lords have expressed a similar view. However, the whole world knows the UK is still negotiating the basis of its exit from the UK. These negotiations continue; in the event that we fail to agree a free trade agreement, it will be well understood that the Government have a duty to ensure that the integrity of the United Kingdom is protected.

I respect the view of noble Lords who think otherwise, including the noble Lord, Lord Ricketts, but I just do not believe that the UK’s well-deserved reputation for honouring its word will be negatively affected in any way, any more than the German constitutional court’s ruling on the bond-buying programme of the ECB—that European law which conflicts with the German constitution may be overridden—affects the reputation of the Federal Republic of Germany as a well-behaved international citizen. The decision of the Court of Appeal in 2018 in response to the challenge by the Gulf Centre for Human Rights that ministerial duties in international law were not truly legal duties offers another example of the same point.

The noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, and his co-signatories seek to remove all six clauses that constitute Part 5 of the Bill. This would mean that the ambiguities contained in the withdrawal agreement would endure, and the resulting uncertainty arising from the possible erection of a customs border in the Irish Sea would clearly breach the Belfast agreement. The noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Eames, in his eloquent speech proposing Amendment 161, argued that this Bill would upset and alter the basis of trade within the United Kingdom. I admire the great contribution that he has made, and continues to make, to the peace process. I was impressed by his arguments. However, I noted that he did not acknowledge at all that the Northern Ireland protocol itself upsets and alters the basis of trade in the UK.

I agree strongly with the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay of Clashfern, that compliance with the Belfast agreement should be regarded as a part of, and a prerequisite to, the withdrawal agreement. I support Amendments 158 and 159, which would create an additional exclusion from the prohibition imposed by Clause 43, but the reasons for checks following a threat to food or feed safety would be well understood. I understand the intention of the noble Lord, Lord Hain, in Amendments 162 and 163; I sympathise with him. However, other clauses of the Bill already prohibit discrimination against goods produced in any part of the United Kingdom, so his amendments are superfluous. I look forward to the Minister’s comments on these and other measures.

Lord Howard of Rising Portrait Lord Howard of Rising (Con)
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My Lords, I have read an enormous amount of very learned opinion, produced by many distinguished members of the legal profession, saying that Part 5 of the present Bill does not break international law—enough opinion to be absolutely clear that, however many people claim that the Bill is illegal, serious doubts remain over the claim that Part 5 is illegal, in spite of the many eloquent arguments for that case that have been put forward this evening.

Whatever view you take of Part 5—illegal or legal—there is sufficient doubt over the rights and wrongs that loyalty to one’s country demands that the wishes of the Government should take precedence over other views. The House should not get in the way of a Bill that will be of invaluable assistance to strengthen the hands of our negotiators in these last crucial days and weeks of the negotiations. The Bill will not make this country some kind of pariah, nor will we lose respect, as some have falsely claimed. The world will see it simply as part of us leaving the European Union.

It is not the role of this House to overturn the wishes of the other place, especially where the grounds for such action, as today, are not clear-cut. Furthermore, the other place has conceded that there must be a vote in Parliament before Part 5 is acted on. The ultimate authority in this country is the Queen in Parliament. It is what the British people have voted for, and we must do everything possible to ensure that this remains the case.

Lord Morrow Portrait Lord Morrow (DUP) [V]
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My Lords, I have listened intently for over four hours to all the fine speeches and contributions that have been made in your Lordships’ House today. The Belfast or Good Friday agreement, whichever you prefer, has largely featured; our debate has been dominated by some excellent speeches both for and against it. However, like the noble Baroness, Lady Hoey, I have been asking myself whether Members have actually read the Belfast agreement. I have it to hand. I do not fully recognise in it some of the comments that were made.

I speak to your Lordships this evening from a border town. I could be at the border in 15 minutes. I have lived all my life here. We know what goes on at the border and what has happened in the past 30 or 40 years, with all the activity that has carried on there. I listened intently to the two excellent speeches of my colleagues, the noble Lords, Lord Dodds and Lord McCrea. They have something in common: they are both survivors. The noble Lord, Lord Dodds, had an attempt on his life when he went to visit his very sick son in hospital. The noble Lord, Lord McCrea, knows what it is to have his family home spread by automatic gunfire in an attempt to wipe out him and his family. So we know all there is to know about the border. Do any of us want to go back to those days? Absolutely not. Today, we have heard the lawyers and the philosophical arguments but all we want is a practical, common-sense solution. If a noble Lord can point out to me what is wrong with that, I will be ready to listen.

My remarks this evening will focus on Amendment 161 in particular. Although it reads okay, it is a contradiction of other parts of the Bill. My party has no objection to the content of the amendment, but it is important that there is continuity throughout the Bill. It is totally contradictory to insist on this type of amendment to this clause but to tolerate similar clauses elsewhere in the Bill.