Lords speeches against the Future Relationships Bill (part 1)

And, for completeness and, indeed, because they were excellent, we bring you excerpts from the speeches of our Parliamentary Party in the Lords during the debate on the Future Relationships Bill

Jeremy Purvis

Liberal forebears joined together to ensure the widest benefit of free, fair and open trade well over a century ago. We fought relentlessly against Conservative protectionism at the turn of the last century. We split from the Conservative and National Government over their imposition of tariffs all round. Now, a century on, we need to try to militate against the worst elements of this poor agreement. We will have to be in the vanguard of supporting women entrepreneurs in the service sector to tackle the new barriers, helping our businesses export against the new burdens and supporting those wishing to seek advantage not by moving out of the UK but by staying in it and working with others to reconnect with Europe. I never thought we would need to rejoin this fight, but we do—we must, and we will with vigour.

Susan Kramer

Because of time, I will limit my remarks to financial services, a key pillar of the UK economy—perhaps its most important one—that provides nearly 2 million jobs and over £75 billion a year in tax revenue. With the signature on this deal, our negotiating leverage to protect key parts of this industry has disappeared. We have already seen more than £1.2 billion in assets shift to the EU. How could any responsible Government put the UK economy in this position?

Of course we keep domestic financial services, but our global role depends on our ability to be the overwhelmingly major player in the euro-denominated financial markets. The US has been repatriating dollar activity to New York; China has no intention of outsourcing any significant portion of its financial services; and India is equally committed to growing its own capacity. We are entering a period of regional blocs and rivalries. We are Europe’s hub or no one’s hub.

Brian Paddick

Not only is there no hardening of the border compared to what currently exists under EU free movement rules, but the ability to prevent the entry of undesirable foreign nationals will be significantly reduced, because it will be much harder to identify them. Patrolling police officers on the streets of the UK can currently check whether the person they have stopped is wanted in any EU state, whether they are known to EU law enforcement as a sex tourist or suspected by another EU state of being involved in terrorism, simply by checking the person’s details on the police national computer—a PNC check. From 1 January 2021, the link between SIS II and the PNC will be disconnected, and none of these real-time checks will be possible. As a result of this deal, wanted criminals, sex offenders and suspected terrorists, who would have been identified through a simple check, will be allowed to go on their way. The National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for Brexit said last month that the loss of SIS II

“will have a massive impact on us”.

Anyone who claims we are safer with this deal than we were as a member of the European Union, or than we would potentially have been if we had paid as much attention during the negotiations to the safety and security of our citizens as we did to our fish, is sadly mistaken. The Bill is wholly inadequate when it comes to maintaining the security of the UK, and that is another reason why we cannot support it.

Chris Fox

I will focus on three business consequences of this treaty. First, the deal creates an ocean of new paperwork. The Financial Times reports that each year British companies trading with Europe will have to fill in an extra 215 million customs declarations, at a cost of about £7 billion per year. At best, each delivery to and from the EU will take an average one day longer. Can the Minister explain how the Government will ameliorate this fettering of British trade?

Secondly, there will be double regulation. Any UK company wishing to export to the EU will now have to comply with both the new UK regulations and standards and the EU ones—an extra set of design, testing, certification and administration costs. For example, UK chemicals regulation requires British-based companies to reregister every chemical that is currently legal in the EU. Double regulation means double cost. In the case of chemicals, that is about £1 billion of extra cost. What are the Government doing to alleviate the millstone that is hanging around British industry?

Thirdly, on rules of origin, traders can self-certify the origin of goods sold and then enjoy what is called cumulation. That is good, but the deal does not allow for parts imported from regions outside the UK and EU to be counted towards local content—what is called diagonal cumulation. This will make it hard, or impossible, for our more complex manufacturers to avoid being hit by heavy tariffs from the EU. What are the Government doing about that?

Next up, the noble Lords Wallace of Saltaire, Oates, Marks of Henley-on-Thames and Baroness Northover…

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2 Comments

  • Tony Greaves 1st Jan '21 - 3:48pm

    I hope that rather than just “completeness” people might get some inspiration from the quite superb speeches of my colleagues.

  • Mark Valladares Mark Valladares 1st Jan '21 - 4:28pm

    @ Tony,

    Indeed. I was particularly impressed by the range of topics covered which, in combination, offer a tour de horizon of the issues that face our country going forward.

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