Lords speeches against the Future Relationships Bill (part 2)

We pick up where we left off earlier

William Wallace

This Bill, and the agreement it transposes into domestic law, commits us to continuing negotiations across a very wide range of issues, in which the UK will be the dependent partner. I mention two issues only out of the many that remain unresolved. The issues of data access, and the adequacy of data protection, are vital to the future of our economy. Three-quarters of UK data exchanges flow between here and the European continent. Sovereign independence on data regulation for the UK is not on offer; our choice is between closer alignment with American or European regulation. We will pursue the Government on this.

Mutual recognition for cultural professionals, musicians, actors and artists is left out of the agreement, as has already been mentioned. I declare an interest as a trustee of the VOCES8 Foundation. Many of us will seek written assurance from the Government that mutual recognition will be negotiated.

Jonny Oates

Who can blame the Government for hiding from scrutiny? Far from being a triumph, this trade deal betrays our young people, abandons Gibraltar and undermines our businesses, our farmers and our fishing industry. It provides tariff-free access to the UK market for trade in goods, in which the European Union has the overwhelming advantage, and no comparative access to the EU market for services, in which the UK excels. It is inherently unstable because tariff-free access is dependent on maintaining alignment with the EU and, should we diverge, it explicitly provides for the imposition of tariffs.

The deal provides a 25% reduction in fishing quotas for EU boats in UK waters instead of the 80% which was promised and allows tariffs to be imposed if we go further than that. It ties us in to an abundance of new UK-EU governance structures wholly unaccountable to this Parliament. So much, again, for parliamentary sovereignty.

It is a deal which compromises our prosperity and our security and for which the British people will pay a heavy price in lost jobs and lost opportunities. It is not even the end of Brexit, just an inherently unstable prelude to the neverending negotiations that will follow.

Lindsay Northover

As my noble friend Lord Wallace pointed out, the EU agreement has no provision for British involvement in foreign policy. That was not an EU decision but a British one, even though the UK working within the EU meant that we were able to maximise our influence. Thus we led across EU capitals on tackling climate change, helping to secure the agreement in Paris. The EU, working together, helped to bring about the Iran agreement.

The treaty states:

“The Parties shall continue to uphold the shared values and principles of democracy, the rule of law, and respect for human rights”

and “promote” these “in international forums”. How exactly will we do that? In advance of key UN votes, we will not be in the meetings that decide the EU position. Take the example of Hong Kong. When China enacted its national security law, we had newly threadbare support at the UN. What of Gibraltar? As the noble Baroness, Lady Hooper, has just said, the Government said they would not agree a deal without including Gibraltar; they have done just that. Can the Minister explain exactly how and when the Government will resolve Gibraltar’s position, and why they failed to finalise it as we rushed towards their self-imposed deadline of 31 December?

Jonathan Marks

I turn to the justice system. The Prime Minister wrote to us all on Christmas Eve that the agreement prioritises the safety and security of citizens. Why, then, are we abandoning the European arrest warrant for an inadequate substitute surrender system that is, in effect, traditional extradition with probable court delays and many escaping justice?

Why, too, are we giving up real-time access to the Schengen Information System—our main source of criminal data—accessed, as others have said, by the UK police 600 million times last year? Why are we giving up our leading roles in Eurojust and Europol, the world’s most successful international collaborative policing body ever, for fig-leaf spectator seats and limited, conditional and slow information exchange?

In civil law, why are we losing the reciprocal recognition and enforcement of judgments and the choice of court rules under the Brussels regulations, leaving British litigants, including children, without the international co-operation and civil and family cases that have served us so well? Yes, we have the three Hague conventions that we recently passed into law, and we may ultimately have the Lugano Convention, but that requires unanimity among the Lugano members and cannot be achieved in time. The replacements are no match for what we are losing.

In our next grouping, we bring you Baroness Randerson and Lords Bruce, Alderdice and Taverne…

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2 Comments

  • Re- William Wallace
    Closer alignment with the USA regulatory framework would be a silly choice. We need a sensible grown-up relationship with America and we really ought to ditch the special relationship fantasies. If we had more confidence in our own culture, especially in England, we wouldn’t have tolerated the nationalism masquerading as patriotism that got us into this mess.

  • Blimey, that’s 8 Lords a leaping….., the same number as the Lib Dem M.P.’s the Rt Hon Sir Nicholas bequeathed to us in 2015.

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