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Single Market

Volume 619: debated on Tuesday 17 January 2017

7. What assessment he has made of the potential effect of losing access to the single market on the chemical industry and the wider economy. (908206)

The Government absolutely recognise the significant contritibution that the chemicals industry makes to the UK economy, and of course the complex supply chains between the UK and the EU. The hon. Gentleman will have heard the Chancellor’s words just now about the importance we attach to getting the best possible market access, and the Prime Minister is talking about that this morning. We are looking at a comprehensive range of analysis to inform our position as we go into those negotiations but, as the Prime Minister is laying out, clarity and certainty are one of the industry’s big asks.

The Chemical Industries Association’s Brexit manifesto shows how the chemical industry could help to sustain and enhance the UK as a location for future investment in jobs while playing a leading part in addressing global environmental challenges. Has the Minister read the manifesto? What is she doing to reassure the chemical industry that its very specific needs are at the forefront of her mind as the Government develop their strategy?

Rather than just reading the manifesto, Ministers have actually been meeting the chemical industry. The Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, my hon. Friend the Member for Worcester (Mr Walker), met the Chemical Industries Association on 17 November. All these issues were explored in some detail and a good, productive conversation was had.

I welcome my hon. Friend’s typically constructive approach, but does she recall the clinical trials directive that destroyed much of the pharmaceutical industry in this country overnight, including Pfizer’s site in east Kent?

As I recall, the original directive did have some negative effects, but it was improved on in subsequent negotiations to ensure that it did not have the same effect.

Voters partly backed leave on the basis of the £350 million economic boost that our NHS is still waiting for. Where, therefore, is the democratic mandate for this Conservative version of hard Brexit—leaving the customs union and the single market—that the Chancellor himself has accepted damages the economy and that puts jobs in my Tooting constituency at risk?

With particular reference to any concerns about employment in the chemical industry, preferably in—

No, the hon. Lady does not need to add anything. I am sure that she meant to mention it in her question. It was an error of omission—only a matter of time.

Of course. As colleagues across the House will realise, getting the best deal for Britain means getting the best deal for all our major companies and industries. That, in turn, allows us to carry on investing the record amounts that we have in the NHS to date.

Yes, indeed. Does my hon. Friend agree that when we leave the European Union, the fact that this Parliament will be free to redraft the registration, evaluation and authorisation of chemicals regulation, which has long been identified as one of the most burdensome of all EU regulations, will be of enormous benefit to small and medium-sized businesses in the chemical industry, particularly those that only operate within the UK?

My hon. Friend makes a fair point. A discussion about the REACH regulation was on the agenda when the Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union met the chemical industry and, of course, it will continue to form part of our discussions.