[1st Allocated Day]
Considered in Committee
[Mrs Eleanor Laing in the Chair]
New Clause 3
Parliamentary oversight of negotiations
“Before issuing any notification under Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union the Prime Minister shall give an undertaking to—
(a) lay before each House of Parliament periodic reports, at intervals of no more than two months on the progress of the negotiations under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union;
(b) lay before each House of Parliament as soon as reasonably practicable a copy in English of any document which the European Council or the European Commission has provided to the European Parliament or any committee of the European Parliament relating to the negotiations;
(c) make arrangements for Parliamentary scrutiny of confidential documents.”—(Matthew Pennycook.)
This new clause establishes powers through which the UK Parliament can scrutinise the UK Government throughout the negotiations.
Brought up, and read the First time.
With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:
New clause 20—Financial services—reports—
“As from the day on which this Act comes into force the Secretary of State shall, at least once in every six months, lay before Parliament a report stating what, if any, steps are being taken by Her Majesty’s Government to defend and promote the access to European markets for the UK financial services sector as a consequence of the exercise of the power in section 1.”
This new clause would seek regular reports from Ministers about the impact of withdrawing from the European Union on the UK financial services sector.
New clause 22—Competition Policy—
“Following the exercise of the power in section 1, Her Majesty’s Government shall make an annual report to Parliament on its policy regarding state aid, government intervention in industry and fair competition arising from the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from European Union competition regulations.”
This new clause seeks the publication of an annual report from Her Majesty’s Government in respect of the competition policy consequences of withdrawal from the European Union.
New clause 29—Reporting to Parliament—
“Before exercising the power under section 1, the Prime Minister must undertake to report to Parliament each quarter on her progress in negotiations on Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union and Article 218(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.”
This new clause puts a requirement on the Prime Minister for quarterly reporting during the negotiating process.
New clause 51—Approval of White Paper on withdrawal from EU—
“(1) This Act comes into effect after each House of Parliament has approved by resolution the White Paper on withdrawal from the EU.
(2) The White Paper must, in particular, provide information on—
(a) the nature and extent of any tariffs that will or may be imposed on goods and services from the UK entering the EU and goods and services from the EU entering the UK;
(b) the terms of proposed trade agreements with the EU or EU Member States, and the expected timeframe for the negotiation and ratification of said trade agreements;
(c) the proposed status of rights guaranteed by the law of the European Union, including—
(i) labour rights,
(ii) health and safety at work,
(iii) the Working Time Directive,
(iv) consumer rights, and
(v) environmental standards;
(d) the proposed status of—
(i) EU citizens living in the UK and,
(ii) UK citizens living in the EU,
after the UK has exited the EU;
(e) estimates as to the impact of the UK leaving the EU on—
(i) the balance of trade,
(ii) GDP, and
New clause 56—Notification of withdrawal from the EEA—
“The Prime Minister may not give the notification under section 1 until such time as Parliament has determined whether the UK should also seek to withdraw from the European Economic Area in accordance with Article 127 of the EEA Agreement.”
This new clause would allow for proper parliamentary debate and scrutiny of the United Kingdom’s membership of the Single Market and whether the UK should remain as a member of the European Economic Area prior to the Prime Minister triggering Article 50.
New clause 111—European Police Office (Europol)—report—
“Within 30 days of the coming into force of this Act the Secretary of State shall publish a report to both Houses of Parliament setting out the approach to be taken by Her Majesty’s Government in respect of the United Kingdom’s participation in and engagement with the European Police Office (Europol).”
This new clause would seek a report from Her Majesty’s Government on the UK’s participation in and engagement with the European Police Office (Europol) following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.
New clause 112—European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) —report—
“Within 30 days of the coming into force of this Act the Secretary of State shall publish a report to both Houses of Parliament setting out the approach to be taken by Her Majesty’s Government in respect of the United Kingdom’s participation in and engagement with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).”
This new clause would seek a report from Her Majesty’s Government on the UK’s participation in and engagement with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) following the UK‘s withdrawal from the European Union.
New clause 113—European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC)—report—
“Within 30 days of the coming into force of this Act the Secretary of State shall publish a report to both Houses of Parliament setting out the approach to be taken by Her Majesty’s Government in respect of the United Kingdom’s participation in and engagement with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).”
This new clause would seek a report from Her Majesty’s Government on the UK‘s participation in and engagement with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.
New clause 114—Community Plant Variety Office (CPVO) —report—
“Within 30 days of the coming into force of this Act the Secretary of State shall publish a report to both Houses of Parliament setting out the approach to be taken by Her Majesty’s Government in respect of the United Kingdom’s participation in and engagement with the Community Plant Variety Office (CPVO).”
This new clause would seek a report from Her Majesty’s Government on the UK‘s participation in and engagement with the Community Plant Variety Office (CPVO) following the UK‘s withdrawal from the European Union.
New clause 115—European Medicines Agency (EMEA) —report—
“Within 30 days of the coming into force of this Act the Secretary of State shall publish a report to both Houses of Parliament setting out the approach to be taken by Her Majesty’s Government in respect of the United Kingdom’s participation in and engagement with the European Medicines Agency (EMEA).”
This new clause would seek a report from Her Majesty’s Government on the UK’s participation in and engagement with the European Medicines Agency (EMEA) following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.
New clause 116—European Agency for Health and Safety at Work (EU-OSHA)—report—
“Within 30 days of the coming into force of this Act the Secretary of State shall publish a report to both Houses of Parliament setting out the approach to be taken by Her Majesty’s Government in respect of the United Kingdom’s participation in and engagement with the European Agency for Health and Safety at Work (EU-OSHA).”
This new clause would seek a report from Her Majesty’s Government on the UK’s participation in and engagement with the European Agency for Health and Safety at Work (EU-OSHA) following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.
New clause 117—European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) —report—
“Within 30 days of the coming into force of this Act the Secretary of State shall publish a report to both Houses of Parliament setting out the approach to be taken by Her Majesty’s Government in respect of the United Kingdom’s participation in and engagement with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).”
This new clause would seek a report from Her Majesty’s Government on the UK’s participation in and engagement with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.
New clause 118—European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop)—report—
“Within 30 days of the coming into force of this Act the Secretary of State shall publish a report to both Houses of Parliament setting out the approach to be taken by Her Majesty’s Government in respect of the United Kingdom’s participation in and engagement with the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop).”
This new clause would seek a report from Her Majesty’s Government on the UK’s participation in and engagement with the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop) following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.
New clause 119—European Police College (Cepol)—report—
“Within 30 days of the coming into force of this Act the Secretary of State shall publish a report to both Houses of Parliament setting out the approach to be taken by Her Majesty’s Government in respect of the United Kingdom’s participation in and engagement with the European Police College (Cepol).”
This new clause would seek a report from Her Majesty’s Government on the UK’s participation in and engagement with the European Police College (Cepol) following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.
New clause 120—European Environment Agency (EEA) —report—
“Within 30 days of the coming into force of this Act the Secretary of State shall publish a report to both Houses of Parliament setting out the approach to be taken by Her Majesty’s Government in respect of the United Kingdom’s participation in and engagement with the European Environment Agency (EEA).”
This new clause would seek a report from Her Majesty’s Government on the UK’s participation in and engagement with the European Environment Agency (EEA) following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.
New clause 121—European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) —report—
“Within 30 days of the coming into force of this Act the Secretary of State shall publish a report to both Houses of Parliament setting out the approach to be taken by Her Majesty’s Government in respect of the United Kingdom’s participation in and engagement with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).”
This new clause would seek a report from Her Majesty’s Government on the UK’s participation in and engagement with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.
New clause 122—European Investment Bank (EIB)—report—
“Within 30 days of the coming into force of this Act the Secretary of State shall publish a report to both Houses of Parliament setting out the approach to be taken by Her Majesty’s Government in respect of the United Kingdom’s participation in and engagement with the European Investment Bank (EIB).”
This new clause would seek a report from Her Majesty’s Government on the UK’s participation in and engagement with the European Investment Bank (EIB) following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.
New clause 123—Eurojust—report—
“Within 30 days of the coming into force of this Act the Secretary of State shall publish a report to both Houses of Parliament setting out the approach to be taken by Her Majesty’s Government in respect of the United Kingdom’s participation in and engagement with Eurojust.”
This new clause would seek a report from Her Majesty’s Government on the UK’s participation in and engagement with the Eurojust following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.
New clause 124—European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA)—report—
“Within 30 days of the coming into force of this Act the Secretary of State shall publish a report to both Houses of Parliament setting out the approach to be taken by Her Majesty’s Government in respect of the United Kingdom’s participation in and engagement with the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA).”
This new clause would seek a report from Her Majesty’s Government on the UK’s participation in and engagement with the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.
New clause 125—European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA)—report—
“Within 30 days of the coming into force of this Act the Secretary of State shall publish a report to both Houses of Parliament setting out the approach to be taken by Her Majesty’s Government in respect of the United Kingdom‘s participation in and engagement with the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA).”
This new clause would seek a report from Her Majesty’s Government on the UK’s participation in and engagement with the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.
New clause 126—European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA)—report—
“Within 30 days of the coming into force of this Act the Secretary of State shall publish a report to both Houses of Parliament setting out the approach to be taken by Her Majesty’s Government in respect of the United Kingdom‘s participation in and engagement with the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA).”
This new clause would seek a report from Her Majesty’s Government on the UK’s participation in and engagement with the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.
New clause 127—European Satellite Centre (EUSC)—report—
“Within 30 days of the coming into force of this Act the Secretary of State shall publish a report to both Houses of Parliament setting out the approach to be taken by Her Majesty’s Government in respect of the United Kingdom‘s participation in and engagement with the European Satellite Centre (EUSC).”
This new clause would seek a report from Her Majesty’s Government on the UK’s participation in and engagement with the European Satellite Centre (EUSC) following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.
New clause 128—Protected designation of origin (PDO) scheme—report—
“Within 30 days of the coming into force of this Act the Secretary of State shall publish a report to both Houses of Parliament setting out the approach to be taken by Her Majesty’s Government in respect of the United Kingdom‘s participation in and engagement with the protected designation of origin (PDO) scheme.”
This new clause would seek a report from Her Majesty’s Government on the UK’s participation in and engagement with the protected designation of origin (PDO) scheme following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.
New clause 129—Protected geographical indication (PGI) scheme—report—
“Within 30 days of the coming into force of this Act the Secretary of State shall publish a report to both Houses of Parliament setting out the approach to be taken by Her Majesty’s Government in respect of the United Kingdom‘s participation in and engagement with the protected geographical indication (PGI) scheme.”
This new clause would seek a report from Her Majesty’s Government on the UK’s participation in and engagement with the protected geographical indication (PGI) scheme following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.
New clause 130—Traditional specialities guaranteed (TSG) scheme—report—
“Within 30 days of the coming into force of this Act the Secretary of State shall publish a report to both Houses of Parliament setting out the approach to be taken by Her Majesty’s Government in respect of the United Kingdom’s participation in and engagement with the traditional specialities guaranteed (TSG) scheme.”
This new clause would seek a report from Her Majesty’s Government on the UK’s participation in and engagement with the traditional specialities guaranteed (TSG) scheme following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.
New clause 134—Notification of withdrawal from the EEA—
“The Prime Minister may not give the notification at section (1) until such time as a Parliamentary vote has approved the withdrawal of the UK from the European Economic Area in accordance with Article 127 of the EEA Agreement.”
New clause 136—Approval of report on withdrawal from EU—
“(1) This Act comes into effect after each House of Parliament has approved by resolution the report on withdrawal from the EU.
(2) The report must, in particular, provide information on—
(a) EU citizens living in the UK and,
(b) UK citizens living in the EU, after the UK has exited the EU.”
New clause 151—Renewables—reports—
“As from the day on which this Act comes into force the Secretary of State shall, at least once in every six months, lay before Parliament a report stating what, if any, steps are being taken by Her Majesty’s Government to defend and promote the access to European markets for the UK renewables sector as a consequence of the exercise of the power in section 1.”
This new clause would seek regular reports from Ministers about the impact of withdrawing from the European Union on the UK renewables sector.
New clause 169—European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)—report—
“Within 30 days of the coming into force of this Act the Secretary of State shall publish a report to both Houses of Parliament setting out the approach to be taken by Her Majesty‘s Government in respect of the United Kingdom‘s participation in and engagement with the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) scheme.”
This new clause would seek a report from Her Majesty’s Government on the UK’s participation in and engagement with the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) scheme following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.
New clause 171—Erasmus+ Programme—report—
“Within 30 days of the coming into force of this Act the Secretary of State shall publish a report to both Houses of Parliament setting out the approach to be taken by Her Majesty‘s Government in respect of the United Kingdom‘s participation in and engagement with the Erasmus+ Programme.”
This new clause would seek a report from Her Majesty’s Government on the UK’s participation in and engagement with the Erasmus+ Programme following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.
New clause 173—European Research Area (ERA)—report—
“Within 30 days of the coming into force of this Act the Secretary of State shall publish a report to both Houses of Parliament setting out the approach to be taken by Her Majesty‘s Government in respect of the United Kingdom‘s participation in and engagement with the European Research Area (ERA).”
This new clause would seek a report from Her Majesty’s Government on the UK’s participation in and engagement with the European Research Area (ERA) following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.
New clause 176—Requirement to have regard to Motions passed by Parliament—
“In negotiating and concluding an agreement in accordance with Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, Ministers of the Crown must have regard to any motions passed by Parliament on the outcome of the negotiations associated with the notification of the UK’s intention to leave the European Union authorised by this Act”.
This new clause would require Her Majesty’s Government to have regard to any motions passed by Parliament on the outcome of the negotiations associated with the notification of the UK’s intention to leave the European Union authorised by this Act.
New clause 177—European Arrest Warrant—report—
“Within 30 days of the coming into force of this Act the Secretary of State shall publish a report to both Houses of Parliament setting out the approach to be taken by Her Majesty‘s Government in respect of the United Kingdom‘s participation in and engagement with the European Arrest Warrant.”
This new clause would seek a report from Her Majesty’s Government on the UK’s participation in and engagement with the European Arrest Warrant following the UK‘s withdrawal from the European Union.
New clause 8—EU and United Kingdom nationals—
“In negotiating and concluding an agreement in accordance with Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, Ministers of the Crown must resolve to guarantee the rights of residence of anyone who is lawfully resident in the United Kingdom on the day on which section 1 comes into force in accordance with or as consequence of any provision of a Treaty to which section 1 relates, and United Kingdom nationals living in the parts of the European Union that are not the United Kingdom before the European Council finalises their initial negotiating guidelines and directives.”
Amendment 83, in clause 1, page 1, line 2, leave out “the Prime Minister” and insert “Parliament”.
Amendment 45, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
“(1A) The Prime Minister may not notify under subsection (1) until she has confirmed that EU nationals living and working in the United Kingdom on the date that the UK withdraws from the United Kingdom will be subject to the same citizenship rights that applied prior to the United Kingdom’s withdrawal.”
Amendment 78, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
“(1A) The Prime Minister may not notify under subsection (1) until the Foreign Secretary has published a revised programme of work for the UK Permanent Representative to the European Union for the duration of the negotiating period, and laid a copy of the report before Parliament.”
Amendment 84, page 1, line 3, at end insert—
“(1A) The persons authorised to give notification under subsection (1) on behalf of Parliament are—
(a) The Speaker of the House of Commons, on behalf of the House of Commons, and
(b) the Lord Speaker, on behalf of the House of Lords.
(1B) Parliament may only give notification under subsection (1) if—
(a) both Houses of Parliament have passed resolutions approving notification; and
(b) votes in favour of notification have been passed by—
(i) the Scottish Parliament,
(ii) the National Assembly for Wales, and
(iii) the Northern Ireland Assembly.
(1C) A notification under subsection (1) must be given as soon as is practicable after the two Houses of Parliament have passed resolutions approving notification.”
Amendment 12, page 1, line 5, at end insert—
“(3) Before exercising the power under section 1, the Prime Minister must lay before both Houses of Parliament a White Paper on the UK Exiting the EU.”
Amendment 17, page 1, line 5, at end insert —
“(3) Before exercising power under subsection (1), the Prime Minister must give undertakings that all EU citizens exercising their Treaty rights in the UK who—
(a) were resident in the UK on 23 June 2016, and
(b) had been resident since at least 23 December 2015
be granted permanent residence in the UK.”
Amendment 36, page 1, line 5, at end insert—
“(3) Before the Prime Minister issues a notification under this section, Her Majesty’s Government has a duty to lay before both Houses of Parliament a White Paper setting out its approach to any transitional arrangements with the European Union following the expiry of the two-year period specified in Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union.”
This amendment would require the Government to set out, prior to triggering Article 50, a detailed plan for a transitional arrangement with the EU covering the period between the end of the two-year Article 50 negotiation period and the coming into force of a final Treaty on the UK’s new relationship with the EU.
Amendment 44, page 1, line 5, at end insert—
“(3) Before exercising the power under subsection (1), the Prime Minister must lay a report before Parliament on the Government’s proposed negotiation package, including detailed and specific information on—
(a) the proposed terms of the UK’s access to the Single Market (if any) or the negotiating mandate thereof;
(b) the nature and extent of any tariffs that will or may be imposed on goods and services from the UK entering the EU and goods and services from the EU entering the UK or the negotiating mandate thereof;
(c) the terms of proposed trade agreements with the EU or EU Member States, and the expected timeframe for the negotiation and ratification of said trade agreements or the negotiating mandate thereof;
(d) the proposed status of rights guaranteed by the law of the European Union, including—
(i) labour rights,
(ii) health and safety at work,
(iii) the Working Time Directive,
(iv) consumer rights, and
(v) environmental standards;
(e) the proposed status of—
(i) EU citizens living in the UK, and
(ii) UK citizens living in the EU,
after the UK has exited the EU or the negotiating mandate thereof;
(f) details of the Government’s internal estimates as to the impact of the above measures on—
(i) the balance of trade,
(ii) GDP, and
in the UK after the UK leaves the EU.
(4) The report in subsection (3) must set out the costs and benefits of holding a referendum which asks the public to decide between the proposed negotiation package or remaining a member of the European Union.
(5) The report in subsection (3) must not be laid before the House before 1 December 2017.”
New clause 6—EU citizens resident in the United Kingdom—
“(1) Anyone who is lawfully resident in the United Kingdom—
(a) on the day on which section 1 comes into force, and
(b) in accordance with or as consequence of any provision of a Treaty to which section 1 relates,
shall have no less favourable rights of residence or opportunities to obtain rights of residence than they currently enjoy.”
This new clause guarantees the rights of EU nationals living in the UK at the date when article 50 is triggered.
New clause 14—Rights for EU nationals—
“Her Majesty’s Government shall ensure that those persons who have a right to indefinite leave to remain in the United Kingdom by virtue of their EU citizenship on the day on which this Act is passed shall continue to have an indefinite leave to remain in the United Kingdom.”
This new Clause would ensure that those persons who have a right to indefinite leave to remain in the United Kingdom by virtue of their EU citizenship on the day on which this Act is passed shall continue to have an indefinite leave to remain in the United Kingdom.
New clause 27—EU nationals in the United Kingdom—
“(1) The Prime Minister may not exercise the power under subsection 1(1) unless the Prime Minister is satisfied that arrangements are in place to secure that every individual who is—
(a) not a citizen of the United Kingdom, and
(b) on the date on which this Act comes into force (“the Commencement Date”), is resident in the United Kingdom pursuant to any right derived from the treaties,
shall, when the treaties cease to apply to the United Kingdom, continue to be entitled to reside in the United Kingdom on terms no less favourable than those applicable to that individual on the Commencement Date.”
New clause 33—Immigration—draft framework—
“Before exercising the power under section 1, the Prime Minister must set out a draft framework for the future relationship with the European Union which includes reference to how this will give the UK control over its immigration system.”
New clause 57—Effect of notification of withdrawal—
“Nothing in this Act shall affect the continuation of those residence rights enjoyed by EU citizens lawfully resident in the United Kingdom on 23 June 2016, under or by virtue of Directive 2004/38/EC, after the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union.”
This savings new clause is designed to protect the residence rights of those EU citizens who were lawfully resident in the United Kingdom on the date of the EU referendum. It would ensure that those rights do not fall away automatically two years after notice of withdrawal has been given, if no agreement is reached with the EU. This new clause would implement a recommendation made in paragraph 53 by the Joint Committee on Human Rights in its report ‘The human rights implications of Brexit’.
New clause 67—Indefinite leave to remain for EU citizens in Wales—
“Before the Prime Minister can exercise the power in section 1, the Prime Minister must commit to automatically granting indefinite leave to remain in the UK for EU citizens already lawfully resident in Wales.”
This new clause requires the Prime Minister to commit to implementing the Leave Campaign’s pledge to automatically grant indefinite leave to remain in the UK for EU citizens already lawfully resident in Wales before exercising the powers outlined in section 1.
New clause 108—Status of Irish citizens in the United Kingdom—
“Before exercising the power under section 1, the Prime Minister shall commit to maintaining the current status, rights and entitlements of Irish citizens in the United Kingdom, inclusive of and in addition to their status, rights and entitlements as EU citizens.”
New clause 135—Effect of notification of withdrawal (No. 2)—
“Nothing in this Act shall affect the continuation of those rights of residence enjoyed by EU citizens lawfully resident in the United Kingdom and UK citizens lawfully resident in the EU on 23 June 2016 after the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union.”
New clause 142—EU Students in the UK—
“The Prime Minister may not exercise the power under section 1 until a Minister of the Crown has confirmed that EU students present in the UK on the date the United Kingdom withdraws from the EU will be granted visas to allow them residency rights for the full duration of their academic courses.”
New clause 146—Rights of EU citizens in the UK—
“Any citizen of an EU Member State lawfully resident in the United Kingdom on the day on which this Act comes into force shall have no less favourable rights of residence than they currently enjoy.”
New clause 3 concerns the parliamentary oversight of the negotiations that will follow the triggering of article 50. It would require the Government to report back to Parliament at least every two months on the progress of negotiations and to lay reports before both Houses of Parliament on each occasion. Let me be clear that the purpose is to improve the Bill by providing Parliament with the means not only to effectively monitor the Government’s progress throughout the negotiations, but to actively contribute to their success by facilitating substantive scrutiny that can positively influence the outcome.
We are here today debating this new clause and other new clauses and amendments to the Bill only because the Supreme Court upheld the High Court’s November ruling on the triggering of article 50, confirming that only Parliament, not Ministers using the royal prerogative, can initiate the start of the UK’s exit from the EU.
I will not give way and will make a little progress, if that is okay.
The Supreme Court was right to make it clear that Parliament should exert democratic influence over Brexit. That influence should be felt at the start, throughout and, most importantly, at the end of the formal process of leaving the EU. In practice, the Opposition believe that there must be three distinct pillars of parliamentary scrutiny and accountability: first, the provision of a detailed plan published prior to the start of negotiations that can inform future debates and votes, and that can be used throughout as a point of reference; secondly, a means of ensuring robust parliamentary oversight throughout the formal negotiation period; and thirdly, a meaningful debate and vote in Parliament on the proposed deal before it is signed off with the European Council and Parliament.
I want to make it clear that we are not asking the Government to reveal the minutiae of the negotiations or to micromanage the process, and I will say more about that further on in my remarks.
Under pressure, the Government conceded the first of those requests in the form of the White Paper published on Thursday, and my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Keir Starmer) will seek to win agreement to the third tomorrow, when he moves new clause 1. The purpose of new clause 3 is to secure the second of those pillars and, in so doing, ensure an enhanced role for hon. Members throughout the process. The Government should welcome an enhanced role for Parliament throughout the negotiations for two reasons.
I will make some progress, if I may.
First, although Ministers obviously need sufficient room for manoeuvre, and understandably cannot therefore consent to the micromanagement of the process by parliamentarians, active and robust parliamentary scrutiny will aid the negotiations by testing and strengthening the Government’s evolving negotiating position and their hand with the EU. Secondly, facilitating substantive parliamentary scrutiny and accountability would help to bind the wounds of the referendum and forge a genuine consensus in the months and years ahead, by reassuring the public, particularly the 16.1 million people who voted remain, that they will not be marginalised or ignored but that their views will be taken into account and their interests championed by their representatives in Parliament.
If the House is to pore over the details of the Government’s negotiating position and express its view on them at regular intervals, that will be known to those with whom we are negotiating. How will that not undermine the Government’s position?
If the hon. Gentleman will allow me to make some progress, he will see that that is not what we are asking for. When it comes to sensitive or confidential matters, we hope that there are mechanisms to allow the House to view and respond to those.
In leaving the EU, we need a deal and a process that work not just for the 52% who voted leave or the 48% who voted remain but for each and every person with a stake in our country’s future. No one can reasonably accuse the Secretary of State of being unwilling to appear before the House—he has responded to every question put to him on this subject, even if, to ape the language of the White Paper, it has not always felt as if we have got an answer—but we require something more throughout the formal negotiations: an opportunity for hon. Members to play an active role in scrutinising and influencing the process, rather than merely to observe and comment on it retrospectively. As my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton North East (Emma Reynolds) rightly argued on Second Reading, hon. Members are not passive bystanders, but should be active participants in the process.
My hon. Friend makes a very good point. As she will see, we are asking for no more and no less than the European Parliament will get.
Substantive parliamentary scrutiny and accountability are not the same as accountability after the event, and new clause 3 is focused on securing what is needed for the former. The Secretary of State has made it clear on numerous occasions that when it comes to the provision of information during the negotiations it is his intention that hon. Members will enjoy not just the same access to information as their counterparts in the European Parliament, but that the situation here will be an improvement on what the European Parliament sees.
We do not know precisely what the Members of European Parliament will see throughout the negotiations, but it is reasonable to assume that their involvement is likely to be conducted in accordance with the provisions of article 218 of the treaty on the functioning of the European Union and that the detailed arrangements are likely to be similar to those set out in the 2010 framework agreement on relations between the European Parliament and the Commission. It is worth stating for the record, therefore, what that involves. Paragraph 23 of the framework agreement makes it clear that the European Parliament shall be
“immediately and fully informed at all stages of the negotiation and conclusion of international agreements”.
In addition, paragraph 24 requires that information shall be provided to the European Parliament
“in sufficient time for it to be able to express its point of view if appropriate, and for the Commission to be able to take Parliament’s views as far as possible into account”.
Lastly, in order to facilitate oversight of any sensitive material, article 24 of the framework agreement states:
“Parliament and the Commission undertake to establish appropriate procedures and safeguards for the forwarding of confidential information from the Commission to Parliament”.
In short, the Commission needs to let the European Parliament know in good time what it is proposing, with provisions made for sensitive or confidential material, and to give sufficient time for the Parliament to provide feedback, and then act upon it if appropriate. That is now the baseline of European parliamentary scrutiny—the baseline that the Secretary of State has assured us this House can expect not only to match, but to surpass.
I think the hon. Gentleman will find that most European papers are published in English by the House of Commons Library. He has not yet answered the question about where he would draw his line in the sand in respect of what he refers to as micromanagement and material that should be discussed every two months.
Let me make a little more progress, if I may.
In acknowledging the delicate balance between the need for robust parliamentary oversight and the needs of the Executive, it is that baseline of oversight that new clause 3 seeks to secure for this place. As the right hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield (Mr Grieve) argued on Second Reading, process matters.
I respect the democratic result of the referendum, but we all owe it to our constituents to get the best deal for them. The east midlands exports 50% of its goods to the European Union, and I would be failing in my duty as an east midlands MP if I did not have a chance to ensure that those jobs are not jeopardised by the Government deal. Is that not why scrutiny is important?
That is precisely why scrutiny is important, and if the Government were approaching this in a reasonable and sensible manner, they would actively welcome my hon. Friend’s input into the process.
The Government should embrace rather than resist agreeing to a proper process for actively engaging the House in the considerable challenge it now faces. The undertakings sought in new clause 3 would ensure the active and constructive involvement of Parliament in that process and increase the chances of securing the best possible deal for the British people. I hope the Government will consider new clause 3 in the spirit in which it has been moved, and I look forward to hearing the Minister’s thoughts on the matter.
In turning to the important matter of the rights of European Union nationals living in the UK, I shall speak to new clause 8, but principally to new clause 6, which stands in my name and that of my hon. Friends. As my hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead and Kilburn (Tulip Siddiq) argued so passionately during last week’s Second Reading debate, EU nationals who have put down roots in the UK are part of the fabric of our nations and our communities. They are our neighbours. Many of them sustain the public services we rely on and they deserve to be treated with respect. They should not be used as bargaining chips in the negotiations.
I have no doubt that many hon. Members on both sides of the House have had, as I have, EU nationals attending their constituency advice surgeries to express the sense of trauma and anxiety that they have felt every single day since 23 June last year, and to seek reassurance. While individual hon. Members can and, I am sure, have sought to reassure, we can provide EU nationals living in our constituencies with no guarantees. Only the Government have it within their gift to do so. The purpose of new clause 6 is therefore a simple one. It will ensure that on the day section 1 of the Act comes into force, the rights of residence of EU nationals living in the UK or the opportunities for those nationals to obtain such rights of residence will be guaranteed on the date on which article 50 notice is formally served.
Even the Prime Minister’s statement today did not provide certainty. What constituents who have lived here for a number of years say to us is that they need certainty, so that they can know how to plan their lives. Does my hon. Friend agree with me that, in any event, someone who has lived here for five years should be able to get permanent settlement and that someone who has lawfully lived here six years should also be eligible for British citizenship? It is vital that the Government state this very clearly.
May I urge my hon. Friend to look at the report of a commission organised by British Future, which I chaired? The report, which received cross-party support, said that the triggering of article 50 was the point at which rights would come in, but that there should be a transition period of about five years allowing people to normalise their status, and that there should be a special status to allow for our relationship with Ireland. We believed that that would be a way of giving certainty to EU citizens, and would also be perceived as fair throughout the EU.
I shall make a little progress, if I may.
Hon. Members will know that permanent residence is an EU law concept similar to, but not exactly the same as, indefinite leave to remain in the UK for non-EU citizens. It is not guaranteed that the concept itself will continue to exist after we leave the EU. However, we are not debating today the complex legal issues that arise in this area; instead, we are debating a principle. We are debating how the rights associated with permanent residence are to be guaranteed.
The hon. Gentleman says that we are not debating the detail, but I am afraid that that is what he is proposing. He is proposing a rather wide blanket measure which would give many people an unconditional right to stay in the country. What provision does his new clause make—I cannot see any—for the more than 4,000 EU nationals who are in United Kingdom prisons? What arrangements will there be when we leave the European Union to ensure that we can remove them from the United Kingdom, which we can currently do under the EU prisoner transfer agreement?
As the right hon. Gentleman will know, it depends on the terms of the sentence. New clause 6 seeks an in-principle guarantee from the Government that they will secure the rights of EU nationals.
Few would question the fact that Brexit has divided the country, but on this issue there is a clear consensus that the Government should act decisively to give certainty to EU nationals. A motion tabled by my right hon. Friend the Member for Leigh (Andy Burnham) in July last year, which called on the Government to commit themselves with urgency to giving EU nationals currently living in the UK the right to remain, was passed overwhelmingly in the House, and that parliamentary support is mirrored among the public. Polling by British Future shows that 84% of people, including 77% of leave voters, support the ability of existing EU nationals to stay in the UK. The Labour party has called repeatedly for the Government to act to end the uncertainty that those people face. Indeed, such is the level of consensus that even Migration Watch and the UK Independence party have joined those calls.
The only question that remains is whether the rights that flow from permanent residency, and the opportunity for those who are eligible to obtain those rights in the future, will be secured by means of a reciprocal agreement or unilaterally guaranteed by the Government.
I will not give way, if that is okay, because I know that many other Members wish to speak, and I do not think the Front Bench should take the majority of the time.
We recognise the efforts of the Prime Minister and her Ministers to achieve a reciprocal agreement with our EU partners that would also guarantee the rights of UK nationals in other EU countries. We owe a duty to our nationals in those EU countries, and securing their rights must remain a priority. However, with no reciprocal agreement reached and with just weeks to go until the triggering of article 50, we believe that the uncertainty must be brought to an end by unilateral action on the part of the Government.
I am not going to give way any further.
There are hard-headed as well as moral reasons for doing this. Guaranteeing the rights of residence of EU nationals unilaterally on the date on which the article 50 notice is given would not only end the uncertainty that millions now face. It would also ensure the best possible start to the negotiations that lie ahead, and would send a clear signal to the small minority who have treated the referendum result as a licence to victimise others that our fellow Europeans are welcome and will remain so.
A number of other new clauses and amendments share the purpose of new clause 6 in seeking to protect the rights of EU nationals living in the UK. Indeed, some add additional safeguards to the basic guarantee that we seek. In particular, new clause 57, tabled by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Camberwell and Peckham (Ms Harman), would ensure not only that the residence rights of EU citizens were protected, but that those rights did not automatically fall away at the end of the article 50 negotiating period if no agreement had been reached. If my right hon. and learned Friend were minded to push the new clause to a vote, she would have our support.
What matters in the end is that this issue is resolved as a matter of urgency in order to end the anxiety that people are currently feeling, and the distress that will be caused by a prolonged period of uncertainty during the negotiations. I hope that Ministers will be able to give us, and the thousands of EU nationals and their families out there, the reassurances that we seek.
I note that this group is a fairly hefty one with a large number of amendments, but I wish to make only five points, so I will attempt not to take up too much of the House’s time.
The first point that I wish to address is that of parliamentary scrutiny, which was mentioned by the hon. Member for Greenwich and Woolwich (Matthew Pennycook) at the beginning of his remarks. A number of new clauses and amendments talk about producing a raft of reports, including the rather large number of new clauses from the hon. Member for Nottingham East (Chris Leslie). What I want to throw out there is the question of what that really adds to the process. It seems to me—I have also spoken to a number of my constituents about this—that this House has spent a lot of time, as is appropriate, debating Brexit and all the issues that flow from it. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has been here on a number of occasions, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union has made a number of statements, and it seems to me that Ministers have furnished the House with a significant amount of information. Moreover, in the White Paper published last week, which I read very carefully, there was a reiteration of the commitment to bring forward the great repeal Bill, which will be very wide in scope and will enable Parliament to debate these matters, and there was also the suggestion that it is very likely that there will be primary legislation on immigration and customs matters, which will, of course, be debated by the House.
I agree with my right hon. Friend that there is a vast amount of information already coming out. Does he agree that even if that co-operative attitude were to change, there are plenty of mechanisms—urgent questions and the like—available to both Government and Opposition Members to bring Ministers to the Dispatch Box to provide the kind of explanation that everybody here is expecting? Does he therefore agree that it is very hard to see how the Opposition’s proposals build on or add to those mechanisms which are already available to all of us?
I completely agree with my hon. Friend and it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that, certainly the Opposition Front Bench was desperately looking around for amendments that would not stop the Bill in its tracks, and this was about the best they could come up with. But it does not really add very much and is rather unnecessary, and, as I have said, many of the new clauses are rather repetitive, talking about reports and information about a whole raft of EU institutions, which will, of course, be covered in any event.
Does my right hon. Friend agree that the effect, if not the intent, of the Opposition new clause would be to make all these matters justiciable and therefore bring the courts into the question of whether the Government’s reports were sufficient and, indeed, appropriate?
My right hon. Friend makes a very good point. Once we put things into primary legislation and set out the nature and terms of the report, it will, as we have seen, be justiciable, and it will allow people to go to court and argue—they might be successful, they might not—that what the Government have brought forward is not adequate, and we will then have a continuation of the legal arguments that we have seen.
Should not any Member of this House want as a minimum requirement access to information and opportunities at least equal to those of any Member of the European Parliament—surely no Member of this House can justify arguing for anything less?
The point I was making—and I think my hon. Friend the Member for Weston-super-Mare (John Penrose) was agreeing—is that there are already well-established mechanisms in this House for ensuring that information is brought before Members. Indeed, if I simply judge my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union by what they have done so far, it seems to me that they have been in this House frequently talking about Brexit. I fear that, by the end of this process, certainly the general public will be willing it to end as might hon. Members.
Is not one of the problems that, in recent years, motions have regularly been carried by the House and then been completely and utterly ignored by the Government? We need more than just a simple yes or no vote at the end of this process. We need to be able to scrutinise whatever deal emerges line by line. That is exactly what the European Parliament will be able to do, so why on earth should not we be able to do it too?
I am pleased that the hon. Gentleman rose to his feet, because I am about to turn away from my first point about the new clauses tabled by Opposition Front-Bench Members and to talk about the ones that I think could be much more damaging. Those include new clause 51, to which the hon. Gentleman has appended his name, and amendment 44.
In the Government’s amendment to the Opposition motion that was passed by the House on 7 December last year, the House agreed by 448 votes to 75 that the Government should indeed ensure that Parliament had the necessary information to scrutinise these matters properly. The instruction from the House also stated, however,
“that there should be no disclosure of material that could be reasonably judged to damage the UK”.—[Official Report, 7 December 2016; Vol. 618, c. 220.]
This is an arguable matter, but my contention is that the detail called for in new clause 51 on, among other things, the terms of proposed trade agreements and the proposed status of citizens are details that we would not want to disclose during our negotiations. For example, we would not wish to disclose whether tariffs were to be introduced or at what level. To do so would be to reveal our negotiating hand, which would be counter to the strongly expressed view of the House. If new clause 51 or amendment 44 are put to a vote, I strongly urge the House to vote against them.
The right hon. Gentleman has mentioned new clause 51, which has been tabled in my name and those of other Opposition Members. Given that, before the referendum, the Government of which he was a part estimated the damage to the UK’s GDP of our leaving the EU on World Trade Organisation terms at around 7.7% of GDP or perhaps as much as £66 billion, would he not think it sensible for the Government to allay the country’s concerns if they now believe that the effects will be far less serious?
The hon. Gentleman is picking out one aspect of his new clause. I was drawing out an aspect, to which I object, dealing with the effective disclosure of our hand in the discussion on future trading arrangements. That would not be very sensible while we are carrying out negotiations with our trading partners.
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for being tempted. Another big area in which the Government were very clear, prior to the referendum, was the impact on trade of our leaving the EU, yet now we have no information on whether there will be more or less trade with the EU or with its constituent countries. Does it not seem sensible to tell the country whether we will have more trade with the EU or less?
One of the flaws in the hon. Gentleman’s suggestion is that all the matters to which he refers are forecasts, estimates or guesses. A number of estimates and forecasts were made by both sides of the argument—leave and remain—before the referendum. I am not an expert on these matters, but it seems that not all of those forecasts and assessments have panned out exactly as people thought they would, so I really do not know why producing large documents full of equally erroneous forecasts would be helpful.
Has not this exchange demonstrated the foolhardiness of revealing our hand at this stage, given the fact that we cannot officially strike any kind of bilateral trade deal until we leave the EU? We must avoid talking our country down when every trade deal and every relationship we have—yes, even with the United States—will be of paramount importance. We should also do everything to resist the temptation to insult anyone from those countries who might be coming here.
I could not agree more with my right hon. Friend. That demonstrates the expertise that he acquired when he was a Foreign Office Minister.
Moving on to number three of my five points, new clause 56 refers to our withdrawal from the EEA and tries to make that into a separate argument. We are a member of the EEA as a result of being a member of the EU. Given that the EEA agreement talks about the free movement of goods and persons and means that we are susceptible to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, if we were to remain within the EEA, we would in the view of most members of the public effectively not have left the EU at all—the things that they were concerned about would still be in force. Indeed, things would have got worse because we would have no ability to influence—[Interruption.]
Let me just finish my point. We would have no ability to influence the rules that we would have to accept. Members who are talking about the EEA are simply trying to avoid the fact that we are going to be leaving the European Union; they are trying to remain in it by the back door.
I can confirm to the House that Norway is not a member of the European Union. That is indeed true. Part of the reason why I was on the remain side of the argument was that the Norway deal is not very good at all and not a model to be followed. My view was that—[Interruption.]
Let me finish answering the point of the hon. Member for Ilford South and then I will of course take an intervention. I did promise to give way to my hon. Friend the Member for Solihull (Julian Knight) first, but I will then give way to the hon. Lady.
The two best options are either to be in the EU and accept everything that comes with that, but with the ability to shape the rules, or to leave and not be in the single market, not have free movement of people and not be subject to the European Court of Justice. Norway’s EEA model is poor, because it is subject to the free movement of people, it has to accept the jurisdiction of the Court and it has no right at all to influence any of the rules. It is up to the Norwegians what model they want to adopt, but it is not one that would work for us or that I would recommend to the House.
I completely agree with my right hon. Friend. Constructs such as the EEA are effectively antechambers. They are entry points into the EU. It would be inappropriate, given our size and our economy, for a country such as ours that is exiting the EU to rest in something that is unsuitable.
I do not. I will put my cards on the table: I was on the remain side, but I am a democrat, so I accept the result. As a participant, I listened closely to the arguments in the referendum campaign and when David Cameron, then Prime Minister, and my right hon. Friend the Member for Tatton (Mr Osborne), then Chancellor, were leading the remain campaign, they were clear that if the country voted to leave the European Union, we would leave the single market. Both David Cameron and my right hon. Friend the Member for Tatton thought, erroneously as it turned out, that that argument would be the slam dunk. They thought that the British people would see that being in the single market was absolutely critical and therefore would vote to remain in the European Union.
If I can finish my answer, I will of course take an intervention.
However, the British public did not agree with David Cameron and my right hon. Friend the Member for Tatton. Therefore, it seems clear that the public accepted that we would be leaving the single market. Leading campaigners on the leave side made exactly the same point. I will now give way to my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rushcliffe (Mr Clarke).
It is quite right that the then Prime Minister and Chancellor warned that leaving the EU would mean leaving the single market, but my recollection is that some leave campaigners just dismissed that as “Project Fear”. I particularly recollect that the current Foreign Secretary was totally dismissive of that argument and said that we would retain full membership of and full access to the market because Europe needed to sell us its Mercedes and prosecco wine. It is not true that everybody on the leave side acknowledged that we would put ourselves outside tariff and regulatory barriers.
My right hon. and learned Friend is right that not everybody on the leave side made that argument. The good news for me is that I was not on the leave side of the argument—neither was he—so I feel no obligation to defend any of the arguments made by anybody on that side of the campaign.
I specifically chose the former Prime Minister and the former Chancellor, my right hon. Friend the Member for Tatton, because they were on my side of the argument, but I think I am right in saying that my right hon. Friend the Member for Surrey Heath (Michael Gove), who led the official leave campaign, made exactly that argument, which is why I referred to it.
I thank the right hon. Gentleman for giving way to the chair of the official leave campaign. Although many voices argued for leave, the official leave campaign, its chair and the co-chairs of its campaign committee made it very clear in public that voting to leave would mean leaving the single market.
I am grateful to the right hon. Lady for that helpful intervention, which rather proves my point. The British people’s decision in the referendum means leaving the EU, which means leaving the single market. That is the conclusion that the Prime Minister has drawn, and it is one that I support.
Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?
If the hon. Gentleman will forgive me, I want to move on to my fourth point, on the important issue of EU nationals. Given my experience as a former Immigration Minister, I have some questions, and I hope the Minister will be able to address them to my satisfaction and to the satisfaction of the House.
First, I completely agree that it would be desirable to be able to put at rest the minds and concerns of EU nationals in the United Kingdom who are here lawfully and who contribute to our country, but it is also important to be able to put at rest the concerns and worries of British citizens living elsewhere in the European Union. After all, the primary duty of the British Government is to look out for British citizens. That comes first, ahead of all else, and I fear that what the hon. Member for Greenwich and Woolwich suggested—when he said that, if we cannot reach an early agreement, we should proceed anyway—might well put to rest the concerns of EU nationals in Britain, but would simply throw overboard the interests and concerns of UK citizens living elsewhere in the European Union. Doing that would not secure their interests, and it would throw away our ability to do so.
Some 15% of the academic staff, 5% of students and 10% of research students at Cardiff University in my constituency are from the EU. Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that there is a significant risk that those EU staff and their spouses will seek employment elsewhere, outside the UK, if they do not have certainty now from the Government? We would then lose all that intellectual capital.
I completely agree with the hon. Lady, which is why I am pleased that the Prime Minister, in her statement today and on a number of other occasions, has made it clear that she wants to reach an early agreement, and has been seeking to do so, with our European partners. But, in leading our country, the Prime Minister has to look to the interests of British citizens, as well as to the interests of citizens from other EU countries who are here. She does not serve the interests of British citizens by putting the interests of EU nationals ahead of them.
The right hon. Gentleman is courteous in giving way. I am a member of the Exiting the European Union Committee, and a few weeks ago we heard evidence from several British nationals living in Spain, Germany, Italy and France. They were members of representative organisations for British nationals, and every single one of them said that they felt that the other member states would reciprocate if the UK Government made a unilateral guarantee of the rights of EU nationals living here. Has he taken that evidence into account?
I have, and the hon. and learned Lady has now put it before the House, but the problem is that I have not seen any evidence to support that view. If I listened correctly to what the Prime Minister was saying, it sounds as though a number of European member state Governments are indeed of that view, but clearly more than one are not—or at least they are not now. Therefore, it is sensible to get this right.
There is another thing that Members of this House ought to be doing, and this picks up on the point made by the right hon. Member for Leicester East (Keith Vaz). There are already several mechanisms through which EU nationals who have lived in the UK for some time can sort out their residency status on a permanent basis. Rather than scaremongering and whipping up concern, hon. Members would do well to put that information in front of their constituents in order to reassure them.
The point that these British nationals living abroad made was that the British Government put this matter on the table—they put the rights of these people at issue—so they should take the lead by guaranteeing the rights of EU nationals living in the UK, and then other member states would follow suit. Those are not my words but the words of British nationals living abroad. What does the right hon. Gentleman have to say to that?
No, with the greatest respect, it is not the same thing. These issues have arisen and there is a question about the rights of EU nationals and British citizens because the people of the United Kingdom decided that we were going to leave the EU. That is not a decision of the Government—
My right hon. Friend would agree, however, that other nationals should not be treated as bargaining chips, and I am sure he would also be aware that the Treasury Committee has heard a good deal of evidence to suggest that the failure to guarantee the rights of EU nationals is now beginning to damage the economy. Given that, and the overwhelming ethical case, does he not agree, on reflection, that the time has come just to protect those EU citizens’ rights?
I completely agree on the value to the economy. I also agree on this being an urgent matter, and I heard the Prime Minister say exactly that this afternoon. If I may conclude my remarks about EU nationals, perhaps my right hon. Friend the Member for Chichester (Mr Tyrie) will see why I do not think precipitate action is very wise. It could open up a range of complexities which, far from putting people’s minds at rest and making things better, could make things worse.
The right hon. Gentleman was a Minister and he has been in negotiations. If we put on the table the kind of deal we would expect the other 27 to offer to UK citizens, we would set the template of what we think the right deal is and set the right tone for the negotiations; this is a different matter from trade.
I was listening carefully to what the Prime Minister said, and it sounds to me as though she and her Ministers are indeed talking to EU member states and trying to get this issue resolved. There is a two-stage process here: we need an agreement in principle by the UK Government with other EU member states—
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for trying to intervene, but I need to finish replying to the right hon. Lady before I can take his intervention. I am also conscious of the fact that I have only one more point to make after I have finished my points about EU nationals, and I want to give other Members the chance to contribute to the debate. [Interruption.] I am giving way to take questions. This is a debate, and I cannot both make rapid progress and give way to Members, so let me just answer the point that the right hon. Lady made. It seems to me that the Prime Minister and her Ministers are indeed dealing with other European members and trying to get this issue resolved, but that is clearly not being entirely reciprocated by other members. The approach has two stages: we need an agreement in principle that we want to guarantee those rights; and then there is also an awful lot of detail to be worked out. These matters are very complicated.
I wish to draw the House’s attention to what happened last weekend. As far as I can tell, looking from the outside, it seems to me that part of the reason for the mess the US Administration have got themselves into is that they produced an Executive order that was not very well thought through. They do not seem to have taken proper legal advice, so got themselves into trouble in the courts. There was an impact on British citizens, before the intervention of my right hon. Friends the Foreign Secretary and the Home Secretary resolved the matter. I do not want us to move precipitately without thinking things through.
I wish to give the House some examples that I think must be sorted out. First, the various amendments and new clauses refer to people who are lawfully resident in the United Kingdom under the existing treaties. People think that is straightforward, but it is actually quite complicated. Any EU national can come to Britain for any reason, for up to three months. If they want to stay here for longer than three months, they have to be either working, looking for work, self-sufficient or a student. If they are self-sufficient or a student, they are here lawfully only if they have comprehensive health insurance. We know from those people who have been trying to regularise their status, following the sensible advice from the right hon. Member for Leicester East, that many do not have that comprehensive health insurance so technically are not here lawfully at all. When we use these phrases, we need to be clear who we are granting the rights to, because people will not be aware of the complexity. If we are to give people clarity and certainty, we have to be clear about what we are doing.
Secondly, the national health service and healthcare are topical issues. We currently have a set of reciprocal arrangements with our European Union partners for people who are in those countries. We do not do the logging, administration and collecting of the money as well as they do. We want to ensure that that will work when we have left the European Union. I do not know where we will end up on that, but it is important.
Thirdly, in an intervention earlier I alluded to a point that must be thought about, because if we act hastily, we will come to regret it. At the end of March last year—these are the latest figures I was able to find—4,222 EU nationals were imprisoned in British jails. Under the EU prisoner transfer framework directive, we have the ability to transfer them when they are in prison, and when they come out we can start to take action to revoke their status in the United Kingdom. I want to make sure that in acting now we do not act hastily and make our ability to remove those people from the United Kingdom more difficult. I fear that the new clauses and amendments we are considering would not adequately deal with that issue, as was reflected in the answer from the shadow Minister, the hon. Member for Greenwich and Woolwich.
Finally, the Bill does one simple thing: it gives the Prime Minister the lawful authority to start the negotiation process. That is all it does. The Government have been generous in making available the time to debate that matter. The Bill does not need to be improved or amended in any way. I do not know which amendments and new clauses will be pressed to a vote, but I hope that I have set out some reasons why several of them should be rejected. If any of them are pressed, I urge the House to reject them.
I rise to support new clause 57, which was tabled in my name and the names of other members of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, with the support of right hon. and hon. Members from both sides of the House.
This is about 3 million people and their families—EU citizens whose future here has been thrown into doubt by the decision in June that the UK should leave the EU. There is nothing about the cloud of uncertainty that they now live under that is their own fault. If we accept the new clause, we can put their minds at rest and let them look to the future.
Members on both sides of the House will know the people whose lives we are talking about. Some, such as those from France and Spain, have been here for decades. They have children and grandchildren living here. They work in and are part of their local community. It is unthinkable that they would be deported and their families divided because we have decided to leave the EU. Let us put their minds at rest and assure them and their families that our decision to leave the EU will not change their right to be here. Their anxiety is palpable. We have all seen it in our advice surgeries. One of my constituents, an Italian woman, has been here for 30 years. She cannot work anymore because she is ill, and her residency rights are now at risk. People from countries that have more recently joined the EU, such as Poland, Romania and Bulgaria, are working in sectors that could not manage without them—in agriculture, care homes and our tourism industry. Employers in food production are already reporting more difficulty in getting the workers they need. That is happening now.
New clause 57 was recommended by the Joint Committee on Human Rights. My constituent who is a consultant paediatric surgeon from Sweden approached me over the new year in a state of distress because he was not sure about his future status —this is someone who performs really valuable services for the people of the west midlands and at Birmingham Children’s Hospital. He had been advised that he should seek the services of an immigration lawyer, and that advice had come from his trust.
The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. There was plenty of other such evidence that came before us on the Joint Committee on Human Rights, of which he is a very valued member. This ongoing uncertainty around the status of EU residents here is allowing greater exploitation of vulnerable EU workers. Last week, appearing before the Joint Committee on Human Rights, Margaret Beels, chair of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority, said that she is receiving evidence that gangmasters are telling fearful EU workers that they cannot complain about not being paid or about being subjected to unsafe conditions because if they do they will be deported as they no longer have the right to be here. We are not whipping up fears, but understanding fears and seeking to address them. It is no good, I am afraid, issuing warm words; people need certainty. They work in every part of our private sector. They contribute to our creative industries; they are artists and musicians. They work in our public services. Anyone who has been in hospital recently will very likely have awoken to find a Spanish or a Portuguese nurse at their bedside. If anyone has an older relative in a care home, they are likely to see them being cared for by someone from eastern Europe.
I have considerable sympathy with the point that the right hon. and learned Lady is making. We disagree on the fundamental point, which is that we should not do something unilateral here in the United Kingdom before we have agreement on our own residents in Spain and France and elsewhere, because we will potentially be undermining their position. No doubt they will be feeling the sense of vulnerability that she has just articulated about those living here.
Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that we also heard evidence in the Home Affairs Committee from groups representing the Polish community and other eastern European communities? They said that they had seen an increase in hate crime. They also said that extremists were exploiting the uncertainty and attacking people with phrases such as “Go home” and “Leave the country”. They said that the uncertainty that EU citizens felt made it harder for them to deal with these awful hate crimes.
I am sure that many MPs in this Chamber have also had constituents from the EU who have tried to seek security by applying for permanent residency, but who have been turned down and received “prepare to leave” letters. The right hon. Member for Forest of Dean (Mr Harper) mentioned comprehensive health insurance. There is no such thing. A person cannot get 100% comprehensive health insurance. Previously, the NHS was recognised for giving health cover. Why can this House not give these people security at this end, and not threaten to throw them out?
I absolutely agree with the hon. Lady.
It is not just EU nationals and their families who are worried about the uncertainty hanging over them; so are the employers for whom they work. How will our NHS find the nurses we need if they seek work elsewhere for fear that they will not be allowed to stay? It is not as if we are training them ourselves. With the cuts to bursaries, the number of student nurses has fallen by 23% this year.
I recently had a conversation with the chair and chief executive of the trust in my constituency, who said that Huddersfield Royal infirmary could not operate if it were not for young Spanish nurses. I also spoke to people at the London School of Economics who said that if the Europeans, who are good at maths and science, were to leave, 20% of the workforce of universities would go back home.
My right hon. and learned Friend is being very generous with her time. Constituents have come to my surgeries in tears, fretting about what will happen to them and their jobs. Does she agree that it is not a British value to use people as bargaining chips in the negotiations?
The right hon. Lady is sending out a powerful message about British values and—this point is shared across the House—about giving certainty to EU nationals living here. May I press her, though, on the need to be careful not to send a message to British nationals living in the rest of the EU that they are somehow less important? Their concerns are equally valid and severely felt, and we are equally worried about what is happening to them. Are we not going to address or take account of any of those issues today?
We simply cannot trade one off against the other like that. This is not an economic trade negotiation.
The new clause is quite simple. It would provide that the rights of residence of EU citizens who were lawfully resident here before the referendum decision on 23 June remain unchanged. We need the clause in the Bill because the Government have been sending out mixed messages, and the Prime Minister did so again in her statement today. On the one hand, she says that anyone who is lawfully here has nothing to worry about. On the other hand, she says that she cannot commit to giving them residency rights because their future must be part of the negotiations.
It is in no way right to use the lives of 3 million people and their families as a bargaining chip. They and their families are not pawns in a game of poker with the EU. They cannot be used as a human shield as we battle it out in Europe for our UK citizens in other countries. We must decide what is fair and right for EU citizens here, and then do it. I thought we were supposed to be taking back control. If the Government reject the new clause, EU citizens will be right to draw the conclusion that their rights to continue to live here could be snatched away if our Government do not get what they want for our UK citizens living in each of the other countries in the European Union.
The new clause is not only the right thing to do as a matter of principle; it is legally necessary. The Government cannot bargain away people’s human rights. The right to family life is guaranteed by article 8 of the European convention on human rights. If the Government bargained them away, EU citizens living here would be able to go to our courts and seek to establish their rights to remain under article 8. If even 10% of those here did that, there would be 300,000 court challenges. There is no way that our court system could begin to cope with that. I hope that the Government accept the new clause. If not, I urge hon. Members of all parties to support it in the Lobby.
My right hon. Friend the Member for West Dorset (Sir Oliver Letwin), who was in the Chamber a short time ago, made an important point about new clause 3. When imposing legal requirements and duties on anybody—let alone the Prime Minister—one has be sure that those requirements are capable of being realised. My right hon. Friend the Member for Forest of Dean (Mr Harper) and other hon. Members have dealt comprehensively with the difficulties that arise from the part of the new clause that mentions laying
“periodic reports…on the progress of the negotiations”.
I think that case has been made.
Let me move on to the next part. The real problem is subsection (c), which would
“make arrangements for Parliamentary scrutiny of confidential documents.”
As Chair of the European Scrutiny Committee, I have had an enormous amount of trouble, over and over again, about documents that are marked as “LIMITÉ”. Although such documents are distributed, Parliaments other than the European Parliament are not allowed to refer to them because they are of a confidential nature. I have made it quite clear that I think some of this is overdone. However, to try to impose a legal duty on the Prime Minister to undertake to break the rules relating to limité documents is stretching a point to absurdity.
I ask the hon. Gentleman the same question that I asked the right hon. Member for Forest of Dean (Mr Harper) earlier: should he not be arguing, as somebody who has spent a great deal of his time in Parliament scrutinising the European Union, for Members of this House to have rights of scrutiny that are at least equal to those held by Members of the European Parliament?
I have enormous sympathy with that. In point of fact, the Secretary of State for Brexit gave evidence in the House of Lords, where, as I understand it, he made it abundantly clear that any document that would be made available to the European Parliament and its committees would, indeed, be made available to this House. To that extent, I agree with the hon. Member for Eltham (Clive Efford), but I believe such a measure to be unnecessary because an undertaking has already been given by the Secretary of State.
New clause 3(c) would
“make arrangements for Parliamentary scrutiny of confidential documents.”
Given my hon. Friend’s wide experience, for how long does he think the contents of those documents would remain confidential if they were made available for wide parliamentary scrutiny?
Well, they certainly would not. That is really the purpose of the limité restriction. Although I have reservations about the restriction in certain cases, I can think of a number of instances in which it is absolutely vital that the documents remain confidential. If there were any breach of that confidentiality —there would have to be an undertaking by the Prime Minister that she would release it—it could gum up the works to such an extent on matters of intelligence, security and all sorts of things that we would actually end up not receiving any limité documents at all.
With great respect, the hon. Member for Greenwich and Woolwich (Matthew Pennycook), who led from the Opposition Front Bench, may or may not have been dealing with these matters for some time, and I will not criticise him for that—[Interruption.] No, this is a perfectly fair point. All I am saying is that, in drafting this, if we end up with something that does not work and we have to comply with new clause 3(a), (b) and (c) to make it work, as my right hon. Friend the Member for West Dorset said, we would end up in the courts—and there would be a judicial review, believe me. It naturally follows that the new clause is simply nonsense, so it cannot be brought into effect. That is all I need to say about it.
My hon. Friends and I have also tabled some amendments. I am glad that we have the opportunity to discuss and debate the Bill over the coming days, although we have been given very little time in which to do so. It is fair to say that this is not scrutiny that the Government either welcomed or encouraged. It is good to have at least a short opportunity to debate this issue, although that has more to do with the Government’s confidence in their own arguments and their ability to deliver a better deal with our EU partners than the one we have at present than it does with a scrutiny process. The Government were dragged kicking and screaming to this Chamber just to have a vote on article 50 in the first place.
On Thursday, we saw the White Paper as the Secretary of State was getting to his feet, which was pretty disrespectful of the entire House. That failed to put my mind at ease—I am sure it failed to put the minds of many other MPs in the Chamber at ease—about the way in which the Government are conducting this process. The White Paper is something of a metaphor for the entire Brexit process; it was rushed, without time for proper scrutiny, and it did not even get all its facts right, which is quite remarkable, given the time the Government had to prepare it.
This Brexit process could not be more important. It is one of the most important processes anybody in this House will ever take part in—it is certainly more important than a debate about wigs or the other crucial issues Government Members want to debate. This process will have an impact on us all and on all our constituents, given the health of the economy, and the jobs and taxes that are generated as a result.
Against some fairly stiff competition, some people have argued that the craziest political decision of 2016 was the one to elect Donald Trump President—incidentally, my colleagues and I welcome the Speaker’s announcement today. However, while the good people of the United States of America have the ability, should they wish to do so, to reverse the decision they made in November, there is no likelihood that we will be able to reverse the decision we made any time soon. Although four years’ time might seem a long way away for many in the United States, the mistakes made by the Government here, and any lack of scrutiny as a result, will be felt down the generations by policy makers in this place.
Given that this is such a big decision, our ability to have any meaningful scrutiny is woeful. Regardless of the vote, the role of Parliament is to scrutinise the work of Government. That is the entire point of our sitting here and having a Parliament in the first place.
I remind Conservative Members that the SNP won the election earlier this year with 47% of the vote. [Hon. Members: “Last year.”] Actually, the Holyrood election took place this year. That tells us all we need to know about the attention they pay to these things. We won the vote with 47%, but in 2015, the Conservatives won the election with 36% of the vote, and I am particularly pleased to say that Scotland dragged down their UK average by some considerable degree.
However, the role of Opposition parties, be it in Holyrood or in this place, is to hold the Government to account for the enormity of their decisions, which impact on each and every one of us. The process of leaving the European Union will involve one of the greatest upheavals since this Parliament came into existence in 1801. We should be given a lot more time to consider the implications for our constituents, the economy and our European partners. That is why SNP Members will back any moves to give Parliament greater scrutiny over this process.
That scrutiny is all the more important because of the lack of detail provided by members of the Vote Leave campaign—an act of irresponsibility by Members who were in the Government previously and by Members who are in the Government at present. Significant questions were left unanswered during the debate on the referendum, and since Vote Leave did not bother giving us the details, we have a responsibility as parliamentarians to ask for those details.
One question is: will we stay in the single market? The Prime Minister’s speech obviously differs from the Conservative party manifesto, on which she and other Conservative Members were elected. Will it be for Scotland to decide its immigration numbers? How much extra cash is the NHS getting? We deserve answers to all these questions before article 50 is triggered. Who is accountable for the promises that were made? I have not received an answer so far, and I have not heard other Members receive one.
A number of my colleagues will want to touch on the point about EU nationals, and it is easy to see why we back the proposals to give them the right to remain. We are richer financially and culturally as a result of European nationals calling Scotland and other parts of the UK their home.
My hon. Friend is making some very valid points. Will we not also be judged on the leadership we give and on our humanity? Those EU citizens who are here are our friends, our neighbours and our work colleagues, and we have a duty to stand by their rights. The Prime Minister must send a clear message that those who are here are welcome to stay. We must remove the uncertainty, and do it now.
As usual, my hon. Friend makes a very pertinent point. I pay due respect to the work he has done for the Brain family and others in his constituency in some of the disgraceful immigration cases we have seen. These EU nationals have chosen to make the UK their home and Scotland their home. They make this a better place in which to live and work. It is a no-brainer that we should give them the certainty they deserve.
The hon. Gentleman is making a very cogent and well-structured argument, and I broadly agree with many of the points he is making, but would he not agree that this is really a Mexican stand-off with water pistols? There is no realistic chance that any signatory of the European convention on human rights—the United Kingdom is one; in fact, we drafted much of it—will kick out anybody. We are not going to kick out anybody from the United Kingdom, and nor are UK citizens in other parts of the European Union going to be expelled. Would it not be better for the House to recognise that the position of these EU nationals is not at risk? Would we not be much better off comforting those who are in doubt, rather than spreading fear?
The hon. Gentleman makes my point for me. The ECHR is under threat from this very Government, so does it not make sense to come into the Lobby with us to support the right of EU nationals to live and work here? I look forward to his standing up for what he has just said and joining us in the Lobby.
No, but I will say this to the hon. Gentleman, because he probably has a lot more influence on the Government Benches than I do—that is one thing I will give him. The Government are desperately in need of friends and good will. If we benefit financially from EU nationals being here, and if our society is richer for their being here, we want to keep them regardless—they are not bargaining chips, but that is something the Government seem to ignore. If EU nationals are not bargaining chips, I would encourage him to join us in the Lobby and give them the certainty they need and deserve.
The situation is even worse. While accepting what the hon. Member for Tonbridge and Malling (Tom Tugendhat) said, pitting Elke Weston, an EU national in my constituency, against my friend Tracy de Jong Eglin in the Netherlands does not in any way give them succour; it makes their situations worse.
My hon. Friend makes an excellent point, and I am not surprised, given the amount of hard work he has done for EU nationals in his constituency.
If Conservative Members are so confident in the ECHR, which they now promise us they are, I look forward to the hon. Gentleman voting against his own Government. I do not trust Conservative Members entirely, but if there is not a problem under the ECHR, he and his colleagues will have absolutely no problem joining us in the Lobby.
We will debate the devolved process in the next tranche of proposals, but let me just say this about scrutiny. All this will have an impact on the devolution process, be it in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. If Ministers respect the devolution process, they should have no problem with the additional scrutiny that comes with it. Right now we are in a situation where the unelected House of Lords will have a greater say on this process than the elected Scottish Parliament and other devolved legislatures. No Government, regardless of their colour, have a monopoly on wisdom. The whole point of having a Parliament is that we scrutinise, with the courage of our convictions, and this place makes a contribution. If this Government are confident in what they are doing—or know what they are doing and have any kind of a plan—they should welcome scrutiny in the Chamber here and then elsewhere in these islands, because fundamentally that scrutiny will provide better legislation. On something of such enormity that we are about to undertake, they have a responsibility for it to be scrutinised as much as possible.
Let us not underestimate the impact of the decision that we are about to make this week. It will impact on our rights, on our economy, and on each and every one of us. We will encourage the strengthening of anything that increases scrutiny of this process. The Government’s record so far has not been good. I am not heartened by what I have seen, with a White Paper that was rushed out and could not even get its facts right. We therefore owe a debt of responsibility to people across the UK—and, indeed, beyond—to have more scrutiny than we are promised and more than we have at present.
Order. Before I call the next colleague, let me say that it will be obvious to the Committee that a great many people wish to speak. There are in excess of 50 new clauses and amendments to be discussed, and we have two hours and 45 minutes left to do so. I hope that Members will be courteous to others and keep their remarks as brief as possible. I appreciate that these are complicated matters, and it is good to have interventions and proper debate and discussion, but let us avoid repetition and rhetoric for its own sake.
On a point of order, Mrs Laing. It is quite obvious that the programme order will not allow for proper debate by the vast majority of Members. I have never known a debate on any European issue be given such limited time before. Has anyone approached you and asked to re-address the programme order so that we can have the sort of sensible, protracted discussion of these issues that we have had almost to excess on previous occasions such as the debates on the Maastricht treaty?
Further to that point of order, Mrs Laing. When I considered the Government’s programme motion, it seemed to me that for a two-clause Bill, two days—extraordinarily—on Second Reading and three full days of protected time to allow us to sit late where there are statements was, if anything, an excess of generosity.
The former Chief Whip makes a very good point. It is not a point of order for the Chair, but one that I would expect a former Chief Whip to make.
Let me set the mind of the right hon. and learned Member for Rushcliffe (Mr Clarke) at rest on two points. First, although there are in excess of 50 amendments and new clauses, some of them address the same points as others, so we are not addressing more than 50 separate points of debate. The other point that I draw to his attention is that the House voted for and supported the programme motion, and that is not a matter for me. I am sure that I can now rely on Sir Hugo Swire to address the Committee briefly and pertinently.
I shall seek not to detain the Committee for too long so as not to repeat many of the arguments that hon. Friends and colleagues have made and will no doubt make again and again throughout this evening.
I wish to talk about the two new clauses that have dominated proceedings to date, one rather less emotional than the other. The unemotional one, I would submit, is new clause 3. We have talked about parliamentary oversight of the negotiations and heard the word “scrutiny” bandied around across the Chamber. I sometimes get the impression that some in this Chamber would seek to scrutinise every single line, cross every “t” and dot every “i” of the Government’s negotiating position. It would be interesting to conduct a straw poll as to how many Members in this Committee have ever taken part in a proper negotiation—a commercial negotiation—that requires, at times, one to keep one’s cards close to hand before declaring them. It is impossible, irresponsible and unthinkable to have to negotiate this in public, and particularly so to insert clauses such that anything discussed must be reported back to this House at intervals of
“no more than two months”—
eight weeks—each and every time. The new clause does not say what Parliament might then do if it does not like what the Government are reporting back. Do Members want a vote on it? We have heard about the possibility of legal involvement—judicial review. This is wholly unrealistic and undesirable.
New clause 3(c) says:
“make arrangements for Parliamentary scrutiny of confidential documents.”
I have already alluded to that today. There are ways in this House whereby Privy Counsellors and so forth can see sensitive information, but it is wholly unrealistic to think that the whole House would be able to examine and scrutinise confidential documents without their leaking pretty quickly on to Twitter or Facebook, or into the national newspapers. How can one possibly conduct any sort of negotiations, particularly as difficult and sensitive as these are set to be, in the glare of publicity, revealing confidential documents to each and every Member of this House—and no doubt there would be calls to do the same for the devolved Administrations? That would be completely crazy.
With regard to new clause 6, on the other hand, I have considerable sympathy with those who have spoken about the uncertainty surrounding the status of EU nationals in this country as these negotiations begin. It is unsettling for a lot of these people. It is true that they contribute enormously to society—to our public sector, including the health sector, our agricultural businesses, and so forth. We need them here, and I do have considerable sympathy with their predicament.
I entirely agree that we need to sort this out very early on. Indeed, our right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said precisely that only a short while ago. Does my right hon. Friend the Member for East Devon (Sir Hugo Swire) agree that part of the issue is the unwillingness of some of our interlocutors to engage in meaningful discussion prior to the triggering of article 50? This is surely a matter that can be dealt with early on, but that requires them to engage immediately and not to delay until the triggering of article 50.
I do agree, because this cuts both ways. It is cheap politicking to talk about bargaining chips—I do not think anyone is considering that—but this does require an early resolution. I was heartened when my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said earlier today that she intended to address it early on, but it has to be a negotiation between the other countries of the EU and us. It is just as important to us, as British parliamentarians—as the British Government—to defend the rights of British citizens living overseas. There are a lot of them, and not all of them are particularly contributing to the society they are in. A lot of them are retired, so they are even more vulnerable, in a sense, than many of the EU workers who are here actively working. It is the first duty of this House to look after British citizens, wherever they may be, while also being aware that we have a duty to EU nationals at the same time.
It would be completely wrong in terms of our negotiating position to declare unilaterally that all EU nationals can, up to a certain date, continue to live here without fear or favour. That would be unwise until such time as we can extract a similar agreement from the other countries of the EU where British nationals have lived, sometimes for very many years.
I am delighted to hear my right hon. Friend agree in ringing tones with what everybody has said so far, namely that absolutely nobody in this House wishes to cast any doubt on the right of EU nationals to continue living lawfully here if they are lawfully here now. Apparently, the only reason for his holding back—despite the fact that he entirely shares the sentiments of Opposition Members—is that he fears that if we declare that a Pole who has been living here for years can stay here, we will have thrown away our card and British nationals will be expelled by the Government of some unknown country. I have heard nobody suggest that any such country exists.
We have a pedantic problem of whether we can raise the matter before the process has started. If we just cleared the position of our EU nationals now, it would put the utmost pressure on every other country to clarify the thing as well. No one is going to take any reprisals against our British nationals.
I hope my right hon. and learned Friend is right. He has not always been right about everything, although he has been right about quite a lot. He and I were on the same side of the debate, and I know that he regrets, as I do, the fact that in all the discussions about migration and immigration during the campaign, some rather irresponsible points were made repeatedly about who would be able to come here from the Commonwealth, when there was absolutely no suggestion that that was behind anyone’s thinking. However, I fundamentally disagree with him in that I do not think that we should do anything unilateral before we get an agreement about the rights of British nationals living in the rest of the EU.
Does my right hon. Friend share my view that if the matter is as simple as some make out—if it is just a question of us making a simple declaration—why have the other 27 countries of the European Union not said that our citizens who are living overseas will be fine, and that there will be no repercussions for them? The fact that those countries will not make that commitment says something, does it not?
It may do, or it may not. As my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rushcliffe (Mr Clarke) has said, there is no evidence to suggest that a single country would not behave in a good way. But there is absolutely no evidence that they will all behave in a good way; we simply do not know, because we have not yet had that conversation. Until we have had that debate and secured an agreement that similar rights will be granted to British citizens living in other EU countries, we should not move to allow every single EU national who lives here to continue doing so.
I do not know whether my hon. Friend was here earlier when the Prime Minister was asked about the matter. The Prime Minister gave a very strong suggestion that securing such a deal was at the top of her negotiating priorities. At the end of the day, it is an agreement—it is a deal—and it has to be negotiated. I do not think that we would be right unilaterally to declare anything.
Does the right hon. Gentleman not think that a unilateral declaration would undo some of the damage that was done by the “list of foreign workers” stuff that came out of the Tory conference in Birmingham? That shocked a lot of our European partners and hardened their views against us. Surely a unilateral declaration might help.
I agree with the hon. Lady that language and sensitivity are incredibly important. We are dealing with families, and with people who are married to EU citizens. We are dealing with people who live here and who do not know whether they have a future here. That is why we have to resolve the matter very early on. I have considerable sympathy, as I have said, with many people who have spoken about the contribution that EU nationals make. I very much hope that we can reach an agreement that will satisfy all who are here but, equally, I think that our first duty is to look after our citizens abroad.
The right hon. Gentleman has talked about the issues faced by British citizens whose partners are EU nationals, but does he agree that we are also talking about children? I have seen children in my constituency raise real concerns about whether they will be able to study in the same school, and about where their future will be. They do not know the country that their parents came from, and they are British in every sense of the word. This is causing huge uncertainty. We can tackle this, and we can do it this week.
We can all cite examples from our surgeries of individual cases, but I am not sure that to do so contributes to the greater argument. We need to get a policy in place that covers the whole thing. That can only be achieved by the Prime Minister making it a priority, as she has suggested she will, and getting an agreement from the other member states that involves the reciprocity we need for our British people living abroad.
My right hon. Friend is absolutely right to be concerned about the fate of British citizens living in the European Union, but I agree with others who have said that, surely, a goodwill gesture would be a really positive thing for this Government to make. Two of my constituents are a married couple who have been living together in this country for 30 years, and I consider the wife to be as British as anybody else. We should make it absolutely clear that it is inconceivable that this couple should be separated, and that their children should be left with separated parents.
Indeed, and no doubt there are similar examples of British people in not-dissimilar situations in Spain, France and elsewhere. We need to ensure that their rights are recognised as well.
I am not going to continue in this vein, because others wish to contribute. I have made my point. I have sympathy with the view that EU nationals contribute a lot to the economy. I hope that there is an early agreement that allows them to stay and to continue to work here. Equally, any such agreement, to my way of thinking, has to be part of a wider agreement that assures the future of British nationals living in other EU countries.
I rise to support new clauses 3 and 57. I commend my hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich and Woolwich (Matthew Pennycook) and my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Camberwell and Peckham (Ms Harman) for their speeches. The one thing I would add to the forceful case made by my right hon. and learned Friend is this: when the Exiting the European Union Committee took evidence from representatives of Brits living abroad, one might have expected them to make the argument that has just been advanced, but they said the opposite. They said that Britain should give a unilateral commitment now, because they felt that doing so would ease the process of negotiation.
No, we have not taken evidence from ambassadors, but we have heard what has been said from the Government Dispatch Box, namely that—from memory—almost all member states are up for this, apart from one or two. We do not yet know who the one or two are, and I hope that they will change their minds so that we can make progress.
I want to address the arguments we have heard thus far in relation to new clause 3. My hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham East (Heidi Alexander)—she is no longer in her place—asked the right hon. Member for Forest of Dean (Mr Harper) whether we should be able to have a vote on certain aspects of the nature of our withdrawal. He said no, because during the referendum campaign it was made clear by leading participants what would happen if we voted to leave, and therefore it is gospel and we cannot argue with it. That is a very interesting argument. On that basis, the NHS will be getting £350 million a week, because that, it was said, would be the consequence of a leave vote—but I will leave that to one side.
The right hon. Gentleman’s central argument, which he made at the beginning of his speech, was to ask what new clause 3 added. I say to him sincerely that it adds accountability. It has been argued that the new clause is unnecessary because the Government are already doing what it would require. If that is true, I would ask why there is a problem with the Government accepting it.
The argument was made that the Government would be forced to reveal all sorts of stuff. All that the new clause says is that the Prime Minister
“shall give an undertaking to…lay before each House of Parliament periodic reports”.
The content of those reports will be for the Government to determine. There is nothing in the new clause about forcing the Government to reveal their hand. When it comes to getting in English the documents that the European Commission is giving to the European Parliament —probably in English, while we still have MEPs, and in the other languages of the European Union—surely there cannot be any argument about that at all. It is entirely sensible.
On the point about confidential documents, I listened carefully to what the right hon. Gentleman and the hon. Member for Stone (Sir William Cash) said. I raised the matter with the Secretary of State when I was first elected as the Chair of the Select Committee, and he replied to me in a letter that
“negotiations will be fast moving and will often cover sensitive material, so we will need to find the right ways of engaging Parliament.”
I welcomed that reply. All that new clause 3 says is that the Prime Minister shall
“make arrangements for Parliamentary scrutiny of confidential documents.”
The arrangements are for the Government to propose. Given the extent to which Brussels is a very leaky place and the fact that we will be negotiating with 27 other member states, I cannot help making the point that I suspect we will find out very shortly after the meeting has concluded where the negotiations have got to, so the Government’s arrangements will be to advise us all to buy certain newspapers, in which one will be able to read what was discussed during the course of the afternoon and evening.
The main point I was making, and I stand by it, is that new clause 3 imposes a legal obligation, enforceable by judicial review, on the Prime Minister effectively—and not just effectively, but actually and legally—to break the confidentiality imposed by, for example, limité documents. As I have said, I do not always subscribe to such degrees of confidentiality, but that is a personal view. The fact is that there is confidentiality, and it is a legal obligation.
I would say to the hon. Gentleman, who has great experience in these matters, that we know the Commission, in respect of trade negotiations, made arrangements with the European Parliament for certain documents to be made available, including in rooms where people could go and read them but could not take them away. The new clause is asking the Government to find a way of making this work in a way that is consistent, as of course it has to be, with any legal obligations, but confidentiality does not seem to me to be a very strong argument.
The argument that the new clause would make it all justiciable does not seem very strong either. Frankly, on that basis we might as well all go home tonight and never come back because Parliament legislates, and when Parliament legislates people can go to the courts and seek to suggest that the way in which the legislation is being implemented is not correct. That is not an argument against new clause 3, but against Parliament doing its job.
Having listened to speeches made by Conservative Members, I would gently say to the Minister of State, who is a reasonable man, that I hope he will not get up and repeat the arguments we have heard on new clause 3. Frankly, it is really simple and sensible stuff to help Parliament to do its job. On the frequency of reporting, as the Minister will know, when my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Keir Starmer) suggested every two months, the Secretary of State got up and said that that might be a rather modest objective. If it is a modest objective, I really do not see how the Government can oppose it.
I do not propose to speak for more than a few minutes. I have been wrestling with this matter for months, and in particular I have wrestled with it over the course of the weekend. This matter affects my constituents in South Leicestershire—and not just them—many of whom have come to see me to explain the problems, for example about children at school, which has been mentioned by other hon. Members.
I was the son of Italian immigrants in Glasgow in the 1970s, and I remember how it felt to be the only son of an immigrant in a classroom full of Scottish people. I do not want any EU national child across the United Kingdom to feel the way that I felt at times in school in the 1970s. However, there is more than simply anecdotal evidence that the situation now caused by Brexit is affecting the wellbeing of families. Such concerns have been raised by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rushcliffe (Mr Clarke), a fellow east midlands Member for whom I have nothing but the utmost respect. As I have argued with colleagues in the Chamber—we should be saying it far more loudly—EU nationals have contributed an enormous amount to the success and wellbeing of our United Kingdom, as did my parents over 50 years. I want to hear Members say that daily.
It was often said during the EU referendum that there was perhaps a cost consequence to having the 3 million-plus people from every one of the member states who have integrated here. I always believed that that was utter rubbish. We have benefited as a country by having immigrants come into the United Kingdom. The fact is that we will continue to benefit, because when all of this is over, we will still continue to have EU migrants coming into this country. The difference will be that this Parliament and Government—Conservative, Labour or otherwise—will determine the immigration rules. I cannot possibly foresee a situation where a competent British Government would attempt to reduce immigration to levels that would damage our economy. That leads me to a point made in a newspaper recently by an hon. Friend of mine about a promise made in the Conservative manifesto that we have not kept and cannot keep. We cannot get immigration down to the tens of thousands without damaging our economy.
However, I have decided to vote against the amendment on this matter. As I said at the outset, I have wrestled with this decision, because it affects my family personally. I will explain why I have decided to do this. Ultimately, it is because the deal that will be reached with the EU will be not just legal, but also political. It will be about personalities: about how the Prime Minister and her team get on with the other side.
Had I been Prime Minister last July, I might well have taken a different decision. However, I made a comment to the Prime Minister today in which I made it very clear that I am putting my entire trust in her and her Ministers to honour the promise that they are giving to the country about getting an early deal. I said to the leader of my party that it would be “a decisive mark of her negotiating skills and leadership qualities as our Prime Minister.” I believe that she will get a reciprocal deal that benefits citizens from Scotland, Northern Ireland, England and Wales who live in other EU member states, and that protects my own family and friends, my own constituents and other EU nationals across the United Kingdom.
That is why I will vote against the amendment. Ultimately, it is a political matter, and it is for the Prime Minister to demonstrate her leadership and negotiating skills in getting this right, and coming back to the Dispatch Box within months—I repeat, within months—of triggering article 50 with an early deal on which we can all agree and for which we can thank her, that will be to the benefit of all our constituents living abroad and the benefit of EU nationals living in our constituencies.
I am just curious. I support the Prime Minister’s intentions and most definitely her sincerity in aiming to achieve such a deal, but does my hon. Friend agree that if that moment does not come as soon as she would like, she should review the idea of unilaterally offering EU citizens their rights and just put everybody out of their misery, because that is the right thing to do?
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for the conclusion that he has reached. The other thing the Prime Minister demonstrated when she was Home Secretary is her attention to detail. As I tried to set out for the Committee, this is actually a more complex matter than it at first appears. It is not just that the Prime Minister needs to get the principle right; she and her Ministers and officials need to get the detail right to ensure not only that my hon. Friend’s family and others like them have security now, but that there are no unforeseen consequences for them in the future. I think that he has made the right decision.
I absolutely agree with my right hon. Friend, but a promise has been made about an early agreement, notwithstanding the complexities of the matter. As a lawyer—I am a former corporate lawyer—I know that when my clients came to me asking for me to negotiate, I had to offer solutions to problems. If I did not get the deals that my clients wanted, I would not have been used frequently by those very clients. It will be a mark of our leader, our Prime Minister, if she gets the early deal that she is promising our country, and that is why I am supporting her this evening.
The hon. Gentleman has obviously made a personal decision on this matter. He uses the analogy of being a lawyer and going to negotiate a deal, but does he not accept that the Prime Minister could just settle and give every EU national in our country right now the right to be here, without any further delay? There is an alternative attitude that would also deliver for his client, is there not?
As I mentioned, had I been Prime Minister in July, I might have started the whole process very differently.
I entirely agree with the right hon. and learned Member for Camberwell and Peckham (Ms Harman) about the consequences of not getting an early deal on this matter. The consequence would be a tsunami of litigation against the Government. Politically, therefore, an early deal must be brought to this House. That is why I trust the Prime Minister to get that early deal.
The role of Parliament is also a political matter to which Ministers should give serious consideration. The European Parliament has a substantive role in the negotiations that we do not have. Some would say that the primary reason for that is that it represents 27 other nations, whereas we represent one sovereign country as the British Parliament. However, if we hear comments from the media, reporting on what European parliamentarians are being told about what our ministerial negotiating team are saying in Europe, it would become farcical if our Government did not report back to us.
I do not see a need to force the Government to do that. It would be politically impossible for the Government to function responsibly and appropriately without giving us at least the same information that we will be receiving from the media and the European Parliament. Again, it is a matter of politics and we should not bind the hands of the Government in a statutory manner that could be justiciable. That is why I trust my Government to come back to the House with sensible updates, no different from the updates that the European Parliament receives, so that we can continue to debate and discuss the matter.
My hon. Friend is on the right side of all these arguments, but he is a very trusting man. Does he not realise that the background to all this is that when the European Commission started negotiating the EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, it took exactly the same line that the Government are now taking—that it could not possibly disclose any of these things as it would compromise the negotiations? The fact is that the European Parliament now gets the information because it was less trusting and is made of sterner stuff than this Parliament has so far proved to be. I do not think that that is in accordance with our parliamentary traditions.
I respect the judgments and comments of my right hon. and learned Friend. However, I read his recent article about his own thoughts on his first term in Parliament and how he would have dealt with a similar matter. I will leave it at that.
I have listened carefully to the valuable and honourable comments that have been made on this matter, particularly by Opposition Members, but I will support my Government and I will hold my Government to account in a way that I never see Opposition MPs from Scotland holding their Government to account.
It was touching to hear the hon. Member for South Leicestershire (Alberto Costa) talk about his hope and aspiration that EU nationals will be allowed to remain indefinitely, and of course he is right on that, yet he betrayed a little bit of fear of offending his Front Benchers were he to go so far as wanting to enshrine those rights in the Bill.
I commend my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Camberwell and Peckham (Ms Harman) for new clause 57. It is important and would provide the assurances that many tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of people residing in this country require. I tabled a similar new clause—new clause 14—which I hope the Committee will support.
The context of this debate, for which more than 50 substantive amendments on distinct and specific issues of great importance have been tabled, is the contrast between the desire of Members to raise these issues and the nonsensical four hours in which they have to be considered. There is something like four minutes for each topic. Nothing could demonstrate more clearly to Members in the House of Lords how important it is that they do the due diligence on this Bill that the House of Commons will clearly not be able to do.
This is one of the most important pieces of legislation in our time: the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill. Let us just remind ourselves what we are talking about. It is a Bill that, although it may contain just a simple clause or two, will have phenomenal ramifications for all of our constituents. If we fail to address those in proper detail, we are failing in our duty to scrutinise the Government in a serious way.
My hon. Friend is completely right. This Bill is far more important than all those treaties wrapped together, because it is about withdrawing from the European Union.
What made the situation worse was the White Paper we had from the Government. Let us not forget that it came the day after the vote on Second Reading. That was pretty shocking and quite contemptuous of the rights that the House of Commons should have. It is a lamentable document because of the lack of information it contains on so many of the important issues on which I and other hon. Members have tabled amendments.
We should use the time we have today to talk about what we need to know and to ask the Government what their plan is. That is why I will briefly go through some of the new clauses I have tabled. For the sake of argument, let us take the first one, new clause 20 on financial services. One could say that it is merely a small corner of Britain’s GDP, but it provides £67 billion of revenue for all our schools and hospitals. If we mess around with that sector in the wrong way, we will all be poorer and our public services will be poorer as a result.
New clause 20 suggests that there should be a report twice a year on where we are going on one of those questions that was not contained in the White Paper: “What is our progress towards a smooth transition from the existing open market access, where we have passports, to the new arrangements, whatever they are going to be?” The White Paper merely says, “We’d quite like to have the freest possible trade,” but it says nothing about what will happen on mutual co-operation, regulation and oversight; whether we will be able to have permanent equivalence rights for some trades; or whether UK firms will have time to adjust.
Those issues already pose a clear and present danger to our economy. HSBC says that 1,000 jobs are going to go, Lloyd’s of London is moving some of its activities, UBS is moving 1,000 jobs, and J.P. Morgan has said that potentially 4,000 jobs will go. Firms are voting with their feet already, yet the White Paper hardly touches on this question.
I pay tribute to my hon. Friend for his diligence on this Bill and for tabling these important new clauses. If we boil it all down, this is not about passporting and the complicated legal framework around financial services, but about the tens of thousands of my constituents who are in highly skilled, highly paid jobs in the financial services sector and who are worried about their future employment.
Absolutely. When hon. Members are asked by their constituents, “What time did you have to debate financial services?”, they will have to say, “There was only a couple of hours or maybe just a few minutes. I didn’t say anything about it because of the ridiculous programme order that we put in place to curtail debate.”
Is it right that the hon. Gentleman talks down the City of London in this way? We all know about the threats that have been made, but not one of those jobs has left the City of London. The fact is that, given a choice between London, Frankfurt, Dublin or Paris, those companies will choose London every time.
I really hope that that is the case. I absolutely share the hon. Gentleman’s aspiration, but he should look at the press releases from HSBC, Lloyd’s of London, UBS and J.P. Morgan. These are not alternative facts; this is the real truth. These are people’s jobs and this is revenue for our country that we will potentially lose.
It is not talking down the City of London to highlight the report by TheCityUK emphasising that the best-case scenario, under the Government’s plan, is for 7,000 jobs losses, but that the worst-case scenario could be more than 70,000 job losses. That is not talking the City down but making the economic case for securing the best deal.
Is it not my hon. Friend’s point that we are now a service economy? The service sector accounts for 88% of London’s economy, and the service sector can move. Prior to our joining the EU, we had things in the ground and we were a great manufacturing nation, but that is not the case today.
That is another issue that deserves a massive amount of consideration, but we just do not have the time to go through it today.
I will move on, then, to new clause 22, on competition policy—another small area of policy! The White Paper says absolutely nothing about what the UK will do, upon our exit from the EU, in respect of competition policy. It is totally silent. Will we change our attitude towards state aid for industry? What will our state aid rules be? If we make a change, will our trading partners baulk at the idea that we might be subsidising products in a particular way? Will we be undercutting their production? Would we not wish to do that? Will we take on the WTO disciplines on subsidies? Will we join the EEA scheme on subsidies? What about state aid rules, competition policy and the European Free Trade Association? This a big deal. I think of subjects that have come up recently such as Hinkley Point, the British investment bank and British steel. These are all questions we have to consider and decide upon. All I am saying in new clause 22 is that the Government should publish a report in one month on their attitude to competition policy. It is a pretty simple measure.
I have tabled other amendments that would require Ministers to set out their aspirations, within one month of Royal Assent, on other questions that will arise as we extract ourselves from some of these European partnerships, alliances and agencies. On law enforcement, for example, what will we do about Europol? New clause 111 touches on the benefits we currently enjoy from cross-border co-operation on cybercrime, terrorism, combating trafficking and other important activities. We deserve to know the Government’s approach to cross-border crime, as we do with respect to the European Police College, Eurojust, our co-operation with prosecuting authorities, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction and the Agency for Fundamental Rights. The White Paper is totally silent on all those issues. We have no idea what the Government’s plan and negotiating stance will be, and yet we do not have the time to debate these matters properly.
I do not know what the Government are worried about. Anybody who knows anything about negotiations knows that each side can report back from time to time without necessarily giving away their negotiating hand. I do not know what they are scared of.
I think the Government might be scared of the debate. It also reflects their lack of awareness of the issues. The Government have not thought this through but instead are confronting issues as they bubble up, at a fairly random level, while giving a veneer of control—“We must not show our cards”, “I cannot give a running commentary”. Ministers use these phrases, but behind the curtain they are panicking and their feet are moving rapidly, because they do not have a clue.
By logical extension, the hon. Gentleman wants to unpick almost every single part of EU policy, legislation and co-operation with the UK, bring it to the House and get the Government to set out what they want to do about them. How long does he think it would take to dissociate ourselves from the EU if we were to take that line—two years or 20 years?
It would take more than the three days that the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends have given us to debate these questions. We are leaving the EU—that is what the Bill is for. He and his hon. Friends might be happy to trust the Prime Minister entirely, but Parliament is sovereign. The Supreme Court gave us this duty and said that we should do our due diligence, but the time constraints will prevent us from doing so.
I wish to raise a couple of other law enforcement issues. The big one, in new clause 177, concerns the Government’s policy on the European arrest warrant. The EAW, of course, is there to make sure we can transfer criminal suspects or sentenced persons from other countries and put them on trial here, and vice versa. The UK has extradited more than 8,000 individuals accused or convicted of criminal offences to the rest of the EU. I think of the case of Hussain Osman, found guilty of the Shepherd’s Bush tube bombing in July 2005, captured in Rome, extradited under the EAW and sentenced to 40 years. In 2014, the Prime Minister herself said that ditching the EAW would turn Britain into
“a honeypot for all of Europe’s criminals on the run from justice”.
From the Prime Minister’s own mouth! What will be our attitude towards the current level of participation? Will we want to continue with the EAW? There is nothing in the White Paper about it.
Is it not the agencies that will be the biggest problem? The Government describe moving everything over with a great repeal Bill, but what happens where that Bill refers to actions that depend on an EU agency, given that we will not have that agency?
That is the fallacy behind the reassurances to hon. Members. We are told, “Don’t worry. We can come to this in later legislation. It will all be fine. The great repeal Bill will deal with these things”.
Of course it will not. These are facilities and levels of co-operation and alliances that exist because of our membership of the EU, and yet we will not even have the time to debate the consequences.
I had better move on rapidly. On public health, what is the plan? What do the Government intend to do? Again, the White Paper said virtually nothing about a range of critical alliances, such as the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, as dealt with in new clause 113. During the outbreak of SARS in 2003, when the disease rapidly spread across several countries, we knew what to do because these EU-wide institutions and public health authorities were able to provide research and intelligence. There is nothing in the White Paper about the British Government’s attitude to such pan-European questions.
What will we do about the European Medicines Agency, as dealt with in new clause 115? Currently based in London, the EMA harmonises the work of national medical regulatory bodies across a range of issues including the application for marketing authorisations, support for medicines development, patents, monitoring the safety of medicines, providing medical information to healthcare professionals and so forth. Who will take on those responsibilities? What will happen? The White Paper was totally silent on that question.
The Health Secretary told the Health Committee the other day that he had already thrown in the towel on the EMA—that we were leaving it and giving up the headquarters in London, along with hundreds of jobs, meaning far slower approval of vital drugs in this country, and the loss of all our influence and all those jobs.
Given that the Government have said that they will pull out of Euratom, because it is part of the EU, is not the logical extension of their position to pull out of all those agencies? If so, why does my hon. Friend think they do not want to face up to it? Is it because they do not want to face up to the cost of duplicating the work of 30-odd agencies?
I am afraid to say to my hon. Friend not only that he is right, but that the list goes on—the list of the consequences of withdrawing from the EU without Parliament even having the opportunity properly to debate it. Food safety is covered by the European Food Safety Authority, so we will be throwing in the towel on independent scientific advice on food chain issues and research that is currently in place through our involvement in the EFSA—and there is nothing in the White Paper about it.
What about the E111 health insurance scheme? Hon. Members will remember that the scheme is not just for tourists, because there is the E110 for hauliers and the E128 for students. What, then, is the plan? What will happen when our constituents go abroad?
If the hon. Gentleman had read it, he would understand it perfectly as well as I do. The plan is very simple. All existing laws and requirements will be transferred into good British law. If we need a different adjudicator, that adjudicator can be selected and approved by Parliament. The great news for both of us is that nothing will change legally unless and until this Parliament debates it and wants to change it.
I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman has actually left these shores and visited other countries: we do not control the sort of health insurance and health service schemes that happen in those other European countries, but we currently have a reciprocal health insurance arrangement that provides him, his family and his constituents with a certain degree of cover. That could well be ripped up because of the consequences of the legislation that we are potentially passing—without a word from the Government and with nothing in the White Paper.
My hon. Friend makes a very important point about the E111 scheme, because that will have a practical impact on our constituents. If my hon. Friend does not get a clear answer on that, I fear that many constituents will be forced into buying very expensive travel insurance policies to make sure that they are covered while the scheme is left in limbo.
The consequences of this aspect and many others are myriad. I hope that the House will begin to wake up and realise that we have been sold a pup with this programme order, which does not give us enough time to discuss all this. I have to move on.
The European Chemicals Agency is another example of something that will be ditched. Companies currently have to provide information about hazards, risks and the safe use of chemicals, but we will potentially leave that agency, with nothing in the White Paper about the alternative.
Another health and safety issue is aviation. What will we do about safe skies, and the regulation of aircraft parts, engines and many other aspects? What will we do about maritime safety? What happens if shipping disasters occur on or around our shores? What is the Government’s alternative? There is nothing in the White Paper.
Another minor issue—he said sarcastically—is the environment, and we will potentially leave the European Environment Agency. New clause 120 simply asks that we have a report within a month on what the Government’s plans should be.
I want to move on, if I may.
When it comes to education, science and research issues, we will leave the European Research Council, which is very important. Hon. Members may know about the Erasmus scheme, which means that all our constituents who currently want to study abroad for a few months can have that time recognised as part of their degree, but what will happen to that scheme? There is nothing in the White Paper. It does not say anything about students in our constituencies potentially losing out very significantly. What about satellite issues, plant variety issues, locational training and all sorts of issues?
My hon. Friend is indeed making an excellent speech and highlighting the complexity of the challenges we face. He referred to science, and I had a conversation yesterday with my constituent Clare, who is a scientist and was extremely concerned about how our collaboration will work and what projects we will be included in in the future. She was also concerned about the impact on our young people. Their future is ahead of them, and in a sense we are pulling the rug out from under their feet.
We should have the time, the space and the opportunity to discuss the consequences for my hon. Friend’s constituent, but we will not. My hon. Friend will have to tell her constituent that we did not have enough time in the House of Commons. Fingers crossed, there might be time for the House of Lords to do some of this work and put their concerns to Ministers in the other place.
My hon. Friend is doing an excellent job of trying to scrutinise the implications of this Bill, yet we have less time on the Floor of the House to debate it than we would have in Committee for much less important Bills. Does my hon. Friend agree that while we want all these issues to be sorted out within two years, that might not happen, which is why we need transitional arrangements as well as a vote on the final deal, so that this House can see whether the Government have done their job properly and truly got the best deal for Britain?
Does the hon. Gentleman agree that as well as having an environment policy, we need to make sure that it is enforceable? It is no good just moving it across, if we cannot bring enforcement to bear. Does he also agree with me that the European Investment Bank is a crucial issue, because it is a massive investor in renewable energy in this country? We need to know where we stand on that.
In that case, I will move on to new clause 122, which references the European Investment Bank. It deals with a series of economic and trade co-operation issues, which are again not referenced at all in the White Paper. Can you imagine, Mr Howarth, the Government producing a White Paper about the consequences of withdrawing from the European Union without even mentioning the European Investment Bank, in which, by the way, we currently have a 16% stake? It part-funds Crossrail and the Manchester Metrolink. This is a massively important institution, yet we are simply shrugging it off in a blasé way, saying “Trust the Prime Minister; it will all be fine”.
We should at least ask Ministers about the attitude of the British Government towards it, so I ask the Minister directly: what is the British Government’s attitude to our continued participation in the European Investment Bank? He needs to address that and other issues.
I had better move on and talk about a couple of other new clauses. I know that other hon. Members want to contribute to the debate, and it is frustrating that we do not have enough time properly to debate the issues. I am glad to see in their place a couple of hon. Members who might be interested in these things. New clauses 128 to 130 deal with the issue of the protected designation of the origins of goods and services—specifically, their protected geographical indication.
Hon. Members might well have relevant businesses within their constituencies. This is sometimes known as “the Stilton amendment”, so I am looking at the hon. Member for North West Cambridgeshire (Mr Vara). I understand that Stilton is not necessarily made in North West Cambridgeshire, but the hon. Gentleman has the village of Stilton in his constituency. Similarly, the hon. Member for Truro and Falmouth (Sarah Newton) will be well aware of the wonders of Fal oysters, which are protected under the protected geographical indication—PGI—scheme that applies to European trade. Whether they are called “the Stilton amendment” or “the Scotch whisky amendment”, the new clauses simply ask what the Government’s plan is for those protected products—much-cherished and much-valued not just where they are produced, but where they are consumed worldwide—if they lose their protected status? We could end up having knock-off Scotch whisky sold around the world without that protection. The same might apply to Scotch beef, Welsh lamb, Melton Mowbray pork pies, Arbroath smokies, Yorkshire Wensleydale, Newcastle Brown Ale and the Cornish pasty.
As it happens, the protected status of Stilton cheese prohibits people living in the village of Stilton in my constituency from making it. They researched the cheese and found that it was originally made in the village, but they are prohibited from making it by the protected status to which the hon. Gentleman refers. When we leave the European Union, they will be able to make Stilton cheese in Stilton.