Following the Opposition day debate motion on 1 November, the Government are making arrangements to respond to the motion which called on the Government to provide the Committee on Exiting the European Union with “impact assessments arising from” the sectoral analysis it has conducted with regards to the list of 58 sectors referred to in the answer of 26 June 2017 to Question 239.
As the Government have already made clear, it is not the case that 58 sectoral impact assessments exist. During the Opposition day debate the Parliamentary Under- Secretary of State told the House:
“there has been some misunderstanding about what this sectoral analysis actually is. It is not a series of 58 impact assessments.” —[Official Report,1 November2017; Vol.630, c. 887.]
I made the same point during my appearance before the House of Lords EU Committee on 31 October and to the House at DEXEU oral questions on 2 November.
The sectoral analysis is a wide mix of qualitative and quantitative analyses, contained in a range of documents developed at different times since the referendum. It examines the nature of activity in the sectors, how trade is conducted with the EU currently in these sectors and, in many cases, considers the alternatives following the UK’s exit from the EU as well as considering existing precedents. The analysis ranges from the very high level overarching analysis to sometimes much more granular level analysis of certain product lines in specific sectors. The analysis in this area is constantly evolving and being updated based on our regular discussions with industry and our negotiations with the EU. It is not, nor has it ever been, a series of discrete impact assessments examining the quantitative impact of Brexit on these sectors.
Given the above, it will take the Department, working with other Departments, time to collate and bring together this information in a way that is accessible and informative for the Committee. The Government are committed to providing the information to the Committee as soon as is possible. I have made plain to the House authorities that we currently expect this to be no more than three weeks.
As Ministers made clear during the Opposition day debate on this motion, there are a number of reasons why the Government believe that it would not be in the public interest for elements of the analysis, at least, to be released into the public domain.
The House of Commons has itself recognised that while Ministers should be as open as possible with Parliament, the Government also have an obligation to consider where it would not be in the public interest for material to be published.
Furthermore, it is important to recognise in some cases there may be confidential or commercially sensitive information in this analysis, and that in many cases this analysis has been developed to underpin advice to Ministers of the negotiation options in various scenarios. It is well understood—as was the case under successive administrations—that such advice to Ministers must remain private.
I have written to the Chair of the Committee on Exiting the European Union to set out the Government’s position as outlined above. I will also be meeting the Chair to discuss these issues further on 13 November.