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House of Commons Hansard
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Commons Chamber
06 December 2017
Volume 632

House of Commons

Wednesday 6 December 2017

The House met at half-past Eleven o’clock

Prayers

[Mr Speaker in the Chair]

Oral Answers to Questions

Scotland

The Secretary of State was asked—

Superfast Broadband

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1. What recent discussions he has had with (a) the Scottish Government and (b) Cabinet colleagues on the roll-out of superfast broadband in Scotland. [902715]

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May I start by paying tribute to Jimmy Hood, who died earlier this week? Jimmy was formerly my neighbouring MP and a constituent, and although I have to say that we did not agree on very much, we always got on very well. I remain grateful to Jimmy for his help and support when I was first elected to this House. Jimmy would have been proud to see himself as a traditional Labour man through and through, a fighter for mining communities and mining interests and, obviously, a parliamentarian of 28 years’ standing who held many important roles in this Parliament. Our thoughts are with Marion and his family at this time.

I have regular discussions with Cabinet colleagues, the UK Minister for Digital and the Scottish Government regarding the roll-out of superfast broadband. Just last week, the Minister for Digital met the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity to discuss broadband roll-out and the delays that we have seen from the Scottish Government.

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May I join the Scottish Secretary in paying tribute to Jimmy Hood? Jimmy was a friend of mine, and a friend of many of us here. He would have appreciated my saying that he was a bear of a man, and our Parliament was better for him and his kind.

On broadband roll-out, the Prime Minister recently told the House that the Government intend to work through Scottish local authorities. Will the Secretary of State tell us exactly how he will work with local authorities to ensure that, as we roll out broadband, it is delivered to the homes, communities and businesses that are not yet properly connected?

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I thank the hon. Gentleman for that question. The Minister for Digital made it very clear that his approach to local authorities was based on the fact that the Scottish Government, who previously had responsibility for the roll-out, are three years behind on rolling out broadband in Scotland, and that is not good enough for people living in any of Scotland’s local authority areas. The Minister and I believe that local authorities will give greater priority and expertise to this task than the Scottish Government, which is why we are engaging with them.

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Does the Secretary of State agree that the borderlands initiative is a real opportunity to ensure that digital connectivity in that area is greatly improved, which will enhance the economy of the borderlands area?

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I absolutely agree with my hon. Friend. Connectivity is at the heart of the proposal that the five cross-border local authorities have brought forward in the borderlands package. My hon. Friend will be aware that the original intention for the roll-out of broadband in Scotland was to focus on the south of Scotland but, in their centralising way, the SNP Scottish Government put a stop to that.

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10. I echo the Secretary of State’s comments about Jimmy Hood, who will be sadly missed by all on this side of the House.Superfast broadband is very important for those who want to access banking. There are now more cash machines in this House than there are on Cambuslang Main Street in my constituency. What discussions has the Secretary of State had with the Royal Bank of Scotland about its programme of branch closures? [902724]

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I very much accept the point that the hon. Gentleman makes. It is not good enough for RBS to say that people can rely on internet and mobile banking when so many people in Scotland do not have access to the internet or effective mobile services. When I meet the Royal Bank tomorrow, I will convey the concerns—I think from across the House—about its programme of closures.

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12. In an area that is entirely reserved, the UK Government allocation of £21 million to Scotland’s R100 programme—the Reaching 100% programme—is less than the amount that Devon and Somerset received. Is the Secretary of State not ashamed that, on his watch, he has allowed Scotland to be so chronically underfunded? [902726]

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This is not even about funding; it is about spending the money and taking action to roll out broadband. Three years ago—I repeat, three years ago—there was an allocation of funding, and no action has been taken to procure the roll-out.

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Does the Secretary of State not think the Scottish Conservatives should just stop embarrassing themselves on the issue of broadband? Thanks to the added value of the Scottish Government’s investment, we have the fastest broadband roll-out in the whole of the UK. Without that investment, only 41% of premises in my constituency would have access to fibre broadband; instead, 82% have. In the Secretary of State’s constituency, the figure is 80% instead of 39%. Perhaps the Scottish Conservatives should avail themselves of Scottish broadband and google how not to embarrass themselves in this House?

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If anyone has embarrassed himself, it is the Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity, who sent out 35 tweets to tell people what a good job he was doing. The First Minister of Scotland sent my hon. Friend the Member for Angus (Kirstene Hair) a seven-tweet thread to tell her what a good job she was doing. People up and down Scotland who do not receive adequate broadband services know who is to blame: the Scottish Government.

Revenue Budget

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2. What discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the effect of the autumn Budget 2017 on the level of Scotland’s revenue budget. [902716]

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The recent Budget shows that we are delivering for Scotland, including £347 million in additional resource budget as part of £2 billion extra as a result of Barnett consequentials.

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Under the Secretary of State for Scotland’s watch, Scotland’s revenue budget has been cut by £2.6 billion, including a £200 million cut next year alone. Under this Secretary of State for Scotland, more than £200 million of common agricultural policy convergence funding has been stolen. He also voted against the VAT exemption for police and fire services. Why has the Secretary of State done nothing to prevent those Tory measures?

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The hon. Gentleman suggests that we have done nothing, but the day before the Budget, that £347 million of additional resource budget was not there. That was announced in the Budget statement, along with another £1.7 billion of additional capital to support the businesses and people of Scotland.

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I am sure that Members on both sides of the House appreciate the role that oil and gas play not just in the north-east economy, but in the UK economy. Does my right hon. Friend agree that the transferable tax history that was set out in the Budget is a desperately needed shot in the arm for the industry, and a step in the right direction to making Aberdeen a global hub for decommissioning? That shows that 13 Scottish Tory MPs get things done.

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My hon. Friend is entirely right. I know that the oil and gas sector has warmly welcomed the changes that we are making to provide additional tax relief through transferable tax history. Many in the sector believe that that measure will lead to tens of billions of additional investment during the lifetime of the North sea reserves.

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I associate myself with the Secretary of State’s kind remarks about the late Jimmy Hood, who was a fine champion of Labour values and of his community. The whole House offers condolences to his family and all those who knew him.

The Government claim that Scotland has received an additional £2 billion in the Budget, yet the Fraser of Allander Institute says that the revenue budget will be about £500 million less in real terms within the next two years. Who are the people of Scotland to believe: this redundant Secretary of State, or a world-renowned economic think-tank? Will the Financial Secretary address that question directly?

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The figures speak for themselves. As the hon. Gentleman should know—I am sure that he does—by 2020 the block grant to Scotland will be £31.1 billion before devolutionary adjustments, and that is a simple real-terms increase.

Joint Ministerial Committee

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4. What progress the Joint Ministerial Committee (EU Negotiations) is making. [902718]

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7. What progress the Joint Ministerial Committee (EU Negotiations) is making. [902721]

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The Joint Ministerial Committee (EU Negotiations) provides a valuable forum for the UK Government and devolved Administrations to discuss EU exit. We took an important step forward at the last meeting in October by agreeing a set of principles to govern the consideration of frameworks. Another meeting will be held next Tuesday, and I hope to see significant progress then.

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I welcome the constructive approach that is being taken to the Joint Ministerial Committee. Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is vital that both sides keep this up and make real progress on the substance, so that as we leave the EU we have a stronger Scottish Parliament as part of a stronger United Kingdom?

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I agree with my hon. Friend. I look forward to the opportunity to continue the good progress that we are making in our framework discussions, which will lead to significantly more powers for Holyrood while maintaining the integrity of the UK’s internal market.

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As my right hon. Friend will know, fishing is a totemic industry in my constituency of Banff and Buchan, where there is real concern that the Scottish Government want to take Scotland back into the common fisheries policy. Can he reassure me that in all conversations and negotiations in the JMC (EN), he stands firm on taking Scotland’s fisherman out of the CFP, and keeping them out?

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In his short time in this Parliament, my hon. Friend has already come to be seen as a champion for the fishing industry. I can give him an absolute guarantee: unlike the Scottish National party, which would take us straight back into the common fisheries policy, this Government will take Scotland and the rest of the UK out of that discredited policy.

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The Secretary of State rightly argued in September 2014 that if Scotland left the United Kingdom, there would be a barrier at Berwick because of Scotland leaving the UK single market. Can he tell the House why it is any different for the island of Ireland? Is not his Brexit shambles a threat to the United Kingdom?

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I have been, and remain, absolutely clear that nothing will be done in any Brexit deal that will threaten the integrity of the United Kingdom, and particularly Scotland’s part in it.

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Given the miasma of despair that hangs over this dying Government, Scotland needs a competent and cogent voice at the Cabinet table. To prove that that voice is his, will the Secretary of State tell us his red lines, in Scotland’s interests, that he has laid out to the Prime Minister?

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I am quite clear that my red line is the integrity of the United Kingdom, and keeping Scotland in the United Kingdom, which people in Scotland voted for in 2014. We are leaving the EU as a United Kingdom, and nothing that the SNP does will stop that.

Industrial Strategy

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5. What steps the Government plan to take to ensure that Scotland benefits from the new industrial strategy. [902719]

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The industrial strategy is a comprehensive plan for boosting productivity to raise the earning power of people and businesses. We have been working constructively with the Scottish Government, who hold many of the policy levers that will help to make the industrial strategy a success in Scotland. We have proposed a review of inter-agency collaboration to maximise the coherence and impact of both Governments’ work in Scotland.

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This UK-wide industrial strategy is extremely welcome in my constituency. Southampton airport connects Eastleigh to Edinburgh and Glasgow by two busy routes across the UK. Does the Secretary of State agree that regional airports and vital connectivity will increase prosperity in Scotland and England?

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I was delighted to hear that Edinburgh airport has had its busiest year ever, so I agree absolutely with my hon. Friend and recognise that regional airports across the UK make a vital contribution to the economic health of the whole country. That is why we are developing a new aviation strategy that will consider how best to encourage and improve domestic connectivity, to the benefit of both Scotland and the whole United Kingdom.

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First, may I associate myself and my Liberal Democrat colleagues with the Secretary of State’s comments about the late Jimmy Hood? Every inch of his not insubstantial frame was Labour, but he was always capable of moments of humour and kindness across the party divide, and I am sure that he will be fondly remembered in the House and beyond.

If the industrial strategy is to reach all parts of the United Kingdom, it should be an opportunity for Scotland to develop its potential for wave and tidal power. That will require a dedicated funding stream. What is the Secretary of State doing in collaboration with his colleagues in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to ensure that we get that dedicated funding stream?

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My colleagues in that Department are well aware of the issues that the right hon. Gentleman raises, which are important in ensuring the development of tidal energy in particular. We will continue to look at what funding can be made available for that.

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Will the Secretary of State ensure that the Government support Scotland’s efforts to be at the forefront of the clean energy and technology industries, which are crucial to our future economic prosperity?

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I absolutely will do that. My right hon. Friend will know that, at the recent conference of the parties event in Germany, there were considerable efforts on the part of the whole United Kingdom—the Scottish Government working with the UK Government —to deliver just that.

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At the last Scottish questions, the Secretary of State said that he had shared analysis with the Scottish Government. This morning we discovered that there is no impact assessment, so what analysis was shared with the Scottish Government?

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First, the material that has been provided to the Exiting the European Union Committee has also been provided to the devolved Administrations. The position was—and is—that officials from the UK and Scottish Governments are working together on the basis of analysis that they have both done.

Leaving the EU: Devolution

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6. What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on devolving powers to Scotland after the UK leaves the EU. [902720]

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9. What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on devolving powers to Scotland as a result of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU [902723]

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13. What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on devolving powers to Scotland as a result of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU [902727]

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14. What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on devolving powers to Scotland as a result of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU [902728]

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The UK Government are working with colleagues in the devolved Administrations to carefully consider our approach to powers returning from the EU. At the last meeting of the JMC (EN) we agreed a set of principles and I am confident that we can take further steps at the next meeting to be held on 12 December.

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Does the Secretary of State agree with his Scottish Tory colleagues who described clause 11 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill as “not fit for purpose” and said that it

“needs to be…replaced with a new version”—[Official Report, 4 December 2017; Vol. 631, c.731]?

If so, how does he propose to amend it?

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I heard the eloquent speech that my hon. Friend the Member for East Renfrewshire (Paul Masterton) made during Monday’s debate. Of course, the Government will respond to the issues that he raised.

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The Secretary of State will remember that when the Scotland Bill was on its way through Parliament, we submitted 60 amendments, every one of which he and the Government opposed, but most of which they then adopted through the back door of the House of Lords. Do the Secretary of State and the Government intend to use the same discredited, undemocratic process to correct the faults of clause 11?

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If the hon. Gentleman has concerns about the procedures of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, he can raise them through the Procedure Committee. He acknowledges exactly what happened: we had a debate; the Government listened and responded; and the Scotland Bill was amended for the better.

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The Federation of Small Businesses Scotland, the Institute of Directors Scotland, the Scottish chambers of commerce, Universities Scotland and many other Scottish organisations have called for a differentiated approach to immigration for Scotland. The problems that my constituents such as Françoise Milne face have crystallised the issue and the human cost. Will the Secretary of State table amendments to clause 11 to support the devolution of immigration and visa controls to Scotland?

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I do not support the devolution of immigration to Scotland. Three years ago, the Smith commission deliberated on what powers and responsibilities would be held in the Scottish Parliament and what would be held here in Westminster. It was agreed by all parties that Westminster would retain immigration.

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During Monday’s debate on the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, Scottish Tory MPs said that clause 11 was “not fit for purpose”, but is not the reality that while we hear much talk from them, they are actually just Lobby fodder for the Government?

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Conservative Members are happy to be judged by our actions. We heard all these things when the Scotland Bill was going through the House of Commons, yet at the end of the process, Lord Smith said that it met his Committee’s requirements in full. In this House we will deliver an EU (Withdrawal) Bill that can generate the consent of the Scottish and Welsh Governments.

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May I commend to my right hon. Friend the most recent report of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, which was published last week, on inter-institutional relations in the UK? Will he accept that there is a strong consensus that devolution arrangements are not finished and we need far stronger institutional underpinning of the relations between the four parts of the UK, and that this is an opportunity to achieve that?

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Of course I have seen my hon. Friend’s excellent report, and the Government are continuing to consider it. Obviously I believe that intergovermental institutions and relations can be improved, and we must continue to work on that.

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It is welcome news that good progress was made at the last meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee, when principles underpinning common frameworks were agreed. Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is vital for Scotland’s two Governments to work together as we leave the European Union, so that the common frameworks that we need to maintain the UK internal market are retained while all remaining powers are devolved?

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I absolutely agree with my hon. Friend, and that is our approach. I am happy to put on record that I welcome the Scottish Government’s constructive approach to these matters in recent weeks.

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Let me first thank the Secretary of State and other Members for their condolences, on behalf of Jimmy Hood’s family.

On Monday night, the Scottish Tories were herded through the Lobbies and told to trample all over the devolution settlement. Who issued those instructions, the Prime Minister or Ruth Davidson and the Secretary of State?

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I know that the hon. Lady does not like it, but the Bill is going to be amended not at the behest of the Labour party’s incoherent approach or the Scottish National party’s nationalist approach, but because Scottish Conservatives have tabled practical amendments.

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I welcome that clarification, but the question was really “Why could the Secretary of State not have presented those amendments the other night?” Throughout Monday’s debate his Scottish colleagues acknowledged that there were deficiencies in the Bill, but were unable to name one. Will the Secretary of State now do what they could not? Will he tell us first what deficiencies there are in the Bill, and secondly why they voted for the Bill to be passed unamended when they all knew that it was fundamentally flawed?

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If the hon. Lady had been in the Chamber at the time, she would have heard the speech made by my hon. Friend the Member for East Renfrewshire (Paul Masterton). He set out very clearly why clause 11 needed to be amended, and what type of amendments would be tabled.

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May I associate myself and the Scottish National party with the Secretary of State’s comments about the late Jimmy Hood?

We are more than halfway through consideration in Committee of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill and, in particular, its effect on devolution. I think that the people of Scotland need clarity during this process. The Secretary of State knows that there is widespread concern throughout the House, and in his own party, about the measures in clause 11. He has indicated that there will be amendments, so may I ask him this? Will the Government table amendments to clause 11, yes or no?

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I hope that the hon. Gentleman’s second question is shorter.

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May I ask the Secretary of State when that will happen?

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The answer is that it will happen on Report. We have been very clear about this. The Committee stage is about listening and adapting to issues that have been raised; we have listened to my hon. Friend the Member for East Renfrewshire, and we will table amendments to clause 11.

Capital Project Funding

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8. What discussions he has had with the Scottish Government since the autumn Budget 2017 on plans for capital project funding in Scotland. [902722]

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Further to our discussions with the Scottish Government and the announcements made in the Budget, an additional £1.7 billion will be available to Scotland in capital resources. That is a 33% increase in real terms.

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Does the Secretary of State agree that while the sum is much less than might have been hoped for, the Barnett consequentials for housing should be ring-fenced by the Scottish Government for that purpose alone, and not for another high-profile, faulty bridge?

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The hon. Lady is, I know, most vexed about the Queensferry crossing, and she is right to be so. It was widely trumpeted by the Scottish Government and the SNP as a great infrastructure success, yet I understand that it is currently partly closed, and is likely to be suffering from closures for many months to come, at great inconvenience to the hon. Lady’s constituents. [Interruption.] She should address her comments to the SNP and the Scottish Government. [Interruption.]

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We are grateful to the Financial Secretary—or at least those of us who could hear him were. We now come to the question of the hon. Member for Fylde (Mark Menzies) who wants to ask about Scotch whisky, so I ask for a bit of order.

Scotch Whisky: Exports

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11. What steps the Government are taking to increase exports of Scotch whisky. [902725]

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I was delighted to host the ever-popular Scotch Whisky Association reception at Dover House last night. The UK Government work closely with the association, individual distilleries and companies across a range of issues from market promotion to market access.

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The Chancellor’s Budget announcement that he would freeze duty on Scotch whisky is a sign of support for one of Scotland’s great industries. As one of the Prime Minister’s trade envoys, I have recently been in Colombia, Peru and Chile banging the drum for Scotch whisky; does my right hon. Friend agree that the Scotch whisky industry has an enormous opportunity to boost trade with growing markets as we look to build a truly global Britain?

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I absolutely agree with my hon. Friend that there are huge opportunities for Scotch whisky as we leave the EU, particularly in South America, and I commend him on his activities. I also commend Diageo on the 20th anniversary of the creation of the company on 17 December.

Jobcentre Closures

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15. What assessment he has made of the effect of proposed jobcentre closures on local communities in Scotland. [902729]

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We continue to provide excellent support to those seeking work, or who cannot work, through a network of offices which are modern, accessible and meet future requirements. Most jobcentres are staying put. We are merging some neighbourhood offices to create bigger, multi-skilled teams and moving to better buildings, all of which will lead to better customer service.

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Unemployment in Glasgow has been consistently higher than the national average, child poverty is rising and the use of food banks has increased by 20% in the past two years, so how can the Secretary of State justify closing so many jobcentres, which provide vital support for people to enter the labour market?

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I set out in my original answer that this was a system to provide better services, and the hon. Gentleman should know that there was a full review of the proposed closures in Glasgow and that the proposal was changed in response to a public consultation.

I would not be doing my duty as Secretary of State for Scotland if I could not in my final words wish Paisley every success in the city of culture competition.

Prime Minister

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Before I call the hon. Member for High Peak (Ruth George) to ask Question 1, I should inform the House that the text of the closed question tabled by the hon. Member for Lichfield (Michael Fabricant) relating to economic performance and public services in the west midlands—Question 5—has, in error, been omitted from the printed copies of the Order Paper. A corrigendum—that is a wonderfully clerkly word—has been made available in the Vote Office and copies are on the Table.

The Prime Minister was asked—

Engagements

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Q1. If she will list her official engagements for Wednesday 6 December. [902775]

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I am sure the whole House will join me in offering condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Police Constable James Dixon from Thames Valley Police, who was killed while on motorcycle duty yesterday, and also to the family and friends of the passenger in the car involved in the collision. I am sure the whole House will also join me in offering condolences to the family and friends of the former Member of this House, Jim Hood, who was a former miner and a strong voice for Lanarkshire in this place for nearly 30 years.

This morning I had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in this House, I shall have further such meetings later today.

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My constituent, Kate, has run a successful nursery for more than 14 years, but after two months on the Government’s funding for three and four-year-olds, she says that she cannot make it work. She is having to sell her home to pay her staff’s redundancy payments. More than 1,000 nurseries have already closed, and 58% say that they cannot continue. If nurseries close, parents cannot work. Please will the Prime Minister meet me and the nursery owners to discuss these widespread and critical problems?

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I have indeed recently met some nursery owners to look at this issue, and they have given a clear message that there are parts of the country where local authorities are operating the system very efficiently and very well, and parts of the country where that is not happening. What underpins this issue is the decision taken by this Government to improve the childcare offer for parents so that they have a better opportunity to ensure that their children get into the childcare that they need.

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Q3. Will the Prime Minister give us a quick update on the Brexit negotiations? Does she agree that, post-Brexit, it will be absolutely crucial that we enhance skills and apprenticeships in the construction and housing sector? Does she also agree that now is not the time for the Construction Industry Training Board to be proposing to close its site at Bircham in West Norfolk, putting at risk 600 jobs in a rural area? Will she meet me to discuss this, and will she help me in my campaign? [902777]

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My hon. Friend is a great champion for his constituency, and he has been a great supporter of the CITB at Bircham. I am very happy to support his campaign; I wish him well, and I am happy to meet him.

My hon. Friend asked about Brexit, and what we are doing in the Brexit negotiations is ensuring that we can indeed build those houses and build the country for the future that we want to see. The principles that we are working to are that the text that is currently being discussed is a report on the progress of the negotiations, on which basis the European Commission will decide whether sufficient progress has been made to enable us to move on to the next stage of talks. It is for those future talks to agree precisely how we ensure cross-border trade while maintaining the constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom. We are leaving the European Union, and we are leaving the single market and the customs union, but we will do what is right in the interests of the whole of the United Kingdom, and nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.

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I join the Prime Minister in expressing condolences about the police officer and the passenger who lost their lives in the tragic event yesterday. I also join her in paying tribute to the late Jimmy Hood, who represented Clydesdale and, later, Lanark and Hamilton East. He was a good friend of all of us, and he was a great fighter for the coal industry and the mineworkers union during the strike and after that, during his time here. We thank Jimmy for his work for the labour movement.

In July, the International Trade Secretary said that the Brexit negotiations would be

“the easiest in human history”.

Does the Prime Minister still agree with that assessment?

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I am very pleased to report to the right hon. Gentleman that the negotiations are in progress, as I have just said, and very good progress has been made in those negotiations—[Interruption.] What the Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade, my right hon. Friend the Member for North Somerset (Dr Fox) has been focusing on is the trade negotiations for the future. Indeed, because we are already a member of the European Union, when we leave we will not be have the same relationship with it as, say, Canada had in negotiating a trade agreement. We therefore expect to be able to get the deal that is right for the whole of the United Kingdom. To be able to do that, we need to move on to phase 2. If the right hon. Gentleman is so concerned about easing negotiations, why did his MEPs vote against enabling us to do that?

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The Prime Minister can always look behind her. She has not succeeded in convincing many people. Yesterday, one Tory donor told the papers:

“Yesterday proved beyond doubt that”

the Prime Minister

“is not only weak but that it’s her incompetence that is hobbling the UK.”

He was not very kind about the rest of her Front Benchers either, describing them as a

“bunch of jellyfish masquerading as the cabinet”.

This is truly a coalition of chaos. At the start of the week it all seemed to be going so well: the Prime Minister had scheduled a lunch with Jean-Claude Juncker, followed by a press conference, and then was to return triumphantly to the House to present her deal. [Interruption.]

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Order. Let me make it clear for the umpteenth time—[Interruption.] I know what is going on. I am grateful to the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr Skinner), but I can look after these matters. No one in this Chamber is going to be shouted down. It will not happen. If people think that they can sit where I cannot see them and make a raucous noise, they are very foolish, because I know where they are and I know what they are up to, and it is not going to work—end of subject.

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On the Prime Minister’s way back to Britain, someone forgot to share the details of the Irish border deal with the Democratic Unionist party. Surely there are 1.5 billion reasons why the Prime Minister really should not have forgotten to do that.

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It was a little difficult to detect a question within that interruption. As President Juncker said on Monday, there are still a couple of things that we are negotiating, and he is confident that we will be able to achieve sufficient progress. But if the right hon. Gentleman wants to wonder about plans for negotiations, perhaps he should look at his own Front Bench. The shadow Chancellor used to say that staying in the single market was “not respecting the referendum”, but now he says that it is “on the table”. The shadow Trade Secretary used to say that staying in the customs union was “deeply unattractive”, but now he says that it “isn’t off the table”. We now know from the shadow Chancellor what their approach really is: it is not to have a plan at all. When asked what the Labour party’s plan was, he said, “Well, that’s difficult for us.” As we all know, the only thing that the Labour party is planning for is a run on the pound.

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The Prime Minister was unable to support her Brexit Secretary when he tried to explain that a deal was supposed to have been done in October but still has not been done by December. The leader of the DUP told Irish television that she got sight of the deal only on Monday morning, five weeks after she first asked for it. Two months after the original deadline for the first phase of talks, and after Monday’s shambles, is the Prime Minister now about to end the confusion and clearly outline what the Government’s position is now with regard to the Irish border?

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I am very happy to outline to the right hon. Gentleman the position that I have taken on the Irish border with Northern Ireland; it is exactly the same position that I took in the Lancaster House speech, that I took in the Florence speech and that we have taken consistently in the negotiations. We will ensure that there is no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. [Hon. Members: “How?”] We will do that while we respect the constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom, and while we respect and protect the internal market of the United Kingdom. [Hon. Members: “How?”] I say to those Labour Members shouting “How?”, that is the whole point of the second phase of the negotiations, because we aim to deliver this as part of our overall trade deal between the United Kingdom and the European Union, and we can only talk about that when we get into phase 2. We have a plan; he has none.

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Eighteen months after the referendum, the Prime Minister is unable to answer the question. On Monday, as she thought she was coming here to make a statement, it was vetoed by the leader of the DUP—the tail really is wagging the dog here.

The Brexit Secretary told the BBC’s “Andrew Marr Show” in June:

“In my job I don’t think out loud and I don’t make guesses… I try and make decisions. You make those based on the data. That data is being gathered. We’ve got 50—nearly 60—sectoral analyses already done.”

This House voted to see those analyses, but today the Brexit Secretary told the Brexit Committee that the analyses actually do not exist. Can the Prime Minister put us out of our misery? Do they exist, or do they not? Have they done the work, or have they not? That is surely one question she can answer after 18 months.

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May I make a gentle suggestion to the Leader of the Opposition? He asked me a question on the Northern Irish border, and I answered the question. He then stood up and said that I had not answered the question. Perhaps he should listen to the answers that I give.

The House requested, as I understand it, 58 sectoral impact assessments. There were no 58 sectoral impact assessments; there was sectoral analysis. Over 800 pages of sectoral analysis have been published and made available to the Select Committee, and arrangements have been made available for Members of this House to see them. We are very clear that we will not give a running commentary on negotiations as they proceed, but what we will do is work for what this country wants. We will ensure that we leave the European Union in March 2019. We will leave the internal market; we will leave the customs union at the same time; and we will ensure there is no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland when we do it.

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This really is a shambles. All the Government have done is offer a heavily redacted, abbreviated version, which has not been widely shared. The Brexit Secretary said in September that a £50 billion divorce payment was “complete nonsense.” The Foreign Secretary rejected any payment and said that the EU could “go whistle.” Can the Prime Minister put before the House a fully itemised account of any proposed payment that could be independently audited by the Office for Budget Responsibility and the National Audit Office?

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We are at the point of progressing on to the next stage. Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed, so the final settlement will not be agreed until we have got the whole deal agreed. The right hon. Gentleman asked me earlier about hard borders. Half the Labour party wants to stay in the single market and half the Labour party wants to leave the single market. The only hard border around is right down the middle of the Labour party.

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Eighteen months since the referendum, there are no answers to the questions. Today, the Government have not yet concluded phase 1, and there are no answers to the questions and the DUP appears to be ruling the roost and telling the Prime Minister what to do.

Whether it is Brexit, the national health service, social care, our rip-off railways, rising child poverty, growing pensioner poverty or universal credit, this Government are unable to solve important issues facing this country. In fact, they are making them worse. The economy is slowing; more people are in poverty; and the Brexit negotiations are in a shambles. This Government are clearly not fit for the future. If they cannot negotiate a good deal, would it not be better if they just got out of the way?

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Week in, week out, the right hon. Gentleman comes to this House making promises he knows he cannot deliver, and Labour Members keep doing it. At the election, he told students that they would write off their student debt, and then he said, “I did not commit to write off the debt.” But what is the Labour party doing? It is putting around leaflets that say, “Labour will cancel existing student debt”. It is time he apologised for the grossly misleading Labour leaflets.

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Order. We have a closed question from Mr Michael Fabricant.

Public Services: West Midlands

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Q5. What recent assessment she has made of the (a) economic performance and (b) level of provision of public services in the west midlands; and if she will make a statement. [902779]

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I am pleased to say that employment in the west midlands has risen by 198,000 since the 2010 election. In the Budget, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor confirmed that people living and working in the west midlands will benefit from a second devolution deal and a £250 million allocation for regional transport projects.

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The devolution deal, the Budget and now the establishment of the national battery research and development centre in the west midlands put the whole region at the very heart of European autonomous-drive and electric-drive cars. So will my right hon. Friend commit to continuing to support this important industry? Will she make a very important promise to me? [Hon. Members: “Ooh!] Yes. Will she get rid of that gas-guzzler Jaguar of hers in No. 10 Downing Street and get a modern Jaguar, an electric one, from the west midlands, because we are the party of the future, not the old Labour dinosaurs opposite?

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Perhaps I could just let my hon. Friend know that, sadly, the Jaguar in No. 10 Downing Street is not mine, but he is absolutely right that the west midlands is at the heart of this important industry. We are investing £31 million in the west midlands for the development of testing infrastructure for connected and autonomous vehicles, and we will also build on west midlands expertise in self-driving cars as we invest a further £5 million in an initial 5G testbed. I certainly look forward to seeing this technology developing further.

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May I associate myself with the remarks of the Prime Minister regarding the late Jimmy Hood and pass on the condolences of Scottish National party Members to his family and friends?

I am sure the House will also want to join me in welcoming Billy Irving, one of the Chennai six, who has arrived back in Scotland this morning.

So now we know that the deal that was done with the DUP to keep the Prime Minister in office gave the DUP a veto over Brexit. It is embarrassing that it was being briefed on Monday morning that the Prime Minister had a deal, only to take this off the table after a call with the DUP. Is this a Prime Minister who is in office but not in power?

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What we are doing is working for a deal that will work for the whole United Kingdom. There are particular circumstances for Northern Ireland, because it is the one part of the UK that shares a land border with a country that will be remaining in the European Union. But as we look ahead, and during the negotiations, as the right hon. Gentleman will know, we are consulting and talking to all parts of the UK—the Welsh Government and the Scottish Government. We want to ensure that we get the right deal for the UK. That is the deal that I have set out: we will be leaving the European Union; we will be leaving the single market; we will be leaving the customs union; but we will ensure that we get that good trade deal for the future.

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The clock is ticking, and we need a deal that keeps us in the single market and the customs union—to do otherwise will devastate our economy and cost jobs. Will the Prime Minister recognise that such a deal will resolve the Irish border question and protect jobs throughout the UK? Anything less will be a failure of leadership.

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The right hon. Gentleman continues to bark up the wrong tree. We are leaving the European Union. That means we will be leaving the single market and leaving the customs union. We will take back and ensure that we can do trade deals around the rest of the world. That will be important for us. He references jobs and it will be important in ensuring jobs in this country. We will get a good deal on trade and security, because this is not just about trade for our future relationship. I set out in my Florence speech the deep and special partnership we want to continue to have with the European Union. That is about a trade deal that ensures jobs and prosperity across the whole United Kingdom.

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Order. I just politely observe that the Front-Bench exchanges have absorbed a disproportionately large share of the time, but I am determined to accommodate Back Benchers who are waiting to ask their questions.

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Q9. The bottle- neck on the A417 continues to cause dreadful accidents, as well as traffic misery in Gloucestershire. Following the leadership of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport and with the support of Members from Gloucestershire, the vital consultation stage on the shortlisted improvement proposals will begin shortly. Does my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister back the scheme, and does she agree that by committing hundreds of millions of pounds to this crucial project, the Government are backing the Gloucestershire economy? [902783]

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I know that my hon. Friend has been working tirelessly on this issue. I understand the concerns and frustrations of drivers in his constituency and elsewhere about this strategic road, which is vital for not only Gloucestershire but the wider region. I am happy to assure him that we are backing the development of the multimillion-pound Air Balloon roundabout scheme, which was announced in 2014. A consultation will begin shortly, so that we can develop the right solution to tackle this pinch-point and continue our support, which, as my hon. Friend said, is good for the whole of Gloucestershire’s economy.

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Q2. The Prime Minister has been unable to provide us with a single plausible Brexit scenario that will meet her red lines and be acceptable to her Cabinet, to Ireland and to the DUP. Is it not therefore time that she dropped either her red lines, the DUP, or the pretence that she can govern this country? [902776]

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The hon. Lady is just completely wrong. The Government have published a number of documents that set out the various options that can be taken forward with respect to the future trade relationship, that address the whole question of the customs relationship and that would address the issue of the Northern Ireland border. We have already published those proposals in detail. Those details are not part of the negotiations at the moment; they will become part of the negotiations when we move on to phase 2.

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Q13. When the British people voted to leave the European super-state, they voted to end the free movement of people, to stop sending billions and billions of pounds to the EU each and every year, and to make our laws in our own country, judged by our own judges. Are we still on course to deliver that? If we have a problem, would it help if I came over to Brussels with the Prime Minister to sort it out? [902787]

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I am always happy to spend time in my hon. Friend’s company. I hope that his petition on chicken farms went down well the other evening. The answer is, yes, we are on course to deliver what the people of this country voted for when they voted to leave the European Union.

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Q4. Will the Prime Minister support new trans-Pennine rail links, namely High Speed 3, and also the restoration of the Skipton-Colne link, which, as well as providing an economic boost to Pennine towns, has the additional merit of starting in the constituency of the Government Chief Whip, the right hon. Member for Skipton and Ripon (Julian Smith)? [902778]

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We are of course looking seriously at and have been supportive of the concept of the trans-Pennine railway. As I understand it, we are waiting for specific proposals to be brought forward. We will of course look at those proposals very seriously.

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I am sure the whole House is aware that 40 years ago today, this House came together and voted for a new charity, Motability, which has transformed the lives of disabled people and their families. Does the Prime Minister agree that the success, started by Lord Goodman when he was chairman and now continued by Lord Sterling, should be carried forward? Motability gives a golden opportunity for disabled people to get into the workplace and enjoy the things that everybody else in this country does.

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I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for marking the 40th anniversary of Motability in this way, and I am very happy to join him in that. I am looking forward to becoming a senior patron of the charity, because it does excellent work for people with disabilities, enabling them to stay mobile and active. There are more people with a Motability car today than there were in 2010. I also wish my right hon. Friend well, as I understand that he will be going to the Palace tomorrow to receive his well-deserved knighthood.

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Q6. In the light of the news today and the reported terrorist threat on the Prime Minister and others, may I assure her of our prayers for her and Her Majesty’s Government and thank the security forces for their sterling efforts?Can the Prime Minister give a specific commitment that nothing will be done that creates any barrier, constitutionally, politically, economically or regulatory, between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom? [902780]

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I thank the hon. Gentleman for his remarks. The simple answer to his question is yes. He will know, as will other Members of this House, that there are already areas in which there are specific arrangements between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland—for example, the single energy market that exists between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. We want to ensure that there is no hard border; that is exactly what we are working for. We are also working to respect the constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom and to protect the internal market of the United Kingdom, and I think that we share those aims.

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The Prime Minister will be aware of a Citizens Advice Scotland report, which was issued yesterday, that said that, in Scotland, up to a million consumers pay on average 30% more to have parcels delivered than the rest of the country. In my Moray constituency, this is a huge issue where ridiculous prices are put on to deliver to our area, and, in some cases, companies refuse to deliver at all. Will she tell me what the UK Government can do, with me, to ensure that we right this wrong once and for all?

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My hon. Friend is absolutely right to raise this issue and speak up on behalf of his constituents in this way. As I am sure he knows, Royal Mail does provide a universal postal service that includes parcel services five days a week at a uniform price throughout the United Kingdom, but there are commercial issues that play outside this service. I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Business Secretary will be happy to meet him and discuss the issue.

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Q7. The recognition by Donald Trump of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel will do grave damage to the prospects for a just and lasting peace settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, which has been British, and indeed American, foreign policy for decades. Was she consulted about that announcement, and, if so, what did she say? Will she, here and now, unequivocally and clearly condemn it? [902781]

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I intend to speak to President Trump about this matter, but our position has not changed—as the right hon. Gentleman says, it has been a long-standing one. It is also a very clear one: the status of Jerusalem should be determined in a negotiated settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and Jerusalem should ultimately form a shared capital between the Israeli and Palestinian states. We continue to support a two-state solution. We recognise the importance of Jerusalem and our position on that has not changed.

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Today, GlaxoSmithKline joined Merck, AstraZeneca and many other companies and charities investing in British bioscience genetics. Does my right hon. Friend agree that this investment in science and research underpins not only jobs but a revolution in medical treatment, which will save lives and give hope to many patients for new treatments?

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I absolutely agree with my hon. Friend. She has highlighted a very important sector for the United Kingdom, and I welcome the investment to which she has referred. That is why this sector has been given such significance in the industrial strategy that my right hon. Friend the Business Secretary has published. It is exactly an area where we see benefits in the form not only of investment and jobs in the UK, but, as she says, of improving the treatments available for patients and of improving their lives.

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Q8. When the Prime Minister rings up Donald Trump to express our concern about his moves concerning Jerusalem and the US embassy, will she also inform him that we will be proceeding to recognise the state of Palestine as a central part of keeping the two-state process in play? [902782]

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We want to see a negotiated settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians. We believe that that should be based on a two-state solution, with a sovereign and viable Palestinian state, but also a secure and safe Israel. That should be a matter for negotiation between the parties.

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The whole House will support what the Prime Minister said about the unfolding humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen during her visit to the middle east last week. Will she continue to provide the maximum amount of pressure to lift both the humanitarian and the commercial blockades, and use Britain’s good offices at the United Nations to secure a resumption of some sort of political peace process that is inclusive and that does not have any preconditions?

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My right hon. Friend raises an important issue. I am sure that everybody across the whole House is deeply concerned about the spiralling humanitarian crisis in Yemen and the lingering threat of famine there. As he said, I raised my concerns when I visited Saudi Arabia last week. I made it clear that the UK wants to see Hodeidah port open not just for humanitarian vessels with aid able to get in, but for commercial vessels as well. This is crucial and important. My right hon. Friend referenced the need for peace talks. That is our top priority. The best way to bring a long-term solution and stability is with a political solution. We will continue to support the efforts of the UN special envoy and to play a leading role in diplomatic efforts to ensure that a political solution can be reached.

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Q10. Due to the £1 billion deal, the Democratic Unionist party MPs revel in an analogy that each one is worth more than Ronaldo. When we look at the value of the Scottish Tories, we need to consider the £2.5 billion cut to Scotland’s budget, the £600 million rail shortfall, the £200 million in common agricultural policy convergence that has been stolen, and the £140 million VAT refund that we are still due. Each one of these Scottish Tories costs Scotland £265 million, so can we free transfer them? [902784]

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It is time that the hon. Gentleman actually looked at the facts when he stands up to ask his questions. It is my Scottish Conservative colleagues who have ensured that we were able to take steps in the Budget in relation to the VAT status of Police Scotland and the fire services in Scotland. He obviously had not noticed—but I am happy to repeat this to him—that £2 billion extra will go to Scotland as a result of the Budget.

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In 2010, the Conservative-led Government set out to reform the school curriculum in order to give our children the skills they need to succeed. Does the Prime Minister agree with me that yesterday’s reading standards results are a vindication of our reforms and our amazing teachers’ efforts, which will allow our children to forge a truly global Britain?

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I thank my hon. Friend for raising an important issue. I am very happy to agree with her on this. Yesterday, we learnt how the UK’s revolution in phonics has dramatically improved school standards. I pay particular tribute to the Minister for School Standards, who has worked tirelessly to this end throughout his time in the House. I also pay tribute to the hard work of teachers up and down the country. I will just give the House the figures. In 2012, 58% of six-year-olds passed reading checks; that figure has risen to 81% this year. We are, indeed, building a Britain that is fit for the future.

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Q11. In October, the Prime Minister wrote an open letter saying that“EU citizens living lawfully in the UK today will be able to stay.”But my constituent, Francoise Milne, was told this week by UK Visas and Immigration that she had to wait until Brexit was done and then take her chances. Will the Prime Minister tell us whether the EU citizens living here are just pawns in the Brexit negotiations, or will she change UKVI’s operating systems to ensure that EU citizens can stay? [902785]

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The position on EU citizens that I set out in my open letter is the position of the United Kingdom Government. If the hon. Lady has a complaint about something that UKVI has said, I suggest that she sends that information to the Immigration Minister.

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Yesterday, the all-party parliamentary group on cancer held its annual Britain Against Cancer conference—the largest one-day gathering of the cancer community in the UK—to launch our report on the cancer strategy. We heard from the Government and NHS England about the many good things that are happening. But there is one issue that is causing real concern to frontline services: the delay in the release of the transformation funding to those frontline services, courtesy of an additional requirement applied to the funding after the bidding process closed. I have discussed the issue with the Secretary of State for Health, who is a jolly chap. Will the Prime Minister meet me to discuss the matter further?

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Of course this is an important issue. As my hon. Friend said, we have seen great progress in providing higher standards of cancer care for all patients. Survival rates are at a record high and about 7,000 more people are surviving cancer after successful NHS treatment compared to three years ago. Of course we want to do more on this issue. He raised a very specific point. I understand that the Department of Health is adopting a phased approach to investment, as the national cancer programme runs for a further three years. I would be happy to meet my hon. Friend to discuss the matter.

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Q12. Contrary to the Prime Minister’s previous answer on this subject, only her Government can remove barriers to universal credit for terminally ill people in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Will she answer the question again? Will she end the cruel requirement for people across the UK who do not want to know they are dying to self-certify on universal credit? [902786]

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I will ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to look at this issue. As the hon. Gentleman knows, we are working on how universal credit is rolled out and how it is dealt with in relation to individuals. I am sure he will understand that if particular things within universal credit apply to people in particular circumstances, they can be applied only if the jobcentres are aware of those circumstances. I will ask the Department for Work and Pensions to look at the matter.

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Before my right hon. Friend next goes to Brussels, will she apply a new coat of paint to her red lines, because I fear that on Monday they were beginning to look a little bit pink?

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No, I happily say to my hon. Friend that the principles on which the Government are negotiating were set out in the Lancaster House speech and in the Florence speech, and those principles remain.

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Q14. This morning, London MPs were briefed by the Metropolitan Police Service on the grave challenge of serious youth violence and violent crime, including the scourge of scooter-assisted crime. While robberies are up 30% in London, the police service in London faces a £400-million squeeze that will drive police numbers down to their lowest in 20 years, and my own borough has already lost 198 police officers. Does the Prime Minister still think that we have the police resources we need? [902788]

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We are not reducing the Metropolitan police budget. We are protecting police budgets. They were protected in the 2015 spending review. I repeat what I have said in this House before: there is more money and there are more officers for each Londoner than is the case anywhere else in the country. Of course, it is up to the Mayor of London to decide how that budget is spent. The hon. Lady also raised the important issue of scooter or moped crime. I am pleased to say that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has held a roundtable with police and others in the Home Office to look at how that can be better addressed.

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The industrial strategy identifies that the world will need 60% more food by 2050. As we leave the EU, will the Prime Minister commit to supporting our farmers?

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I am very happy to commit to supporting our farmers. Markets for British food are growing around the world and we want them to grow even further. Leaving the EU means that we will have an opportunity to design a new approach to agricultural policy—one that supports our farmers to grow more, to sell more and to export more of their world-class products. We will ensure that we have an agricultural policy that actually meets the needs of the United Kingdom.

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Q15. This week, motor manufacturers announced a year-on-year drop in car sales of more than 11%. They blame confusion caused by the Government’s incoherent policy on clean air and diesels, Budget measures and uncertainty caused by Brexit. This industry is vital to both the national economy and jobs in the west midlands. What will the Government do to turn this around? [902789]

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If the hon. Gentleman had listened to the answer I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Lichfield (Michael Fabricant), he would have heard how we are supporting the automotive industry—crucially, supporting the future of the automotive industry. We recognise its importance for the west midlands and its importance for the United Kingdom. That is why we are very clear in our industrial strategy that it is one of those sectors that we will be supporting so that we can support these jobs and its prosperity for the future.

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Will my right hon. Friend confirm that she is aware of the very strong enthusiasm for free trade deals with the UK from countries like Canada, Japan, the United States and Australia, and even for UK participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership? But none of these opportunities will come our way if we remain shackled to EU regulation after we have left the EU?

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I am very happy to say to my hon. Friend that I do recognise the enthusiasm out there around the rest of the world for us to do trade deals with other countries. I am happy to say that my right hon. Friend the International Trade Secretary was recently in Australia discussing just these opportunities. When I go around the world, I also hear the same message from a whole variety of countries—they want to do trade deals for us in the future. We want to ensure that we get a good trade deal with the European Union and the freedom to negotiate these trade deals around the rest of the world.

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Diolch yn fawr, Mr Llefarydd. On Monday evening, during the opening speeches on the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, those on the Government Benches showed their true colours. Revealed were the imperial British Government’s intentions spelled out in red, white and blue. Would the Prime Minister care to echo the Chair of the Welsh Affairs Committee, who said, “It is a power grab, and what a wonderful power grab it is too”? Or would she admit that the scrabble to repatriate powers from Brussels provides a grubby excuse to deny our democratic rights in Wales?

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I think the hon. Lady knows full well that what my hon. Friend was saying was that when we leave the European Union we will be grabbing powers back from Brussels to the United Kingdom, and that is exactly right. Following that, we expect to see a significant increase in the decision-making power of devolved Administrations as a result, and that is absolutely right. If Plaid Cymru Members are saying that they want to see powers rest in Brussels, we take a different view—we want those powers to be here in the United Kingdom.

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Today, shortlisted cities are making their final pitches in the campaign to be named UK city of culture in 2021. Will the Prime Minister join me in wishing the Stoke-on-Trent team every success in their bid to see Stoke-on-Trent become the next city of culture for Britain?

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I have been very happy to visit Stoke-on-Trent on a number of occasions. My hon. Friend is a valiant champion for Stoke-on-Trent, and I wish it all the best, but I have to say to him that I have been asked about a number of other bids from cities around the United Kingdom. I am sure that all those cities that are bidding have extremely good cases to be recognised in this way.

Points of Order

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There is a considerable appetite for points of order today. Let us begin with Mr Pete Wishart.

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On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am grateful to you—[Interruption.]

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Order. Members should not go walking past the hon. Gentleman’s line of sight.

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On a point of order, Mr Speaker. The ongoing farce on the release of the Brexit analysis papers, as mandated by a binding vote of this House on 1 November, continues today as the Secretary of State now says that no such papers exist. This follows papers being made available in the most bizarre circumstances in a restricted reading room; media reports suggest that there is nothing other than rehashed public announcements and stuff included in old press releases. The Government have singularly failed to meet the requirements of that binding vote in the House six weeks ago and must surely be in contempt. I have written to you on this matter, Mr Speaker, and await your reply, noting your generosity and typical and immense patience. However, this must come to an end. It is a case of either full compliance or contempt proceedings commencing.

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Order. I will come to other Members. I thank the hon. Gentleman for his point of order and for his characteristic courtesy in giving me advance notice of it. Moreover, I understand, because it has oft been stated by him, his very real concern about this matter. I do not merely understand it but respect it. He said that the matter must be, as he put it, brought to an end. Let me say to him that I am very conscious of my responsibilities and I will discharge them. The matter is of considerable importance and interest to Members in all parts of the House. Moreover, it has been going on for a considerable period. Quite properly, it has been the subject of exchanges between the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union and the Select Committee which has had ownership of the matter in dispute.

That said, and aware as I am of reports of this morning’s exchanges in the Committee, I do not propose to rush to judgment now on the basis of what may be incomplete reports of what was said in the Committee this morning. Let me say in terms that should be clear and, I should have thought, uncontentious to the hon. Gentleman and to the House, that I await the Committee’s conclusions on the evidence that it has heard. When I receive that material I will study it without delay and I will return to the House in similar vein.

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On a point of order, Mr Speaker, relating to that very issue. As you rightly say, Sir, the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union appeared before the Select Committee this morning, and it has considered the matter, but we have not yet finished our deliberations. I did not want the impression to be given that we had already done that.

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The hon. Gentleman is always ready to be helpful. He indicated earlier his willingness to help the Prime Minister, and he has now indicated his willingness to help me. His generosity of spirit and willingness to ensure that I am kept fully in the picture are greatly appreciated in the Chair.

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On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Your remarks today have been extremely clear. For Members who are not on the Committee—I first put questions to the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union on 5 September—would you expect a letter from those Members in line with chapter 8 of “Erskine May”, or do you believe that that is a matter solely for the Select Committee to conclude? I would be grateful for your judgment on that.

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I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman. I am not sure that it would be right for me to expect letters from Members on the basis that he has set out. It is perfectly open on this matter—or, indeed, for that matter, on any other—for any interested hon. or right hon. Member to write to me. That said, I have tried to indicate to the House that as the Exiting the European Union Committee has ownership of the issue—quite specifically for the benefit of those attending to our proceedings beyond the House, it has ownership in the sense that the call by the House was for the release of material to the Committee—I am interested to hear from the Committee. One way or the other, I rather imagine, whatever it wishes to say, that I shall do so.

I hope that that is helpful, but if the right hon. Gentleman is eager to rush to his computer and bash out a communication to me with the zeal and alacrity for which he is renowned in all parts of the House, I shall await the results of his lucubrations.

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rose—

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rose—

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I am coming to the right hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Tom Brake), but first I call Chuka Umunna.

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On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I take note of the comments that you have just made. This is related to the documents that were promised to the House. There is an issue regarding the motion that we debated in the Chamber the other day, and there is an issue regarding what has been said to the Select Committee—I note what you said about it needing to come to a judgment itself—but there is a new issue in relation to statements that have been made in the House. On 20 October, in oral questions to the Department for Exiting the European Union, the hon. Member for North East Fife (Stephen Gethins) asked the Secretary of State:

“Will the Secretary of State tell us what assessment his or any other Department has made of the impact of leaving the EU on the economy, and when will he make that available to the House?”

The Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union replied in the Chamber:

“We currently have in place an assessment of 51 sectors of the economy. We are looking at those one by one”.—[Official Report, 20 October 2016; Vol. 615, c. 938.]

In the hearing by the Exiting the European Union Committee this morning, he was asked by the Chairman, “has the Government undertaken any impact assessments on the implications of leaving the EU for different sectors of the economy?” His reply was, “Not in sectors…There’s no sort of systematic impact assessment, no.” There is a clear contradiction between the statement given to the Committee this morning and what the Secretary of State said at the Dispatch Box in the House on 20 October, which, to me, provides strong evidence that perhaps the House has been misled on the issue.

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I am always grateful to the hon. Gentleman, both for his skill and for his prodigious industry. He is, by background, if my memory serves me correctly, a lawyer, so I am not surprised to be reminded of his lawyerly quality: his attention to detail and his appetite for studying the Official Report. I hope that he will not take it amiss if I say that I am not entirely unmindful myself of the content of the Official Report and of various exchanges that have taken place. That material naturally comes my way, and I study it. I do not think it would be right to engage in textual exegesis on the Floor of the House.

When the Committee’s completed consideration is presented to me, if it is, and I am invited to make a judgment, I will make it, and I will be mindful of all the matters that the hon. Gentleman has highlighted—and potentially others, which hon. and right hon. Members in any part of the House wish to bring to my attention. I do not honestly think that there is much to add, but the Liberal Democrat party would be sadly disappointed if we did not hear from the right hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington—almost as disappointed as he would be.

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On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am worried that the Government might, repeatedly and inadvertently, have misled the House on the sectoral reports and their nature. We heard from the then Brexit Minister, Lord Bridges, in October last year that they were being produced

“so that we can analyse what Brexit might mean”

for different sectors. The right hon. Member for Clwyd West (Mr Jones), who was then a Brexit Minister, said in March this year

“There is…a lot of work going on to address all sorts of eventualities.”

A number of Members of Parliament have put in freedom of information requests to access those reports, but they have been rejected on the basis that information released would prejudice the interests of the United Kingdom. Having reviewed the sectoral reports, there is absolutely nothing in them that could not have been obtained by a very detailed Library information briefing—

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Order. I do not wish to prolong this exchange. The right hon. Gentleman is unfailingly courteous to me, and I have no wish to be discourteous to him. Those matters which are familiar to him will be familiar to others. They may or may not be judged germane by the Committee in putting together its report, and therefore reaching its conclusions. I do not think that its conclusions will be influenced by points of order now on the Floor of the House. I completely understand why Members wish to give vent to their concern—that is perfectly proper—but I am afraid I have simply to repeat that if I am approached, if I receive a letter on this matter and related material, I will study it. I have tried to give a clear indication to the House that if I am so approached with responsibility to take a decision, I certainly intend to take my responsibility seriously and discharge it efficiently, which means, among other things, without undue delay. I hope that that is clear. If there are no more points of order—

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No, no more, says the right hon. Member for Brexiter—[Laughter.] I am very sorry for my discourtesy to the right hon. Gentleman; he is the last person that I could call a Brexiteer. He is from Exeter, not Brexiter, and if there were such a place, he would not wish to live there. I realise that—[Interruption.] And the right hon. Member for Broxtowe (Anna Soubry) chunters from a sedentary position that she would not want to live there either. I am well aware of that.

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On a point of order, Mr Speaker.

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Very well. If there is a final point of order, I will try to treat of it briefly. Is it on the same matter?

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On the same matter, but slightly different.

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Slightly different. I will indulge the hon. Lady, briefly.

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The House has been rightly informed by my fellow Select Committee Member, the hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr Bone), that we are still undergoing some deliberations. May I ask your advice on a related point? If the Secretary of State said to the Lords Committee and the Foreign Affairs Committee a year ago that quantitative assessments of the impact of various scenarios were being undertaken, and said to another Select Committee today that that work had not been undertaken and that, in fact, the impact assessments had not begun, what procedure is there to address the point about evidence given one year being very different from that given the following year?

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The answer is, frankly, the same as that which I have given to other hon. Members, which is, to cut to the chase, that if any Member believes that a contempt of the House has taken place, the proper approach is for that Member to write to me privately about the matter. As I said, I would encourage Members to wait to hear the Committee’s conclusions before rushing to judgment, but that is the appropriate recourse. I will not make an assessment and pronounce now. I will look at it. I would simply say again that all these matters will be considered by the Exiting the European Union Committee. I think that it is clear that its work will shortly conclude and I will then assess anything that comes my way. I will do so in a timely manner. I could hardly be more explicit than that, and I hope that it is regarded by the House as helpful.

We will now move on to the motion on the ten-minute rule Bill. I must say that when I was at university with the hon. Member for Dudley North (Ian Austin), he did not always strike me as the most patient member of the university’s student union—he used to shout at me very noisily from a sedentary position every time I got up to speak, although his behaviour has improved modestly over the past 30 years. It seems that his patience is slightly greater, because it has had to be—he has on this occasion been waiting patiently.

Sanctions (Human Rights Abuse and Corruption)

Motion for leave to bring in a Bill (Standing Order No. 23)

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I beg to move,

That leave be given to bring in a Bill to enable the Secretary of State to refuse entry, or to vary or curtail leave to enter or remain already granted, to a person who is a non-UK or non-EEA national who is known to be, or to have been, involved in gross human rights abuses or in certain acts of corruption; to make provision for financial sanctions against a person who is a non-UK or non-EEA national who is known to be, or to have been, involved in gross human rights abuses or in certain acts of corruption; and for connected purposes.

Or, Mr Speaker, as laws like this are known around the world, a Magnitsky Act. I speak today in memory of Sergei Magnitsky, who died in Russian police custody eight years ago. The story of his death is an allegory of Vladimir Putin’s Russia: brutal, corrupt and oppressive. Vladimir Putin and Sergei Magnitsky could not have been more different. Putin is an unreconstructed KGB thug and gangster who loots his country and murders his opponents in Russia and here, as we know, on the streets of London. Sergei Magnitsky was a brave and incorruptible accountant and lawyer who was arrested, detained in squalid, often freezing, prisons, tortured and denied medical attention. After a year, on 16 November 2009, he was beaten by eight riot guards in a Moscow prison, while he was chained to a bed, until he died, at the age of 37, leaving a wife and two children.

Magnitsky was targeted and eventually killed because he exposed a huge $230 million tax fraud involving senior Russian Government officials. The United States, Canada, Estonia and Lithuania have passed legislation imposing visa bans and asset freezes on those people who were responsible for his terrible fate and also on those responsible for similar appalling abuses of human rights and acts of corruption elsewhere. The American Magnitsky Act, for example, was a bipartisan bill introduced by Senator John McCain and was passed in 2012 by 92 votes to four in the Senate and by 90% of members of the House of Representatives. Similar legislation is under development in South Africa, France, Ukraine and Gibraltar.

These pieces of legislation make use of two modes of punishing these corrupt officials and organised criminals: asset freezes and travel bans. Here in the UK, the hon. Member for Esher and Walton (Dominic Raab) introduced the Magnitsky amendment to the Criminal Finances Bill, which introduced the asset-freezing element of a Magnitsky law to the UK and which was passed with cross-party support earlier this year. But there still is no legislation that deals with visa bans for human rights violators and so far no assets have been frozen, so my proposals would go much further and give the Government powers to sanction individuals found guilty of corruption and human rights abuse with visa bans, asset freezes and public placement on a list of banned foreign criminals.

Magnitsky was arrested, tortured and killed by the people responsible for the crime he was investigating. In a terrible reminder of the Stalin era, there was then a posthumous show trial in which he was tried and convicted of the tax fraud he had been killed for investigating. The comparisons between Putin’s brutal kleptocracy and Communist-era brutality do not end there. Just like in the past, Putin’s Russia murders its opponents at home and—as we saw with the assassination of Alexander Litvinenko—here on the streets of London as well.

The Memorial Human Rights Centre, the most respected human rights organisation in Russia, recently published its annual report about political prisoners, showing that 117 people are in Russian prisons today for no other reason than their opposition to the Government. To put that in context, in his 1975 Nobel lecture Andrei Sakharov listed 126 prisoners of conscience in the USSR. Just like in the Soviet era, there is censorship and Government-driven propaganda in all the major media outlets—not just in Russia but here in the west, and the UK too, with outlets such as RT and Sputnik.

Just like in the Soviet era, there are no free or fair elections and opponents of the government are routinely and publicly denounced as enemies, traitors and foreign agents, but, as Vladimir Kara-Murza, the vice-chair of Open Russia, which promotes civil society and democracy in Russia, explained to me, for all these parallels, there is one major difference. Members of the Soviet Politburo were not able to hide their money in western banks, send their children to study in western schools, or buy expensive property across London and the home counties. That is exactly what the people running Russia today are doing: they steal in Russia and spend in the west.

There is no doubt that London is one of the main destinations for money looted from Russia and elsewhere. Huge sums of the money stolen in the tax fraud that Magnitsky was investigating were subsequently laundered out of Russia. Hermitage Capital Management submitted detailed evidence to the UK authorities of $30 million that was smuggled into Britain between 2008 and 2012, some of it by firms run or owned by the Russian mafia, but no UK investigation has been launched, so the Magnitsky case also shines a light on weaknesses in our own justice system.

According to a 2016 report by the Commons Select Committee on Home Affairs, £100 billion is laundered through the UK’s banks each year, yet the National Crime Agency estimates that only 0.2% of that amount is frozen. They might as well put up a sign at Heathrow to welcome Putin’s crooks and gangsters.

It is very clear a measure such as this would have a real impact. Putin’s reaction to the US legislation proves that beyond doubt. He declared that repealing the Magnitsky Act was his single largest foreign policy priority. He got so angry about the legislation that the Russian Government banned Americans from adopting sick and ill Russian children. Healthy children are not put up for adoption by western families, but so squalid is the behaviour of Putin’s regime that he is prepared to punish sick Russian orphans, who often die in an orphanage if they are not adopted by foreigners.

The Home Secretary may say that she already has the right to refuse visas for anyone, but that power is not currently being used. Many of the most pernicious human rights abusers from Russia and elsewhere are able to come to and go from Britain as they please. Furthermore, to the extent that someone is banned, the Government refuse to disclose their names. A specific statutory provision aimed at sanctioning those involved in human rights abuses would both focus the attention of those applying that law and introduce greater transparency in the exercise of powers to impose visa bans. The public have a right to know who has been banned from entering the country, and perhaps more importantly, a right to know who has not been banned despite there being a convincing case that they are personally responsible for committing grave human rights transgressions.

I want to make a final point before I conclude. Putin and the Kremlin claim such measures are somehow anti-Russian, but nothing could be further from the truth. The late Boris Nemtsov said the opposite when he called the Magnitsky Act the

“most pro-Russia act ever passed in a foreign country.”

A law like this is not aimed at the Russian people; it is aimed at those who murder Russian people and steal from Russian people. We should be very clear that there is a world of difference between the Russian people and their country on the one hand, and the kleptocratic, authoritarian dictatorship that misrules it on the other.

Sergei Magnitsky was an ordinary man, but he was clearly also an exceptionally brave man. He died because he believed it was wrong for corrupt officials to enrich themselves by stealing from the people with impunity, and that it was wrong that such a power should operate without being checked by the rule of law. He was arrested on trumped-up charges, held in horrific conditions in pre-trial detention for a year, beaten and eventually killed.

It is up to us whether or not Sergei Magnitsky’s death means something. If we choose to ignore rule by force and fail to challenge the corrupt pillaging of money belonging to the Russian state and, by extension, to the Russian people, he died for nothing. However, if we act against those responsible for his death and the crimes he uncovered, and against similar people across the world, his death will have achieved something. He died for the idea that if people transgress the basic norms of human liberty in a democracy, there are consequences. We can show that if people commit these crimes, they may not enjoy the freedom to travel and spend their stolen money across the globe, because they will be pursued for their wrongdoing.

There is something else at stake here. Our country invented the very idea of liberty, and we wrote the laws by which much of the world is run. Democracy, freedom, fairness, respect for the law—these are the values that make this the greatest country in the world. It is easy to boast about our commitment to these values, but they must stand for something too, and that is why we cannot ignore appalling crimes such as Sergei Magnitsky’s brutal murder.

Question put and agreed to.

Ordered,

That Ian Austin, Mr Kenneth Clarke, Mr Andrew Mitchell, Mr John Whittingdale, Mr Ben Bradshaw, Yvette Cooper, Tom Tugendhat, Rachel Reeves, Ian Blackford, Caroline Lucas, Tom Brake and Dame Margaret Hodge present the Bill.

Ian Austin accordingly presented the Bill.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 23 February 2018, and to be printed (Bill 139).

European Union (Withdrawal) Bill

[5th Allocated Day]

[Relevant documents: First Report of the Exiting the European Union Committee, European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, HC 373; First Report of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, Devolution and Exiting the EU and Clause 11 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill: Issues for Consideration, HC 484; Sixth Report of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee of Session 2016-17, The Future of the Union, part two: Inter-institutional relations in the UK, HC 839; First Report of the Scottish Affairs Committee, European Union (Withdrawal) Bill: Implications for Devolution, HC 375.]

Further considered in Committee

[Mrs Eleanor Laing in the Chair]

New Clause 70

Northern Ireland: the Belfast principles

“(1) The Belfast Agreement implemented in the Northern Ireland Act 1998 (which made new provision for the government of Northern Ireland for the purpose of implementing the agreement reached at multi-party talks on Northern Ireland) remains a fundamental principle of public policy after exit day.

(2) Accordingly, in the exercise by a Minister of the Crown or any devolved authority of any powers under this Act to make any provision affecting Northern Ireland the Minister or authority must have regard to the requirement to preserve and abide by the Belfast Agreement and the principles implemented in Northern Ireland Act 1998 (“the Belfast principles”).

(3) The Belfast principles include (but are not limited to) partnership, equality and mutual respect as the basis of relationships within Northern Ireland, between the North and South of Ireland, and between the islands of Ireland and Great Britain.

(4) In particular, in relation to this Act—

(a) the Secretary of State must not give consent under paragraph 6 of Schedule 2 to this Act (requirement for consent where it would otherwise be required in dealing with deficiencies arising from withdrawal) before any provision is made by a Northern Ireland department except where the Secretary State has considered the requirement to preserve and abide by the Belfast principles and considers the provision is necessary only as a direct consequence of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU, and

(b) the powers under paragraph 13(b) of Schedule 7 to this Act to make supplementary, incidental, consequential, transitional, transitory or saving provision (including provision restating any retained EU law in a clearer or more accessible way) may not be exercised to do anything beyond the minimum changes strictly required only as a direct consequence of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU.

(5) Section 11(3) (legislative competence of the Northern Ireland Assembly) of this Act does not permit the Northern Ireland Assembly to do anything which is not in accordance with the Belfast principles.”—(Lady Hermon.)

This new clause is intended to preserve the principles of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement which underpin the Northern Ireland Act 1998.

Brought up, and read the First time.

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I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

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With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Amendment 338, in clause 10, page 7, line 14, at end insert—

“(2) But regulations made under Schedule 2 must not be incompatible with the full provisions of the British – Irish Agreement 1998 and the Multi-party agreement (the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement) to which it gives effect, including—

(a) the preservation of institutions set up relating to strands 1, 2 and 3 of the Good Friday Agreement,

(b) human rights and equality,

(c) the principle of consent, and

(d) citizenship rights.”

This amendment seeks to ensure that the rights provided for under the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement continue to be implemented and are protected.

Clause 10 stand part.

Amendment 307, in schedule 2,  page 16, line 12, leave out

“the devolved authority considers appropriate”

and insert “is essential”.

This amendment would limit the power available to a devolved authority to deal with deficiencies in retained EU law arising from withdrawal in such a way that it could only make provision that is essential to that end.

Amendment 209, page 16, line 13, leave out “appropriate” and insert “necessary”.

Amendment 308, page 16, line 18, leave out “they consider appropriate” and insert “is essential”.

This amendment would limit the power available to a Minister of the Crown acting jointly with a devolved authority to deal with deficiencies in retained EU law arising from withdrawal in such a way that they could only make provision that is essential to that end.

Amendment 210, page 16, line 18, leave out “appropriate” and insert “necessary”.

Amendment 166, page 16, line 33, at end insert—

“(6) Sub-paragraph (4)(b) does not apply to regulations made under this Part by the Scottish Ministers or the Welsh Ministers.”

This amendment would include the power to confer a power to legislate among the powers of the Scottish Ministers and Welsh Ministers to make regulations under Part 1 of Schedule 2 to fix problems in retained EU law arising from withdrawal, in line with a Minister of the Crown’s powers under Clause 7.

Amendment 211, page 17, line 1, leave out paragraph 3.

Amendment 167, page 17, line 9, at end insert—

“(3) This paragraph does not apply to regulations made under this Part by the Scottish Ministers or the Welsh Ministers.”

This amendment would provide that the power of the Scottish Ministers and the Welsh Ministers to make regulations under Part 1 of Schedule 2 extends to amending directly applicable EU law incorporated into UK law, in line with a Minister of the Crown’s power in Clause 7.

Amendment 168, page 17, line 13, at end insert—

“(2) This paragraph does not apply to regulations made under this Part by the Scottish Ministers or the Welsh Ministers.”

This amendment would provide that the power of the Scottish Ministers and the Welsh Ministers to make regulations under Part 1 of Schedule 2 includes the power to confer functions which correspond to functions to make EU tertiary legislation, in line with a Minister of the Crown’s power in Clause 7.

Amendment 169, page 17, line 20, at end insert—

“(2) This paragraph does not apply to regulations made under this Part by the Scottish Ministers or the Welsh Ministers.

Requirement for consultation in certain circumstances

5A No regulations may be made under this Part by the Scottish Ministers or the Welsh Ministers acting alone so far as the regulations—

(a) are to come into effect before exit day, or

(b) remove (whether wholly or partly) reciprocal arrangements of the kind mentioned in section 7(2)(c) or (e),

unless the regulations are, to that extent, made after consulting with a Minister of the Crown.”

This amendment would replace the requirement for consent from a Minister of the Crown for regulations made by Scottish Ministers or Welsh Ministers in fixing problems in retained EU law that arise from withdrawal if they come into force before exit day or remove reciprocal arrangements with a requirement for Scottish Ministers and Welsh Ministers to consult with a Minister of the Crown before making the regulations.

Amendment 135, page 20, line 18, leave out paragraph 10.

This amendment is intended to remove the proposed restriction in the Bill on devolved authorities modifying retained direct EU legislation etc.

Amendment 322, page 20, line 25, after “Crown”, insert

“and excluding any provision that could be made under paragraph 7(2) of Schedule 7B to the Government of Wales Act 2006”.

This amendment, and Amendments 323, 324 and 325, would prevent the Welsh Ministers from using powers proposed in the Bill (to deal with deficiencies in retained EU law arising from withdrawal) to amend the Government of Wales Act 2006.

Amendment 323, page 20, line 41, after “5”, insert “or”.

This amendment, and Amendments 322, 324 and 325, would prevent the Welsh Ministers from using powers proposed in the Bill (to deal with deficiencies in retained EU law arising from withdrawal) to amend the Government of Wales Act 2006.

Amendment 324, page 20, line 41, leave out “or 7”.

This amendment, and Amendments 322, 323 and 325, would prevent the Welsh Ministers from using powers proposed in the Bill (to deal with deficiencies in retained EU law arising from withdrawal) to amend the Government of Wales Act 2006.

Amendment 325, page 20, line 43, at end insert—

“(f) the provision does not modify the Government of Wales Act 2006.”

This amendment, and Amendments 322, 323 and 324, would prevent the Welsh Ministers from using powers proposed in the Bill (to deal with deficiencies in retained EU law arising from withdrawal) to amend the Government of Wales Act 2006.

Amendment 309, page 21, line 38, leave out

“the devolved authority consider appropriate”

and insert “is essential”.

This amendment would limit the power available to a devolved authority to prevent or remedy a breach of international obligations in such a way that it can only make provision that is essential to that end.

Amendment 212, page 21, line 39, leave out “appropriate” and insert “necessary”.

Amendment 310, page 21, line 43, leave out “they consider appropriate” and insert “is essential”.

This amendment would limit the power available to a Minister of the Crown acting jointly with a devolved authority to prevent or remedy a breach of international obligations in such a way that they could only make provision that is essential to that end.

Amendment 213, page 21, line 43, leave out “appropriate” and insert “necessary”.

Amendment 287, page 22, line 9, after “or revoke”, insert

“, or otherwise modify the effect of,”.

This amendment would ensure that the restriction in this paragraph could not be undermined by the use of legislation which does not amend the text of the Human Rights Act but modifies its effect.

Amendment 288, page 22, line 10, at end insert “, or

“(f) amend, repeal or revoke, or otherwise modify the effect of, any other law relating to equality or human rights.”

This amendment would broaden the restriction in this subsection to protect all legislation relating to equality and human rights (and not only the Human Rights Act 1998).

Amendment 326, page 22, line 10, at end insert—

“(f) amend, repeal or revoke the Government of Wales Act 2006.”

This amendment would prevent the Welsh Ministers from using powers proposed in the Bill (to comply with international obligations) to amend the Government of Wales Act 2006.

Amendment 170, page 22, line 10, at end insert—

“(4A) Sub-paragraph (4)(d) does not apply to regulations made under this Part by the Scottish Ministers or the Welsh Ministers.”

This amendment would provide that the power of Scottish Ministers and Welsh Ministers to make regulations under Part 2 of Schedule 2 includes the power to confer a power to legislate, aligning those Ministers’ powers to the power of a Minister of the Crown under Clause 8.

Amendment 136, page 22, line 25, leave out paragraph 15.

This amendment is intended to remove the proposed restriction in the Bill on devolved authorities modifying retained direct EU legislation etc.

Amendment 171, page 22, line 32, at end insert—

“(3) This paragraph does not apply to regulations made under this Part by the Scottish Ministers or the Welsh Ministers.”

This amendment would provide that the power of the Scottish Ministers and the Welsh Ministers to make regulations under Part 2 of Schedule 2 extends to amending directly applicable EU law incorporated into UK law. This brings the power into line with the Minister of the Crown power in Clause 8.

Amendment 172, page 23, line 11, at end insert—

“(4) This paragraph does not apply to regulations made under this Part by the Scottish Ministers or the Welsh Ministers.

Requirement for consultation in certain circumstances

16A (1) No regulations may be made under this Part by the Scottish Ministers or the Welsh Ministers acting alone so far as the regulations—

(a) are to come into effect before exit day, or

(b) are for the purpose of preventing or remedying any breach of the WTO Agreement, or

(c) make provision about any quota arrangements or are incompatible with any such arrangements,

unless the regulations are, to that extent, made after consulting with a Minister of the Crown.

(2) In sub-paragraph (1)—

“the WTO Agreement” has the meaning given in paragraph 16(2),

“quota arrangements” has the meaning given in paragraph 16(3).”

This amendment would replace the requirement for a Minister of the Crown to consent to regulations made by the Scottish Ministers or the Welsh Ministers to ensure compliance with international obligations if they come into force before exit day or relate to the WTO or quota arrangements, with a requirement for the Scottish Ministers and Welsh Ministers to consult with a Minister of the Crown before making the relevant regulations.

Amendment 311, page 24, line 11, leave out

“the devolved authority considers appropriate”

and insert “is essential”.

This amendment would limit the power available to a devolved authority to implement the withdrawal agreement in such a way that it could only make provision that is essential to that end.

Amendment 214, page 24, line 12, leave out “appropriate” and insert “necessary”.

Amendment 312, page 24, line 16, leave out “they consider appropriate” and insert “is essential”.

This amendment would limit the power available to a Minister of the Crown acting jointly with a devolved authority to implement the withdrawal agreement in such a way that they could only make provision that is essential to that end.

Amendment 215, page 24, line 16, leave out “appropriate” and insert “necessary”.

Amendment 289, page 24, line 32, after “or revoke”, insert

“, or otherwise modify the effect of,”.

This amendment would ensure that the restriction in this paragraph could not be undermined by the use of legislation which does not amend the text of the Human Rights Act but modifies its effect.

Amendment 290, page 24, line 33, at end insert “, or

(h) amend, repeal or revoke, or otherwise modify the effect of, any other law relating to equality or human rights.”

This amendment would broaden the restriction in this subsection to protect all legislation relating to equality and human rights (and not only the Human Rights Act 1998).

Amendment 327, page 24, line 33, at end insert—

“(h) amend, repeal or revoke the Government of Wales Act 2006.”

This amendment would prevent the Welsh Ministers from using powers proposed in the Bill (to implement the withdrawal agreement) to amend the Government of Wales Act 2006.

Amendment 173, page 24, line 33, at end insert—

“(4A) Sub-paragraph (4)(d) does not apply to regulations made under this Part by the Scottish Ministers or the Welsh Ministers.”

This amendment would include the power to confer a power to legislate among the powers of the Scottish Ministers and Welsh Ministers to make regulations under Part 3 of Schedule 2, in line with a Minister of the Crown’s powers under Clause 9.

Amendment 174, page 25, line 11, at end insert—

“(3) This paragraph does not apply to regulations made under this Part by the Scottish Ministers or the Welsh Ministers.”

This amendment would provide that the power of the Scottish Ministers and the Welsh Ministers to make regulations under Part 3 of Schedule 2 extends to amending directly applicable EU law incorporated into UK law, in line with the Minister of the Crown power in Clause 9.

Amendment 175, page 25, line 15, at end insert—

“(2) This paragraph does not apply to regulations made under this Part by the Scottish Ministers or the Welsh Ministers.”

This amendment would provide that the power of the Scottish Ministers and the Welsh Ministers to make regulations under Part 3 of Schedule 2 includes the power to confer functions which correspond to functions to make EU tertiary legislation.

Amendment 176, page 25, line 28, at end insert—

“(3) This paragraph does not apply to regulations made under this Part by the Scottish Ministers or the Welsh Ministers.

Requirement for consultation in certain circumstances

25A (1) No regulations may be made under this Part by the Scottish Ministers or the Welsh Ministers acting alone so far as the regulations make provision about any quota arrangements or are incompatible with any such arrangements unless the regulations are, to that extent, made after consulting with a Minister of the Crown.

(2) In sub-paragraph (1), “quota arrangements” has the meaning given in paragraph 25(2).”

This amendment replaces the requirement for Minister of the Crown consent to regulations made by the Scottish Ministers or the Welsh Ministers to implement the withdrawal agreement if they relate to quota arrangements, with a requirement for the Scottish Ministers and Welsh Ministers to consult with a Minister of the Crown before making the relevant regulations.

Amendment 317, page 25, line 31, at end insert—

“Part [ ]

Welsh Ministers—Power to make consequential and transitional provision

[ ] (1) The Welsh Ministers may by regulations make such provision as is essential in consequence of this Act.

(2) The power to make regulations under sub-paragraph (1) may (among other things) be exercised by modifying any provision made by or under an enactment.

(3) In sub-paragraph (2), “enactment” does not include—

(a) primary legislation passed or made after the end of the Session in which this Act is passed, or

(b) any provision of the Government of Wales Act 2006.

(4) The Welsh Ministers may by regulations make such transitional, transitory or saving provision as is essential in connection with the coming into force of any provision of this Act or the appointment of exit day.

(5) No regulations may be made under this Part unless every provision of them is within the devolved competence of the Welsh Ministers for the purposes of Part 2.”

This amendment would provide a power to the Welsh Ministers to make consequential and transitional provision within the devolved competence of the Welsh Ministers.

That schedule 2 be the Second schedule to the Bill.

Amendment 313, in clause 7, page 5, line 7, at end insert—

“( ) But the power in subsection (1) may not be exercised to make provision for Wales to the extent that that provision would be within the devolved competence of the Welsh Ministers for the purposes of Part 1 of Schedule 2.”

This amendment would prevent a Minister of the Crown from making provision to deal with deficiencies in retained EU law arising from withdrawal to the extent that the provision would be within the devolved competence of the Welsh Ministers.

Amendment 89, page 6, line 11, at end insert—

“(da) apply to Wales unless they relate to matters specified in Schedule 7A to the Government of Wales Act 2006,

(db) apply to Scotland unless they relate to matters specified in Schedule 5 to the Scotland Act 1998,

(dc) apply to Northern Ireland unless they relate to matters specified in Schedules 2 or 3 to the Northern Ireland Act 1998.”

This amendment prevents Ministers of the Crown from making regulations under the powers in Clause 7 that apply to Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland other than in relation to reserved (or, in the case of Northern Ireland, excepted and reserved) matters.

Amendment 158, page 6, line 13, after “it”, insert—

“() modify the Scotland Act 1998 or the Government of Wales Act 2006,”.

This amendment would prevent the powers of a Minister of the Crown under Clause 7 of the Bill to fix problems in retained EU law from being exercised to amend the Scotland Act 1998 or the Government of Wales Act 2006.

Amendment 318, page 6, line 13, after “it”, insert—

“() modify the Government of Wales Act 2006,”.

This amendment would prevent the Government of Wales Act 2006 from being amended by regulations under Clause 7.

Amendment 144, page 6, line 14, leave out from “1998” to end of line 18 and insert

“or otherwise affect any legislation derived from the Belfast Agreement of 10 April 1998 or the intention of that Agreement.”

This amendment is intended to ensure that the EU Withdrawal Bill does not affect any legislation derived from the Good Friday Agreement or the intention of the Good Friday Agreement.

Amendment 161, page 6, line 25, at end insert—

“(9) The consent of the Scottish Ministers is required before any provision is made in regulations under this section so far as the provision would be within the devolved competence of the Scottish Ministers within the meaning given in paragraph 9 of Schedule 2.

(10) The consent of the Welsh Ministers is required before any provision is made in regulations under this section so far as the provision would be within the devolved competence of the Welsh Ministers within the meaning given in paragraph 10 of Schedule 2.”

This amendment would require a Minister of the Crown to first seek the consent of the Scottish Ministers or the Welsh Ministers before making any regulations under Clause 7 on Scottish or Welsh devolved matters.

New clause 39Provisions of the Good Friday Agreement

“Before making any regulations under section 9, the Minister shall commit to maintaining the provisions of the Good Friday Agreement and subsequent Agreements agreed between the United Kingdom and Ireland since 1998, including—

(a) the free movement of people, goods and services on the island of Ireland,

(b) citizenship rights,

(c) the preservation of institutions set up relating to strands 1, 2 and 3 of the Good Friday Agreement,

(d) human rights and equality,

(e) the principle of consent,

(f) the status of the Irish language, and

(g) a Bill of Rights.”

Amendment 315, in clause 9, page 6, line 45, at end insert—

“( ) But the power in subsection (1) may not be exercised to make provision for Wales to the extent that that provision would be within the devolved competence of the Welsh Ministers for the purposes of Part 2 of Schedule 2.”

This amendment would prevent a Minister of the Crown from making provision to implement the withdrawal agreement to the extent that the provision would be within the devolved competence of the Welsh Ministers.

Amendment 147, page 7, line 5, at end insert—

“(bc) amend or repeal the Northern Ireland Act 1998 (except with the intention of preserving the effects of the Belfast Agreement of 10 April 1998 after exit day).”

This amendment is intended to maintain the provisions of the Good Friday Agreement after the UK leaves the EU.

Amendment 320, page 7, line 8, at end insert “, or

(e) modify the Government of Wales Act 2006.”

This amendment would prevent the Government of Wales Act 2006 from being amended by regulations under Clause 9.

Amendment 160, page 7, line 8, at end insert—

“(3A) The consent of the Scottish Ministers is required before any provision is made in regulations under this section that modifies the Scotland Act 1998.

(3B) The consent of the Welsh Ministers is required before any provision is made in regulations under this section that modifies the Government of Wales Act 2006.”

This amendment would prevent a Minister of the Crown from using the power to make regulations under Clause 9 implementing any withdrawal agreement to change the devolution settlements for Scotland and Wales without the consent of the Scottish Ministers or Welsh Ministers.

Amendment 157, page 7, line 9, at end insert—

“(5) No regulations may be made under this section unless the requirement in section [Provisions of the Good Friday Agreement] has been satisfied.”

Amendment 163, page 7, line 9, at end insert—

“(5) The consent of the Scottish Ministers is required before any provision is made in regulations under this section so far as the provision would be within the devolved competence of the Scottish Ministers within the meaning given in paragraph 18 of Schedule 2.

(6) The consent of the Welsh Ministers is required before any provision is made in regulations under this section so far as the provision would be within the devolved competence of the Welsh Ministers within the meaning given in paragraph 19 of Schedule 2.”

This amendment would require a Minister of the Crown to first seek the consent of the Scottish Ministers or the Welsh Ministers before making any regulations under Clause 9 on Scottish or Welsh devolved matters.

Amendment 321, in clause 17, page 14, line 4, at end insert

“or the Government of Wales Act 2006.”

This amendment would prevent the Government of Wales Act 2006 from being amended by regulations under Clause 17.

Amendment 316, page 14, line 9, at end insert—

“( ) But the power in subsections (1) and (3) may not be exercised to make provision for Wales to the extent that that provision would be within the devolved competence of the Welsh Ministers for the purposes of Part 2 of Schedule 2.”

This amendment would prevent a Minister of the Crown from making transitional, transitory or saving provision to the extent that the provision would be within the devolved competence of the Welsh Ministers.

Amendment 145, in clause 8, page 6, line 30, at end insert

“including the Belfast Agreement of 10 April 1998.”

This amendment is intended to maintain the provisions of the Good Friday Agreement after the UK leaves the EU.

Amendment 346, page 6, line 30, at end insert

“including those arising under the British-Irish Agreement 1998”.

This amendment would allow Ministers to make regulations to fulfil obligations arising out of the British-Irish Agreement (which commits to implementation of the Multi-Party Agreement).

Amendment 314, page 6, line 30, at end insert—

“( ) But the power in subsection (1) may not be exercised to make provision for Wales to the extent that that provision would be within the devolved competence of the Welsh Ministers for the purposes of Part 2 of Schedule 2.”

This amendment would prevent a Minister of the Crown from making provision to prevent or remedy any breach of international obligations to the extent that the provision would be within the devolved competence of the Welsh Ministers.

Amendment 146, page 6, line 35, at end insert—

“(bc) amend or repeal the Northern Ireland Act 1998 (except with the intention of preserving the effects of the Belfast Agreement of 10 April 1998 after exit day).”

This amendment is intended to maintain the provisions of the Good Friday Agreement after the UK leaves the EU.

Amendment 159, page 6, line 38, at end insert “, or

(e) modify the Scotland Act 1998 or the Government of Wales Act 2006.”

This amendment would prevent the powers of a Minister of the Crown under Clause 8 of the Bill to ensure compliance with international obligations from being exercised to amend the Scotland Act 1998 or the Government of Wales Act 2006.

Amendment 319, page 6, line 38, at end insert “, or

(e) modify the Government of Wales Act 2006.”

This amendment would prevent the Government of Wales Act 2006 from being amended by regulations under Clause 8.

Amendment 347, page 6, line 38, at end insert—

“(e) be incompatible with the British-Irish Agreement 1998 and the Multi-party agreement (the Belfast / Good Friday Agreement) to which it gives effect, including—

(i) the preservation of institutions set up relating to strands 1, 2 and 3 of the Good Friday Agreement,

(ii) human rights and equality,

(iii) the principle of consent, and

(iv) citizenship rights.”

This amendment is intended to ensure that the power to make regulations to fulfil obligations arising out of the British-Irish Agreement could not be used in a manner incompatible with those obligations.

Amendment 162, page 6, line 40, at end insert—

“(5) The consent of the Scottish Ministers is required before any provision is made in regulations under this section so far as the provision would be within the devolved competence of the Scottish Ministers within the meaning given in paragraph 18 of Schedule 2.

(6) The consent of the Welsh Ministers is required before any provision is made in regulations under this section so far as the provision would be within the devolved competence of the Welsh Ministers within the meaning given in paragraph 19 of Schedule 2.”

This amendment would require a Minister of the Crown to first seek the consent of the Scottish Ministers or the Welsh Ministers before making any regulations under Clause 8 on Scottish or Welsh devolved matters.

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It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship this afternoon on this very important Bill, Mrs Laing,

I am enormously grateful to the Members who put their names to my new clause 70. I am sorry that Democratic Unionist party Members did not find time to do so. I am sure they wanted to, but they have obviously been busy with other things, such as speaking to the Prime Minister. When, or if, I press my new clause to a vote this afternoon—I am clearly signalling to the Government and to you, Mrs Laing, that if I do not receive a satisfactory response from the Government, I intend to press it to a vote—it will be quite difficult, as I sit as an independent, to provide the Tellers. However, my hon. Friends—I call them friends—in the Scottish National party and the Labour party have kindly indicated that they will provide the Tellers.

I find myself in an extraordinarily difficult position. When I hear the Prime Minister and the Brexit Secretary repeat their commitment to the Good Friday agreement, as I often do, I welcome that enormously. However, I of course expected the Government to match their words, rhetoric and promises about the Good Friday agreement with actions. When I first collected my copy of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, I expected to see a commitment written in bold that the Good Friday agreement—otherwise known as the Belfast agreement—would be protected, even though the UK is going to leave the European Union.

I have read the Bill very carefully. As right hon. and hon. Members will know, the Good Friday agreement or Belfast agreement was an international agreement between the Irish Government and the British Government. As an international agreement, it had to be incorporated in our domestic law, and that was done by the Northern Ireland Act 1998. The Good Friday agreement is absolutely fundamental. It has given us peace and stability for the past 20 years in Northern Ireland, and there can be no denying that. Unfortunately, the first mention of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, which incorporated the Good Friday agreement in our domestic law, is in clause 7. It is not at the beginning of clause 7 but in subsection (6), and it is not at the beginning of subsection (6) but in paragraph (f) at the end.

For the benefit of Members—including DUP Members, who have been busy doing other things, as I have said—let me take a moment to read out clause 7(6). Ministers will be given sweeping powers under clause 7 to do what they consider appropriate to prevent, remedy or mitigate deficiencies in retained EU law. The point I must emphasise to the Committee is that the sweeping powers provided in clauses 7 to 10 are replicated or duplicated in schedule 2 for the devolved authorities. The reference to the Northern Ireland Act 1998, which I struggled to find, is in clause 7(6). It states:

“regulations made under this section may not…amend or repeal the Northern Ireland Act 1998 (unless the regulations are made by virtue of paragraph 13(b) of Schedule 7 to this Act or are amending or repealing paragraph 38 of Schedule 3 to the Northern Ireland Act 1998 or any provision of that Act which modifies another enactment).”

I commend the legislative draftsmen and women, because I am sure it is technically correct, but what on earth does it mean? The legislation has to be clear to those people who read it who are not lawyers, and the vast majority of Members of this House are not lawyers. The language is not clear.

May I say to the Clerks of the House—the brilliant Clerks, who serve the House long hours into the night and with such enthusiasm—that I am enormously grateful to them for their patience personally with me and for their diligence and great wisdom in drafting new clause 70? The new clause puts in black and white a bold statement of the commitment to the Good Friday agreement and to the principles which I call in shorthand in the new clause “the Belfast principles”. Those are the principles enshrined in the Good Friday agreement.

For Northern Ireland Unionists, the Belfast principles include the constitutional guarantee, through the consent principle, that Northern Ireland remains part of the United Kingdom unless and until there is a border poll and the people of Northern Ireland, and only Northern Ireland, say otherwise. It is not in the gift of No. 10, thank goodness; it is not in the gift of Dublin; it is governed by the people of Northern Ireland in a border poll. The constitutional principle is guaranteed among the Belfast principles in the Good Friday agreement, as is the principle of mutual respect for all communities across Northern Ireland, who were so divided by the troubles—respect and equality, irrespective of how a person votes, their political opinion and views or their religion. Non-discrimination and equal respect for all is guaranteed in the Belfast agreement.

There are many other principles—I could go on—in that document, which is enormously important for people not just in Northern Ireland, but particularly in Northern Ireland. I stand here as a Unionist and I am proud to defend the Belfast agreement—the Good Friday agreement. I say that with great pride because I grew up, not in in some stately home but on a 50-acre farm west of the River Bann in County Tyrone, very close to what unfortunately became known as the “murder triangle” for the number of people, both Catholic and Protestant, who were murdered by the IRA and subsequently by loyalist paramilitaries as well. Our postman was murdered at the end of our lane. Many of our farming neighbours were attacked on their tractors, or went out to a shed and opened the door, and there was a booby trap that blew off their head or face. My late father made it to 92, but he had to attend innumerable funerals of our neighbours, both Catholic and Protestant.

There is no monopoly on pain and suffering—every single one of the DUP Members in this House, their families and neighbours, suffered as well—but likewise in County Tyrone in 1981, when we had a Conservative Government led by the late Margaret Thatcher, we had the hunger strikes, which unfortunately became the best recruiting agent the IRA did not have in 1981. Ten young men starved themselves to death—highly emotive within the Catholic community, the republican community, the nationalist community. They were the sons of neighbours of ours in County Tyrone. All communities suffered.

Many Members of this House will have no idea who Jack Hermon was, because they are all so young. My dear late husband, who died with Alzheimer’s nine years ago, was the longest serving Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary. During the appalling terrorist campaign waged by the IRA and subsequently by the Provisional IRA, which morphed into something called the Real IRA, and by loyalists—do not forget the woe, the suffering, the grief that was caused by loyalist paramilitaries—he described his officers as extraordinary men and extraordinary men doing an extraordinary job, and they did. In Northern Ireland, with a population of 1.8 million, 302 RUC officers were murdered. That is an awful lot of dead police officers.

In the 10 years that Jack was Chief Constable, he had to attend almost 100 funerals, and that undoubtedly affected him, but I tell the House that when the Good Friday agreement was signed and I talked to him about the constitutional consequences of having Sinn Fein in the Executive, Jack listened to me patiently and then lifted one finger and said, “If it saves the life of one police officer, I’m voting for this.” Jack supported publicly the Good Friday agreement, the late Mo Mowlam and her efforts at that time.

The Good Friday agreement has brought all of us in Northern Ireland stability and peace, from which the whole of the UK has benefited, the Republic of Ireland has benefited, and—since we are talking about Brexit—the European Union has benefited. After all, the IRA placed bombs in Germany, Spain, Gibraltar and elsewhere. Underpinning the Good Friday agreement—the foundation for it—was the fact that the Republic of Ireland and the UK had joined the European Union on the same day, at the same time. It was the cornerstone, the foundation of the Good Friday agreement. Under the agreement, those born in Northern Ireland could choose to identify themselves as British or Irish, or indeed both, but they also regarded themselves as Europeans.

The border became virtually invisible where once we had had watchtowers, murders, security checks and unapproved roads. The roads had been cratered, so that someone going to school on the other side of the border, or to a community hall, or church, or chapel, had to get out of their car and tiptoe around on the uncratered part of the road. Those roads have been filled in again. We have normality in Northern Ireland, we have peace, and we undoubtedly have people alive today who would not otherwise be alive.

Let me say ever so loudly and strongly to senior members of the Conservative party that I do not want to hear them or see them on television talking about pushing ahead and no deal—“Let’s just move on with no deal.” It is an absolute nonsense. It is so reckless and so dangerous. The Home Secretary stood here yesterday and made a statement about counter-terrorism. Dissident republicans are active. They are dangerous and ruthless—utterly ruthless. If I had a child or grandchild choosing a career—I have no grandchildren, by the way; I have two children, both of whom have chosen careers other than politics, sadly, because we need leadership in Northern Ireland and young people to come into politics—I would not encourage them to join the UK Border Force or Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs in the event of no-deal Brexit, because inevitably we will have a hard border.

It must be a moral responsibility and duty on this Government to take care of all personnel, all officials, in HMRC, in the Police Service of Northern Ireland and in the UK Border Force. It is all very well and good to have talked about “taking back control” of our borders—that was a catchy refrain during the EU referendum—but I never could, and still cannot all these months later, get any clarity on how exactly we proposed to take back control. However, in the event of no deal, we would certainly face a hard border, and dissident republicans would regard Police Service of Northern Ireland and HMRC officers, and UK border officials, as legitimate targets. I do not want that on my conscience, and I do not believe for one moment that the Prime Minister or the Government want that either. I plead with senior Conservative party members to stop the nonsense of talking up no deal. The Home Secretary wisely described no deal as “unthinkable”, and it is. She may not be here, but I quote her anyway, because I agree with her and hold her in very high regard.

Why am I so committed to this issue? It is because half my life has been blighted by the troubles. I was not involved in politics when the Good Friday agreement was signed. I was not then a member of the Ulster Unionist party, of which David Trimble was leader. He and I had taught together in the law faculty of Queen’s University Belfast. If anybody cares to look, they will see that my specialism was EU law; that is another reason why I am so passionate about this subject. David Trimble, who was such a remarkable, courageous leader of the Ulster Unionist party, never quite liked or understood my interest in EU law, yet now he is in another place and is asked for his views on so much. He and I will never fall out, but we have always disagreed over the EU. My love for it continues.

I accept that Brexit will happen. We as the United Kingdom have to come out together, and the Prime Minister made that quite clear at Prime Minister’s questions today, but in doing so we cannot risk undermining all that has been gained through the Good Friday agreement—the lives that have been saved and the normality that we have had. That will carry on, but people in Northern Ireland are extremely nervous. There is one party, the Democratic Unionist party—and I am just describing, factually. DUP Members are colleagues and friends, though sometimes I wonder, given the tone of voice that they use towards me. Let us remember the history: a previous Conservative Government, led by Margaret Thatcher, caused such divisions, hurt, anger, rage and outrage in one part of the community in Northern Ireland—the republican nationalist community —and there was the way that the hunger strikes were handled. It is critical that the Conservative Government, who are supported by the DUP, bear in mind all the people of Northern Ireland, and that the DUP do not speak for or represent all of them.

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Will the hon. Lady give way?

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Of course; I would be delighted.

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I do not think that I am one of the senior members of my party whom she is criticising. Does she agree that the Prime Minister, 48 hours ago, reached an agreement with the Taoiseach that seemed to show that the Prime Minister shared the hon. Lady’s concerns? We cannot have an open border without having some regulatory and customs convergence on both sides. That all came to an end when the DUP vetoed it, which makes it extremely important—more than it was—that her new clause be put into the Bill to make sure that we are not back-sliding. Of course, the DUP could always rescue its reputation by confirming that its only objection was to not having regulatory and customs convergence across the whole United Kingdom, and by agreeing, as she and I do, that regulatory and customs convergence across the whole island of Ireland is in the interests of inhabitants on both sides of the border.

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That was very interesting. Lots of points were raised there. The DUP will have to speak for itself, and I am sure that at some point this afternoon, its Members will want to contribute to the debate. I am hugely grateful to the right hon. and learned Gentleman for confirming that he feels that the Government should accept my new clause; I thank him.

I felt deeply embarrassed for the Prime Minister on Monday. What was so interesting in her demeanour during Prime Minister’s questions today was her confidence at the Dispatch Box, and her response to the hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon), who had a question on the Order Paper. It was a very interesting question, and the Prime Minister’s reply was significant. She seemed so calm, not that she does not normally seem calm—forget about the party conference; that was a very difficult experience for her, and we would not like that to happen to any of us. I suspect that she has spoken a lot to the leader of the DUP since Monday; that is what I hope, but I am not in that inner circle. I am not a member of the DUP, and its members do not come along to me and say, “Here’s the draft memorandum; have a look at it.” I hope that I am right in saying that there has been progress. If I am not, I am sure that a DUP Member will quickly get to their feet to contradict me, and they are not doing that.

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I did not think it was worth it.

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Well, that is very disappointing.

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Could the hon. Lady answer the question posed by the right hon. and learned Member for Rushcliffe (Mr Clarke), who asked whether she accepts, as he does, that it is a good idea to have regulatory convergence and common rules between Northern Ireland and the Republic? Could she give a straight answer to that, because many in Northern Ireland now view her as being on the side of the Dublin Government on these issues?

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I thank the right hon. Gentleman so much for that. [Interruption.] Yes, what do you do in response to that?

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Answer!

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I can hear. If the right hon. Gentleman gives me a chance, instead of chuntering away, I might actually reply to him.

The Prime Minister, and yesterday the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, made it absolutely clear—at least this is what I understood by the Secretary of State’s statement—that it was always the intention of the Prime Minister and the Government to have the same regulatory alignment right across the United Kingdom. For the record, if the right hon. Member for Belfast North (Nigel Dodds) wants me to say this again, I am a Unionist. I am not in the pocket of, am not propping up, and have not spoken to, the Dublin Government, and I strongly resent the implication, in his question, that I am doing that.

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The hon. Lady and I have got on very well since entering the House together—16 years and I think four months ago, as the Speaker might say. Does she agree that my right hon. Friend the Member for Belfast North (Nigel Dodds) asked her a very specific question relating to what the right hon. and learned Member for Rushcliffe (Mr Clarke) said about convergence across the island of Ireland? In the few minutes that have elapsed since then, I have not heard an answer to it.

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I am most grateful to the right hon. Gentleman—or the hon. Gentleman; I just promoted him. That is not what I understood, so there is no point in putting up a straw man for me to knock down. I understood that the proposal that the Prime Minister took with her to Brussels was always to have been that the entirety of the UK should have the same alignment. The Prime Minister is no one’s fool. She has made it quite clear that she will protect the integrity of the whole United Kingdom. She had already ruled out having a border down the Irish sea. I therefore believe and trust that when she went to Brussels, she had always planned that there would be convergence throughout the United Kingdom, and that Northern Ireland would not be treated differently from the rest of the United Kingdom. That is the confidence that I have.

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The hon. Lady may share with me a certain amount of bemusement. There can be no question for me, as a Unionist, of a separate regulatory arrangement for Northern Ireland, permitting it to have regulatory equivalence or convergence with the Republic. Convergence either applies to all of us, or cannot apply at all. I have to say that all of us having regulatory convergence with the Republic, and indeed the rest of the EU, strikes me as a very good idea.

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I am grateful to my right hon. and learned Friend. Even though he sits on the other side of the Chamber, I have always regarded him as a friend. He has just summed up how I feel. I will not stand here and criticise our Prime Minister—she is the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and I believed that her stance when she went to Brussels on Monday was that the convergence would apply to all of the United Kingdom. I did not believe for one moment that she would cast Northern Ireland off somehow to a regulatory framework and convergence on the island of Ireland, and not with the rest of the United Kingdom.

Of course, I do not want Northern Ireland to be treated any differently from the rest of the United Kingdom. We are all coming out of the EU—sadly—on 29 March 2019. The referendum result in Northern Ireland was in favour of remaining, but the UK-wide result will be honoured. The Prime Minister has said that repeatedly. As we move towards that, I urge and encourage the Government to adopt, in some form of words, new clause 70, because the principles of the Good Friday agreement, which I and the other Members who have put their names to the new clause are proud to support, must be protected in black and white on the face of that Bill. That is the assurance I need from the Government this afternoon, otherwise I will test the House’s commitment to the Good Friday agreement.

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I do not intend to speak at length. I listened carefully to the hon. Member for North Down (Lady Hermon) and I completely agree with all the sentiments she expressed about the benefits that the Good Friday agreement has conferred on our country generally and on our international relations with the Irish Republic. It has been a step change in improving the quality of life for all citizens in this country, particularly those in Northern Ireland, about which the hon. Lady spoke so eloquently.

It is clear that the Brexit process is challenging in the context of maintaining those benefits. I regret that, during the referendum campaign last year, those of us who highlighted the consequences that could flow did not get as much register as we would have liked. In the cost-benefit analysis between staying in and leaving the EU, the Good Friday agreement was a factor that should have been taken into account properly, but I regret to say that some of the enthusiasts for our leaving the EU seem to have systematically ignored it.

However, we are where we are. It is clear that we will have to try to manage the Brexit process in a way that does not adversely impact on the Good Friday agreement. I listened carefully to DUP Members, and I can well understand that any suggestion that leaving the EU involves uncoupling Northern Ireland and putting it into a separate regulatory regime for the benefit of maintaining the Good Friday agreement, or regulatory equivalence with the Republic of Ireland, is a complete non-starter. It is totally unacceptable to me, and I did not understand the Prime Minister’s words and the agreement she reached as being indicative of her intending to do any such thing. If she was, all I can say is that she will not long survive her party’s views, which are unanimous on this matter, irrespective of whether Members most enthusiastically embraced Brexit or most vigorously sought to prevent it. We therefore need to park that on one side.

The hon. Member for North Down is right that that raises a major challenge. There is no point in pretending that it can be magicked away by soft words. We must face up to the consequences of our adherence to the Good Friday agreement in the way in which Brexit unfolds and is done, and regulatory equivalence is one part of that. That said, I hope that when Ministers respond, the hon. Lady will get sufficient reassurance that the United Kingdom Government understand that very well. Unless I am being misled by my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Front Bench, I believe that they do. The problem will remain that that requires us, as we proceed with Brexit, from time to time to face up to some of the realities that it brings in a regulatory context. If we do not, we cannot fulfil our obligations under the Good Friday agreement. That is the reality check. The problem we have always had in our debates on this matter is that, too often, I hear comments that are mired in a fantasy vision of what people would like in an ideal world that bears no resemblance to the reality of our international obligations and our interdependence with our closest neighbours, one of which happens to be the Republic of Ireland, with which we are blessed to enjoy a good relationship.

If we keep those factors in mind, we will maintain what is best for our country and succeed in carrying out the highly risky operation of Brexit as well as we may. I thank the hon. Member for North Down for properly raising the Good Friday agreement in our debate this afternoon. I look forward to hearing from my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Front Bench a response that reaffirms that our commitment to the agreement and to maintaining collectively peace on the island of Ireland and good relations with one of our closest neighbours and trading partners is paramount in our approach to the problem.

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I rise to speak in support of new clause 70 and amendment 174. I applaud the hon. Member for North Down (Lady Hermon) for her initiative in seeking to put the principles of the Belfast agreement on the face of the Bill and for a wonderful speech. I think that all of us who listened to her were moved by her memories of times past, to which none of us wants Northern Ireland to return. So much progress has been made in the peace process in recent years, not all of it in the public eye, and it would be an appalling betrayal of the good work done by so many people in sometimes dangerous situations if that was not protected.

A huge range of legacy issues is being addressed, not least the higher rate of unemployment and the consequential effects for the coming generations. Having the principles nailed into the legislation helps to ensure that Ministers here take note of the needs of the communities of Northern Ireland.

It has been clear throughout the whole process since the triggering of article 50 that the Government and their Whitehall machine have had little, if any, time for the devolved Administrations or their opinions on how to proceed with negotiations, what the final outcome should look like or what kind of continued links with the EU we should aim for. The obvious exception, of course, is the leader of the DUP, who appears to have a veto on things. What a tangled mess an ill-judged election and a poor campaign created.

The importance of Northern Ireland having a border with Ireland that facilitates the continued trade and social interaction between the communities on either side cannot be overstated. Clearly, it is in the best interests of the communities there to continue within the customs union and single market, and why any politician, from Stormont or anywhere else, would want to destroy that relationship is beyond me, especially given that the people voted to remain in the EU.

There is a parallel issue, in that people who have been ripped out of the EU against their will should also receive whatever minor and insufficient recompense is on offer, and that is where amendment 174 comes in. If there is no longer any EU membership, the Scottish Parliament should be able to amend the legislation handed down from the EU. The original imposition in the Scotland Act 1998 of a requirement to follow EU legislation was intended to ensure that the devolved Administration complied with EU law, and if that is no longer needed, the devolved Administration should have the right to change the law concerned. There is much more to be done to balance the devolution settlements properly after Brexit, but one small step would be accepting amendment 174.

Let me end by complimenting the hon. Member for North Down again on new clause 70.

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I rise to speak in favour of new clause 70, and to make it clear that unless I hear some good reason why I should not vote for it, I shall do so, because I think it is eminently sensible. I think we are now reaching a point in all this when people have just got to be big and strong and brave and say that they will do what they believe is right, and put the interests of our country—the United Kingdom—before political allegiance and everything else. This is bigger and more important than anything else. We are embarking on a course of a magnitude that we have not seen for decades, and it is important that we get it right, not just for my generation but for my children and my grandchildren.

Like, I think, everyone else in this place, I was extremely moved by the wonderful and wise words of the hon. Member for North Down (Lady Hermon), whom I am going to call my friend. I think I am about her age, and in one respect I am like her and unlike the young people whom she rightly identified. I say that with no disrespect, because it is good to see young people in this place, but they probably cannot believe what it was like during the period of the troubles.

I was fortunate—I was not living in Northern Ireland then, as the hon. Lady and other Members were—but I remember that time incredibly well. I remember the terrible bomb that exploded in Birmingham when I was a child. I remember that, almost every night, my television screen was filled with terrible pictures of brave soldiers and remarkable police officers who were putting themselves absolutely on the frontline, and were doing so in a unique way. They were not engaged in some terror in another country; this was happening on their doorstep. This was their community, and these were their people. What they went through was even worse than what soldiers in a foreign field go through, because those soldiers will eventually return home to their own country, but these brave men and women returned to homes that were literally around the corner. It was a truly dreadful time, and the terror did not just come from the IRA in all its various guises: it also came from some of the extreme protestant movements. And, of course, caught up in the horror were real human beings. I never thought that this would happen. I could not see, as a young woman, how we could ever reach the period that we have now reached, a period of peace in Northern Ireland.

When I was a defence Minister, I had the great pleasure of going to Northern Ireland myself. It was the first time I had ever been to—I was going to say Ulster, but to Northern Ireland. I was delighted to be there, and, if I may say so, particularly delighted to be there with the hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon), but one of the things that really troubled and appalled me was the fact that the military covenant, which applies throughout the rest of the United Kingdom, did not extend to Northern Ireland in the way that it should have. One of the young men whom I met there had lost a limb in Afghanistan. It was nothing to do with the troubles; he had fought for his country somewhere else. He was denied the treatment and services to which he was absolutely entitled, for no other reason than that he had served in the British Army. That was a symbol of the disharmony, the pure prejudice, that still existed in some quarters. Equally, however, much progress has been made.

As we heard from my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Beaconsfield (Mr Grieve), Brexit reality is unfurling. People are now recognising the reality of what 17 million voted for. I am going to be frank about this: I made a compromise. I put aside my long-held belief that our future should lie in the European Union and voted against my conscience, and I have accepted that we are leaving the European Union. What saddens me is that others cannot compromise in the same way. There are still people “banging on about Europe” from a hard-line, ideological position: Notwithstanding the fact that we lost our majority in the general election, they are still banging on in that hard-line, hard-Brexiteer way, and it is not acceptable. Let me respectfully say to my right hon. and hon. Friends that if I can compromise, and if my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rushcliffe (Mr Clarke) can compromise and accept that we are leaving the European Union, they too must compromise. They must drop the rhetoric and come and find a solution to the Brexit problem, which will undoubtedly be a nightmare unless people compromise.

That is why I will no longer vote against my conscience. I am going to go through the Lobby with the hon. Member for North Down because it is the right thing to do. We must put aside our political differences—and in some instances, such as mine, put aside our long-held views—and vote for what is right and best for our country.

Let me gently say to Ministers that it does not help when we are told that we will be leaving the customs union, and we will be leaving the single market; we have to find a compromise. I think that the Prime Minister moved towards that with the idea of “regulatory alignment”, which makes a lot of sense. People are coming together. A consensus is forming, and I think that the consensus neatly lies with the customs union. I do not care what we call it—regulatory alignment, and all the rest of it. I am not interested in terminology. All I am interested in is getting the right result, and the right result in Northern Ireland and Ireland is no hard border. How do we achieve that? Through the customs union. It is very simple, and it will win support.

The danger of what is happening is that we are not bringing the people of this divided country back together. The more people bang on with their rhetoric, the more alienated other people are becoming, especially younger people. I have said this before, and it is a bit of an old joke, but in my terms that means anyone under the age of 45. They are looking at this place and listening to these debates and arguments, and what they see and hear is a bunch of older grey-haired men who seem determined to decide their future in a way that is not beneficial to their interests. I have said that before, and I am sorry to say that I was proved right. I warned my party that those people would punish us at the ballot box, and on 8 June that is exactly what they did.

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I agree with much of what the hon. Member has said, and I commend what was said earlier by the hon. Member for North Down (Lady Hermon). Does the hon. Member agree that the Government need to recognise that if they are to take courage, it will be from the peoples of Northern Ireland who endorsed the Good Friday agreement on an 81% turnout and voted 71.2% in its favour, and that the Government should listen not to the ne-er-do-wells on the Back Benches of any political party but to the cross-party, cross-community roots in Northern Ireland?

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I completely agree with the hon. Gentleman, and I think that this is a good way for me to end my speech. The hon. Member for North Down said exactly the same: if the Good Friday agreement meant that one person’s life was saved, it was worth supporting. Northern Ireland is an example of how people can put aside rhetoric and long-held beliefs, and come together to secure a peaceful, prosperous future for all generations, including generations to come. That is what the Committee must do now: it must find the compromises and find the solutions so that we can come back together, get on with the rest of what we have to do, and deliver a Brexit that works for everyone.

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It is a pleasure to follow the excellent speeches of the right hon. Member for Broxtowe (Anna Soubry), the right hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield (Mr Grieve), and of course the hon. Member for North Down (Lady Hermon). I was not planning to speak at great length about new clause 70 and other issues this afternoon, but I was profoundly moved by what she said. I think she speaks for many people in Northern Ireland whom I know and love, and it is a shame that there are not more voices like hers calling for that moderation and focus on what really matters, which is peace and stability.

I shall speak to amendments 168, 169, 172, 173, 175, 176, 158 and 159 in my name and the names of cross-party colleagues, who I am delighted have chosen to support the amendments. I also want to make clear my support for new clause 70 and amendment 338 and to briefly comment on new clause 70.

The Good Friday agreement is the foundation of the peace process on the island of Ireland. Let us be clear—without it many more lives would have been lost and ruined, and we would not have seen the emergence of the new normality that has characterised both UK-Irish relations and Northern Ireland-Republic of Ireland relations in the past 20 years. Given the events of recent days, whatever our views on them might be, it is more important than ever that this amendment receives strong support. There is nothing in it that threatens the Government’s position to preserve and uphold the Good Friday agreement. It seeks not to change the Good Friday agreement, but to preserve it and to put it in the Bill. I am sure that many Members will make that clear today.

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When indicating the substantial contribution and progress made in recent decades in Northern Ireland, I caution the hon. Gentleman and other Members against attributing that in total to the process that started in 1998. The ceasefires—among those who should not have started killing people in the first place—commenced in 1994, four years before the Belfast agreement. So a process of people converging, to use the in-phrase, in a very realistic way away from violence and towards embracing peace had begun long before the Belfast agreement. I say that merely to bring a note of historical accuracy to the debate, as we are in danger of rewriting the past, as many do in Northern Ireland.

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Indeed, many men and women of courage and conviction on all sides in that process pushed forward the need for peace and stability and an end to the violence and killings on all sides. I pay tribute to all of them, including some of the many fantastic individuals whose names we do not know; I think particularly of those in the Quaker community and others who worked behind the scenes so tirelessly to bring sides together. This is clearly a process over many years, and it is not yet fully resolved; there are still some who would seek to undermine that process, and that stability and peace.

This touches me as well. My family served in Northern Ireland in the British Army. Parts of my family originate from what is now the Republic and others from Northern Ireland itself—the Cassidys in my family came from Northern Ireland over to Kirkcudbrightshire in Scotland. I have friends, too, in all parts of the island of Ireland. In fact, I travelled as a young member of the Welsh Labour party to a conference organised by an organisation called Encounter, which brought together young members of all the parties in all parts of the British Isles and the Republic of Ireland. Despite having those family connections and having heard the tales from those in my family who had served, I was utterly shocked and astounded to walk through the Falls and the Shankill roads, to see the peace lines and to hear the stories of those from all sides of the conflict whose lives had been so dramatically affected and who had lost loved ones. It is incumbent on all Members in all parts of the House to remember where we were, where we have come from and what remains to be done.

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Speakers today, particularly the hon. Member for North Down (Lady Hermon), the right hon. Member for Broxtowe (Anna Soubry) and my hon. Friend, have reminded us of how the troubles affected everyone in Northern Ireland. I visited Northern Ireland during those times. Brief mention has also been made, in particular by the hon. Member for North Down, of how the troubles affected us in this country. I was a child living in Birmingham when those bombs went off. My father was a magistrate and we had to look under the car every morning before getting into it to go to school. Of course , the Conservative party suffered the most appalling attack at its heart. The troubles affected us all—

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Order. The hon. Lady is not making a speech; she is making an intervention, and there will be plenty of time for her to make a speech, with the full rhetoric, later. If she has a point to intervene on, will she do it very briefly, please?

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My sincere apologies.

Does my hon. Friend agree that we were all affected by the troubles, and that this is an opportunity to remind the House that we cannot go back to those days? This debate is so important for that reason.

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I wholeheartedly agree, and who can forget the Warrington bombing, for example, and the many other tragic events that affected young and old and people from all walks of life, in mainland UK as well?

How extraordinary it is that we would even contemplate putting any of the progress that has been made at risk. It was particularly important to hear what the right hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield and the right hon. Member for Broxtowe said. This goes beyond party politics and wider issues that we will have disagreements on in this House. This is about stability, peace and the constitutional settlement, and, ultimately, respect for the will of the people on the island of Ireland about their future. It is about understanding where that lies. It is not about games that some might choose to play for other purposes around this whole Brexit process.

That also draws into stark relief the role the EU has played in being a force around peace processes and stability, and not just in the UK. I do not claim that the EU was responsible for all the progress in Northern Ireland. I do not claim anything of that nature, but we have seen the role it has played in preventing a further outbreak of violence in Cyprus and in encouraging countries and different communities to come together in the Balkans. This was substantially lost from the debate we had around the referendum. Our coming together in Europe around shared values, peace and stability has helped to bring people together.

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I am listening very carefully to what the hon. Gentleman is saying. Of course none of us here—heaven forbid—would use this situation to do impure things like politics, but does he agree that there are those who would seek to manipulate the current situation for other goals? I am thinking in particular of the French intention to take business from the City of London and of some—I emphasise some—in Dublin who perhaps see an advantage in the current situation, which has led to a lot of discomfort on the island of Ireland.

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We are not here to talk about France’s intentions as regards the City of London; we are here to talk about the constitutional settlement in these islands, and I cannot understand why the Government would not want to accept new clause 70, given that it clearly sets out an agreement that they as a Government are committed to. I certainly will proudly go through the Lobby, or happily act as a Teller for the hon. Member for North Down later to make sure that that vote goes forward.

I shall now move on to other amendments, relating to clause 10 and schedule 2, tabled in my name and those of Members of other parties, regarding Wales and Scotland, the wider devolution context and the constitutional settlement we have. Clause 10 gives effect to schedule 2 and sets out the power of the devolved authorities to correct deficiencies in domestic devolved legislation that arise from withdrawal from the EU and to remedy potential breaches. Those infamous Henry VIII powers are included in those provisions. Using those powers, devolved Ministers would be able to modify retained EU law to correct those deficiencies and to act in various ways to deal with the circumstances of leaving. The crucial point, however, is that the same powers are given concurrently to UK Ministers in areas where devolved competence is absolutely clear, and those Ministers are free from the scrutiny of the devolved legislatures.

UK Ministers have been given the exclusive power to amend retained direct EU legislation—that which comes from EU regulations rather than from directives—which covers otherwise devolved competences, as we discussed at great length the other day. There is therefore a significant inequality in the powers that have been given to Ministers. I am delighted that those on the Labour Front Bench and others are opposed to that, as are Welsh Labour and many others from across the parties. Our amendments seek to address that issue. The Welsh Government have argued:

“Direct EU legislation (such as EU regulations) can only be amended by a Minister of the Crown, and would fall to be scrutinised by Parliament even if the subject was one that was devolved to the Assembly.”

When we discussed the amendments the other day, I was disappointed by the response from the Minister. Despite the assurances that we had had from the Secretary of State for Scotland when he appeared before the Scottish Affairs Committee, and despite other commitments that had been made about respecting reasonable and constructive amendments tabled by the devolved Governments, there was no willingness to take on board any of the amendments. We had no commitments on them, which was extremely disappointing.

The amendments are not about wrecking the Brexit Bill or about stopping the process. We all have different views on where we should go, but the amendments are about ensuring that we continue to have a stable and effective constitutional settlement and do not suddenly start grabbing back powers or giving UK Ministers new powers to interfere in areas that have long since been devolved. Let us not forget that it is almost 20 years since the advent of the first devolution Acts.

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The hon. Gentleman refers to the importance of having stability. Does he also think it important to have legal certainty, and therefore to have mechanisms to ensure that our laws work well and quickly as soon as Brexit happens?

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Indeed, but why did the Government reject the amendments that we tabled on putting the Joint Ministerial Committee on a statutory footing and on establishing framework-making powers? Many of those amendments would indeed have provided legal stability. The hon. and learned Lady surely knows that many of the legal powers in these areas are devolved in relation to both Executive and legislative competence. I am sorry to say that the attitude of UK Government Ministers has worsened in the last few days. The Brexit Secretary yesterday described the Welsh First Minister and the Scottish First Minister as “foolish”. That is hardly the attitude that we expect, especially when Ministers keep telling us that we are in a relationship of respect.

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Would the hon. Gentleman agree, however, that Ministers in the Welsh Assembly and the Scottish Parliament have called UK Ministers of the Crown far worse things than “foolish”?

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I am speaking about the context of these negotiations. Lots of things get said in all the legislatures of the UK that I am sure some of us would perhaps not say at certain times, but we are talking about a serious set of negotiations.

I have taken assurances from Ministers in good faith about the nature of those negotiations, only to hear another part of the UK Government saying something quite different. The Bill as it stands is highly deficient. Many Scottish Conservative Members were very clear about the deficiencies in clause 11 the other day. They were very unhappy with those provisions. I urge the Government, in line with what the Secretary of State for Scotland has said, to look carefully at these amendments and to accept some of them. Otherwise, I warn them again that there will be serious problems with the Bill on Report and when it reaches the other place in relation to the legislative consent motions. The Secretary of State for Scotland told the Scottish Affairs Committee in October:

“As a UK Government, we are discussing those amendments with the respective Governments to understand fully what is sought to be achieved…It may be that some amendments can be accepted with a little bit of modification…it is ultimately for this House to determine whether amendments are successful in relation to the Bill.”

However, we have yet to see any movement so far from Ministers on these amendments.

I want to turn to two important amendments tabled in my name and those of my colleagues. They are grouped for debate today, which makes perfect sense, but I understand that we will not vote on them until a later date. Amendments 158 and 159 get to the heart of the matter. The constitutional settlement relating to Wales and Scotland is governed by the various Wales and Scotland Acts. One of the big issues that was trumpeted in the Wales Act 2017—I am sure that the same was true of the various Scotland Acts—was the permanence of the constitutional arrangements, the permanence of the Welsh and Scottish Governments and their legislatures, and the permanence of their legislation, yet powers are now being granted in this Bill to amend the very Wales and Scotland Acts that form the basic constitutional building blocks of the devolution settlement. That is why amendments 158 and 159 are so important. Amendment 158 would prevent the powers of a Minister of the Crown, under clause 7 of the Bill, from being exercised to amend the Scotland Act 1998 or the Government of Wales Act 2006. Amendment 159 relates to international obligations but essentially does the same thing.

The Secretary of State for Wales stated on Third Reading of the Wales Bill—now the Wales Act 2017—in September last year:

“The Bill meets the commitments in the St David’s Day agreement. It delivers a devolution settlement for Wales that is clearer, fairer and stronger, and it…delivers a historic package of powers to the National Assembly that will transform it into a fully fledged Welsh legislature, affirmed as a permanent part of the United Kingdom’s constitutional fabric, enhancing and clarifying the considerable powers it currently has.”

He also said that that Bill introduced the reserved powers model, yet we saw on Monday how that model is now being undermined by moving to a conferred powers model again. He went on to say:

“As part of the clear boundary of devolved and reserved matters…the Bill draws a clear line between those public bodies that are the responsibility of Welsh Ministers and the Assembly, and those that are the responsibility of the UK Government and Parliament.”

He said that the Wales Bill would draw

“a line under the constant squabbles over where powers lie”.—[Official Report, 12 September 2016; Vol. 614, c. 727.]

I therefore find it extraordinary that, at this stage in the negotiations, we have a Bill that will give UK Ministers the power to undermine that permanency of settlement and blur the lines between what is devolved and what is not, which will undoubtedly lead to further expensive squabbles in the Supreme Court and elsewhere about where the powers lie. I cannot understand why the Bill has been drafted in this way, despite the repeated concerns that have been expressed by the Welsh and Scottish Governments and others about the Bill as it is framed. I cannot understand how we got to this stage, without finding a solution to this issue. I will certainly want to press amendment 158, and potentially amendment 159, to a vote at the appropriate point, because they go to the heart of this group of amendments.

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It is really important that all the devolved Administrations retain powers, and it has been said that they will actually increase their powers, which overall would be a good thing. The hon. Gentleman has stated, however, that there will be a reduction in powers for Wales. Does he accept that that cannot be the case in circumstances where it is stated for all the devolved Administrations and all the devolution Acts that the UK Parliament has the power to change the laws of the devolved Administrations? Therefore, as a matter of law, the UK Parliament already has the power—under section 28 of the Scotland Act 1998, section 107 of the Wales Act 2006 and section 5 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998—to change the laws of those devolved Administrations.

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I would gently say to the hon. and learned Lady that I do not think she fully understands the legislation or the devolution settlement. The big point that was made by the Secretary of State for Wales in the passing of the Wales Act 2017 was about the permanency of the Assembly and the Welsh Government and their powers and responsibilities. This Bill undermines all that. It opens up a back door to allow the UK Government to amend, by Executive fiat, the very legislation that establishes the Welsh and Scottish Governments and the two legislatures. That is an extraordinary situation, and it should not be the case.

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I agree with the thrust of the hon. Gentleman’s argument, but in relation to a point made earlier, why would anyone in this House ever give powers to or take back powers from the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly or the Northern Ireland Assembly without the proper scrutiny of this Chamber?

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Indeed. I might have taken some Ministers at their word in the past, but there are others who would love to take back powers or to act without reference either to this Chamber or to the Chambers of the devolved legislatures, as we have seen on a whole series of issues. Ultimately we would end up in the Supreme Court, wasting lots of taxpayers’ money and in dispute. That cannot be the way to keep stability in the constitutional settlement.

My amendments are in no way intended to wreck the Bill or to undermine the process that the Government have set out, but they are absolutely essential to maintaining a stable settlement with Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The events of the past 36 hours have shown why the Government have simply not paid enough serious attention to the unintended consequences of their various grand rhetorical statements. I will therefore seek to press amendment 158 to a vote at the appropriate time.

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It seems to me that the Brexit negotiations have finally started to reach a serious stage over the past two or three days. It is rather unfortunate that it is now 18 months since we held the referendum and more than six months since we invoked article 50, but we are still at the stage, which the British Government agreed to, of discussing the three preliminary points, based on our withdrawal, before we can get to discuss our new trade arrangements.

In my opinion, the rights of EU citizens could have been settled in five minutes, with a mutual recognition allowing British people who have moved to the continent and EU citizens who have moved here to retain the rights they expected to have when they made that important move. The financial arrangements should have taken about half an hour, because it was perfectly obvious that there would be financial obligations. We would not have known what the obligations were until we had concluded the negotiations, but the heads of agreement—the basis upon which the mathematics could eventually be done—should not have taken very long. The difficulties were political, and they were here in British politics and in the Conservative party. That delayed progress for a long time.

It is the extremely important Irish question that has posed the first really big issue that has to be solved properly. The hon. Member for North Down (Lady Hermon) made an extremely eloquent and moving speech—I will not attempt to rival it. Like her, I certainly remember the Irish troubles. I lived in Birmingham at the time when there were serious bomb attacks there. My first visit to Northern Ireland was with other Conservative MPs. We caused the security people a little consternation by entering a no-go area in Derry with John Hume, who I think had got us a laissez-passer from the IRA so that we could get in and see the conditions there. More seriously, several MPs were killed. I knew Airey Neave and the Rev. Robert Bradford, and Ian Gow was a good friend of mine.

The hon. Lady put it eloquently and movingly. I hope that nobody in this country still underestimates the huge achievement that the Good Friday agreement represents, or indeed the huge achievement it represents that Northern Irish politicians of all complexions have turned it into such a success, making Northern Ireland a more cohesive and peace-loving society, because nobody wants to return to anything resembling the troubles.

We agreed to address the Irish border problem as a preliminary issue, but nobody seemed to pay it any serious attention until about a week ago. Certainly, it was scarcely mentioned in our rather agitated British debate in this country. It was thought a rather odd feature that the Irish Government had somehow persuaded the other members to raise with us. But the effect on the Irish border of our leaving the European Union is of immense significance, for all the reason we have now been stressing.

I thought that the Government’s policy on the border was slightly ludicrous. They keep saying that they are committed to an open border, and that is absolutely right and consistent with the Good Friday agreement. They then say that we are leaving the single market and the customs union. I have said many times in the House that those two outcomes are completely incompatible; the two together are an oxymoron—I think that is the correct phrase—because we cannot have one with the other.

I thought that at last the light had dawned and that the Prime Minister had moved in her discussions with the Taoiseach and reached an agreement. Despite the assertions she had been giving all the way through, but consistent with them—obviously she would say—she had agreed on behalf of the Government, and no doubt believed that she would get the approval of this House, to have regulatory convergence, in certain areas at least, across the border. I, like my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Beaconsfield (Mr Grieve), took that to mean the whole United Kingdom, because we cannot have separate arrangements in Ireland.

At last common sense was dawning, I thought, because, whatever we call it, we cannot have any trade agreement with any other country in modern times unless we have agreed to mutually binding arrangements for regulatory and customs convergence—either harmonisation or mutual recognition in set areas. We will not get a trade agreement with Samoa—I think the Secretary of State has just headed there to make exploratory noises—if we tell them that we are not going to agree to any binding regulations or rules that will be mutually acceptable in whatever goods and services we trade.

That satisfied me, but then came this bewildering veto.

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I am glad that the right hon. and learned Gentleman has returned to the veto, because vetoes have been mentioned several times in the debate thus far. Does he agree that what has been thoroughly unhelpful in the past 10 days is the arrival of Donald Tusk in Dublin, in effect to hand the Irish Taoiseach a veto by saying, “We in Europe stand with you, and whatever you want, we will back you.”?

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That is hardly surprising. I do not think that Donald Tusk would go to any of the other 27 member states without saying that he accepts that their consent is required, and in this case, in particular, the Government of the Republic of Ireland has to be party to any agreement.

That seemed to be addressed by the fact that our Prime Minister was able to reach an agreement with the Taoiseach on regulatory arrangements—the precise details would have to await the ultimate free trade deal—in order to obviate any necessity for a closed border. I hope that the reason the DUP vetoed it was not that it was tempted by the idea of going back to border posts and controls; I do not think that the DUP is any more in favour of that than any other Member who has spoken in this House. I hope that it was sheer incompetence that the DUP had not been shown the text or kept party to the negotiations.

I will go no further than this, but I find it absolutely astonishing, if we are moving on to this issue, that the closest possible relationship would not be maintained with the devolved Government in Belfast. Had I been a member of the Government in Belfast—a highly unlikely prospect—I would have been rather indignant at not being closely consulted, and I certainly would have wanted to know what the terms were likely to be rather well in advance. If that is the explanation—the expression of the hon. Member for East Londonderry (Mr Campbell) gives the impression that might have quite a lot to do with it—I hope that the devolved Government will share with us all the importance of getting this right and maintaining the Belfast agreement and will therefore lift this veto, reach some understandings and let it proceed.

That brings me to the amendments. I think the negotiations are likely to succeed in the end. I take an optimistic view because, on both sides of the channel, an overwhelming number of politicians, diplomats and officials are perfectly sensible people. On the whole, the ones involved in the negotiations have a better understanding of what we are talking about than the average citizen. They all realise that the public interest in every one of the 28 countries is in reaching a sensible agreement that minimises the damage and maintains, as far as possible, the freedoms of trade and movement.

What has always worried me, particularly in light of the pathetically slow progress so far, is that, despite the good will on both sides, it will all collapse by accident and we will suddenly find we have no deal because the parties have contrived to put themselves into a deadlock from which they can no longer get out or because events have put them into a deadlock situation and it suddenly stops. This week, on a serious subject, was the first indication that that could happen. If the DUP feels indignant about the fact that it was not properly involved, I hope it will put the larger interest ahead of other things and decide that, after a bit of consultation and with some reassurances, it is probably okay and that there will be some regulatory and customs convergence across both sides of the border.

I think I was misunderstood by the Westminster leader of the DUP, the right hon. Member for Belfast North (Nigel Dodds), in his brief intervention earlier. I share the view that these arrangements have to be United Kingdom arrangements. What is necessary to preserve the free border in Ireland has to be, if necessary, put in place and replicated in every other part of the United Kingdom. The Irish border is such an important question because, in many ways, it will determine what arrangements we have and, in my opinion, it will move us in the highly desirable direction of some regulatory and customs convergence in our future trading arrangements.

With any luck we have had a near miss and, in the next few weeks, we will at last be able to begin the serious negotiations on future trade arrangements. This mishap underlines the case for accepting new clause 70 for the avoidance of future doubt and to avoid future accidents. As we are all totally agreed on what an extremely important diplomatic agreement the Belfast agreement is, let us all agree to put it in the Bill and bind, by statute, those who will have to take part in the negotiations not to do anything that puts the Belfast agreement in doubt.

I see that the Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, my hon. Friend the Member for Worcester (Mr Walker), is replying for the Government. If I may say so, he always draws the short straw. When it is a little difficult to see quite what the Government will say in answer to the questions they face, they turn, as ever, to him. At this moment I cannot see what on earth he can say to reject this amendment. I cannot see why acknowledging the Belfast agreement poses any difficulty for the Government. Perhaps, at last, he has the pleasant task of standing up to say there is absolutely no reason why the Committee cannot accept the amendment. It is the policy of this Government, as it is the policy of every other party in this House, to be firmly committed to the Good Friday agreement. By accepting the amendment we could avoid the little mishaps of the kind that have taken place in the past 48 hours and that have caused us all such concern.

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It is always a mixed blessing to speak after the right hon. and learned Member for Rushcliffe (Mr Clarke). Mixed because, obviously, I agree with much of what he says but could never possibly match the way in which he says it.

I begin by addressing amendment 167 and the other amendments in my name and in the name of my right hon. Friend the Member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber (Ian Blackford). I would like to bring both sides of the Committee together by taking the opportunity to wish Finland a happy 100th birthday today, and to wish all Finns in the UK and around the world a happy 100th independence day. Finland, of course, is a fully sovereign and independent nation, and a member state of the European Union to boot, demonstrating that the two are entirely compatible. Once again, the Finns are a lesson for us all. As a historical footnote, Finland declared independence at a time of political mayhem in the state from which it seceded—there are always lessons from history.

Today’s debate is set among the chaos of the Prime Minister’s inability to get a deal on Monday. We were promised a coalition of chaos after the general election, which is one promise the Prime Minister has been able to keep.

The hon. Member for North Down (Lady Hermon) made an extraordinarily powerful speech in moving new clause 70. I hope that all Members, even those who may not agree with her, listened closely to what she had to say—we listened, and other Members did, too. The new clause seeks to preserve the principles of the Good Friday agreement. Years of hard work have gone into peace in Northern Ireland, as noted in the powerful speeches by Members on both sides of the Committee. I hope colleagues from Northern Ireland will not mind, but it would be remiss of me not to mention that the St Andrews agreement, which was part of that process, was signed in my constituency. Some hon. Members were there at the time.

Given the precious goal of long-term peace in Northern Ireland, it is astonishing that this Bill fails to address the issue, and that even in Committee we are having to remind the Government of their responsibilities. That reflects the Bill’s wider issues on the devolved Administrations. The previous Member for Moray, Angus Robertson, rightly raised the problems of the Irish border earlier this year, and the Prime Minister told Angus, just as Vote Leave told us, that there was nothing to worry about. I bet the Prime Minister wishes she had listened to Mr Robertson—there was plenty to listen to.

Mr Robertson was not alone. The Committee on Exiting the European Union noted in its report published last week—I hope members of that Committee will not mind my quoting it—that it is not possible to see how leaving the customs union is reconcilable with the imposition of a border, and it concludes:

“In the light of the recent statement from the Irish Government about the border, Ministers should now set out in more detail how they plan to meet their objective to avoid the imposition of a border, including if no withdrawal agreement is reached by 29 March 2019.”

The Minister will be keen to tackle that when he speaks shortly.

The Prime Minister travelled to Brussels on Monday to discuss a deal on regulatory alignment. It is not for me to comment on when other Members may or may not have seen the detail and on what discussions were had—I am sure hon. Members will take the opportunity to comment themselves—but SNP Members think that regulatory alignment is quite a good approach. The Scottish Government first proposed such a resolution about a year ago in “Scotland’s Place in Europe”. It is also notable that in that publication we took on board the views of other political parties and experts—we are okay with listening to experts on the issue of Europe. The Government would do well to listen.

Of course, we believe that remaining in the single market would make it a lot easier for the UK Government to give certainty to business and the economy, and it would also be helpful on Northern Ireland. Yesterday Peter Hain, a former Labour Member, called on the Prime Minister to keep the whole UK in the single market and the customs union in order to avoid “sacrificing” the Good Friday agreement. We in the SNP obviously wholeheartedly agree with him. We recognise the historic and constitutional importance of the Good Friday agreement, and we will vote to protect it tonight if the hon. Member for North Down presses new clause 70 to a vote.

I pay tribute to the hon. Lady’s tireless efforts. There are areas on which she often disagrees with us and with many Members of the House, but there are inherent dangers if this Government only take on board the views of the DUP. They should, of course, take on board the DUP’s views, but they should also take on board those of all political parties, and I pay tribute to the hon. Lady’s efforts to ensure there is the strongest possible voice for everybody in Northern Ireland. That might sometimes make for uncomfortable listening for me and for others across this House, but it is extraordinarily important, and I pay tribute to the hon. Lady for doing this.

I turn to the amendments standing in my name—amendments 166, 167, 170, 171 and 174. Some of these points have been raised by the hon. Member for Cardiff South and Penarth (Stephen Doughty). Amendments 166 and 167 were put together by the Scottish and Welsh Governments, and confer further powers to legislate and give Scottish Ministers the ability to make their own amendments to the directly applicable EU law. The ability of Scottish Ministers to have these powers is vital for the proper functioning of the Scottish Parliament and it also keeps consistency of law where we have different legal systems across—

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indicated dissent.

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I see the hon. Gentleman shaking his head, but of course this is not just my view; it is shared by other Members and by the Law Society of Scotland. Amendment 167 gives Scottish Ministers the ability to make a different change in Scotland, where Scotland’s circumstances require it. After all, that was the entire point of having a devolution settlement in the first place. Preparing our laws for exiting the EU will be technical, but it will require significant policy choices, such as those in environmental areas, where organisations such as the Scottish Environment Protection Agency will co-operate with its counterparts in Brussels directly. That brings me to another point, which I am sure the Minister will deal with. One matter we will have to address in readying for exit is who should replace the EU regulators within the UK—we are not entirely clear on that. This might be technical but it is extraordinarily important, and I am sure the Minister will pick up on it.

Amendment 167 expresses deep concern from the devolved Administrations that if only UK Ministers have the ability to make fixes in EU regulations, the UK Government could subsume powers coming back from Brussels and act as regulator for the whole of the UK in relation to an area of devolved policy, such as environmental standards. Again, that is incredibly important.

Amendments 170, 171 and 174 aim to ensure that devolved Ministers should have the same powers in respect of matters falling within devolved competences as UK Ministers are being given in clauses 8 and 9. As the Bill stands, if the need arose to deal with a power to make subordinate legislation in a devolved area, the Bill would require Scottish or Welsh Ministers to go to the UK Government to ask permission for them to do it on their behalf. That is clearly not acceptable to the devolved Administrations and to Members across this House. Amendment 170 would lift this unnecessary restriction on devolved Ministers’ powers. It would equalise the powers between the UK Government and devolved Administrations, giving each their proper role on reserved and devolved laws.

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rose—

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To give everybody a little break, I shall give way to the right hon. Gentleman.

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Given the thrust of the hon. Gentleman’s amendments, has it occurred to him that these powers were ceded to the EU in order to maintain an integrity of the internal market? Equally, when these powers return to the UK, there will be a need, in the interests of many Scottish businesses, to maintain the integrity of the UK market, which is of vital importance to the Kingdom of Scotland.

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I have many face-palm moments when it comes to Tory Brexiteers and that was another one. To compare the internal market of the EU, with its independent member states, with that of the United Kingdom is astonishing and it demonstrates the lack of understanding of the EU that lay at the heart of vote leave and continues to lie at the heart of these arguments. It also misunderstands the state of the United Kingdom now. It is not the same state as it was 40 years ago. Devolution, whether one agrees with it or not, and I know that many Conservative Members would rather we did not have devolution, has changed the framework in which the United Kingdom exists. The right hon. Gentleman makes the point: we must have these powers devolved to the Scottish Parliament to make them work.

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The hon. Gentleman and I agree on many of these matters, but I have to take him up on this point. It is not on to say that Conservative Members do not agree with devolution. Let us be clear that we do, which is why we happily voted for an Act—I believe in the last Parliament—that conveyed even more powers of devolution to the Scottish Parliament.

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I thank the right hon. Lady for her point, but I should make it clear that I said that some Conservative Members have perhaps not come to terms with the devolved Administrations. [Interruption.] If Ministers have come to grips with it and believe in devolution, and believe it should exist within a devolved settlement, they will back our amendments. If they do that, they will be able to prove me wrong in my point. I look forward to their backing our amendments and doing that later on today.

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Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

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Not at the moment. I want to move on and there is plenty to go through.

The Bill gives UK, Scottish and Welsh Ministers the power to make instruments needed to ensure that our laws are still compliant with our international treaty obligations when we leave the EU. However, the Bill, as drafted, means that, unlike the UK Ministers, devolved government cannot use this power to amend directly applicable EU laws—amendment 171 aims to rectify that. Of course, the Minister will be backing that.

Amendment 174 is equally important. In fact, it would be good to understand exactly what is going on with the UK Government’s position on this matter. The Bill gives UK, Scottish and Welsh Ministers the power to make instruments needed to implement the withdrawal agreement. However, unlike the UK Ministers, devolved Administrations cannot use this power to amend directly applicable EU laws, and this amendment would rectify that anomaly, too.

Leaving the power restriction aside, the UK Government have planned to introduce separate primary legislation on the withdrawal agreement. What purpose, then, does clause 9 actually serve? And will the Minister explain how this restriction on devolved Administrations can exist, given that there will be a separate piece of legislation to give effect to the withdrawal agreement? These amendments were not drawn together just by the SNP; they drew support from across this House. If Members do not mind my saying so, that was not the most important part of this; the most important part was Scottish and Welsh Government officials sitting down together—this is not always easy—with SNP and Labour colleagues, and Plaid Cymru colleagues in Wales having significant input, too, to pull these amendments together. I hope the Minister will give them serious thought. I do not want to leave the EU, but this is a way of compromise. The right hon. Member for Broxtowe (Anna Soubry) may disagree with me on some things, but we agree that we are both willing to compromise on this, and the Minister needs to look at it. If he is serious about the devolved Administrations still working after we leave, I urge him to examine these amendments.

I turn to the devolved delegated powers. A lot of discussion and consultation has gone on in Holyrood on the subject, and I know that Liberal Democrat, Labour and Green Members, and others, have raised this. A lot of discussion and consultation has gone on with Scottish Ministers and members of other political parties to try to reach some consensus. On difficult issues such as this that is a good way of trying to reach out, and I commend Scottish Ministers for having done that. I also commend Opposition politicians in the Scottish Parliament for having sat down and tried to reach an agreement on this, as that was a responsible thing to do. Once again, the devolved Administrations are leading, where Westminster should perhaps follow.

As a result of that, the Scottish Government are committed to working with the Scottish Parliament and its Committees to agree a set of principles and a process that will ensure that the instruments that are made under the Bill receive the appropriate scrutiny. We hope that the UK Government will do the same for the UK Parliament, and we on these Benches look forward to those discussions. Again, I wonder whether the Minister can tell us what plans he has to reach a consensus across this House.

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Is this not one of the key differences? I refer to the undertakings the Scottish Government have given about how they will use the delegated powers that we are seeking through these amendments, as opposed to the naked power grab, through the Henry VIII clauses in this Bill, which we will come to on another day, by the UK Government?

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My hon. Friend makes a good point about the power grab, but of course Government Members do have the opportunity to prove us wrong and back the amendments that have been drawn together in a cross-party way. I very much look forward to doing so.

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We are speaking about a power grab. Will the hon. Gentleman confirm that the power grab the SNP wants is for Scotland to become independent and then give all these powers that he wants back in Scotland straight back to the EU?

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Today is the day Finland celebrates its 100th birthday as an independent sovereign state, and it has no problem with full membership of the European Union and with the sovereignty that comes with it. I concede that sharing sovereignty is sometimes okay. Some Conservative Back Benchers, including the hon. Gentleman, may not agree with that, but sharing sovereignty in some areas with the EU is a good thing: on areas such as trade and the environment, there are benefits for his constituency as much as for mine. Such areas are crucial and we do not have a problem with sharing sovereignty on them. For instance, we would have our own say when fishing becomes a political priority in a way it never was for the United Kingdom Government.

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Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

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No. I am going to move on, but I would like to see the hon. Member for Moray (Douglas Ross) table some amendments. The Secretary of State for Scotland said in questions earlier that there will be amendments. I accept that Scottish Conservative Members have their misgivings, and they have made some valuable points, but I was disappointed that they have not tabled any amendments themselves. That was remiss of them, especially at a time when we are able to work on a cross-party basis.

I shall move on, because there is quite a lot of technical stuff to consider. The SNP has tabled a series of amendments in the name of my right hon. Friend the Member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber that would delete the word “appropriate” and insert the word “necessary”. This is relevant to the discussion on delegated powers. The recommendation came not from the SNP or Labour, or even from the Liberal Democrats or anybody else, but from the Law Society of Scotland. We have been happy to work with external stakeholders who, I concede, know a great deal more about this stuff than I do. I am always happy to take guidance and advice on these issues, and I recommend that all Members think about doing so.

The need to rein in the meaning of the word “appropriate” was first highlighted by the House of Lords Constitution Committee, which published its report on the great repeal Bill and delegated powers back in March. That report gave credence to amending the legislation, with particular attention to the use of the word “appropriate”. The House of Lords Committee suggested that

“a general provision be placed on the face of the Bill to the effect that the delegated powers granted by the Bill should be used only…so far as necessary to adapt the body of EU law to fit the UK’s domestic legal framework; and…so far as necessary to implement the result of the UK’s negotiations with the EU.”

Our consequential amendments 209, 210, 212, 213, 214, 215 take into account those recommendations.

I welcome the amendments tabled by the hon. Member for Aberavon (Stephen Kinnock), who I believe is seeking to achieve with them an outcome similar to what SNP Members seek. There are outstanding concerns about how in practice powers excluded from Scottish Ministers may work. A number of private international law instruments may need specifically Scottish adaptations, given the separateness of Scots law and the Scottish judiciary. It is clear that this Bill needs to be significantly amended. When senior legal experts are speaking out on almost every single clause, we have to wonder whether we should continue with the Bill or just start again from scratch, but we are where we are with this. I hope that Ministers will take on board the amendments that come not just from political parties but from across the board.

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The hon. Gentleman should be in no doubt that amendments cannot be a Trojan horse and they cannot frustrate the democratic will of the people of the United Kingdom. The question is really simple: does he accept that the Bill is necessary, and that it is largely procedural?

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It should not be incumbent on any Member of Parliament to pass any old law that the Government want us to pass. If this place does not believe that the Bill is fit for purpose, we have a responsibility to interrogate it. I suggest to the hon. Gentleman that he is allowed to make amendments. That is something that he, as an MP, can do. There are hundreds of amendments, many of them tabled by Opposition Members but some tabled by Government Members. I hope that, in due course, Scottish Conservative Members will start to table amendments to Bills, because that is something an MP is allowed to do and I encourage them to do it. If we do not think that a Bill is fit for purpose, we will not vote for it, and I would not expect any other Member to otherwise.

I pay particular tribute to the Scottish and Welsh officials who have worked so hard on this legislation over the past few months. Often, when we discuss amendments in Parliament we are doing so at the end of a process, but there are officials in the devolved Administrations and elsewhere working extraordinarily hard on this. The Secretary of State for Scotland said earlier that he will table amendments—at 500-plus days on from the EU referendum, I am glad to hear that—so will the Minister tell us when those amendments will be tabled?

On a historical note, I noticed earlier that Brexiteers were hailing Henry VIII as a great Brexiteer. Henry VIII was never King of Scots, but he was responsible for the rough wooing of Scotland.

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I am not going to woo the hon. Gentleman, but I thank him for giving way. Of course, Henry VIII and the Tudors originate from Wales—I am sure he knows about Tudor/Tudur and all the connections there. Given that we heard the Secretary of State for Scotland talking about amendments to clause 11, if we do not get the necessary changes to clause 10, would the hon. Gentleman welcome votes on amendments 158 and, possibly, 159, which I have tabled, to make sure that the Government cannot just amend the Scotland and Wales Acts willy-nilly?

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I am glad that the hon. Gentleman made what will be, I am afraid, the final intervention, because he makes an excellent point. I agree with him wholeheartedly and thank him for bringing that up. Henry VIII’s Welshness does not excuse the rough wooing, and nor does it excuse the Henry VIII powers taken in the Bill. We have to learn from history and we have to learn from bad legislation. Significant amendments need to be made because the Bill is not fit for purpose as it stands. I look forward to an extensive speech from the Minister in which he addresses the many points that have been made. Should the hon. Member for North Down wish to press her new clause to a vote, we stand ready to support her.

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Thank you, Mr Streeter, for calling me to speak. I have sat through several of the Committee’s debates so far, but have only been able to intervene. This is the first time I have had the chance to make a speech and give my take on the amendments before us.

I feel fortunate to have been in the Chamber to listen to the speech by the hon. Member for North Down (Lady Hermon). We share something in common in that my wife is a police officer—just a sergeant in Keith, I have to say; not quite at the level reached by the hon. Lady’s husband. When she spoke about the troubles in Northern Ireland and the efforts her late husband went to with so many colleagues, it touched a raw nerve for those of us who are so closely connected with our police, fire and ambulance services and the sacrifices they still make on a daily basis to protect us.

I listened carefully to what the hon. Lady said about new clause 70. It is useful that we have had this opportunity to discuss the Belfast agreement, because although she gave a thoughtful and moving speech, I hope she accepts that nothing with respect to our departure from the European Union and, indeed, nothing in the Bill, will compromise the Belfast agreement. Her words were very useful in giving us an opportunity to discuss and debate this issue, but I am not sure it is necessary for us to support new clause 70, because there is already clear information to show that the Belfast agreement is secure.

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The Good Friday agreement created cross-border institutions and policies that have been supported and, indeed, financed by the European Union, and lots of finance has gone into improving the border areas. That commitment is going to go when the UK leaves the European Union, so it is inevitable that the terms of the Good Friday agreement will be altered. My new clause would keep the changes to an absolute bare minimum, making only those changes that are absolutely necessary on account of Brexit.

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I am grateful for that intervention, but the Government have been clear about their ongoing support for the Belfast agreement, and nothing that will materialise from Brexit or, importantly, the relevant clauses of the Bill we are discussing, will diminish that in any way.

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The issue is not whether the Government are in agreement, but that they are co-guarantors of an international agreement.

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I am not saying anything against that, but what I am trying to put across is that it is quite clear that there is support for the Belfast agreement without the need for new clause 70.

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I accept everything that my hon. Friend is saying, and join him in paying tribute to the hon. Member for North Down (Lady Hermon), but does he not agree that perhaps this is a time where some form of underpinning of the Good Friday agreement, by one means or another, might be helpful in building trust?

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My hon. Friend makes a valid point. We are doing some of that by debating this very issue today. By proposing new clause 70, the hon. Member for North Down has allowed us the opportunity to discuss that in this place today.

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My hon. Friend is very generous in giving way. On the institutions that were set up under the Good Friday agreement and with regard to peace and prosperity on the border, does he agree that there is an ongoing duty on the European Union, established by article 8 of the Lisbon treaty, to promote neighbourliness, which will underpin all of the institutions to which the hon. Member for North Down (Lady Hermon) has referred?

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I agree with my hon. Friend, and believe that it is useful to get that on record.

I want to move on to the amendments on the devolved Administrations under discussion today. My constituency of Moray was split right down the middle on Brexit. Of all the 382 areas in the United Kingdom that counted the votes on the European Union referendum, Moray had the closest result of anywhere. Out of 48,000 votes, just 122 votes, including my own, gave remain the edge over leave. None the less, Moray did come within a whisker of being the only Scottish local authority to vote leave.

Moray is not a bitterly divided community. Like most communities in Scotland, and indeed in the United Kingdom as a whole, people in Moray want Brexit to be done with as little disruption as possible. It is in that spirit that this Bill works to ensure that our statute book—our legal and regulatory infrastructure—continues to operate as normal after exit day. Due to the sheer amount of tweaks that will need to be made after more than four decades of our laws becoming ever more intertwined with those of the European Union, it is only right that the Government have delegated powers to effect those adjustments where appropriate.

Likewise, in the light of our devolution settlement, it is only right that the Scottish Government and the other devolved Administrations have delegated powers to make their own adjustments where appropriate.

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Does the hon. Gentleman accept the concerns that have been raised by the Law Society of Scotland on the areas of this Bill relating to the separate legal system in Scotland?

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I know Michael Clancy very well, and have seen the briefing that the Law Society provided for this debate. I accept its concerns on this, just as I accepted the many concerns that it had over plans in the Scottish Parliament that I debated in my time there. The Scottish Government were quite happy to ignore the evidence—

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indicated dissent.

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The hon. Gentleman is shaking his head, but the Law Society was absolutely against the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012 and continues to be. The Scottish Government and the SNP Members north of the border are happy to ignore the views of the Law Society of Scotland when they do not suit their argument. Now SNP Members in this Chamber tell us that we have to agree with absolutely everything that the Law Society says.

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On that point, did the Scottish Parliament not vote that that 2012 Act should be repealed?

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I believe that we may be straying slightly from the point. I may now have to declare an interest as a football referee in Scotland. Yes, my hon. Friend is correct that the Scottish Parliament has voted for that Act to be repealed, and the SNP has still done nothing about it.

Much of what we are discussing today should not be controversial. Quite simply, it is what is needed to keep this country operating after exit day with as little disruption as possible. There should, therefore, be consensus behind the broad principles of clause 10 and schedule 2 of this Bill. Where there is not, I suspect that it is because of a burn-it-down mentality that is less concerned with the real world and more intent on achieving some other ideological goal. However, no amount of ideology will keep our industries properly regulated on 30 March 2019. Brexit is happening; it is happening to the entire United Kingdom, and it is our duty now to ensure that it goes as smoothly as possible.

There appear to be two broad themes in the proposed amendments to schedule 2. Some amendments restrict the powers given to the devolved Administrations, while others expand them. Some of my Scottish Conservative colleagues have spoken about the need for a middle ground on clause 11. Well, with respect to clause 10 and schedule 2, it occurs to me that we have already got the middle ground. Amendments 209 and 307 take issue with the provision that a devolved authority may use its delegated powers as it “considers appropriate”. The SNP, it seems, would prefer to replace that with as it “considers necessary”, while Welsh Labour would prefer that a devolved authority make such provision as “is essential”. I welcome the SNP’s new-found restraint when it comes to the powers of the Scottish Government, who have spent the last decade centralising as much power as possible in their own hands. We are seeing it with the NHS in Scotland— centralisation from the SNP. We have already seen it with the police and fire services—centralisation from the SNP.

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I will give way in a minute. The SNP is obsessed with centralisation and it is to the detriment of communities such as mine in Moray and swathes of Scotland which have been let down by this centralising SNP Government.

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The hon. Gentleman refers a great deal to the Scottish Parliament. In the Scottish Parliament, the Scottish Government are bringing everyone together on the issues pertaining to this Act and trying to seek consensus. Does he think that his Front-Bench team should follow the same example?

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What I would really like to see is the SNP spokesperson on this issue discussing this very matter with the SNP’s Brexit Minister in Scotland. What we are seeing north of the border is a Brexit Minister and the Deputy First Minister engaging with the First Secretary of State and the Secretary of State for Scotland. Over the weekend, we heard some positive noises from both of my Governments—at United Kingdom level and at Scotland level—but that does not seem to be replicated by SNP Members here who simply want to show that they are against Brexit at all costs, and they want grievance politics over and above actually delivering for Scotland, which is very unfortunate.

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rose

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I will not give way, as I wish to make some progress.

If the SNP wants to limit the power of the Scottish Government, it may do well to tell their colleagues in Holyrood to start returning power to local communities in Scotland. However, in this instance, SNP Members should be more trusting of themselves. “Appropriate” is, in fact, the appropriate word. Perhaps it is even the necessary or essential word. “Appropriate” gives the devolved Administrations the right latitude to make adjustments that are genuinely effective. As I have said, it is crucial that the statute book continues to operate effectively after exit day, and we cannot risk setting our restrictions so tightly that we compromise that goal.

On the other hand, some of the proposed amendments aim to expand the powers of the devolved Administrations, and they risk, ultimately, undermining the vital internal market of the United Kingdom.

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The difficulty is that it will be in the interests of Scotland that there is a swift increase in the volume of trade as a consequence of new trade agreements that are negotiated. That will be significantly limited if the powers to deliver those agreements have been diffused throughout the United Kingdom.

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My right hon. Friend is completely correct. The SNP and its Members here seem to want to go for their ideological aims rather than protecting the vital internal market that is so important for Scotland and the United Kingdom. Let us take, for instance, allowing the devolved Administrations to amend directly applicable EU law. That would be inconsistent with the spirit of clause 11, which at least provisionally returns all that is currently the EU’s power to Westminster, and thus ensures that there is no divergence, and therefore no trade barriers, between the four nations of the UK after exit day.

Now, clause 11 is not perfect—we heard that earlier today from the Secretary of State for Scotland at Scottish Question Time and indeed from my colleagues on Monday—but I expect it to be improved. It should be improved through negotiations between the UK Government and the Scottish Government, and between the UK Government and the other devolved Administrations, not through the amendments before us today.

Once again, I urge the SNP to have more confidence in their own colleagues in Holyrood. I, for one, fully believe that these negotiations will reach a satisfactory conclusion by Report. As with the proposed amendments to clause 11, these amendments today are unnecessary and, indeed, even harmful. At a time when negotiations are taking place, it is totally wrong for these amendments to go through and shift the very ground on which those negotiations are based.

So we come to the middle ground, which is where I started my speech today. We maintain the existing restrictions on the devolved Administrations as a basis for the ongoing negotiations between the UK Government and the devolved Administrations, and in order to preserve the internal market of the UK, which is vital to businesses in my Moray constituency, vital to businesses in Scotland, and vital to businesses the length and breadth of the United Kingdom. We should maintain the existing provision—that the devolved Administrations may act where appropriate in order to ensure that they can use their delegated powers as effectively as possible and make Brexit as smooth as possible. The many proposed amendments to clause 10 and schedule 2 pull us in many different directions, none of which are good. The middle ground and the best ground is where we are already.

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I wish to speak to amendments 338, 346 and 347 in my name and the names of my hon. and right hon. Friends. I also wish to make it clear that my party and I would support new clause 70, should it be put to a vote. I was heartened by the intervention of the hon. Member for Stirling (Stephen Kerr), who said that he also supports the new clause.

As the hon. Member for North Down (Lady Hermon) argued so eloquently and persuasively, new clause 70 protects the Belfast principles throughout and beyond our departure from the European Union, just as Labour’s amendment 338 prevents delegated powers from being used in any way that would undermine the Good Friday agreement. I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Pontypridd (Owen Smith) for his thoughtful guidance in devising amendment 338.

Too many—including, I suspect, many of my constituents—see the Good Friday agreement as an event that took place almost 20 years ago, already consigned to the history books. The agreement was, and is, the result of years of work by too many committed souls to name each one. It is an agreement that is as moving to read now as it was then. Beautifully simple are the words that drew to an end the decades of brutality, misery and conflict that had befallen the island of Ireland and beyond for decades. None of us living on this side of the Irish sea can truly comprehend the opportunity for a new beginning for Northern Ireland that was made possible by the Good Friday agreement. The declaration of support for the agreement says it best:

“The tragedies of the past have left a deep and profoundly regrettable legacy of suffering. We must never forget those who have died or been injured, and their families. But we can best honour them through a fresh start, in which we firmly dedicate ourselves to the achievement of reconciliation, tolerance, and mutual trust, and to the protection and vindication of the human rights of all.”

To say that the Labour party is proud of its role in bringing the agreement into being does not convey sufficiently the time, political and emotional investment made by Tony Blair, Paul Murphy, Mo Mowlam, Jonathan Powell and countless others, by choice, in the process. Peace and security in Northern Ireland mattered to the Labour party then and it matters no less to us now. But it is important to say, too, that the work of John Major and many in this Chamber should be recognised, appreciated and acknowledged.

We have seen this week that all the challenges involved with implementing the UK’s decision to leave the European Union unite and are magnified in the context of Northern Ireland. The separation by sea from the rest of the UK and the joining by land of Northern Ireland to the Republic of Ireland quickly expose the weaknesses of any flippant attempt to provide a single line answer to the question of our future relationship with the EU.

Northern Ireland finds us out. It is the test by which any proposed deals can be said to succeed or to fail. Ruling out the customs union and a changed relationship with the single market before trade talks have even begun fails the Northern Ireland test. Why? Because of the potential reappearance of a hard border, which all parties say they do not wish to see. But we cannot wish away problems. If we have different tariff arrangements from the EU, we will need to collect tariffs from the EU, and the EU will need to collect tariffs from us. If we have different product standards and regulations, goods will need to be inspected to see if they are allowed in each other’s markets, particularly agricultural produce. In Norway and Sweden, that means a hard border. In America and Canada, that also means a hard border. Ambition is not enough to prevent it from meaning a hard border on the island of Ireland too.

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To my knowledge, the United Kingdom Government are not proposing to erect tariff barriers, and they do not want to have regulation. Therefore, there would be no need for a hard border in the way in which the hon. Lady describes. If the European Union wishes to collect tariffs or erect regulatory barriers, the European Union will have to erect a hard border, but the UK Government surely cannot be answerable for that.

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I struggle to see how the originator of the border—who would erect it—is of any consequence to the people of Northern Ireland. A border is a border and it needs to be avoided at all costs.

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It is quite clear that the proponents of Scotland remaining in the UK during the 2014 Scottish independence referendum were right to argue that taking Scotland out of the UK single market would mean the erection of a hard border at Berwick. Given what we have just heard from the hon. Member for South West Wiltshire (Dr Murrison), does my hon. Friend think that the situation would be any different in the context of Northern Ireland?