The Government believe strongly that Parliament has a vital role to play in the scrutiny of future free trade agreements, as it always has in the past. The Government are currently in the process of designing our future trade agreement policy. No decisions have yet been taken, as stakeholder consultations are ongoing.
When there is a new EU trade treaty, the European Scrutiny Committee can review it and the European Parliament can veto it; when there is a new UK treaty, all this House can do is delay its ratification by 21 days. Far from taking back control, does the Minister agree with the Commons Library that post-Brexit Britain
“may be seen as diminishing democratic accountability in relation to trade treaties”?
Will he fix that by supporting the inclusion of new clause 3 in the Trade Bill?
I will take no lessons from the Liberal Democrats in this regard. The hon. Lady voted against the Second Reading of the Trade Bill, which will allow this country to transition its 40 or more existing EU trade agreements into UK law. Those agreements have already been scrutinised in Parliament. As I say, future trade agreements will be a matter for future proposals.
Is it not the case that, under current plans, the British Government will be able to sign off UK-wide trade deals without the consent of the devolved Parliaments, meaning that the Belgian region of Wallonia will have more power over EU trade deals than Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will have over UK trade deals?
I think the hon. Gentleman is confused. Existing trade deals have been scrutinised in this Parliament, with input from the Welsh Government in the usual way—more than 40 EU trade deals have already been scrutinised in this Parliament. He has confused those with future trade deals. We will, of course, work closely with Parliament and the devolved Administrations to make sure that their voice is heard on those future trade deals.
It is important that the Minister tries to clarify this issue. Brexit is supposed to be about regaining sovereignty and taking back control, so what is actually going to happen? Are this House and the devolved Assemblies simply going to be consulted, or are they going to have to consent to new trade deals?
Again, I think the hon. Gentleman is confusing existing trade deals, which are what the Trade Bill is all about, with the prospects for future trade deals. We have been absolutely clear on future trade deals. Trade policy is of course a reserved matter, but Ministers have engaged with the Scottish and Welsh Governments frequently, including at official level, and we recently did a deep dive with the devolved Administrations on what future trade policy might look like.