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Political Declaration: Dynamic Alignment on Rights and Protections

Volume 657: debated on Thursday 4 April 2019

8. What recent discussions he has had with his EU counterpart on including dynamic alignment on rights and protections in the political declaration on the framework for the future relationship between the EU and UK. (910217)

The United Kingdom has a tradition of exceeding EU standards. We do not need to follow EU rules to continue to lead the way. An example of that is that UK maternity entitlements are nearly three times greater than the minimum EU standard.

Does the Minister agree with the TUC that the Government’s proposals on workers’ rights after Brexit are nothing but “flimsy procedural tweaks”? How will they be strengthened during current negotiations with the Leader of the Opposition?

As the right hon. and learned Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Keir Starmer) knows, we had discussions yesterday and there will be further discussions today. I am sure that workers’ rights will be among a range of issues that we will discuss. The hon. Gentleman will know that the Prime Minister has already said that she will bring forward a package of measures to strengthen enforcement of workers’ rights, and that is in part following discussions that we have had with a number of Opposition Members.

The Secretary of State talks about the Government being committed to exceeding EU standards, but practice does not seem to match his words. His Conservative colleagues in the European Parliament voted against the amendment to the posting of workers directive, which strengthens workers’ rights and addresses many of the concerns expressed about freedom of movement during the referendum. He will know that our obligation to transpose it into domestic law continues as long we are EU members and during the transitional period. When are the Government going to do that?

There is a real inconsistency here. Night after night we are told that we should trust the votes of the House of Commons. The Prime Minister has made a commitment not to lower standards below the current levels for workers’ rights and the environment, and our proposals on immigration go further than the commitments found in standard free trade agreements. It is odd that Opposition Members have so little faith in this House to protect the rights that workers need.