Skip to main content

Ethanol Imports: Tariff Schedule

Volume 664: debated on Thursday 5 September 2019

5. What plans the Government have to publish a tariff schedule for ethanol imports in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal. (912278)

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the UK would implement a temporary tariff regime. This would apply for up to 12 months while a full consultation takes place and a review of a permanent approach is undertaken.

I appreciate the Secretary of State’s response and the letter I received from the Department for International Trade this morning, but in the meetings we had with the Department, we were told that biofuels would not be covered by the protection tariffs. Ensus in my constituency tells me that the fear of a no-deal Brexit is already harming business. We know that a no-deal Brexit without tariff protection will kill British biofuels, end jobs and leave us relying on imports. Will the Secretary of State commit to working with his colleagues to maintain tariff protection on ethanol before it is too late?

The hon. Lady raises a legitimate issue in a constructive way, and I am very happy to work with her because she is championing a genuine issue on behalf of her constituents. There is always a balance in setting tariffs between protecting consumers and the issues for producers. It is about how we calibrate those two sometimes competing issues. She will understand that within the market—within the industry—there is domestic pressure, regardless of Brexit, but I am very happy to work with her on that issue.

The Secretary of State will be aware from Yellowhammer that the proposed tariff regime under no deal creates very specific risks for the UK oil-refining sector. Given that the Valero refinery in Pembroke is the largest and most important private sector employer in west Wales, will the Minister tell me what the plan is for protecting the UK refining sector if we end up leaving the EU without a deal?

My right hon. Friend will know that concerns have been raised by the industry in respect of that. Pertaining to the answer that I gave a moment ago, existing questions within that market are also a factor. I am very happy to have further discussions with him, as I am with the hon. Member for Redcar (Anna Turley), because a number of issues come into play for that industry.

There is a group of medicines that simply cannot be stockpiled and which rely on an uninterrupted supply of imports. Will the Secretary of State give a 100% guarantee that none of my constituents will suffer a shortage of that type of medicine as a result of a no-deal Brexit?

As I said, we have not only put in place an additional procurement framework in terms of capacity, but we have procured an express freight service to deliver small consignments on a 24-hour basis, and a two-to-four day pallet-delivery service. These issues are being addressed by the Department and a huge amount of work is going on exactly on that issue.