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Trade (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership) Bill [HL]

Volume 835: debated on Tuesday 23 January 2024

Third Reading

Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland Legislative Consent sought


Moved by

My Lords, I beg to move that the Bill do now pass. If I may, I will say a few notes of thanks to the participants and highlight a few core points. Other speakers may wish to do the same, but I gather that I should go first in the order of debate.

The Bill is a narrow one, focused on technical barriers to trade, intellectual property and government procurement, but it will help ensure that we meet our international obligations when we accede to the CPTPP. We will be the first new member to accede to the agreement. We have also, through our accession to this wonderful institution, in effect established a brand-new set of free trade agreements with Malaysia and Brunei.

This is also therefore a highly significant step, and taking this Bill through your Lordships’ House has been a pleasure and a privilege. I am delighted that the ambassadors and representatives from all 11 CPTPP member states—Canada, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam—are here today to witness this historic moment. “Ocean’s Eleven” will become “Ocean’s Twelve”.

I spent a long time working on that joke—it did not work the first time, but I thought I would try it at this final point.

This Chamber has seen productive debate, including following the Bill’s Second Reading, which was opened with profound style by the then new Foreign Secretary, my noble friend Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton.

I turn first to the Opposition spokespeople, the noble Lords, Lord McNicol of West Kilbride and Lord Purvis of Tweed. The scrutiny that they have undertaken has been thoughtful and thorough, and they have my sincere thanks for this.

I am indebted once again to my noble friend Lord Lansley and his ability to purposely probe legislation, this time in relation to geographical indications and government procurement. I also extend my gratitude to all members of the International Agreements Committee, led by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Goldsmith, for their continued engagement, particularly the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, and the noble Lord, Lord Kerr.

It would also be right for me to express thanks to the noble Lords, Lord Alton of Liverpool and Lord Leong, who I hope are reassured by the robustness of our democratic processes around our treaty obligations and my undertakings to ensure that all future countries who wish to join the CPTPP, once we are a full member, will receive full and proper scrutiny.

I am also grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Foster of Bath, for his extraordinary knowledge of intellectual property law and his comments around artists’ rights. I look forward to seeing the findings of the consultation when it reports over the coming months. I also make a commitment to continue to work with all CPTPP countries to further the principle of artists’ resale rights, as recently discussed with the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty.

I thank my noble friend Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park for his helpful input around the risks to the environment and continue to reassure noble Lords that we remain fully committed in this area when negotiating free trade deals. There is no derogation of our standards with our joining CPTPP. In fact, this forum allows us to drive change and further align our partner countries with our environmental values and ambitions.

Other important areas discussed during the Bill’s passage include food standards, the UK’s financial sector and parts of the Bill’s application in Northern Ireland. These issues were raised frequently and emphatically by my noble friends Lady McIntosh, Lord Holmes and Lady Lawlor, and the noble Baroness, Lady Willis. I pay tribute to each of them for this and the engagement that they afforded me.

Finally, it would be remiss of me not to thank my Secretary of State, Kemi Badenoch, for her skills in bringing this process to a conclusion. She led a first-class team who delivered a truly wonderful gift to this nation.

Behind the scenes, the extraordinary Bill team also put in an unbelievable amount of effort. All Peers in this House who have engaged in this or, indeed, any legislative process will be aware of the extraordinary effort by our officials to ensure sensible dialogue and great outcomes. My thanks go to James Copeland, Alistair Ford, Jack Collins and Jack Masterman, as well as Hope Hadfield, Neelam Mandair and Bayse Genc from the CPTPP team. I also thank my private secretary, Lisa Banks, and other officials who make up my private office, so ably led by Anthony Donaldson.

Finally, I thank the parliamentary staff, including the doorkeepers and the clerks, for their professionalism and continued support to your Lordships’ House.

British businesses and consumers alike are set to benefit significantly from our acceding to this trade group. It builds on the free trade agreements that entered into force between the UK and Australia and New Zealand in May last year, which I had the honour of taking through Parliament. It will result in new market access for our world-leading goods and services. We are removing tariffs, which will help our farmers, service providers and businesses export across the world to new, fast-growing economies and populations hungry for our produce. As Lord Haldane so wisely said, tariffs are not the answer; the only way to remain ahead of our rivals is to continue to be ahead of them in the quality of what we make. No tariff can keep out that quality which is the key to quantity.

The CPTPP is a gateway to greater growth and economic prosperity for all parts of the UK. I repeat the wonderful quotation from William H Seward:

“the Pacific Ocean, its shores, its islands, and the vast regions beyond, will become the chief theatre of events in the World’s great Hereafter”.

As the Bill travels to the other place and develops, it is important that we continue to work with the devolved nations to ensure that we have their appropriate co-operation and collaboration. With that, I thank all noble Lords in this House.

My Lords, briefly, I thank the Minister for his active engagement on the artist’s resale right; I am encouraged by the direction of travel. In particular, I thank him for yesterday’s meeting on ARR, which he efficiently managed to schedule for before today’s Third Reading. I thank Reema Selhi of DACS, Oliver Evans of the Maureen Paley gallery, and my noble friend Lord Freyberg, who is in his place, for their valuable contributions to this discussion, particularly on how the international element can be better understood. I am grateful to the Minister for listening and for his active involvement in this area. Following ratification in July, I look forward to seeing how membership will help further these aims, in relation to both the countries concerned and other agreements.

My Lords, this is a very important Bill and I have supported it strongly. But before we finally complete Third Reading, I point out again to this House, as I did in Committee, that two clauses do not apply to part of the United Kingdom: Northern Ireland. We have been left under the European Union rules and will not be able to take advantage of these provisions.

Some new terminology was brought in, but although the provisions covered Northern Ireland, they would not apply to Northern Ireland. In terms of equal citizenship —because of what we did in leaving the European Union while leaving Northern Ireland out of that—Northern Ireland has once again been left out. That is a very sad reflection of the Conservative Government’s aim and promise that they believed in a United Kingdom and in the union.

My Lords, I congratulate my noble friend the Minister on the enthusiastic verve with which he has handled the whole of this legislation. We in the International Agreements Committee have been examining the detail of membership at considerable length for some time. Long before that, and long before Brexit many years ago, we were working to see our greater involvement in this pivot to south-east Asia and Latin America.

As the Minister said, this is a historic moment: we are entering now, with new opportunities, the fastest-growing markets of the next 30 years. Beyond that lie even bigger investment opportunities and markets which will ensure that we can maintain our own living standards in this country. This is a great move in the right direction, which will, if we work at it, bring enormous benefits.

My Lords, I congratulate my noble friend the Minister on securing the safe passage of the Bill. He is aware of the concern of farmers across North Yorkshire and the rest of the country about the Bill’s impact. I look forward to the increasing consumption of cheese, chocolate and whisky produced in all four parts of this country in all the countries that are party to the CPTPP—the whole thing; tout.

Can I raise two issues with my noble friend? Will he work very closely with Defra on the labelling of provisions when we eventually import products that may not meet the same standards of animal welfare and environmental protection that our farmers have to meet? Can I press him on his last comment on seeking the legislative consent of the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish? It is complex. Does he have a date—now that the Bill will pass to the other place—when that legislative consent will be granted?

My Lords, may I ask the Minister a very brief question? I was on the committee at about the time he joined so he may not remember this, but as a committee we were very strongly in favour of the department bringing out a trade policy paper which would highlight all the good things about Britain, if you like. It would tell us more what the department was thinking while we were going through line by line. Can he resurrect that project? Will he give us an answer?

My Lords, the Companion is quite clear that we do not reopen at Third Reading elements of the debate that we had at earlier Bill stages, so this is an opportunity for me to thank the Minister for his openness. He has been assiduous in replying to questions, as I am sure he will be for those asked of him today. It perhaps illustrates that while we are passing this Bill which facilitates the UK ratification of the accession, the other member states will also have to ratify and go through their own constitutional processes to do so. Many of the issues raised during the passage of the Bill will continue to be relevant, such as the impact on developing countries and the standard issues on impacts that my noble friends raised. We will continue to engage with the Minister with regard to all those.

I also welcome the diplomatic community who have been gathered by the Minister to bear witness to this. They are excellent representatives of their countries. Notwithstanding that, according to “Rotten Tomatoes”, “Ocean’s Twelve” is the weakest of the film series, as my noble friend Lord Fox pointed out, we always consider the Minister as the George Clooney of the Government in this House. For myself, I think Brad Pitt probably had the better role.

However, if the whole country is to benefit from the largesse of the 0.08% growth over 15 years, it will be as a result of the Minister’s enthusiasm. If we could market and export ministerial enthusiasm, we would be on to a winner with that he presents. All six of his predecessors whom I have shadowed in this House had equal levels of enthusiasm for growing British trade. We will see the operationalisational elements of this agreement by the fact of British exporters needing support to access the markets, for there to be an industrial strategy from the Government and for the export strategy to be grown. We want success for our exporters, trading with our friends, using this agreement and I am sure this will not be the last time we will debate our trade with these nations.

In the meantime, I congratulate the Minister and thank him for what he has done during the proceedings of the Bill.

I too congratulate the Minister and thank him for the way he has handled relations, not just with the House but with its International Agreements Committee. He has been open, transparent and forthcoming with documents.

I also make a public service announcement. In the next couple of weeks, the International Agreements Committee will be publishing a full report on our accession. Let me reassure the House, as we pass this Bill, that the International Agreements Committee will not say anything which would imply that we should not pass it. We too very much welcome this accession.

I appreciate all the comments made. I will revert back on the principles around legislative consent, but I can assure your Lordships that we are having very constructive conversations with all the devolved nations. I beg to move.

Bill passed and sent to the Commons.