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Innovation, Growth and Regulatory Reform

Volume 711: debated on Thursday 31 March 2022

14. What progress he has made on implementing the recommendations of the Taskforce on Innovation, Growth and Regulatory Reform report published on 16 June 2021. (906430)

16. What steps his Department is taking to promote growth and innovation following the UK’s departure from the EU. (906432)

We will bring forward a Brexit freedoms Bill to end the special status of retained EU law. It will accompany a major drive to reform, repeal and replace retained EU law, thereby cutting at least £1 billion-worth of red tape for UK businesses. The Government’s “The Benefits of Brexit” paper reinforced Departments’ commitments in response to TIGRR, and Departments are pushing ahead in delivering the recommendations in its report.

Will the Government make progress on the TIGRR recommendation to replace the EU clinical trials directive with a new modern framework to ensure that people can access life-saving treatments quickly and that our world-leading medical research sector can thrive?

I thank my right hon. Friend for her terrific work on the TIGRR report to provide so many ideas for the Government. I assure her that I am working closely with the Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, my hon. Friend the Member for Mid Norfolk (George Freeman), who was also involved in the TIGRR report and now has ministerial responsibility in many of the medical-related areas. The consultation on the proposals to reform UK legislation on clinical trials to protect the interests of participants while providing a more streamlined and flexible regime to make it easier and faster to run trials closed on 14 March 2022. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency is analysing the more than 2,000 responses that were received and preparing the Government response. There is great urgency behind this work.

Coastal areas have their own unique set of challenges and opportunities. I would be grateful if my right hon. Friend outlined the Government’s cross-departmental strategy to promote growth and innovation in areas such as Waveney. In particular, will he set out the Government’s proposed replacement for assisted area status, from which Lowestoft benefited?

My hon. Friend is a particular champion for coastal communities—especially for Waveney—and has been since we entered Parliament together in 2010. East Suffolk Council is working with local businesses and the community on its £24.9 million town deal for Lowestoft. We are no longer bound by burdensome EU state aid rules, so assisted area status will be replaced by new a subsidy control regime. The Subsidy Control Bill, which was introduced to Parliament in June 2021, provides the framework for the new UK-wide regime. It is back under our control and, under the Subsidy Control Bill, we will have a new system. Through the new regime, public authorities throughout the United Kingdom will be able to award bespoke subsidies that are tailored to local needs.

The Minister just claimed that the Government are cutting £1 billion-worth of red tape as a result of Brexit, but the Commons Public Accounts Committee, which has a majority of Conservative MPs, says that Brexit red tape is costing businesses £5 billion per year. Does the Minister accept that finding?

I am grateful that the hon. Gentleman is joining thousands of readers of the Sun and of the Sunday Express in pointing out ways in which we can cut red tape further. There is more joy in heaven over the one sinner who repenteth than over the 99 who remain pure.

The Financial Times has reported that the checks on food imports that were due to be introduced in July will be delayed yet again. In the middle of a Tory cost of living crisis and a period of food insecurity that may have short-term benefits, but, as the British Veterinary Association has highlighted, it is not sustainable, and it serves only to highlight the absurd claim that Brexit would reduce red tape. What possible Brexit opportunity can the Minister identify from delaying these checks yet again, because of the extreme harm they would have caused, and what long-term solutions are the Government exploring?

The SNP once again wants to be ruled by the European Union. This is the most extraordinary claim from a party that wants to be independent. It wants to be independent for one minute, and then it says to our friends in Brussels, “You take over because we are not able to do it for ourselves; we are too weak, feeble and frail to be able to stand on our own two feet, so we’ve got to get somebody else to do it.” The great advantage of being out is that it is up to us. We have the single trade window coming forward, which will be world-beating, and potentially one of the best systems anywhere, cutting out bureaucracy not just for people with whom we are trading in the European Union, but globally, because we in the Conservative party have a global horizon, rather than this narrow Brussels-based horizon of the Scottish nationalists.

I will attempt to pick the bones out of that one when I read Hansard. Hearing of Brexit opportunities reminds me of that classic comedy, “Abbott and Costello in the Foreign Legion” when Bud and Lou get lost in the desert and come across an ice cream parlour that everybody knows to be a mirage except them, and that is exactly what this is—a mirage. Many of our performers are now having to rely on the charity, Help Musicians, for a £5,000 grant so that they can afford to take their performances to Europe. Why do our performers now require charitable help, and what happened to that promised post-Brexit bonfire of red tape?

In 1661—[Interruption.] I am not with Abbott and Costello; there is a much better Carry On where they are in the desert and Kenneth Williams is leading them in the Foreign Legion. Let us go back to 1661. In 1661, outside in Old Palace Yard, the public executioner took all the Acts that were passed by the illegitimate Cromwellian Parliament and burned them. I have to say that I would like to do something similar to what was done between 1972 and our departing from the European Union. We are building up the kindling wood thanks to the readers of The Sun who are sending in their brilliant suggestions.