Northern Ireland Protocol Bill

Published date : 19 July, 2022
I rise to speak to, or at least draw attention to, amendments 19 and 22 in my name, and to speak to the other amendments that have been discussed.

On amendments 19 and 22, I do not intend to rehearse in any depth the arguments I put forward on day one, except to say that even if the Bill was not at risk of being in breach of international law, in our view it still gives Ministers far too much power to proceed without adequate reference back to this place and opportunities for scrutiny by Members. I make that point again for the consideration of the Treasury Bench; no doubt they will instantly dispose of it, but nobody can accuse me of not having made it again.

On amendments 44 and 45, it seems to me entirely reasonable that Ministers should be required to consult appropriately on the impact of dual routes, and to make sure there is an agreement with the EU and the option to choose between dual routes so that the dual routes procedure can operate as intended. It also seems to me to be perfectly reasonable to refer back to the directly elected representatives of the people of Northern Ireland in the Assembly on how they might wish such a mechanism to go ahead or to work, so we are supportive of amendments 44 and 45.

On amendment 28, ensuring that an economic impact assessment is carried out before proceeding with a dual regulatory regime seems to me to be the very essence of common sense. If only we had carried out a thorough economic assessment before stepping into this morass in the first place, it might have given people some pause for thought.

Finally—I said I would be brief—new clause 15 would require the House to be informed timeously of the details of discussions in the UK-EU Joint Committee when they involved regulation of goods in connection with the protocol, and to be given details of the regard that has been offered to the strand 1 and strand 2 arrangements. That seems a perfectly sensible way to ensure that consent is in place and that the views of all relevant stakeholders have been properly taken into consideration before such a momentous step is taken.

We entirely support those provisions and, if they are selected for separate decision, we intend to walk through the Lobby in support of them.

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