International disputes etc

Part of Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 4:15 pm ar 30 Ionawr 2018.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Anneliese Dodds Anneliese Dodds Shadow Minister (Treasury) 4:15, 30 Ionawr 2018

I am grateful to the Minister for his clarifications. I know he will regret hearing this, but the Opposition feel that the procedures are, sadly, not appropriate and proportionate. The new clause argues for an enhanced parliamentary procedure if import duties must be varied as a consequence of an international dispute. I will not go through the more rigorous procedure we suggest; it is similar to that described by my hon. Friend the Member for Bootle.

It would help if the Minister answered this initial question: what is the anticipated frequency of this kind of dispute? My view of what has occurred at EU level is that such disputes are not so frequent that appropriate scrutiny would not be possible. Some of us are concerned that a dispute might come sooner rather than later. I understand that experts took different positions in the International Trade Committee on whether the UK’s continuing to apply EU anti-dumping duties would be legal after it had left the EU. That is one of many reasons why it would be helpful to have more explicit mention in the Bill of existing measures being automatically rolled over. But, anyway, that is a caveat.

There are many other reasons why an enhanced procedure is necessary. The first is that the decisions taken in the context of such a dispute would be adopted by the Secretary of State himself, albeit with the advice of the TRA, and they could have a significant impact on UK industry. We have talked about how, in many cases, the supply chains are complex, and we need to talk about a variety of different consumers and business-to-business activity. It is therefore important that Parliament is able to examine a statement of the dispute and what exactly the Government propose should be done in relation to the dispute, such that the House can vote on that matter if necessary. These disputes do not affect just economic policy; they can have a significant impact on other areas of public policy as well. Therefore, it is important that colleagues are able to express a view on them and to consider the Government’s position on them.

The second reason it is important to have an enhanced procedure is that there is a lot of public concern at the moment about international economic disputes and how they tend to be resolved. I served as a Member of the European Parliament for three years, and I received tens of thousands of communications—about 38,000 at the last count—from concerned citizens about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership deal between the US and the EU. Most of those emails included criticism of the impact of investor-state dispute settlement, predominantly because that method of resolving disputes is not transparent and many people feel it privileges the voice of companies over Governments. We surely should not be putting ourselves in a position where Parliament’s voice would be not just ignored but not even heard when it comes to our Government’s actions in relation to trade disputes. For that reason, I hope the Government will support our amendment.

I hope that I will be permitted one last question, as this matter came up in the Minister’s opening remarks on the clause. Will he tell us where the Government have explicitly given themselves the power to create WTO schedules? I do not know where that is. He mentioned the necessity of producing those schedules, so can we have some clarification on that point?