Trade Bill: Lords third reading

21 March 2019

The Trade Bill had its third reading, a chance to 'tidy up' the bill and make changes, in the Lords on Wednesday 20 March.

Members discussed a range of topics, including environmental protection, the UK's continued participation in EU and EEA organisations and the right of government ministers to legislate on devolved matters.

The bill now passes back to the Commons for its consideration of Lords amendments.

Lords report stage day two: Wednesday 13 March

Members discussed the publication of a trade agreement process register, the UK's participation in EU and European Economic Area organisations and the collation of export information on international education.

There were also three divisions (votes) on proposed amendments (changes) to the bill. All the amendments concerned the insertion of new clauses into the bill.

The first vote was on a new clause which would ensure the continuation of border trade between Northern Ireland and the republic of Ireland and prevent the need for customs arrangements.

The clause would require for any international trade agreement between the UK and the European Union not to be ratified under the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010, unless the agreement is compatible with terms of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 and does not:

  • negatively affect the cross-border trade of goods and services
  • facilitate the need for customs arrangements on the Irish border after the UK has left the EU, including regulatory compliance checks, random checks on goods and vehicles and any other checks that did not exist prior to EU withdrawal

Members voted, with 285 in favour of the new clause and 184 against, and so the change was made.

The second vote was on a new clause to require the government to establish an international trade agreement with the EU which includes a mobility framework. This framework would enable, for the provision of trade in goods and services, all UK and EU citizens to exercise the same reciprocal rights to work, live and study.

254 members agreed with the insertion of the new clause, with 187 against, and so the change was made.

The final vote concerned a new clause entitled ‘Conditions of Commencement’.

This clause would ensure that certain parts of the new law can only come into effect once the House of Commons has approved either:

  • an EU withdrawal agreement and a framework for the UK’s future relationship with the EU
  • a motion that the UK leaves the EU without an agreement or a framework for the future relationship

Peers voted, with 193 in favour of the new clause and 154 against, and so the change was made.

Government Command Paper

During the first day of Lords committee stage consideration on 21 January, members voted and agreed on a proposal suggested by Baroness Smith of Basildon (Labour) that report stage not take place until after the government published its proposed processes for making international trade agreements.

The publication was required to detail government policy on trade agreements once it is independent of the EU, including roles for Parliament and the devolved legislatures and administrations, with or without an EU withdrawal agreement.

Report stage now takes place in the Lords following the Department for International Trade's publication of Command Paper 63 on 28 February:

Command Papers are government publications presented to Parliament which contain information the government believes should be drawn to the attention of members of both Houses.

Lords report stage day one: Wednesday 6 March

Members discussed a range of subjects, including the involvement of judicial systems in trade disputes, environmental protection and the continued UK membership of the European Free Trade Association.

There were also two divisions (votes) on proposed changes (amendments) to the bill.

The first vote was on the insertion of a new clause into the bill regarding parliamentary approval of future trade agreements.

The process would take the form of a draft negotiating mandate for future agreements – and later, the draft free trade agreement itself – being presented by the Secretary of State and then approved by both Houses (Commons and Lords) and by a parliamentary select committee.

The clause will require the government to:

  • consult with the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland on the content of the negotiating mandate and the agreement prior to its presentation in Parliament
  • achieve the approval of the parliamentary select committee before presenting the draft mandate and agreement to both Houses

The new clause also requires the parliamentary select committee to produce a sustainability impact assessment on the draft negotiating mandate, and a report on any recommendations relating to the approval of a free trade agreement.

Members of the Lords voted, with 215 in favour of the new clause and 168 against, and so the change was made.

The second vote was also the insertion of a new clause to require the government to take all necessary steps to implement an international trade agreement which would allow the UK, following Brexit, to participate in a customs union with the EU.

207 members were in favour of this new clause, with 141 against, and so the change was made.

A second day of report stage is scheduled for 13 March.

Lords committee stage day four: Monday 4 February

Members discussed future partnerships with the European Union, the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland and reciprocal rights allowing UK and EU citizens to work, live and study abroad.

Report stage, a further chance to examine the bill and make changes, is yet to be scheduled.

Lords committee stage day three: Wednesday 30 January

Members discussed a range of topics, including the provision of trade agreement impact assessments, establishment of a Committee on Trade Agreements and participation in the Common Transit Convention.

A further day of committee stage is scheduled for Monday 4 February.

Lords committee stage day two: Wednesday 23 January

Members discussed a range of subjects including international and free trade agreements, participation in negotiating an Environmental Goods Agreement and judicial systems in trade disputes.

Lords committee stage day one: Monday 21 January

Members discussed the impact on government procurement and implementation of international trade agreements.

There was one division (vote) on a proposed change (amendment) that put in place a condition on the bill continuing to report stage.

Baroness Smith of Basildon (Labour) proposed an amendment that the committee’s report is not received until the government has presented to both Houses proposals for a process for making international trade agreements once the UK is in a position to do so independently of the EU, including roles for Parliament and the devolved legislatures and administrations in relation to both a negotiating mandate and a final agreement.

243 members were in favour of this amendment, with 208 against, and so the change was made.

This change means that the bill will complete its committee stage in the Lords but not progress to report stage until the government's proposals are received.

Lords second reading: Tuesday 11 September

Baroness Meyer (Conservative), made her maiden speech.

Members discussed a range of subjects covered by the bill including border arrangements in Northern Ireland, continued participation in the European medicines regulatory network and Free Trade Agreements.

Trade Bill summary

This bill aims to: 

  • Ensure the UK can implement any procurement obligations arising from the UK becoming a member of the Agreement of Government Procurement (GPA) in its own right.
  • Assist with the implementation of UK trade agreement with assisting partner countries.
  • Establish a new body, the Trade Remedies Authority.
  • Allow HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to collect information confirming the number of exporters of goods and services in the UK.
  • Establish a date sharing gateway between HMRC and other public and private bodies.

Further information

Image: PA

More news on: Business, industry and consumers, Parliament, government and politics, Parliament, International affairs, Industry, Economy and finance, International economic relations, International trade, European Union, Construction industry, Manufacturing industries, International trade, Small businesses, Europe, House of Lords news, Lords news, Bill news

Share this page