- Posted by: Valerie Vaz MP
- Category: News
The UK is the second largest legal services market in the world and the largest legal services sector in the EU. It contributes £27.9 billion to the UK economy and £4.4 billion in net exports. It relies, in part, on uniform market access the EU and the European economic area. What are the Government doing to protect this vital sector?
Below is my speech in full:
I thank the Leader of the House for the forthcoming business. He is certainly getting his feet under the table. This is his third business statement of the week, or his fourth if we count his point of order on Saturday, which was a quasi-business statement.
The Leader of the House has previously mentioned that his godfather was Norman St John-Stevas, that architect of Select Committees and parliamentary scrutiny, and I am sure he will be guided by that as the Opposition seek more parliamentary scrutiny. I hope he will withdraw this comment: “Those who voted for the Benn Act and the Cooper-Boles Act are on pretty thin ice when they complain about rushing Acts through”.
The Benn Act has three sections and the Cooper-Boles Act has five sections, but the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill has 40 clauses and six schedules. Was he wrong to say that, and will he correct it?
I do not know whether you have seen it, Mr Speaker, but there is an outrageous tweet going round. I would like the Leader of the House to confirm that the tweet, from the official Conservative party account, claims the deal has been passed by Parliament and it calls for donations, presumably from those who have made money betting on the fall of the pound. He will have to explain this, because the tweet includes a letter signed by the Prime Minister. The deal has not been passed by the House; it has passed its Second Reading.
Opposition Members stand ready to provide consensus on a programme motion that provides for proper scrutiny. The Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 states that the House should be given 21 days to consider a new international treaty before we vote on it. Why did the Government suspend this requirement?
The hon. Member for Aberdeen North (Kirsty Blackman) asked the Leader of the House on Monday whether an impact assessment has been carried out on the deal, and he flippantly said: “If you ask an economist anything, you get the answer you want.” I think the saying is, “If you lay all the economists end to end, they will not reach a conclusion.” The idea is that the Government weigh the evidence and give the reasons for their decision.
The Chancellor is at it as well. He does not want to publish an economic assessment of the deal, claiming it is “self-evidently” in our economic interests. If Somerset Capital Management wants to open funds in Ireland, as it has done, presumably it will look at reports and analysis before it does that. More importantly, may we have a statement from the Chancellor, ahead of the Budget, on whether he will publish an economic assessment of the deal?
The Leader of the House has announced the Second Reading of the Environment Bill next week. The Queen’s Speech committed the UK to “protecting and improving” the environment, with targets among the most ambitious in the world, but the Bill has failed to deliver; in its 244 pages, not a single target has been mentioned. Aviation accounts for 6% of greenhouse gas emissions, but it is not mentioned in the Bill, even though this is the cheapest and fastest way to decrease one’s carbon footprint. He did not respond last week when I asked him whether the Government will rule out fracking once and for all in the Environment Bill. We need a debate on that National Audit Office report. It must not be down to my hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mary Creagh) and her Committee to produce a report—we get only 10 minutes for that. The NAO report says the Government do not even know who has ultimate responsibility to pay for the decommissioning of fracking sites, and the Government’s plans for making sites safe after they have been used are unclear and untested.
We resolved and we asked questions to get access to the sectoral analysis, and I wish to draw the Leader of the House’s attention to two important sectors. The first figures have emerged showing the impact that Brexit uncertainty has had on UK research. The Royal Society’s analysis shows that the UK’s annual share of EU research funding has fallen by nearly a third since 2015, and the Royal Society’s president, Venki Ramakrishnan, has said: “UK science has also missed out on around”— £440 million— “a year because of the uncertainty around Brexit.”
May we have an impact assessment on this important sector? The UK is the second largest legal services market in the world and the largest legal services sector in the EU. It contributes £27.9 billion to the UK economy and £4.4 billion in net exports. It relies, in part, on uniform market access the EU and the European economic area. What are the Government doing to protect this vital sector?
I am pleased that the Leader of the House has scheduled a debate on the tribute to the Speaker’s Chaplain; the Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin will become the first black woman bishop. Anyone who was in Speaker’s House on Tuesday will have heard Father Pat Browne sing “The Impossible Dream”. They have worked closely together and they have shown us that we are much more than the petty jealousies and rivalries as we work together and they support us in our work for the common good. I wonder whether the Leader of the House will consider expanding the tributes to include you, Mr Speaker, because everyone who was there yesterday in Speaker’s House will have heard the former leader of the Labour party and former Leader of the House, my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby South (Margaret Beckett), lay out your record dispassionately, and that must be read into Hansard. I am sure the Leader of the House will be aware of Guy Verhofstadt’s tweet saying that he would rather be John Bercow than Jacob Rees-Mogg. I am sure that my hon. Friend the Member for Dewsbury (Paula Sherriff) and other hon. Members would like to seek a “flex extension” for you, Mr Speaker.