My intervention in the debate on the amendments for the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill

Rt Hon Sir John Redwood MP (Wokingham) (Con): Has the Minister ever heard the Opposition point out that the EU is breaking the protocol by diverting our trade and undermining the Good Friday agreement? Has he ever heard them asking to see the legal advice that the EU purports to use when it is so clearly violating the protocol?

Michael Ellis, Paymaster General, Minister of State, Cabinet Office: My right hon. Friend makes an excellent point, as usual. I have to say that I have never heard those requests.

Amendment 10, again tabled by the hon. Member for Foyle, relates to the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland. They are, of course, important and well-respected institutions. They were established on the basis of the Belfast/Good Friday agreement. They undertake important duties and any change to their remit should not happen arbitrarily. The Government engage regularly with the commissions and they have powers to provide advice to the Government on issues arising from article 2 of the protocol. The Government have engaged broadly on the issues created by the protocol with stakeholder groups across business and civic society in Northern Ireland, the rest of the United Kingdom and internationally. In fact, the engagement has been considerable. As the Committee will know, the Bill provides specific powers to establish a new regime in Northern Ireland which addresses the issues with the current operation of the protocol. We are consulting stakeholders on the detail of how the powers are to be used. We will give plenty of notice to those affected in due course. Therefore, amendment 10 would compel the Government to do what, in many cases, they already intend to do.

We are moving quickly with the Bill because the situation in Northern Ireland is pressing. The power in clause 15 that would, among other things, allow Ministers to reduce the amount of the protocol that is excluded is designed to ensure that we can get the final, detailed design of the regime right. Its use is subject to a necessity test against a defined set of permitted purposes. It is designed to provide stakeholders in Northern Ireland with certainty that the Government will deliver the solutions that we have outlined to the problems that the protocol is causing.

It is essential that the power can be used quickly if needed. Although, in normal cases, the Government will of course engage with stakeholder groups in Northern Ireland, there may be occasions when the urgency of a situation means that the Government need to act swiftly. This amendment risks tying the Government’s hands behind their back, and that is why I ask the hon. Member for Foyle not to press it.

Amendment 40 is in the name of the right hon. Member for Tottenham, who I do not think is in his place. This is the first of a number of amendments from him in the same vein, to which the Government have a single view. The amendment would replace the test of “appropriateness” in the use of the Bill’s delegated powers with one of “necessity”. Members should not confuse this with the international law doctrine of necessity, as the right hon. Member is doing.

The question covers well-trodden ground. Members may remember the extended debates on this topic during the passage of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. The powers there are similar to those in this Bill, the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 and the European Union (Future Relationship) Act 2020. I note that the House and their lordships in the other place ultimately accepted that the word “appropriateness” in this context was, in fact, appropriate.

The word “necessary”, which this amendment seeks to import, is a very strict legal test for a court to interpret. Where there are two or more choices available to Ministers as to what provision is appropriate to address the issues that the protocol has created, arguably neither one is strictly necessary, because there is an alternative. Ministers need to be able to exercise their discretion to choose the most appropriate course. That is why the word “appropriate” is the correct word.

There are clearly multiple choices in how to replace the elements of the protocol that no longer apply in our domestic law. The Government must propose that which would be the most appropriate choice. That is why we have chosen that word. I therefore ask the right hon. Member not to press his amendment.

 

69 Comments

  1. Nottingham Lad Himself
    July 16, 2022

    The opposition has never pointed out those things because they are not the case.

    It is the ERG’s extremist brexit – for which the Tory parliamentary majority and the country as claimed here voted – and nothing else which is causing all the problems.

    Own it for pity’s sake.

    1. Peter2
      July 16, 2022

      What is extremist for a country wanting to be independent NHL?
      People in Ukraine and elsewhere have died and are dying currently to have that basic right.

      1. Hope
        July 16, 2022

        The only conservative was Braverman, she wanted to get rid of ECHR. That would mean leaving the EU properly, taking control of borders, being able to get rid of immigrants. They binned her! Says all you have to know about these fake Tories.

        Mordaunt has a foreword by Blaire and Gates in her book! Why? Lefty globalist? She thinks two TV programmes: Dad’s Army and It ain’t half hot mum are misogynistic etc etc. Woke fool who will say anything to get votes but utterly fails on delivery. Mordaunt does not know what a woman and man is, basic question really.

        Sunak the globalist, WEF lefty socialist with the worse economic record in UK history wants full control of our society! Nooooooooooo.

      2. Bill brown
        July 17, 2022

        Peter 2

        The comparison is totally irrelevant

        1. Peter2
          July 17, 2022

          Tell us why you think that bill.
          Always interested to hear the opinions of the EU

  2. Richard1
    July 16, 2022

    Very important we hear much more about the legal basis for the government’s actions. We need to make clear this is a legal dispute over interpretation of an existing agreement, and the U.K. case is the EU is in breech. Accusations of “breaking international law” and “ripping up the NI protocol” must be chucked back at those who utter them.

    1. Fedupsoutherner
      July 16, 2022

      Richard. Agree. And NLH should be the first in line.

      1. Bill brown
        July 16, 2022

        I also disagree with your personal vendetta

        1. Peter2
          July 16, 2022

          Calm down bill.
          It’s a debate not a vendetta.

    2. None of the Above
      July 16, 2022

      Quite right! Well said.

  3. Wilson
    July 16, 2022

    Diverting trade is NOT a breach of the Protocol. Try reading it before you embarass yourself further. Article 16 says what may occur if there is diversion of trade. So the Protocol recognises that diversion of trade may occur, it does NOT forbid it. Please at least get your facts right

    Reply It is a clear breach of the statements about respecting the Uk internal market. The EU is also undermining the Good Friday Agreement.

    1. Bill brown
      July 16, 2022

      Sir JR

      Once again the EU and the Irish government are not interested in breaking the Northern Ireland aggrement nor in undermining it, your arguments are very shaky

      1. Peter2
        July 16, 2022

        You’ve been telling everyone for two years to be patient and keep negotiating bill
        Now you let slip what the rest of us knew all along.

  4. Gary Megson
    July 16, 2022

    The EU is not violating the Protocol. The UK government has never even suggested the EU is violating the Protocol. You come across as hysterical. It really is sad

    1. Peter2
      July 16, 2022

      Gary
      Give us examples of dangers caused to health by goods made in the UK being taken over to Northern Ireland and then clandestinely smuggled into the Republic of Ireland.
      You seem very worried about it so you must have many examples.

      1. Marko
        July 16, 2022

        What would be the relevance of such examples? The Protocol says goods moving GB to NI have to be checked, full stop. It’s irrelevant what their final destination is. That is what the UK agreed!

        1. None of the Above
          July 16, 2022

          No Marko, that is not what was agreed.

          Only goods deemed to be a risk to the integrity of the SM would be checked.

      2. Bill brown
        July 16, 2022

        Peter 2

        Stick to Gary’s argument instead of opening another. We are aware you are not always on top of facts and figures

        1. Peter2
          July 16, 2022

          Thanks for the advice Bill.
          But you miss or choose to deliberately miss the point of my question.
          Why for example, check supermarket lorries travelling to their own Northern Ireland branches?
          Plainly it isn’t required or necessary.
          Do you or Gary have examples of breeches of your precious Single Market recently?
          Some facts and figures from you bill would be a first.

          1. Bill brown
            July 17, 2022

            Peter 2

            A majority of people in NI support the protocol (source Politico)

          2. Blarto
            July 17, 2022

            Why? Because that is what the oven ready deal says!

          3. Peter2
            July 17, 2022

            But one opinion poll isn’t government bill.

      3. Roy Grainger
        July 16, 2022

        Gary can’t. He’s too furious about not getting his own way 6 years ago.

        1. hefner
          July 17, 2022

          A number of people here on this blog are stuck in their Leaver vs Remainer frame of mind. It is very convenient because they don’t need to think. Just a one liner , et voila, the argument appears to be won. How much has a decent debate progressed? Not a step, but the ego of the contributors used to this type of comments feels vindicated. Poor souls.

          Sir John advocates tax cuts for improving the growth rate (17/07 blog).
          As an individual, I would certainly appreciate a cut in petrol VAT as the idea of another ÂŁ100 tank makes me think twice whether I really need to go and see my children and grandchildren on the other side of London.
          The idea of encouraging new small companies via a VCT or EIS investment is something that appeals to me. As an individual, I would love a cut of tax rate to 19% and 39%, but at the end of the day that would only give me a bit more than a thousand pounds, not enough to invest in any VCT that all require a minimum of ÂŁ3,000 if not ÂŁ5,000 to enter their list of investors.

          So is the growth heavily advertised by the candidates and others something in which I could actually be a player as an individual? I guess certainly not in a real useful growth based on new technology/products and not simply based on consumption.

          1. Peter2
            July 17, 2022

            Yet you are so intellectually superior heffy you are not involved or manipulated by the arguments.
            Well done.

            Others who live week to week and struggle to manage their budget would say a few extra pounds a week would make a big difference.
            Your post comes across as an out of touch elite rich lefty Londoner

          2. hefner
            July 18, 2022

            My point, obviously not clear enough, is that reducing VAT on petrol and utilities would immediately benefit all people. Measures to deflate inflation would have a medium term positive effect. Most other discussions on future growth, not related to which sectors are to be developed and more likely based on consumption, is rather the usual pie-in-the-sky stuff produced by any party at election time.

  5. Lifelogic
    July 16, 2022

    +1.
    Just heard Tugendhat praising Neil O’Brian MP so not a good judge of people – O’Brian the unpleasant dope who spent much of his lockdown time attacking sensible scientists who had got things right unlike lockdown dope Sunak and O’Brian. People like the delightful Prof. Dr. Sunetra Gupta and the Barrington Declaration people, Dr Clare Craig…

    Someone else from the Independent I think praising Sunak for explaining economics to the other leadership contenders in the debate. One thing for sure (judged on his actions anyway) Sunak does not have a clue about real economics. He is a tax, borrow, print, inflate and piss down the drain socialist when Judged by his time as an appalling Chancellor. Worse still he is a manifesto ratter and a pusher of the expensive energy net zero lunacy. Given that he flies a lot and has four houses rather a hypocritical one in the Prince Charles mode too. Then he has his Non Dom wife, his police fines and his green card issues too – he would be a gift to Labour/SNP

    1. Hope
      July 16, 2022

      +100
      I am ever increasingly thinking someone had a word in Sunak’s ear and is doing their best to get him in office.

      The worst economic record ought to have seen him off. Add highest taxation, worse debt, deficit, worse disposable income, highest inflation, while giving away our taxes like smarties around the world and to those on welfare.

      1. Lifelogic
        July 17, 2022

        +1

  6. Berkshire Alan
    July 16, 2022

    I simply do not understand why this is taking so long to sort out, I thought safeguards were put in place to avoid this sort of nonsense, and if it proved not to work then the Northern Ireland politicians could simply dump this agreement themselves after 4 years.
    Clearly either I have got it wrong, or the Government have.
    Both sides appear to prefer to dance on the head of a pin, rather than use common sense action to resolve it.

    1. Gary Megson
      July 16, 2022

      You are right. Politicians in NI can choose to keep it or dump it. So why is the UK government interfering, and trying to change the Protocol over the heads of NI politicians? What business does John Redwood have telling elected politicians in NI that he knows better than they do what NI needs?

      1. Roy Grainger
        July 16, 2022

        Because the Northern Ireland Assembly is suspended over this issue Gary – do keep up !

      2. mancunius
        July 16, 2022

        ‘Politicians in Northern Ireland’ – of any hue – do not get to alter the Province’s constitutional treaty without the whole people of Northern Ireland being consulted in this specific matter. The elected *Unionist* politicians in Northern Ireland have determined that the wilfully unilateral way the EU is interpreting the NIP (and refusing to negotiate it) has caused a widening diversion of UK trade that breaches the Belfast Agreement and (as the High Court has confirmed) Art. 6 of the Act of Union. Accordingly Unionists have followed the provision of the Belfast Agreement (aka ‘GFA’) that allows them to refuse to take part in power-sharing.
        They are entirely within their constitutional rights to do so. Sinn Fein previously used the same clause to collapse the Stormont government for several years.
        Clearly, just as UK law was amended to placate SF, UK law must now be amended to allow the Belfast Agreement and Act of Union breaches to be remedied. Northern Ireland is an integral part of the Union until its people decide otherwise. The EU should stop trying to provoke civil conflict in our country.

  7. Peter
    July 16, 2022

    They will be talking about the Northern Ireland Protocol until the cows come home.

    Addressing the issues with action ? Not so much. Continue to kick it into the long grass.

    It will still be an issue at the next general election.

    1. Mitchel
      July 16, 2022

      Meanwhile,Nikkei Asia,15/7/22,Lauren Johnstone:

      “A Chinese port in Nigeria will change the world economy.New facility unites the economic and demographic giants of Asia and Africa.”

      I remember a quote from an African politician from some years ago:

      “When the Chinese visit,we get a hospital.When the British visit,we get a lecture.”

  8. Lifelogic
    July 16, 2022

    Penny M. did make two very good points in the debate tax complexity and compliance costs (the same is true of deregulation and scrapping red tape). It is a vital win, win to simplify the system. Also rip off standing charges for energy. People can cut back on energy use, fewer showers, heat only one room, wear more clothing… but people can do very little or nothing about often rip off daily standing charges and there is no justification for vast increases here.

    1. ignoramus
      July 16, 2022

      I fear the Conservative Party will choose Penny M., whose past record is not encouraging (particularly the opinion of the head of Kensington Council). Nor her bizarre claims that she was not at the dispatch box declaring ‘a trans man is a man and a trans woman is a woman’.

      I don’t mind the statement so much as her flatly denying what we can all see to be the truth. Very weird.

      Rishi seems the most reliable choice, but Brexit has not be done at all and he will be seen as a remainer because the party continues to be riven over Europe. A pyrrhic victory if there ever was one…

      1. Lifelogic
        July 16, 2022

        Rishi would be a disastrous choice if you want to avoid Starmer/SNP at the next election. He is hugely disliked by the electorate and is cleary to blame for the huge inflation, the manifesto ratting and the absurd energy prices.

    2. Original Richard
      July 17, 2022

      Lifelogic :

      I believe the standing charges are to pay for the infrastructure. These costs are multiplying enormously with Net Zero as not only must the capacity increase locally but also to pay for interconnectors and bringing wind energy from the Scottish Highlands and the North Sea to where it’s needed in the conurbations. There is also a provision in Net Zero to charge more to those who have solar panels and consequently use less electricity as they already do in California.

      1. Lifelogic
        July 17, 2022

        To be fair to the poor standing charges should be minimal ÂŁ50 PA or similar let the high energy users pay for the infrastructure as they are using it most!

        1. Lifelogic
          July 17, 2022

          You could take this further and have the first x units (KWHs) of energy at a lower cost price. So everyone can afford the fridge, lighting, TV/computer!

  9. Bloke
    July 16, 2022

    The member for Tottenham was once a Minister in the Labour Govt supposed to be answering questions.
    During the debate, Gerald Kaufman stood and said something like: ‘If the Minister cannot say something more sensible he should sit down’.
    Maybe GK was suggesting that the member for Tottenham should be amended with someone more appropriate.

  10. Denis Cooper
    July 16, 2022

    I’ve just circulated an email asking Liz Truss where she intends to check the goods produced in Northern Ireland that are taken across the land border into the Irish Republic and so into the EU Single Market. In 2019 about half of the goods which crossed the border originated outside Northern Ireland and so could have been checked on their way in, but the other half had been produced within the province and so in the normal run of things they would not have been checked at any entry point. It is agreed by all sides that there should be no checks at the land border itself in case that kicks off a renewal of republican terrorism, so will she be telling local producers that if they want to send goods across the land border then they must first send them on short sea trips out of Northern Ireland so they can be checked when they come back in?

  11. Roy Grainger
    July 16, 2022

    There is a particular class of Remainer who believe that the EU is never ever in the wrong whatever they do. Tear up international agreements on the Horizon programme ? No problem. Classify gas as a renewable fuel ? Great ! Violate their own sanctions on Putin ? Excellent ! It is comical the knots they tie themselves in, all because they lost a vote 6 years ago.

  12. No Longer Anonymous
    July 16, 2022

    The deliberate ramping of anxiety over all things by the Government (the latest being the hot weather) is OTT and disgusting.

    What ever happened to Keep Calm. Carry on ????

    You ARE the problem and NOT the solution.

    Don’t you get that ???

  13. hefner
    July 16, 2022

    ‘We have wrapped a suicide vest around the British constitution and handed the detonator to Michel Barnier. We have given him a jemmy with which Brussels can choose, at any time, to crack apart the union between Great Britain and Northern Ireland’. Boris Johnson, Mail on Sunday, 09/09/2018
    Despite these brave words, Lord Frost, Boris Johnson signed in December 2020 and the UK Parliament in January 2021 a Northern Ireland Protocol that does exactly what Johnson and Rees-Mogg were reproaching Theresa May to have allowed two years before.
    So what did Frost and Johnson actually do from July 2019 to December 2020 on this particular topic? How comes the CUP MPs were not able to see through it when they voted on the TCA and NIP?
    Some people despite their occasional fit of rhetorical gymnastics should look at the past, see what they voted for, and as unlikely as it is from politicians, apologise for what they let go through.

    1. Peter2
      July 17, 2022

      It is all about the interpretation of the NIP.
      There was still a lot of stuff to be negotiated in terms of practical implementation when it was signed.
      The EU have been awkward and very strict subsequently.
      Do you think well known supermarket lorries delivering replenishments to their own branches in Nothern Ireland should be stopped delayed and thoroughly inspected at port of entry?
      Is that necessary in practical risk assessment terms do you think heffy?
      And as I have asked several times of your pals on here, have you any examples of serious or dangerous breeches of the Single Market caused by goods being smuggled into the Republic of Ireland recently ?

      1. Bill brown
        July 17, 2022

        Peter 2

        You ask questions but when you get an answer you usually disregard it anyway and call not credible. So it makes no point raising facts with you

        1. Peter2
          July 17, 2022

          Try producing an credible answer, instead of running away with a short quip.
          Your pal hef keeps asking for decent debate.
          Join in then bill.
          Facts figures data…isn’t that what you demand?

          1. Peter2
            July 17, 2022

            Do you think well known supermarket lorries delivering replenishments to their own branches in Nothern Ireland should be stopped delayed and thoroughly inspected at port of entry?
            Come on billy and heffy answer.

          2. Bill brown
            July 18, 2022

            Peter 2

            If I believe you were capable of serious debate it would be different

          3. Peter2
            July 19, 2022

            I’m asking for a simple answer to a question bill.
            Yet you just swerve it and run away.

      2. hefner
        July 19, 2022

        Interesting comment P2. Do you remember the days in the last few years when some people on this blog including Sir John were telling us that ‘electronic checks’ of lorries would make crossing of all borders (whether at Dover, Felixstowe, and I guess on one side or other of the Irish Sea) a quasi immaterial process.
        So please tell us, where are we on these transparent border crossings? As an exporter, you should know all nooks and crannies and be able to fill us in the details.
        That would be a much better contribution than your usual ‘rhetorical’ questions.

        1. Peter2
          July 19, 2022

          But the EU officials will not co operate and agree to use the systems you mention hef.
          The EU demands lorries are stopped and thoroughly physically inspected.
          Despite having paperwork confirming where the foodstuffs are being delivered to.
          Do you and billy really think major UK supermarket companies will try to divert their drivers and smuggle their lorries over the border after midnight?
          Do you understand the concept of risk assessment?

      3. hefner
        July 22, 2022

        What a lark. There are now two books about the day-by-day discussions between the EU (one from Barnier, one detailing the interactions between the EU Commission, Council and Parliament seen from the point of view of Verhofstadt and his team). They both show how the various British negotiators having to handle the pressure from the successive British Governments and the different groups within the Conservatives in Parliament plus Farage & co have had difficulties to maintain a consistent stance in front of the EU people.
        The EU (its three branches) had agreed and defined their position in the autumn of 2016 and did not change later on, having clearly set up and advertised from the start the limits of what a ‘third country’ would get from the EU.
        For two years the British side unsuccessfully tried the ‘divide and rule’ approach (still stuck it seems with the ‘imperial’ mindset) thinking it would get some support from this or that of the EU27 countries. It did not happen.
        The government changed from May to Johnson, the negotiators changed from Davis to Raab to Frost. If anything the awkwardness (and the amateurishness) was on the British side, even more so when Johnson announced his ‘oven ready’ agreement, which was anything but.
        Obviously anybody who considers the UK-EU negotiations only from the point of view of the British press is bound to have the rather limit view of ‘the awkward and strict EU’.

        In twenty years or more, there will be historians who will look back at this period: they might have different conclusions, one of them that the British side was indeed ‘taken to the cleaners’ by the second-rate politicians involved in this break-up.

        1. Peter2
          July 22, 2022

          Off on a complete tangent now hef with one of your long waffling essays.
          And completely missing the crucial point that UK negotiators were not supported by their government and Parliament.
          PS
          But it enabled you to swerve away from an answer to the question I raised.

    2. Wilbur
      July 17, 2022

      Some good questions there! I find it amazing that the Tory MPs so angry about the Protocol are the ones who voted for it in the first place

    3. Gary Megson
      July 17, 2022

      The DUP said – over and over again – in the House of Commons while the “oven ready” deal was being debated that Boris, Frost and the entire Conservative Party were betraying Northern Ireland by agreeing to a border in the Irish Sea. Yet Boris, Frost and the entire Conservative Party went ahead and did it. Has anyone heard them apologise?

      1. Peter2
        July 17, 2022

        It is about the way the EU has interpreted the NIP in practical terms

        1. Bill brown
          July 17, 2022

          Can we have some proof of this statement

          1. Peter2
            July 17, 2022

            Yes go on then bill
            You present yourself as the EU spokesperson.
            The floor is yours.
            Answer a few simple questions.

          2. Peter2
            July 19, 2022

            An interpretation of the NIP is the continued stopping and searching of supermarket lorries delivering replenishments to their own branches in Northern Ireland.
            You and I and everyone else knows that these lorries are not going to suddenly divert south.
            Yet they are held up.
            The EU is playing us up for political reasons.

  14. Bill brown
    July 17, 2022

    Peter 2

    You ask questions but when you get an answer you usually disregard it anyway and call not credible. So it makes no point raising facts with you

    1. Peter2
      July 17, 2022

      Stop repeating yourself bill.

      1. Peter2
        July 17, 2022

        Come on bill and hef.
        Answer the simple questions I have raised.

        1. hefner
          July 19, 2022

          See above (I hope it’ll appear) about the ‘electronically transparent borders’.

          1. Peter2
            July 19, 2022

            Please see my response.
            As usual you have no practical experience of exporting and it shows.

          2. hefner
            July 20, 2022

            Oops, I had forgotten: exporters are ‘la crème de la crème’ and nothing can compare to this (would I dare use this word) ‘elite’.

          3. Peter2
            July 20, 2022

            I never implied nor said that heffy.
            Another of your fanciful thoughts.
            PS
            No real counter from you, just a side swipe
            Very poor.

Comments are closed.