Trade Bill 2020

 

About the Inquiry

The UK Government introduced the Trade Bill, in the House of Commons on 19 March 2020 (“Trade Bill 2020”), in which it seeks to replace trade agreements the UK had as an EU Member State. The Bill seeks to give the UK Government powers to implement “rolled-over” trade agreements.

The explanatory notes to the Bill explain that “the Trade Bill provides key measures that are required as the UK Government develops its trade policy for the UK now it has left the European Union (EU). These measures include: 

  • Procurement: the Bill gives the government powers relating to procurement. These are needed as the UK joins the Agreement on Government Procurement in its own right, rather than as an EU Member State.
  • Trade agreements: powers to ensure the UK Government can implement trade agreements. These powers apply only to UK agreements with countries which had a trade agreement with the EU on 31 January 2020.
  • Trade Remedies Authority (TRA): the Bill establishes the TRA. This body will have an important role to play in protecting UK industry against unfair trade from abroad.
  • Information: powers for HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to collect information on the number of exporting businesses in the UK.
  • Data sharing: a power to establish a data sharing gateway between HMRC and other public and private sector bodies to fulfil public functions relating to trade.  

The Scottish Government lodged the Trade Bill Legislative Consent Memorandum (LCM) on 18 August 2020.  The LCM confirms that the parts of the Bill which trigger the need for legislative consent are: 

  • Clause 1 – which provides a power for both UK and the Scottish Ministers (within devolved competence) to make regulations to implement the Agreement on Government Procurement;
  • Clause 2 – which provides a power for both UK and the Scottish Ministers (within devolved competence) to make regulations to implement qualifying international trade agreements;
  • Clause 9 – which provides that certain public authorities may disclose information for the purpose of facilitating the exercise by a Minister of the Crown of the Minister’s functions relating to trade; 
  • Part 1 of the Bill also introduces schedules 1-3, which establish and constrain ‘devolved competence’ for the purpose of the exercise of those powers.

The Finance and Constitution Committee is seeking written views on seeking views on the impact of the Trade Bill 2020 and its associated LCM. The closing date for responses is Wednesday 9 September 2020.

Read the call for views

Evidence

On 21 September 2020 the Committee's Internal Market advisor, Professor Kenneth Armstrong, provided a briefing on the Trade Bill 2020 and its Legislative Consent Memorandum

Professor Armstrong's briefing

On 23 September 2020 the Committee took evidence on the Trade Bill 2020 from-

The Rt. Hon. Greg Hands MP, Minister of State for Trade Policy, UK Government

The Committee also took evidence on the Scottish Government's LCM from-

Ivan McKee, Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation on the Scottish Government's LCM.

Correspondence

UK Government response to the Committee's report on the Trade Bill  LCM, 28 October 2020 (149KB PDF)

Letter from Ivan McKee, Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation responding to points raised by the Committee's Report published on 7th October, 3 November 2020 (214KB PDF)

 
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