Peter Lilley: My Lords, I welcome my noble friend’s practical and forward-looking proposals and deplore the backward-looking point-scoring of both Opposition Front Benches. Can my noble friend confirm that, although the EU and its apologists in this House claim that the protocol requires rigid application of all EU rules and checks on goods entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain, in fact, Article 6 says that the Joint Committee shall adopt “appropriate recommendations” to avoid controls at the ports and airports in Northern Ireland “to the extent possible”? So, if the EU refuses to respond positively to his proposals, it will be in breach of both the letter and spirit of the protocol.
Lord Frost: My noble friend as always makes a very good point. The issue of the requirements in Article 5 and the requirement in Article 6 to avoid checks and controls is of course one of the areas where you cannot just read the protocol straight; you have to look at the purpose and the way its different provisions interact. It is certainly arguable that the Article 6 commitments are not being delivered on, but we have not so far sought to argue that, because the protocol is a political and purposive document and we believe that the right way to solve the problems arising is in a political way, rather than immediately reaching for legal arguments and processes.