I believe that trade deals should not allow for the destruction of our protections and safeguards, the sale of the NHS or back-room deals with shady world leaders. These are concerns that I have raised with the Government on many occasions during my time as an MP.
As you may know, the Trade Bill (2019-21) had its Second Reading on 20 May. During the debate, my Opposition colleagues, led by the Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade, Emily Thornberry, raised our concerns over the Bill with the Government.
Our concerns had not been allayed since the last time the Trade Bill was presented to Parliament. The Bill still did not allow proper Parliamentary scrutiny of trade deals, protect the NHS from inclusion in future trade deals, or do anything to ensure that the UK’s standards and protections would not be watered-down.
Government Ministers had previously said that we would have nothing to worry about when it came to these issues. However, when it came to the actual Bill and having to put these reassurances into legislation, the Government provided no such undertaking.
This is why the Opposition put forward an amendment which would have rejected the Trade Bill. I have included the full amendment below this post.
Unfortunately, the amendment failed, and the Trade Bill passed its second reading, as the Conservative and DUP MPs voted it through without a single MP breaking ranks.
This is disappointing but not surprising as these MPs are zealotic in their support for big business and corporate-friendly trade deals.
I can assure you that my Opposition colleagues and I will continue to oppose this Bill as it proceeds through Parliament, and all other attempts to hand more power to international corporations to the detriment of this country and its citizens.
Amendment in full:
‘That this House recognises that upon leaving the European Union, the UK will need effective legislation to implement agreements with partner countries corresponding to international trade agreements of the European Union in place before the UK’s exit, to implement procurement obligations arising from the UK becoming a member of the Government Procurement Agreement in its own right, to set out the basis of a Trade Remedies Authority to deliver the new UK trade remedies framework, and to establish the powers for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs to collect and disclose data on goods and services exporters; but declines to give a Second Reading to the Trade Bill because it fails to set out proper procedures for Parliamentary consultation, scrutiny, debate and approval of future international trade agreements, fails to protect the principle of Parliamentary sovereignty in respect of the implementation of international trade agreements previously negotiated by the European Union and in respect of changes to existing government procurement regulations arising from the UK’s or other countries’ accession to the Government Procurement Agreement, fails to establish sufficient scrutiny procedures to replace those that have pertained while the UK has been a member of the European Union, fails to guarantee that the UK’s current high standards and rights will be protected in future trade agreements, and fails to render the Trade Remedies Authority answerable to Parliament or representative of the full range of stakeholders who should be included in its membership.’