Trade Bill

I've received lots of emails from constituents about the importance of parliamentary scrutiny of trade deals.

I quite agree. At the 2017 General Election, I stood on a manifesto that promised proper transparency and parliamentary scrutiny of all future trade deals. That would mean parliamentary approval of negotiating mandates; proper consultation with trade union, industry and civil society stakeholders; comprehensive impact assessments of social, economic and environmental risks; a parliamentary committee to scrutinise treaties before the Government agrees to them; unrestricted access to the texts of trade treaties as they are being formulated; and a rigorous ratification process, with a debate and vote in the House of Commons chamber.

I believe the Government's Trade Bill should include meaningful parliamentary scrutiny of future trade deals. But it doesn’t. Instead it leaves trade policy entirely in the hands of Government Ministers. I do not believe this is acceptable in a modern democracy.

That is one of the reasons I opposed the Bill at Second Reading. I was very disappointed that at Committee Stage the Government voted down Opposition amendments that would have ensured proper oversight by Parliament. I am therefore pleased that New Clause 3 has been tabled prior to Report Stage of the Bill and that it replicates many of the Opposition amendments tabled at Committee Stage. If it is one of the amendments selected at Report Stage by the Speaker then I will be supporting it.

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Catherine West MP

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