Trade Bill a 'slap in the face' to MPs, say campaigners

Wednesday, 20 May, 2020

Ahead of the Second Reading of the Trade Bill in parliament today, Jean Blaylock, trade campaigner at Global Justice Now said:

“The Trade Bill being debated today entrenches the government’s power to do deals behind closed doors without needing to tell parliament or the people what it is doing. If this feeble excuse for a bill goes through, we could be signed up to a high-risk, damaging US trade deal without any democratic control.

“Trade negotiations can have far-reaching effects on our society’s standards, regulations and public services. In the current Covid-19 crisis, it is clearer than ever that our lives depend upon a strong and effective, publicly-run NHS. We need to know whether the government is keeping to its promises that the NHS is not on the table in a trade deal with the US or whether the details of negotiations are undermining that. This Trade Bill should make it a requirement to update parliament on what is going on and to conduct negotiations openly and transparently.

“This new bill is also a slap in the face to the concerns of many in parliament, including some in the governing party, who worked on the previous Trade Bill to introduce some of the basic scrutiny procedures that should be routine in a modern democracy. Five different parliamentary committees [1] have said that current procedures for ratifying trade deals are inadequate, yet the government’s response is to strip the bill of any mention of ratification. What is needed is to guarantee MPs a vote.”

Notes

1. The five committees are: International Trade Committee, Constitution Committee, Scottish Affairs Committee, Joint Committee on Human Rights, Exiting the EU Committee
 

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