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The government can’t be trusted with our trade deals

07/11/17

The Trade Bill was published today, less than 24 hours after the consultation on the Trade Bill white paper closed. This means only one thing: that the consultation was a PR exercise, and nothing more.

The government can’t be trusted with our trade deals. This makes it even more important that we secure full parliamentary scrutiny of trade deals, ensuring nothing is signed before it has been reviewed thoroughly and openly by all MPs, in consultation with the public. If you haven’t already, write to your MP to ask them to sign EDM 128 calling for democratic oversight of trade agreements here.

By releasing the draft Bill so soon after the consultation has closed, the government has indicated that the responses of thousands of members of the public, trade unions, civil society organisations, and NGOs are not worth reading. There is no way that these responses could have been read before the publication of the draft Bill, making a mockery of the consultation process and any notion of accountability. 

Health Poverty Action and others had used the consultation to ask that the process for negotiating trade agreements be made as democratic and transparent as possible, with a full role for parliament including a vote on the final deal. This is necessary because trade deals affect every aspect of our lives, from the cosmetics we wear to the NHS we rely on.

Yet the draft Trade Bill makes no mention of the process by which trade agreements will be negotiated – leaving it up to Liam Fox if we enter into a deal that undermines our food standards or opens up the NHS to more competition.

The Trade Justice Movement has called this lack of any mention about the process by which trade deals are signed the ‘gaping hole’ at the heart of the Trade Bill.

Rather than ‘taking back control’, parliament won’t even have a yes/no vote on any future trade deals, including the much touted one with the US, which poses particular risks to our health, our food and our NHS.

This makes it even more important that we secure full parliamentary scrutiny of trade deals, ensuring nothing is signed before it has been reviewed thoroughly and openly by all MPs. If you haven’t already, write to your MP to ask them to sign EDM 128 calling for democratic oversight of trade agreements here:


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