I share your concerns on this important issue.
The Trade Bill gives the Government unprecedented powers to implement international trade agreements without a vote in Parliament. The Government argues that it simply aims to maintain after Brexit agreements that we are already party to as a member of the EU. However, legally the agreements in question would in fact be new ones. Indeed, documents published alongside the Trade Bill make clear that it allows the Government to implement substantial amendments to the terms inherited from existing trade agreements. This could involve new obligations, including – as 38 Degrees’ legal briefing highlights – provisions relating to controversial issues such as chlorine-washed chicken and hormone-treated beef. I believe this is completely unacceptable in a democracy.
At the 2017 general election, I stood on a manifesto that included a commitment to ensuring proper transparency and parliamentary scrutiny of all future trade deals. I was therefore disappointed that at the Trade Bill’s committee stage, the Government rejected Opposition amendments that would have guaranteed proper parliamentary scrutiny before trade deals could be implemented.
Nevertheless, I can assure you that I will continue to press for proper scrutiny of trade agreements when the Trade Bill returns to Parliament on Tuesday 17 July.