Many constituents have been in touch with me recently regarding the Trade Bill, which received its second reading in the House of Commons on 9 January. The Bill arises from the Government’s decision to leave the customs union and therefore the need to establish provisions relating to our trade arrangements once the UK ceases to be a member of the European Union.
Labour is committed to transparency in trade policy, with full parliamentary scrutiny of future UK trade and investment agreements. However, the Government has published a Trade Bill that seeks to concentrate power in the hands of the executive, against the interests of Parliament and of wider democracy.
I believe it is important that trade negotiations are informed by a prior comprehensive, independent sustainability impact assessment of the social, economic and environmental consequences of any potential deal. I believe that there should also be consultation with industry groups and civil society organisations.
The current Trade Bill however fails establish a suitable framework for future trade agreements, setting out only time-limited arrangements intending to replace current EU arrangements in the meantime.
Nevertheless, I can assure that I and my Labour colleagues will keep up pressure on the Government on any proposed upcoming trade agreements and ensure they are scrutinised fully.
The Trade Bill passed its second reading on 9 January and will proceed to committee stage.