20/01/2021 - I did not support any of the amendments to the Trade Bill, as I did not feel they were necessary additions to the Bill. As members of the EU we were party to around 40 trade deals with more than 70 countries. Over the past years, the Government has been negotiating with these countries to ensure that these deals are “rolled over” so that they still apply to the UK. The Trade Bill will allow these deals to be implemented, giving us continuity in our trading relationships after leaving the EU.
The Trade Bill is not about negotiating new trade deals, such as the much-discussed potential deal with the USA. I therefore do not think it was the place for amendments that sought to dictate how the Government should approach these future negotiations.
The Government has been very clear time and again that the NHS or its finances are not at risk from future trade deals. No Government would do such a thing, which would rightly cause a huge public backlash. We value the NHS greatly which is why it is receiving an unprecedented level of funding.
In terms of interference by foreign courts (ISDS mechanisms), the UK has more than 90 Bilateral Investment Treaties, all of which have ISDS arrangements. To date, only two publicly known claims have been brought against the UK under ISDS, and neither was in connection with a change in public policy.
On scrutiny, Parliament will retain the power to block the ratification of any treaty or trade deal via the CRAG process. No trade deal can change UK law – this must be implemented by legislation that MPs and Peers vote on. The Government has committed to let select committees draft a report on a treaty for the purposes of scrutiny before ratification. Both the contents of the treaty and this select committee report will be made public. This is a similar system to the Canadian one and offers more scrutiny than Australia or New Zealand.