Mary Kelly Foy contributions to the Trade Bill 2019-21

Mon 20th July 2020 Trade Bill (Commons Chamber)
3rd reading: House of Commons
Report stage: House of Commons
3 interactions (491 words)

Trade Bill

(3rd reading: House of Commons)
(Report stage: House of Commons)
Mary Kelly Foy Excerpts
Anthony Mangnall Portrait Anthony Mangnall
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That is exactly why the Board of Trade was reintroduced by my right hon. Friend the Member for North Somerset (Dr Fox). When he reintroduced the Board of Trade, it was about enhancing and developing a conversation with the devolved Administrations to make sure we were listening to what was in their areas and taking them forward to the international markets. It is no good turning around and saying we are not listening and not working together, because that is exactly what we are doing.

The Bill covers a number of significant areas where we will be able to reopen and reinvigorate our export markets. Through that, we will be able to reinvigorate those sectors that we hold dear in this country and uphold the standards that are so important. I commend the Bill.

Mary Kelly Foy Portrait Mary Kelly Foy (City of Durham) (Lab)
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This Trade Bill is deeply flawed. I have been contacted by countless constituents and campaigns, each highlighting a different failing of the Bill. It seems that everyone is opposed to it, except for the Government.

While the Government may argue that the Bill simply allows for continuity, the reality is that it sets a precedent for future trade legislation. Its main failing is the lack of parliamentary scrutiny of trade deals. That the Bill is essentially designed to allow for a new trade framework after we leave the European Union makes that failing deeply ironic. When people voted to take back control, I suspect they meant for the people and Parliament, not Ministers and unelected advisers. To be honest, the idea that we should trust the power to approve trade deals to Ministers is laughable.

Last month, we debated the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government having overruled his own inspector in favour of his friend and party donor, despite admitting an apparent bias. On top of that, we have Government contracts seemingly being handed out to businesses with links to Ministers and advisers. Parliament has a right to scrutinise and debate every aspect of government, especially in matters as important as trade deals. The fact that Government Members do not appear to agree with that is deeply worrying, although not surprising.

However, it is not just the lack of scrutiny that is the problem, but the lack of protections. It is no secret that the US Government want a trade deal where the NHS is on the table along with our higher food standards. It is also no secret that there are those in government who would sell off our NHS as soon as they thought they could get away with it. These past few months, the NHS and its staff, along with other key workers, have been all that have stood between Britain and complete devastation. They have given their energy, their health and, in some cases, even their lives. Rather than thanking them with applause and praise, let us start by having a Trade Bill that ensures the NHS is off the table by enshrining that measure in law.

Then there is the issue of food standards. My inbox is full of constituents worried that this Government are so desperate for a US trade deal that they will water down food standards, allowing for chlorine-washed chicken and hormone-treated beef to be sold on the shelves of British shops. No doubt the Government will say that is scaremongering, but I ask them to explain to the farmers and voters in my constituency why they will not place food standards guarantees into the Bill. Finally, the Bill lacks any guarantee of workers’ rights, human rights or environmental protections. They are vital to protecting our planet, and to improving living and working conditions across the world. They must be a condition of any trade deal and must be included in the Bill.

In order to approve the Bill, the Government are asking us to trust their judgment. Unfortunately for them, we on the Labour Benches have actually seen where that judgment takes us. Based on my inbox, the public do not trust the Government to negotiate these types of deals. The Government insist that the NHS is not on the table in the trade deal, that any trade deal must meet existing British food standards and that they intend to uphold workers’ rights and environmental protections. If that is the case, they should accept the Opposition’s amendments today and commit those pledges in law. If they do not, we have proof of what we already suspect: that they are ready to sell off to the highest bidder.