On a point of order, Mr Speaker. This is the first of two points of order that I hope to raise today. On Monday, the Government published a newly signed free trade agreement between the UK and New Zealand, and briefed the press about it before sharing the agreement with my International Trade Committee, despite assurances from the Secretary of State for International Trade and her Department that this would not happen. My Committee has also sought clarity from the Secretary of State about key aspects of the scrutiny timeline to ensure that we and this House have time to meaningfully consider the FTA before its ratification—without response, nearly a month after we set her a deadline.
I am sure you will agree, Mr Speaker, that ensuring parliamentary scrutiny of a free trade agreement that the Government sign is of the utmost importance. I am deeply concerned by the cavalier approach that the Government seem to be taking in this regard, and so is the equivalent Committee in the House of Lords. The Government’s attitude directly impacts on my Committee’s ability to conduct the scrutiny it has been appointed to do by this House under Standing Orders, and by extension, this shows a discourtesy to this House as a result. Can you please advise me on how to ensure that the Government uphold their commitments to parliamentary scrutiny, particularly in regard to free trade agreements in the future?