Trade Bill - Committee (3rd Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:00 pm on 30th January 2019.

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Photo of Baroness Thornton Baroness Thornton Shadow Spokesperson (Health) 5:00 pm, 30th January 2019

My Lords, I will intervene on the Bill, which is not my normal territory, although I have 20 years’ experience of working on equalities issues in your Lordships’ House. I will speak in support of Amendment 32, in the name of my noble friend Lord Stevenson, which requires the Government to lay before Parliament a qualitative and quantitative assessment, after five years, of the impact of new international trade agreements on human rights standards and people with protected characteristics under domestic equality law, among other things. It also provides transparency on the impact of such agreements on fundamental rights. As far as I can tell, the UK Government are a party to all the bodies mentioned in this amendment, so this should not be an issue and there should be no question about it. I should like some assurance from the Minister that, over the next five years, we will comply with all these international treaties on human rights and equalities.

I agree with noble Lords who said that compliance with equalities has to be judged by an independent body—I certainly know that. It should not be judged by the Government themselves. I thank the Equality and Human Rights Commission for its briefing on this subject. Its concern is that we,

“retain the UK’s equality and human rights legal framework as we leave the EU”,

and we ensure that,

“the UK remains a global leader on equality and human rights”,

after we leave the European Union. That is consistent with the UK being an open and fair place to live and do business. Certainly, if the Government do not accept the length of this amendment, I hope that they will accept the spirit of it, and that that will be expressed at the next stage of the Bill.