Future International Trade Opportunities

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:51 pm on 1st May 2019.

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Photo of Geraint Davies Geraint Davies Labour/Co-operative, Swansea West 4:51 pm, 1st May 2019

Ironically, the architect of the single market was largely Margaret Thatcher. As has been pointed out, it is one of the most perfect marketplaces in the world. She enabled the Japanese to platform into the European marketplace. Of course, they are all leaving now, because we are Brexiting. There is an EU-Japan deal, which we will be cut out of, and the car manufacturers are moving for that reason, too. Historically, the Japanese brought together the Government and industry in a way that allowed platforming, and used active government to help industry. That is what a Labour Government would want. The Japanese are not very happy about Brexit, and they are basically pulling out, which is a complete disaster for Britain.

On how we move ahead with the Trade Bill, I want assurances from the Minister about the scrutiny, accountability and transparency of future trade deals. It seems to me that there will be enormous pressure on standards, human rights, the environment, workers’ rights, consumer rights—everything. The Department is denying access even to the aims and objectives of trade negotiations, which are transparent in the United States and the EU. In fact, as I understand it, there is currently a freedom of information case in court because the Department is resisting providing access to that information. That is appalling. It bodes very badly, and I am very concerned.

I also want assurances from the Minister about investor-state dispute settlements, especially as fracking companies, for example, presumably will want to continue the appalling work that this Government have started. We are debating fracking to a certain extent today in the main Chamber. It is so destructive. The Minister may know that 5% of the methane is leaked, and that methane is 85 times worse than carbon dioxide for global warming, making fracking worse than coal. Under investor-state dispute settlements, big fracking companies such as Lone Pine have fined the Canadian Government hundreds of millions of dollars for imposing a moratorium on fracking in Quebec. Will he therefore rule out investor-state dispute settlements?

Will the Minister ensure that Parliament can fully scrutinise and agree on the negotiating aims of future trade deals? Will he allow MPs to access some of the documentation, and to have debates and votes? We do not want, week after week, to be presented with a deal versus no deal choice in which the Government say, “Here’s the deal with Chile. If we don’t sign it, even though it’s not as good as the one we’ve got already, we won’t get anything. Come on,” and force through appalling trade deals that are not in our interests and may undermine human rights abroad and environmental protections here and elsewhere.