Trade Agreements: Parliamentary Scrutiny

Department for International Trade written question – answered on 28th September 2020.

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Photo of Bill Esterson Bill Esterson Shadow Minister (International Trade)

To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, whether she has made an assessment of the implications for her policies of the recommendations on the scrutiny of international trade negotiations in the report report of the Global Economic Governance Programme entitled UK scrutiny of international trade agreements.

Photo of Greg Hands Greg Hands The Minister of State, Department for International Trade

Parliament will be able to conduct scrutiny at every stage of the process in a way that is appropriate and proportionate to the British constitutional context.

In the United Kingdom, the power to negotiate and enter into treaties are prerogative powers held by HM Government. That said, we have gone well beyond the statutory framework for the scrutiny of treaties set out in the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010.

Our approach strikes the right balance between allowing Parliament to scrutinise our trade policy effectively, and maintaining the ability of HM Government to negotiate with agility in the best interests of the United Kingdom. We have, of course, considered the approach of other international systems, including the United States, but comparisons must focus on countries that use the Westminster model to draw meaningful best practice that is appropriate to our constitutional arrangements.

When similar parliamentary democracies are compared to the United Kingdom, it is clear our practice is very strong and entirely appropriate to our constitutional arrangements. For example, as the report the Hon. Gentlemen refers to states, the United Kingdom is one of the few jurisdictions to publish impact assessments at the outset of negotiations.

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