Penrith and The Border MP, Dr Neil Hudson, made the case for more meaningful parliamentary scrutiny of future trade deals in a speech in Westminster Hall yesterday.
Dr Hudson has been calling for the Trade and Agriculture Commission (TAC) to be reconstituted for months now and it is something he has raised directly with Ministers in Parliament. He believes that parliamentary scrutiny needs to be thorough so that we achieve the best deal possible, allowing the House of Commons and/or relevant select committees to block future deals, not just delay them.
Dr Hudson expressed particular concern over making sure future trade deals have proper protections for farmers and local producers, saying: “It is vital that we have a thriving UK food production industry that is not undercut by imports.” He did recognise that the Government had moved on including animal welfare chapters in future trade deals, a move he welcomed.
Dr Hudson made a further point about the possibility of using more of our international aid budget to encourage high animal welfare and food production standards in the developing world, something that will now be much harder to achieve after the government recently rejected calls to spend 0.7% of Gross National Income on foreign aid.
Speaking after the debate Dr Hudson said:
“This was another chance for MPs from across the political spectrum to voice their concerns about the need for more parliamentary scrutiny of any future trade deals. The Trade Minister rounded off the debate and did raise some important points, but again fell short of saying when the TAC will be put in place which is especially worrying as the Australia trade deal could be finalised in September.
I will continue to pressure the government on this and stand up for the farmers in Cumbria and the wider UK. We have the best farmers and produce great food using high standards and they should not be disadvantaged by any future trade deals.”
Please find the full speech here: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2021-07-21/debates/39859F0C-470A-4562-ACF9-2EFA25A54807/TradeAndAgricultureCommissionRoleInInternationalTradeDeals#contribution-6C53D14F-427F-44C7-93BB-61E51873693F