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Trade Deals: Human Rights Provisions

Volume 684: debated on Thursday 19 November 2020

What recent discussions she has had with UK trade partners on including provisions on human rights in future trade deals. (909001)

This Government have a strong history of promoting our values globally, including human rights. While our approach to agreements will vary between partners, our strong economic relationships allow us to have open discussions on a range of issues, including human rights. We will not compromise our high standards in trade agreements.

In September, the UN said that the Saudi airstrikes in Yemen had led to

“a consistent pattern of harms to civilians”—

unlike our own Government, who said in July that there was no such pattern and therefore it was lawful to resume arms exports. Can the Minister tell me how his Government have looked at the same evidence as the UN and arrived at such vastly different conclusions?

May I remind the hon. Lady that, as the Secretary of State said earlier in response to a question from the right hon. Member for Islington South and Finsbury (Emily Thornberry), the UK has one of the most rigorous arms control regimes in the world? We follow the consolidated criteria at all times. On trade agreements, I ask her to judge us on our deeds and not always on our words. In terms of the trade agreements that we have rolled over, there has been no diminution of human rights clauses in any of those agreements.