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CPTPP: Ratification

Volume 741: debated on Thursday 30 November 2023

10. What her planned timetable is for the ratification of the comprehensive and progressive agreement for trans-Pacific partnership. (900378)

We are working at pace to ratify the CPTPP, which we hope to bring into force next year. We are the first European country to join the CPTPP, and I know how powerful it will be for British businesses and consumers, which is why this Government are progressing legislation as quickly as possible, with Second Reading of the Bill having taken place in the other place on 21 November. We are already playing our part as the second largest economy in the agreement. The Secretary of State met other CPTPP Ministers two weeks ago in San Francisco to discuss the blossoming future of the agreement.

Across the House, over a period of time, Members working with organisations such as the Trade Justice Movement have expressed concern about the inclusion of investor-state dispute settlement procedures within treaties, because they restrict our own country’s ability to regulate. I raised that issue in September and suggested that, as the Government have done with Australia and New Zealand, we agree in a separate letter that the settlement procedure will not be included in this treaty. I was then told—rather curtly—that it was too late. Actually, it is not too late. There is the potential to do a side letter, as we have with other countries, to exclude an investor-state dispute settlement procedure. In the light of the Government’s negotiating remit for the free trade agreement with Canada, the Government are specifically seeking to exclude that procedure. I wonder whether the Government might think again.

It is good to be sparring with the right hon. Gentleman again from the Dispatch Box—we have both had a few ups and downs since we last went head to head. CPTPP does not compromise the UK’s right to regulate at all; it expressly preserves the rights of states to regulate proportionately, fairly and in the public interest. It is worth reminding the House that the UK has never lost an ISDS case. Such procedures actually help to protect UK investments abroad. British investments in Canada totalled £40.6 billion in 2020-21, which will be covered for the first time by these protections. As I say, if we cannot trust Canada in international affairs, who can we trust? I assure the right hon. Gentleman that the deal cannot be ratified until the legislation has been approved by Parliament and the deal has completed the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act process.