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Parliamentary Scrutiny of New Free Trade Agreements

Volume 727: debated on Thursday 9 February 2023

18. What steps she is taking to support effective parliamentary scrutiny of new free trade agreements. (903584)

The Government are committed to transparency and effective scrutiny in our trade agenda, going beyond the statutory framework set out in the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010. That includes providing extensive information prior to the commencement of talks on free trade agreements, as well as regular updates to Parliament during negotiations. At the end of negotiations, we have committed to additional parliamentary scrutiny time, as well as to publishing further information such as the advice of the independent Trade and Agriculture Commission.

Over the last year, the Government’s former Environment Secretary, the right hon. Member for Camborne and Redruth (George Eustice), has labelled the Government free trade agreements a failure, and the Prime Minister has called them one-sided. Is such criticism the reason the Government spend so much time avoiding any real detailed scrutiny of these trade agreements?

I respectfully disagree with the hon. Lady’s characterisation that there is insufficient scrutiny, and I respectfully disagree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Camborne and Redruth (George Eustice), who made some comments earlier this year. Last time I answered this question, you quite rightly had a go at me, Mr Speaker, because I gave a long list of examples of extensive scrutiny on our free trade agreements. I will spare the House by not repeating it , but I refer the hon. Lady to the answer I gave previously.