Barry has received lots of correspondence from constituents who have been worried by the free trade agreement between the US and UK, and the Trade Bill which was re-introduced to Parliament last month.

In response Barry has written:

Dear constituent, 

Thank you for contacting me about the Trade Bill and negotiations for a free trade agreement between the UK and the US. I share your concerns on this important issue. 

I am not opposed in principle to free trade agreements – including with the US, but they must be fair and free. Trade can bring prosperity to the UK, but we need agreements that benefit not just consumers, but producers and employees as well. Such agreements must also serve our long-term interests and protect existing rights and standards. Crucially, they must not threaten our NHS or other public services. 

There is a real threat that trade deals with the US, and other countries, could include clauses entrenching existing privatization in our public services. This would be unacceptable, and in Wales and Scotland could subject them to the same levels of privatization that we see in England. 

Issues such as climate change, environmental protection, human rights, workers’ rights, sustainable development and gender equality, instead of being placed at the heart of our trade policy, have been ignored or consciously discarded. On food and animal welfare, meanwhile, the Government has opposed amendments to prevent food and agricultural goods to be imported into the UK unless they are produced in line with UK animal welfare, plant health and environmental standards. 

To be able to hold the Government to account on these issues, we need proper procedures for scrutiny of future international trade agreements. When this Trade Bill was brought back to the House, I spoke about why I thought this Bill was in fact an affront to Parliamentary democracy. This Bill is not about Parliament taking back control but instead the Government abrogating to itself all future power in relation to trade agreements freed up from the inconvenient scrutiny of Parliament. It denies parliament the opportunity to hold government to account. Put simply, this Bill is about more than trade, it is about the balance of power between parliament and the executive. You can watch my speech in full here

The Government needs to bring a proper Trade Bill before Parliament, one which deals with all future trade agreements rather than just so-called “rollover” ones, and that guarantees proper scrutiny and consultation powers for both Parliament and key stakeholder groups. 

Thank you once again for contacting me about this issue. 

Yours sincerely, 

Barry Gardiner 

Member of Parliament for Brent North 

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