The Trade Bill, a key post-Brexit bill that will determine the implementation of international trade agreements, returns to the House of Lords this Monday. Green Party Peers have vocalised their demands for parliamentary scrutiny and environmental pressures as keys areas for consideration.
“The Government is trying to bulldoze democracy by saying that capitalism and big business are more important than the will of the people,” said Green Peer Jenny Jones, who believes that added parliamentary scrutiny of trade deals is vital in order to protect democracy.
“As Greens, we believe that the market and the economy should serve the people, not make us the servants,” Baroness Jones continued.
“That's why we have been fighting for strong parliamentary scrutiny of trade deals, involving Parliament in setting negotiating mandates, and culminating in each deal being put to a meaningful vote in parliament.”
The Greens have also stated that the bill must include strong protections for the environment, workers’ rights and food safety, with Natalie Bennett calling for protection of both people and the planet.
She commented: "Too often, trade deals are used to undermine the important protections for the environment, workers’ rights and food safety.
“That is why we have been fighting for the Trade Bill to have strong protections for people and the planet, so that we can work together with other countries to improve rather than destroy.”
Baroness Bennett also called for the need to work towards a model similar to one that is being developed between New Zealand, Costa Rica, Iceland, Norway and Fiji, launched as the Agreement on Climate Change, Trade and Sustainability (ACCTS).
The ACCTS will consider trade related issues that could provide meaningful contributions to addressing climate change, such as eliminating harmful fossil fuel subsidies and removing tariffs on environmental goods.
“Their proposed Agreement on Climate Change, Trade and Sustainability is seeking to ensure progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, rather than, as too much of our trade does, threatening them.” Baroness Bennett explained.
Discussions within the House of Lords recommence as the Trade Bill enters the report stage for the first time, which allows all members of the Lords to examine the bill and vote on any amendments.
The Trade Bill will enter its final stage once the report stage and third reading within the House of Lords are closed.