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Anne-Marie Trevelyan backtracks on trade deal scrutiny

26 April 2022

The Secretary of State for International Trade has refused to confirm that MPs will have time to publish their analysis of the Australia trade deal in order to inform Parliamentary deliberations.

In written correspondence, Anne-Marie Trevelyan refuses to commit to the International Trade Committee having sufficient time to conclude its inquiry into the trade agreement in order to inform MPs’ deliberations.

When the Government brings the agreement to Parliament, MPs will have 21 sitting days in which to consider the advantages and downsides before deciding whether to ratify the deal. MPs had called for the Government to ensure that the Committee would be able to publish its report on the deal before this, but the Secretary of State has repeatedly refused to provide such an assurance.

The Government previously promised the Speaker of the House of Commons that it would allow time for the Committee to publish its verdict on the trade deal before asking MPs to ratify the agreement. It is the view of the Committee that rowing back on this commitment is a severe discourtesy to Parliament.

It is also the view of the Committee that Parliament must not be rushed into considering the deal without the time it needs to have a well-informed debate, and that it is unhelpful and disingenuous for the Government to suggest that good parliamentary scrutiny will delay people feeling the benefits of the trade deal – especially considering the Australian Parliament is currently dissolved, so it cannot ratify the deal.

Chair's comment

Angus Brendan MacNeil MP, Chair of the International Trade Committee, said:

“If the trade deal with Australia is as good as the Government claims, there is no reason to run scared of scrutiny. This agreement will have impacts across the UK, yet the Government wants to ride roughshod over Parliament, forcing its own timeline on us and stifling any analysis, criticism or debate. We’re only asking for an extra 15 days.

“Rather than playing silly games and hiding away, Anne-Marie Trevelyan should come before the Committee to answer our questions and allow us the time needed to conduct a thorough analysis. Anything less is a severe discourtesy to Parliament.”

In a separate session, the Secretary of State will appear before the Committee to discuss the work of the Department for International Trade at 10am on Wednesday 27 April, following a last-minute cancellation the previous week.

Further information

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