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International Trade Committee statement on Secretary of State session cancellation

30 June 2022

The cross-party International Trade Committee today issues the following statement:

“The Committee today expresses disappointment at the Secretary of State’s decision to pull out of this morning’s scheduled oral evidence session. We understand there is an important statement on another matter today but, as the Government has made clear, the UK’s trade agreement with Australia is of great importance too.

“The lack of time for scrutiny is a serious issue not only for this agreement but also for the precedent it sets for the scrutiny of future agreements. It is crucial that we are given the opportunity to consider the deal’s opportunities and potential downsides before it is ratified, and that MPs are given the sufficient time to read and digest our analysis.

“This morning’s cancellation and the Secretary of State’s offer of a meeting next week means we cannot take into account her evidence and still publish our report before the last days of the 21-day Parliamentary scrutiny period. It is vital that the Government reconsiders and reverses its rejection of our call to extend the scrutiny period. If it does not do so, we will be calling on MPs to vote to delay ratification, so the House can take back control of the time it has to scrutinise this important deal, and set a new precedent for future ones. This trade agreement is too important for Parliamentary scrutiny to be elbowed aside.

“It is disingenuous and misleading for the Department for International Trade to suggest that they have made the majority of offers to arrange this meeting. We have gone out of our way to find time to hear from the Secretary of State, while they have regularly rejected our attempts and made offers at short notice that fell when the House wasn’t sitting, or when the Committee was not due to be here.”

The Secretary of State for International Trade, Rt. Hon. Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP, was due to answer questions on the UK’s agreement with Australia at 10am this morning and pulled out last night after 10pm.

This morning, the Committee expressed its dissatisfaction with the Trade Secretary’s last-minute cancellation.

Further information

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