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Peers call for more transparency on trade deals

31 July 2020

The International Agreements Sub-Committee has written to the Government outlining the concerns they've heard from stakeholders about some of the Government's planned trade agreements and calls for “stronger powers for Parliament in scrutinising trade deals”.


The International Agreements Sub-Committee is currently holding two inquiries into the UK's trade negotiations with the US and Japan. Lord Goldsmith QC, Chair of the Committee, has today called for more detail on the progress and objectives of trade negotiations in two letters to Secretary of State, Rt Hon. Elizabeth Truss MP. The letters, one in relation to UK-US trade talks and the other on UK-Japan negotiations, detail initial concerns with the ongoing negotiations and areas where the Committee calls for more transparency with Parliament to support scrutiny.

Chair's Comments

Lord Goldsmith, Chair of the International Agreements Sub-Committee stated:

"As our recent report into effective treaty scrutiny suggested, there is incredibly limited time for us – and for stakeholders across the UK – to scrutinise UK treaty negotiations effectively, which raises concerns over ensuring these deals provide real value to all parts of the UK, the industries affected and to the public as a whole. While that is the Government's ambition, Parliament must be able to scrutinise the Government's actions and check whether that ambition has been realised.

"Post-Brexit, the UK finds itself in a wholly new position. As an EU Member State, much of the work negotiating agreements was done on our behalf and the European Parliament, including UK MEPs, scrutinised these deals with veto powers. Now, the UK Government and Parliament are taking up these functions, but Parliament has very limited formal powers. We therefore urge the Secretary of State to come back to us with more details about how the Government plans to achieve its goals, the progress of negotiations, and the specific areas we have outlined in these letters."

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