House of Lords in crunch Brexit vote today – major trade deals could be ruled out
Trade Bill: MPs reject genocide amendment
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Peers are today considering amendments to the Trade Bill which enables the UK to sign new trade agreements with countries now it is out of the EU. It is the third time the legislation has been in the Lords, with peers repeatedly amending the Bill and sending it back to the House of Commons to be reconsidered.
The upper chamber is likely to once again today demand changes, voting for the so-called ‘genocide amendment’ to be reintroduced to the legislation.
The amendment – which has been rejected by the Government in the House of Commons twice – would mean British courts could block trade deals done with states found to be complicit in genocide.
A sizeable number of Tory MPs, led by former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith, have also been pressuring the Government to adopt such a stance.
The amendment would rule out the UK doing a trade deal with countries such as China.
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The Chinese Communist Party has been accused of crimes against humanity against Uighurs Muslims living in the region of Xinjiang.
In the Commons two weeks ago, the Government blocked giving MPs a vote on the Lords amendment to demand British Courts have a say on genocide.
It used a historic procedure to force a vote on a similar amendment which would give Parliament a greater role on the issue of genocide.
Trade Minister Greg Hands said the amendment “rightly puts Parliament, not the courts, in the driving seat on the issue of who generates a debate in Parliament”.
But the move left Tory MPs outraged they were being denied a chance to have their say.
Sir Iain accusing the Government of “using arcane procedural games” to block a vote on the Lords amendment.
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He said the courts must have their say on the issue of genocide because they would not be bad in making a judgement.
He said: “I have my own differences with judges but when we need an impartial taking of evidence and a judgement, we turn not to select committees but judges. Why do we do that?
“One, because we assume they are impartial.
“Two because they are trained to take evidence and deal with evidence. We are not here.”
A huge Tory rebellion took place on the vote, which saw the Government’s majority cut from 80 to just 15.
Independent peer Lord Alton, who originally tabled the amendment requiring the courts to rule on genocide, has vowed to reintroduce the amendment at today’s vote.
He said the Government’s actions to stop MPs voting on his changes the Bill “makes a mockery of democracy”.
If the Lords vote in agreement to reintroduce the genocide amendment, the Trade Bill will once again be sent back to the Commons in a process known as Parliamentary “ping pong”.
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