Parliament must play a role in negotiating new trade deals if food and animal welfare standards are to be protected in future, according to a new report.
The paper, published by the Food Research Collaboration and written by Peter Stevenson, chief policy adviser at Compassion in World Farming, called upon Ministers to introduce new laws which give MPs and peers a say on new trade arrangements.
“Without parliament’s involvement, the Government may, in its wish to conclude new trade agreements, sacrifice interests such as animal welfare”, said the report.
“In order to minimise this danger, parliament must have a decisive role in the formation of trade agreements.”
The paper suggested new legislation should be introduced which prevented Governments from beginning trade talks without the approval of MPs and peers, allowing them to make recommendations to Ministers on the policy areas which should be included in the negotiations and the principles which should underpin them.
It also called for parliament to be able to properly scrutinise any deals while talks are ongoing.
“At least once every six months, the Government must lay before parliament a report containing an account of progress made during the negotiations and an assessment of the issues likely to arise during future stages which may affect UK producers, consumers or legislative standards”, the paper said.
“Parliament should have the right to make recommendations to the Government on, and propose amendments to, any draft texts and on the UK’s position during future stages of the negotiations.”
The final power which the report demands is for parliament to be able to amend or reject any trade agreement once concluded.
“If it wishes to amend the agreement, the Government must place its proposals before the other party/parties to the agreement”, said the paper.
“If they do not accept parliament’s proposals, parliament will have to decide whether to accept or reject the agreement.”