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Sunday, February 28, 2021

Genocide trade bill row: Peers propose new amendment in Lords debate

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Peers will make another attempt to amend the government’s Trade Bill later – hoping to stop deals being done with countries who have committed genocide.

The bill has gone back and forth between Lords and MPs due to a row over the best way to tackle the issue.

The government got the backing of MPs – despite a Tory rebellion – to give select committees a greater role in examining allegations of genocide.

But Lord Alton wants claims looked at by people with judicial experience.

A number of MPs, including many Conservative backbenchers, have been pressing the government to take a tougher stance on human rights abuses – especially in light of the treatment of the Uighur Muslim population in China.

The House of Lords previously backed an amendment put forward by independent peer Lord Alton to give British courts the right to decide if a country was committing genocide – which would then impact the decision over whether to sign a trade deal with them.

His proposal got the public backing of a number of Conservative MPs and looked set to lead to a rebellion in the Commons.

But the government used parliamentary procedure to prevent MPs voting on the amendment and instead managed to secure enough support for its own measure.

This would allow a parliamentary committee to trigger a Commons debate and vote if it decided there were “credible reports” that genocide had been committed by a state the UK was negotiating a trade deal with.

New panel

Lord Alton had been expected to re-table his amendment as the bill returned to the House of Lords – in a process known as “ping-pong” – but he has instead put forward a new one.

His latest proposal would keep the select committee report on genocide as the first step, but it would then be referred to a panel of five MPs and Lords who had held “high judicial office” in the past – such as former High Court or Court of Appeal judges.

Peers will debate and vote on the amendment on Tuesday afternoon and, if approved, it will then return to the Commons again for another vote.

This post courtesy of bbc-politics

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