The House of Lords voted again in favor of the measure, which pro-Chinese forces in the government hope to stop at the Commons, where it now returns.
by Ruth Ingram
Passion and fury, persuasive rhetoric and accusations of high politics, big vested interests and not the deterrence of genocide, marked round three of the UK government’s battle in the Lords to stamp morality, ethics, and human rights on its post Brexit trade deals.
The historic ping pong duel to see trade deals with genocidal states banned, continued apace this week after round two in the Commons had witnessed ruling Conservative party “skulduggery” and “duplicity” to deny MPs a vote on a revised amendment answering ministerial objections during round one earlier this year.
Lord David Alton’s third revision, after a second amendment proposing to give UK courts the power to determine genocide failed in the Commons two weeks ago, advocates setting up ad-hoc committees composed of former High Court and Supreme Court judges to assess evidence of genocide in potential trading partners. Its recommendations would then be passed to a parliamentary select committee for action.
Despite tacit agreement to the amendment by cabinet ministers behind closed doors this week, a ministerial volte face by Lord Grimstone, Minister of State for International Trade, shocked advocates of the changes. Whilst condemning genocide wherever it might be found, he said the proposals would necessitate constitutional reform, would blur the distinction between courts and parliament, and would embroil trade deals and scarce government resources in months of delays.
Ministerial objections aside, the motion was passed after heated discussion by 367 votes to 214, and the new revisions will be sent to the Commons one final time.
Condemning the “clever, dirty and underhand” government “tricks” that deprived MPs of their vote in round two, when different amendments were twinned, making a vote on one or the other impossible, former chief whip Lord Blencathra asked what ministers were afraid of. He exposed the “increasingly desperate government excuses” against Lord Alton’s amendment, all of which had been “discredited.” He condemned the government’s insistence that UK courts were incapable of determining genocide, and exposed its plan to appeal to the International Criminal Court as a “sham.”