MPs have pledged to continue fighting, with a new round of political ping pong launched by the UK House of Commons last week.
by Ruth Ingram
After a recent Lords’ victory voting to ban the procurement of medical equipment from areas of the world at “serious risk of genocide,” UK government ministers in the Commons this week, facing an embarrassing defeat and repeating their persistent mantra that genocide determination can only be made by a “competent court” offered instead to review NHS supply chains in relation to forced labor and modern day slavery.
Campaigners for a “genocide” amendment to the Health Bill have been horrified at the NHS record for being the government department with the “dirtiest supply chains tainted with Uyghur slavery.” They cite the millions of pounds poured into Beijing’s coffers for Xinjiang-sourced, forced-labor-made PPE during the pandemic, and had hoped that the UK might be a beacon of procurement standards for Europe.
Whilst welcoming the government commitment in its counter amendment to “eradicate modern slavery” from the NHS supply chains, members of the Stop Genocide Campaign have criticized the offer of a review as “nowhere near enough.” “We urgently need Sajid Javid and Priti Patel to take meaningful action to ensure that Uyghur slave labor-made products stop entering our NHS,” they said, following the debate.
Sir Iain Duncan Smith, opponent of the current CCP regime’s genocidal intent towards the Uyghurs in China’s Northwest Xinjiang region was anxious to see the end of NHS complicity in the atrocities. “This is urgent,” he warned. “Right now the NHS is using products produced in Xinjiang,” citing recent findings of Uyghur forced labour-made masks used at King’s College Hospital in London.
“There is no excuse for the government not knowing the origin of NHS equipment,” he said. “If equipment is known to be made with slave labour, we cannot allow it to be bought with taxpayer money.”
Duty of care towards patients in the UK should not be separated from that of the victims of modern slavery overseas, who are brutalized, losing their lives and beaten into production, he stressed. “We do not have to choose between these groups.”
Supported by 19 other parliamentarians, Sir Iain had tabled his own amendment including a reference to genocide. “It is abhorrent that a genocide is taking place in Xinjiang and we should take more action on this,” he stressed. But at the very least, he said, if the government would not recognize genocide, the question of slavery was clear cut. “You either support it or you don’t.” Delays cost human lives, said Sir Iain. “This is the right time, let’s get on with it.”
After returning to the Lords for the insertion of a new amendment, the matter will come before the Commons after Easter for a vote.