Home General News British minister under fire over Australia trade deal investigation

British minister under fire over Australia trade deal investigation

by Anthony L. Gonzalez

Britain’s Secretary of State for International Trade has been accused of showing “disrespect” to MPs after failing to appear before a parliamentary committee to answer questions about the government’s free trade agreement with Australia.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan was due to attend an International Trade Committee meeting on Wednesday morning.

But she withdrew the night before pending an expected statement in the House of Commons on steel tariffs later on Wednesday.

British minister under fire over Australia trade deal investigation

Commission chair Angus Brendan MacNeil said the committee was “unanimous” in its “disappointment” and thought it sets “a very worrying precedent” for “the way the government is handling the scrutiny of free trade agreements”.

He added: “We believe this is a lack of respect for the committee. We are very disappointed.”

A spokesman for the Department of International Trade said Ms. Trevelyan had informed Mr. MacNeil she could not attend Tuesday night, apologized, and offered an alternative two-hour slot next week.

The spokesman said: “The Minister of International Trade is finalizing a balanced decision on steel protection by June 30.

“This is a matter of national strategic importance, and she needed to make sure she could assess the department’s final opinion before updating Parliament today.”

They added: “We have increased commitments to scrutiny and transparency at every stage of the UK-Australia negotiations.

“This includes ministers appearing before the ITC and giving Parliament more than six months to examine the legal text, in addition to the 21 days we envisaged to review the constitutional reform process and the administration of the law. initiated.”

Earlier on Wednesday, the committee had published a report urging the government to delay ratification of the Australia deal to allow for greater scrutiny by MPs.

The government announced the deal as the first negotiated deal since leaving the EU with a promise that the country would be £2.3bn better off.

But the committee’s report claimed the government’s stance on parliamentary scrutiny of that deal “has undermined that legal process and shown great rudeness to Parliament”.

MacNeil said they were “consistently hampered” in efforts to fully investigate the deal.

This is not the committee’s first intervention to accuse Ms. Trevelyan of dodging questions about the free trade agreement signed in December.

International agreements must be submitted to parliament, with 21 sitting days for MPs to consider a deal.

The government initiated that process earlier this month, and the trade commission has accused the government of repeatedly frustrating efforts to effectively monitor the new and complex trade deal.

In the report, MPs deplored a “persistent lack of clarity” in the timetable for parliamentary scrutiny and called their demands for a guaranteed timeframe to complete their information “not unreasonable”.

“Hasty ratification, without the chance to have full control, risks overlooking or neglecting important drawbacks of the agreement,” MPs wrote in the report.

Mr. MacNeil said it was “critical” for MPs to properly scrutinize the deal and questioned the apparent need for urgency.

“Given that ministers are eager to extol the benefits of this deal, it is unbelievable that the government is so keen to drag it through without appropriate oversight, especially given that the Australian government is in no rush to side with them. ratify.”

Related Articles