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Parliament must be allowed to vote on Trade Treaties

August 2, 2015

Letter to Dorset Echo 1 Aug 2015 (letter to Richard Drax MP follows)

Many people are extremely worried about a treaty between the EU and the USA
known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Many
more would be if there were more coverage in the national media. We believe
that it is a treaty designed to protect huge trans-national corporations at
the expense of the peoples of Europe and the USA. It is being negotiated in
the utmost secrecy and so we do not know the details, but what we have
learned is not reassuring. Before it comes into force the finalised
agreement will have to be sent to EU member states so that they can agree
it – a process known as ratification. In most countries the parliament will
be able to in effect to accept or reject. This is not the case in the UK at
present. I have today written to Richard Drax MP to request that the
government do allow Parliament to vote on the treaty.

For those worried about TTIP, be in Weymouth Town centre from 11 am on Sat
22nd August.

David Smith, Weymouth
ENDS
9 Old Station Road, Weymouth, DT3 5NQ, tel: 01305 815965 day or evening

—–Original Message—–
From: David Smith
Sent: Saturday, August 01, 2015 6:55 PM
To: Richard DRAX
Subject: Ratifying the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership

Dear Mr Drax

I am asking that before the above treaty is ratified by the UK, the
government grants a parliamentary debate to decide whether ratification can
go ahead.

Treaties are ratified by use of the Royal Prerogative as I am sure you are
aware. In general, although they are laid before Parliament in accordance
with the Ponsonby Rule (now enshrined under the Constitutional Reform and
Governance Act 2010), there is no vote by either House on whether the treaty
should be ratified or not. The government does not generally grant such a
debate.

Exceptions are made when domestic legislation is required in order that the
UK can honour the treaty. In such cases the convention has been established
that the legislation is passed before ratification. In effect Parliament has
approved the treaty. Examples include all European Treaties and the
Extradition Treaty with the USA in 2003. The Extradition Act was passed
before the UK ratified.

Trade treaties have not been subject to parliamentary scrutiny (except for
the odd ill informed adjournment debate). This is unsatisfactory. It was bad
enough that the Marrakesh Agreement of 1994 was not subject to proper
scrutiny. It has had a massive and largely unacknowledged impact on the UK.
Now we are threatened with an even more potentially dangerous treaty which
will, if ratified, bind us for 30 years. This treaty is designed to remove
‘non tariff barriers to trade’. What this means is that trans-national
corporations will be able to sue governments in secret courts if any
necessary and sensible regulation reduces their expected profits. Risks for
investors are removed, but risks to the welfare of the peoples of Europe are
massively increased.

There have been vague assurances, largely from the European Commission that
for example it is not intended to threaten the NHS. Many politicians seem to
believe these assurances; otherwise negotiations would have been halted by
now. They are naïve. Negotiations are being conducted in unprecedented
secrecy. The only motive I can see for this is to deceive both politicians
and members of the public. I do not believe that even members of Her
Majesty’s government know the detail. Both Canada and Australia are now
beginning to experience the downsides of treaties of this nature signed in
the early 1990s. The pace of corporations’ claims against states is hotting
up as they become more confident and ruthless.

Many people see the dangers; that the majority do not as yet, is down mainly
to the lack of coverage in the media.

Bearing in mind it is surely imperative that when the final agreement is
sent to nation states for ratification it receives rigorous scrutiny, and
that if necessary it is sent back for redrafting. Each nation will need to
ensure that its interests are protected. As things stand in the UK this will
be down solely to the government; there will be no effective parliamentary
scrutiny. This is intolerable in the 21st century. If the government is
short sighted enough to deny proper scrutiny in order to avoid its will
being challenged, and things go wrong, it will never be forgiven. The
Conservatives will lose power for a generation or until the UK becomes a
failed state.

I have three lovely grandchildren, but the outlook for the future looks so
bleak that I have come to wish they had never been born.

yours sincerely

David Smith, 9 Old Station Road, Weymouth, DT3 5NQ

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