Briefings Briefing: Parliamentary scrutiny of the UK’s accession to the CPTPP


Briefing: Parliamentary scrutiny of the UK’s accession to the CPTPP

The UK’s accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) has significant implications for many important policy areas, including climate and the environment, human rights, labour rights, international development, food standards, animal welfare and public health. Meaningful parliamentary scrutiny of the terms of CPTPP is therefore imperative.

However, the existing provisions for parliamentary scrutiny of new trade agreements are wholly inadequate. Under the UK’s heavily criticised trade scrutiny provisions, there is no opportunity for Parliament to influence trade negotiating mandates, and no transparency during trade negotiations. Parliamentarians have no guaranteed opportunity to vote on new agreements.

CPTPP has now been formally laid before Parliament under the CRaG (Constitutional Reform and Governance Act (2010)) procedure. Parliament has 21 sitting days to debate the CPTPP and pass a resolution to delay ratification if desired. However, there is no clear mechanism for passing such a resolution, and Parliament can be entirely bypassed. Via this system, parliamentarians are precluded from expressing their support for or dissatisfaction with new trade treaties.

Parliamentarians should therefore urgently call on the Government to guarantee time for a debate on a substantive motion regarding the UK’s accession to CPTPP before the CRaG period concludes on March 22nd 2024, so that the terms of the agreement can be adequately debated and a vote can be held.