Thank you for contacting me about the Lords ‘anti-genocide’ amendment.
I appreciate your concerns, and I want to reassure you that my opposition to the amendment does not diminish my commitment to upholding the UK’s international and moral obligations. I take the issue of human rights abuse extremely seriously.
I oppose the latest amendment from the Lords on constitutional grounds. I believe that this amendment, as with previous Lords amendments, would continue to blur the distinction between the role of Parliament and the courts. The amendment would allow a new Parliamentary committee, composed solely of former senior members of the judiciary, to make a determination on genocide. The Government has been consistently clear that it is for competent courts not committees to make determinations of genocide.
The creation of a Parliamentary Judicial Committee would be a fundamental constitutional reform. It would upset the balance of power in our constitutional system. The amendment the Government previously supported in the Commons avoided this. It required the Government to set out its position in writing in response to a report of genocide and gave a House of Commons committee the power to draft a motion for subsequent debate.
I am proud that the UK plays a leading international role in holding China to account for its abuses, through leading joint statements at the UN, repeatedly underlining concerns to senior Chinese authorities and reviewing UK export controls applied to Xinjiang. I must also emphasise that there are no current plans to begin negotiations on a free trade agreement with China.
The Bill is now returning to the House of Commons and I will closely monitor the progress of this amendment.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Craig Whittaker MP