The House of Lords All-Party Genocide Amendment was today defeated in the House of Commons by a slender margin – a Government majority of 11.
The Genocide amendment will now return to the House of Lords which will be asked to consider a refined version – which, if agreed – will go back to the House of Commons.
Just 6 more good men and women on the Conservative benches need to change their minds and the High Court will be given the task of deciding whether a Genocide is under way in States with which we have trade agreements.
We owe it to victims of Genocide to persist with this and now it is up to constituents to check how their MP votes and to ask them to think again if the amendment is returned again to the House of Commons.
This is far from being over – and that is because this has been a cross-party/no party initiative with particular thanks to so many Conservative MPs who were willing to break the Party Whip on this hugely important question of conscience.
In the House of Lords today (January 19th) I pressed Government Ministers to engage with the cross-party alliance.
Lord Alton of Liverpool (CB)
My Lords, in the House of Commons last week, the Foreign Secretary said that what is happening in Xinjiang is “on an industrial scale”. Perhaps the most shocking example of this has been the reported export of 13 tonnes of human hair, shaved off the heads of Uighur slave labourers. Dominic Raab’s predecessor, Jeremy Hunt, said that no responsible country would engage in free trade agreements with a state committing genocide. Can the Minister give a firm commitment now, on the Floor of the House, that the United Kingdom will not negotiate a free trade agreement with China until the United Nations is permitted to investigate Xinjiang and these violations on an industrial scale? Also, will he ask the Foreign Secretary to urgently respond to the request of the movers of Amendment 3 to the Trade Bill, both here and in the House of Commons, to meet Mr Raab to discuss the next steps in dealing specifically with the crime of genocide?
My Lords, on the noble Lord’s second point, I know that my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary and his team will look at all requests that we receive from colleagues across both Houses. I will certainly follow up what the noble Lord has raised. On his earlier point, the important thing is that, in any trade agreement that we look to negotiate and are involved with, human rights will be reflected in our discussions; I speak as a Human Rights Minister. As I have said before, China is an important strategic partner to the United Kingdom, and it has an important role to play in the world but, in doing so, it needs to recognise that the situation in Xinjiang is not going unnoticed. China is now being pressed and held to account for what is going on.