Mike Gapes MP (Ilford South) shares his views on the UK's bilateral investment treaties.
The UK's bilateral investment treaties (BITs) should provide investors with fair and equitable treatment and should not restrict a developing country's ability to regulate the domestic policies. They should also take account of the UK's policies on human rights, development and the environment. The UK's trade and investment policy should promote skilled jobs, human rights and workers' rights, and should preserve and enhance social, health and environmental regulations.
Investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) proceedings should be transparent and protect the right of governments to regulate in the public interest. They should not give special status to foreign investors.
There is also a need to improve parliamentary scrutiny of bilaterial investment treaties. At present to ratify a BIT, the Government must lay it before Parliament for twenty one Parliamentary sitting days, during which MPs have the chance to scrutinise it. If Parliament debates a treaty and resolves against ratifying it, the Government cannot legally do so. However, a debate on the treaty is not guaranteed. Trade and investment agreements should be subject to proper scrutiny, with Parliament taking a more active role.
I can assure my constituents that I will continue to monitor this issue.