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World News

Christian peer's genocide amendment denied its own vote so will be re-tabled in House of Lords

An amendment to allow UK courts to define genocide was not specifically voted on by MPs on Tuesday because the Government attached it to a Labour amendment which many Conservative MPs did not want. 

The genocide amendment aims to give power to UK courts to investigate and declare a genocide in another country so parliament can, with legal reason, limit trade with that country. Currently, much of the discussion is about the UK's trade with China and their treatment of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang. 

The genocide amendment, proposed by Christian independent peer Lord David Alton (pictured), might have had enough Conservative MPs in favour to pass on its own. It had support from Tory MP Sir Iain Duncan Smith, it only failed by 11 votes last time and changes had been made since.

 

However, it was paired with a Labour amendment that required human rights audits be done before trade deals are made, meaning Conservatives were not going to vote for it. 

MPs voted 318 to 303, a majority 15, to remove the two Lords amendments from the Trade Bill. 31 Conservative MPs rebelled and opposed the removal of the Lords amendment. 

Trade minister Greg Hands argued the courts should not be involved in the trade deal process, and it should be for Parliament to "take a position on credible reports of genocide" relating to such deals.

Speaking during the debate, he told the Commons: "This Government firmly believes it is for Parliament to determine what Parliament debates, not the courts."

The genocide amendment had passed by 171 votes in the House of Lords after a change was made that stated parliament would not have to stop free trade with a country found to have committed genocide by the courts. 

Sir Iain said in the debate: “Today should have been a chance to stand tall, to send a signal to those who are without hope all over the world, whether it’s the Uighurs or the Rohingya.

“Instead of a beacon of light and hope, today what we have done is go into the dark corridors of procedural purdah and we need to emerge.”
 

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