Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 50 Number 37, October 3, 2020 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

Rishi Sunak Cancels Budget and Refuses to Deal with the People's Wellbeing

Workers' Weekly Internet Edition: Article Index : ShareThis

Rishi Sunak Cancels Budget and Refuses to Deal with the People's Wellbeing

Workers' Forum:
Unions Respond to Chancellor's Winter Economy Plan

Workers' Forum:
Let Music Live

For Your Information:
"Jobs Support Scheme"

Students Take a Stand:
Students Face Unprecedented Covid-19 Lockdown Measures

Coronavirus Pandemic:
Emergency Statement on Universities in the Context of Rising Sars-Cov-2 Cases in Late September 2020

CAMPAIGN ALERT! No Eviction Into Homelessness:
No Evictions into Homelessness from Asylum Accommodation

Trade Bill 2019-21:
The Resistance to the Trade Bill Continues

Rishi Sunak Cancels Budget and Refuses to Deal with the People's Wellbeing

Chancellor Rishi Sunak on September 24 announced a deal to replace the furlough scheme. It was claimed that it will safeguard the interests of workers by allowing millions of workers to work part-time while keeping four-fifths of their earnings. At the same time, he declared that the "honest truth is that we can't save every job". In so saying, he is admitting that the government is abdicating responsibility for the fate of the economy, and demonstrating that the government's schemes are not designed to deal with the people's wellbeing and resolving the crisis. It is the antithesis of what a modern economy can and must be.

The Chancellor said that this programme would run for six months, starting in November, when the existing furlough scheme comes to an end. The "Jobs Support Scheme" was billed as the next stage of the government's economic plan, and replaced a planned Budget statement. In his announcement, Rishi Sunak also unveiled plans to extend loan repayments for businesses and delay ending a tax cut for the hospitality sector. The Chancellor said: "The government will directly support the wages of people in work, giving businesses who face depressed demand the option of keeping employees in a job on shorter hours, rather than making them redundant. The Jobs Support Scheme is built on three principles; first, it will support viable jobs to make sure that employees must work at least a third of their normal hours, and be paid for that work as normal by their employer. The government, together with employers, will then increase those people's wages, covering two thirds of the pay they have lost by reducing their working hours, and the employee will keep their job."

Even this has been forced on the government by the people's resistance to the anti-social offensive and the threat of mass redundancies. But behind the government's response lies the actual aim to preserve the pay-the-rich economy and benefit the power of the monopolies and oligarchs over the economy. These are the very forces who have been and are responsible for the crisis of the economy which has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. It means that the preoccupation of the government is how to save the day for the global oligarchs and at the same time keep the working people from gaining control over the economic and political affairs which determine their lives and the direction of society and the economy. As Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, the Chancellor was right to warn the public that things were going to be tough.

The Chancellor's announcement has been made in the context of the tearing up of norms of political affairs as the state arrangements are being restructured to ensure what amounts to a public-private partnership between the government and the self-serving private interests of the imperialist oligarchs and multinationals. This has been seen in the restructuring of the civil service so as to give prominence to the dictate of those who promote "Global Britain" and "Britain First", which in effect means that Britain is open to plunder by the global oligarchs, as they maraud the world and engage in cut-throat competition to be the subject of handouts from the public treasury, vie for state contracts and for whom the interests of working people count for nothing. This is called ensuring "Britain's place in the world". This restructuring itself extends to law-making, to the justice system, to international agreements, as well as to who benefits from an economy in crisis.

In other words, the Chancellor's announcement had nothing to do with the necessity of investing in social programmes and putting investments into an economy which favours the working people. An economy in which new value produced by working people is invested in public enterprises and production for society's needs is what is required. However, the direction embraced by the government and its Chancellor steadfastly negates this requirement.

The point is that in opposition to the parasitism of the imperialist rich, it is the working class and people themselves who can activate the human factor and harness for society's benefit the immense power and capacity of the modern productive forces. It is not simply that the Chancellor is opting for too little, too late. It is a question of who has the people's wellbeing at heart, and who has the power to unlock the productive power of the working people themselves. What is required is that power be vested in working people themselves to organise the state so that a government is constituted which meets its social responsibilities to the people.

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Workers' Forum

Unions Respond to Chancellor's Winter Economy Plan

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said, amongst other things: "Unworked hours under the scheme must not be wasted. Ministers must work with business and unions to offer high-quality retraining, so workers are prepared for the future economy. [...] The government should target help at industries facing a tough winter, and provide more support for families most at risk of hardship and debt."

On the further action now needed, she said: "We must use this period of protection to make the economy more resilient and to plan a strong recovery. Ministers must quickly get Test and Trace working properly, so it's fast and reliable through the UK. And enforcement bodies must get more resources to make sure all workplaces safe.

"A National Recovery Council should now be convened, bringing together government, business and unions. We can use the winter months to plan an economic spring, with fair rewards for key workers and good new jobs in green industry. Let's get moving on a national plan to build that together."

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "Any support for jobs and key industries during this unprecedented global pandemic is to be welcomed. However, the Chancellor's measures are akin to using a plaster to cover a gaping wound.

"Our members in the commercial sector, aviation and culture are already being threatened with hundreds of redundancies, as employers seek to capitalise on the economic fallout from Covid-19.

"No one should be losing their job due to the coronavirus pandemic and that is why the furlough scheme should be extended."

Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis said: "We are pleased that the Chancellor has eventually stepped back from the cliff-edge ending of the jobs retention scheme and we will study the details of the new jobs support scheme. However we are very disappointed that he made no mention of the deep difficulties the retail industry faces.

"The coronavirus pandemic has had a profound impact on retail. So far this year 125,000 jobs have been lost in retail and 14,000 shops have permanently closed. The Chancellor today needed to demonstrate the government will work with unions and employers on an immediate recovery plan that will give targeted support to retail."

TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said: "We have called for bold action from government and remain concerned that six months is too short to really stabilise businesses and jobs which so badly need support and would like clarity over who decides which businesses are viable."

Head of Bectu Philippa Childs said: "Despite the damage suffered by the creative industries during the pandemic, it is clear that the Treasury has once again overlooked their needs. The Job Support Scheme may help some employers, but it will not help to save theatres that are still not able to open due to government restrictions and are already making thousands of workers redundant. And the army of freelancers and self-employed who make up the backbone of the UK creative industries face being excluded from support once again as the Chancellor continue to turn a deaf ear to their hardship. Without more support the UK creative sector will not get through the winter, we desperately need a targeted plan to save jobs and ensure that one of the most productive parts of our economy can survive the winter."

GMB action general secretary John Phillips said: "GMB is calling on all employers who have redundancies planned to halt those processes and reassess based on this announcement. If bosses won't do that, the Government must step in. It's incredibly disappointing not to see much bolder, forward thinking action.

"We've had a decade of underinvestment in our economy  - for it to bounce back as quickly as possible, we need investment in infrastructure, training and skills in sustainable jobs and industries - not just to protect the jobs we have but to create new jobs and a new economy as we come out of this crisis."

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: "Today [...] cannot be the last word from the government on the defence of people's livelihoods. We have seen a summer of jobs destruction but an absence of jobs creation. We urge the government to work with us as we put our collective shoulders to the wheel in the task of recovering the economy, because the spectre of mass unemployment still stalks our communities. "

Len McCluskey called on employers considering making workers redundant to now step back from the brink:

"While we await the detail of criteria for large employers' access to the scheme, there can be no doubt that in the UK's strategically vital industries - such as aerospace, steel and automotive - today's move to support wages means we stand a better chance of saving the jobs and skills needed to power the recovery.

"We call upon employers to now work with us on the urgent task of saving those jobs. Reverse plans for redundancies and reflect on the opportunities now available to us: do not push the redundancy button. Unite's officials stand ready to work night and day with you to keep people in work and earning."

Further, Len McCluskey warned that more still needs to be done to address the skills crisis and to create desperately needed new and decent jobs, particularly for young people who have been hit hard by this crisis:

"Industries teetering on the cliff edge like aviation, retail and hospitality, where jobs are being lost hand over fist and where the impact of this crisis continues to be devastating, will need further support.

"Dismissing jobs in these sectors as not viable is to leave communities to rot and descend into a jobs wastelands, so we are determined to continue to fight for better and wider support for these workers.

"We urge the chancellor to keep the unemployment situation under constant review and pledge to act swiftly should the measures announced today not have the desired effect of holding back a tide of job losses and poverty."

Equity general secretary-elect Paul Fleming said: "Today's announcement is as underwhelming as it is terrifying. Only 40% of our members have received any money to date from the SEISS - and how can 20% of profit be anywhere near enough for people to survive on? Its extension is meaningless to so many Equity members. Even the most pragmatic and decent steps, like extending the suspension of the Minimum Income Floor from Universal Credit, have been overlooked.

"Driving our hard working, tax paying members out of their professions like this is not only unjust but economically illiterate - without them, we risk the collapse of the £112 billion the creative industries contribute to the UK economy."

(Union News, September 24)

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Workers' Forum

Let Music Live

Parliament Square, London; Centenary Square, Birmingham. Tuesday, October 6, 12 noon.

Under the auspices of a new banner, Let Music Live, convened by violinist Jessie Murphy, 400 professionals - chiefly freelancers - are speaking out on the value of music professionals, as well as others in the arts culture sector.

A classical music blog points out [1]: "The arts culture sector [...] has yet to receive anything more than a kick in the teeth from the government. Despite that promise of £1.57bn of help, months later not much actual money has yet been distributed to the people who need it - if any. And that's the ones who do 'qualify'. Even performers who are household names in the musical and theatrical worlds have had no work or income since March and still fall through the 'safety net', such as it is, 'qualifying' for no support whatever."

The organisers write:

"400 freelance professional musicians from all parts of the industry will be joined in support by leading musical figures including David Hill, Raphael Wallfisch, Emma Johnson and Tasmin Little, to perform in Parliament Square and Centenary Square, Birmingham, shining a light on the need for targeted support for freelance musicians and all those who work in the arts and entertainment sector. They are also joined in solidarity by the Musicians' Union, The Musicians' Answering Service, Emily Eavis and more.

"Conducted by renowned director David Hill in Parliament Square, the freelance musicians will perform a short section of 'Mars' from Holst's The Planets before standing in silence for two minutes. The 20% of the piece that they will perform represents the maximum 20% support that freelancers receive from the government through the SEISS grant. The two-minute silence represents the 45% of musicians currently not covered by the SEISS grant (MU). The event will be Covid-safe, adhering strictly to social distancing regulations, facilitated by support from #WeMakeEvents.

"The arts and culture industry contributes £10.8 billion a year directly to the UK economy (ONS), with growth in creative industries previously running at five times that of the rest of the economy. With effective short-term support, freelance musicians will continue to make a positive impact.

"For every £1 directly spent on music and events, an extra £2 is generated in the wider economy (ACE), powering a network of businesses across the country. Supporting freelance musicians means supporting the wider economy.

"Let Music Live calls on the government:

Because of social distancing restrictions, numbers are strictly controlled, and anyone who wants to attend is asked to please contact the organisers first at



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For Your Information

"Jobs Support Scheme"

In his "Winter Economy Plan" announced on September 24, the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that the new Jobs Support Scheme would replace the furlough scheme, which expires at the end of October.

The new "Jobs Support Scheme" will run for six months, starting in November. Employees will need to work a minimum of a third of their normal hours and be paid for that as normal.

The government and the employer will than share the payment to cover two thirds of the remaining hours.

"Employees working 33% of their hours will receive at least 77% of their pay," HM Treasury stated.

Anyone who was employed as of September 23 is eligible.

Millions of workers are still currently on some form of furlough.

SMEs are automatically eligible for the new scheme, but larger businesses will need to prove their business has been impacted by the pandemic.

Support for the self-employed is also being extended.

Bounceback Loans and Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) loans are also being extended, allowing firms to "pay as you grow", Sunak said.

A new loan scheme to succeed CBILS will also be announced in the New Year.

The 15% VAT rate cut for tourism and hospitality has been extended until March 31, 2021, while up to 500,000 businesses that deferred VAT payments until March 2021 will be able to split the payment up over 11 months.

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Students Take a Stand

Students Face Unprecedented Covid-19 Lockdown Measures

Universities across Britain are reporting outbreaks of Covid-19 as students return to campus and new students move into halls to begin their first year. Students are being told to isolate en masse in accommodation blocks at a number of universities.

A particularly sharp spike in cases broke out at Manchester Metropolitan University, where 127 students tested positive. There city has itself emerged as a recent hotpot, and its already-high infection rate of 93.2 per 100,000 people estimated in the week up to September 15, had risen to 185.6 the following week, with new positive tests rising from 515 to 1,026 over that fortnight.

Two of the university's accommodation blocks, at Birley campus and Cambridge Halls, have been placed into a 14-day lockdown, affecting around 1,700 students.

In a response characterised by imposition, students received no warning of the impending lockdown and are now trapped in their halls of residence. The only response appears to be that of force.

"We were getting ready to go out and looked out to security and police outside the halls," one student said. "They say we can't leave. We haven't received any emails from the university about this and they seem to be holding us in against our will."

The university has threatened disciplinary action for any breaches of isolation. "We've been told, if we leave, we can't come back," said another student.

Parker Halls of Residence, Dundee

It is also evident that there was no proper forward planning for such an outbreak. The university said it was "urgently preparing a care package" and financial support for affected students to ensure they had the essentials they needed.

"We're struggling to get food because everyone is trying to order it at the same time," say students. "We had eight hours to go get food to last us for two weeks."

Morale is "really low" and "lots of people are very angry". Locked-in students have been sticking home made banners and placards to windows in protest.

In Scotland, 600 students at Glasgow University were instructed to isolate after 100 cases were confirmed, while in Durham, all 500 students at an accommodation block were quarantined after a single case.

"The NUS has long called for online learning to be the default, and the government must urgently invest in digital infrastructure and tackle digital poverty so that all students can continue to access their education remotely. We also need them to get a functional test-and-trace system in place on campuses and adequate funding to tackle the student mental health crisis," said NUS president Larissa Kennedy.

Regarding the situation in Manchester, the NUS called for students being able "to return to their families if they wish, as being trapped in university accommodation will only add anxiety at an already difficult time," adding that "all students affected must be supported by their universities with food deliveries, shopping and access to mental health services if needed."

The University and College Union echoed the NUS. UCU general secretary Jo Grady said the situation in Manchester was "the latest catastrophe in a week where wholly predictable - and predicted - Covid outbreaks have caused havoc on campuses across the UK."

"We warned last month of the problems with moving thousands of students across the country and the time has come for urgent action from ministers and universities to protect staff and students," she said, adding to calls to cancel in-person teaching until the test-and-trace system significantly improves.

Prof Mark Woolhouse of the government's pandemic modelling group called the outbreak amongst students "entirely predictable" and that it was "inevitable there would be some spread", particularly in halls of residence and face-to-face classes. Students were not to blame for the situation, he said. The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) also warned of "significant outbreaks" in the universities, it is reported.

Meanwhile, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden insisted that students should not "give up a year of their life" by not going to university. "They are going to university and paying the fees accordingly," he declared.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has refused to rule out preventing students from returning home over Christmas and New Year.

The crisis of the spread of the virus in the universities has arisen in a context where the whole approach taken by the government to the pandemic has been one of supposedly balancing risks and benefits. In this case, this issue is presented as offsetting the risks of increasing the spread against the cost of missing being physically present at university - the face-to-face teaching, interaction, the overall university experience, and so on. Added into the mix is the lucrative market in student housing.

The irrationality of posing things in this way is starkly revealed in the absurd situation that has now been reached, where students are occupying halls of residence, where they are studying online and in isolation as if at home, yet in a condition of seriously increased vulnerability. These students are currently getting none of the benefits and all of the risks.

Education is not in fact a matter of balance, but, as students themselves have established through the struggle for welfare and in opposition to ever-rising fees over recent years and decades, a right that governments have to guarantee whatever the circumstances. This is not something that contradicts the collective interest, but is fundamentally in harmony with the needs of society.

With the overall aim being the well-being of the people, of which education is a vital component part, an approach can be found that allows students and universities to contribute to stopping, rather than spreading, the virus. This is something that itself forms part of the university experience in this period. At all times, the university experience - rather than the pursuit of narrow self-interest that is promoted amongst and foisted upon students to deprive them of an outlook - has to include enabling students to take up their social responsibility, and in the present, this is crucial.

The fact is that universities were reopened in the midst of a developing second wave, where the growth in the infection rate had already become exponential and a number of hotspots had already emerged. They have not been reopened in conditions where the virus is under control, and unions' and experts' warnings have gone unheeded. Instead, students are being attacked and demonised, and subjected to heavy police powers.

It is the government, which refuses to engage with lecturers and their unions, or to put the well-being of staff and students as the guiding principle of their actions, and which makes everything an issue simply of law and order, that is irresponsible. The solution lies in mobilising the human factor, the social consciousness, of students, university staff, and those in the surrounding communities at large, so that they are empowered to work out collectively how to provide and receive education, to look after each others' needs so that none are left to fend for themselves, in a manner that guarantees their mutual well-being and the health and safety of all.

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Coronavirus Pandemic

Emergency Statement on Universities in the Context of Rising Sars-Cov-2 Cases in Late September 2020

The Independent Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Independent SAGE), September 28, 2020

This statement represents the considered view of Independent SAGE. We welcome additional evidence and views that might enable us to improve upon it.

Independent SAGE has, since its first consultation on Universities (August 21, 2020), expressed concern about the significant risk of Covid-19 outbreaks as the Autumn term starts across the UK.

Since then, and in the context of a rapid increase in cases across the UK population, new local lockdown and other measures (e.g. "Rule of Six"), the HE sector has already seen multiple and increasing outbreaks across university campuses, starting with Scottish universities as their terms started, and across other cities in the UK. The media reports a rapidly deteriorating situation as universities attempt to manage the multiple crises of transmission, infections, and student welfare.

There is, therefore, an urgent need, as of September 28, to act quickly and pragmatically to 1) ensure the needs, health, wellbeing, and safety of students and staff; 2) prevent further transmission across campuses to students and staff alike, and, 3) quite simply, enable the "liveability" of student life on campus in the coming weeks. Thus, Independent SAGE recommends that universities immediately implement these five key recommendations:

1. Transfer all teaching and learning online by default.

2. Make essential in-person teaching and learning (e.g. components of laboratory or practice-based courses) contingent on the regular testing of students and staff, with a "dashboard" approach as adopted by US Colleges, and with stringent adherence to face coverings, hand-washing, physical distancing, and ventilation mitigations.

3. Offer students the choice whether to live on campus / in their university accommodation or at home elsewhere (e.g. with parents and caregivers) and review at the end of the calendar year (i.e. December), and avoid numerous journeys between home and university.

4. Ensure that students who choose to remain at university while learning online maintain the right to return home for the rest of the term at any point, with accommodation fees refunded, and with testing before doing so.

5. Ensure full and generous support to students both to self-isolate and to access online learning resources, including practical needs (e.g. food, laundry), learning (e.g. IT, connectivity), and social and emotional needs (e.g. buddy systems, regular wellbeing checks, online events).

Read full statement here:

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CAMPAIGN ALERT! No Eviction Into Homelessness

No Evictions into Homelessness from Asylum Accommodation

On October 1, the Migrants' Rights Network, NACCOM, and Asylum Matters, wrote to the Prime Minister calling for a reversal to the decision to evict people with No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) into homelessness. Evicting people into homelessness is always wrong, but is especially devastating now Britain returns to Covid-19 Alert level 4, Migrants' Rights Network says.

Migrants' Rights Network has been joined by 225 organisations and 575 individual co-signatories that asked the government to:

Immediately halt the evictions of people who have been refused asylum;

Place a fully funded duty on Local Authorities to accommodate people with NRPF conditions.

Thousands of people seeking asylum who now face eviction typically have no source of alternative income or savings, the letter says. Once made homeless by the inhumane NRPF conditions, they will rely on charities or local people in the communities for support. Charities supporting people who are experiencing homelessness have had to radically rethink how they provide safe accommodation, and local conditions mean that accommodation providers have significantly less capacity and serious concerns about their ability to support those most in need.

The letter reads:

We write with deep concern as a collective of migrants' rights organisations and individuals affected by the decision to re-commence evictions of people who live in asylum accommodation.

Evictions into homelessness at any time are unacceptable. At this time, as the UK returns to Covid-19 alert level 4, the risks to people affected by this decision are unacceptably high. It has been clearly evidenced that people from Black and Ethnic Minority Communities, including people facing eviction from asylum accommodation, face a significantly higher risk of poor clinical outcomes if exposed to the virus.

We therefore ask that you immediately reverse this decision so as to prevent people who have been refused asylum becoming homeless and destitute, and to protect the health and safety of both individuals and the general public.

In March 2020, the UK Government and devolved governments took sensible decisions that protected people seeking asylum, people at risk of homelessness with No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) and wider public health. These measures included the suspension of evictions from asylum accommodation and the provision of accommodation to everyone experiencing homelessness, regardless of their immigration status, through the "Everyone In" directive and equivalent initiatives by devolved governments.

This protected many people when they needed it most and was a welcome, life-saving measure to individual and public safety. However, since September 15, people who have been refused asylum in England have begun to receive notices to leave their accommodation, with plans to restart evictions in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland at a later date.

As these temporary initiatives come to an end, the likelihood of increased destitution and homelessness amongst those who are most vulnerable is heightened. This can and must be prevented. We support the UK government's aim to eradicate rough sleeping in this Parliament; however it is clear that this cannot be achieved if evictions from asylum accommodation proceed in this way, and without an end to NRPF conditions which stop Local Authorities from being able to provide support to everyone who needs it.


We are eager to speak with you and your Ministers to discuss in more depth the issues we have raised.

Please do not hesitate to contact us.

Yours sincerely,

Click here to read the joint letter and full list of signatories:

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Trade Bill 2019-21

The Resistance to the Trade Bill Continues

The Trade Bill had its Second Reading in the House of Lords [1] on September 8 and the first sitting of the Committee to consider the Bill and any amendments took place on September 29. During this period, the huge resistance to the Bill since it was tabled in the House of Commons [2] has continued now that it is in the Lords, with hundreds of thousands of people signing further petitions [3] and people sending hundreds of emails to Members of the Lords. This resistance against the rule by the executive to enable international trade deals that dictate social conditions to the people at home and abroad from food standards, to working conditions, and to the provision of healthcare, shows that the people will never accept this direction for the economy and society - a direction that the financial oligarchy and global monopolies and their representatives in Parliament want to impose.

According to the Parliamentary report [4]:

"Members of the Lords discussed the key principles and purpose of the Trade Bill during second reading on Tuesday 8 September.

"This bill provides the key measures required as the government develops its trade policy for the UK now it has left the European Union.

"Members discussed the key areas of the bill and raised concerns about protections for environmental obligations, animal welfare, food standards and the principle that the NHS is universal and free at the point of need. Members also pressed the government on Parliament's opportunity to scrutinise future trade negotiations and the involvement of the devolved administrations."

Moving the Trade Bill for the government, Lord Grimstone of Boscobel tried to deflect the resistance to the Bill by claiming that the Bill was just a "continuity" Bill and that "the NHS is not, and never will be, for sale to the private sector, whether overseas or domestic" and that "food imported into or produced in the UK will always be safe". But then he went on to give the government's position of agreeing to the provision that allows the monopolies in Britain and internationally to do just that at home and abroad, when he said that: "the Bill allows the UK to implement our obligations under the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement, or GPA, once we accede as an independent party. As noble Lords will be aware, the GPA is an agreement seeking to mutually open up government procurement markets among its 20 parties. Acceding to the GPA in our own right will guarantee British businesses continued access to this £1.3 trillion a year market."

Replying to the government, Lord Stevenson of Blacomara (Labour) said that: "unless we amend the Bill, Ministers will be free to negotiate future trade deals using archaic royal prerogative powers, almost entirely avoiding accountability to Parliament. No other major trading country actively prevents its elected representatives having a say in shaping, reviewing and agreeing its trade policies, and there is no other area of public policy in the UK which is off limits in the way that trade will be to both the House of Commons and the House of Lords. This is not acceptable."

Later in the debate, Baroness Tongue (Non Affiliated) said she wanted to ask questions about the continuity agreements and the old agreements made in 1995 between the EU and other countries. She said:

"Israel in particular springs to mind. I have been told, after Questions to the Government, that the terms of the old EU association agreements have been adopted in the new agreement between the UK and Israel. This trade agreement was signed as long ago as August 2019 with, as far as I know, no parliamentary scrutiny at all. The terms of the new agreement, as in the old one, include Israel's commitment to observing human rights and democratic principles, and adopt, 'as a main objective, the encouragement of regional cooperation with a view to the consolidation of peaceful coexistence and economic and political stability.'

"The Government of Israel allow the constant humiliation and persecution of the Palestinian people under occupation in the West Bank and Gaza. Land is stolen, crops are destroyed, water is restricted and almost always polluted, and electricity is rationed to a few meagre hours a day. Children are harassed and badly treated in prison, and many have been killed; in fact 3,000 children have been killed in the last 17 years. Homes are demolished and families made homeless. I could go on and on, as noble Lords know. Is this Israel's adherence to the terms of the new trade agreement? Is this how it respects human rights? We can no longer fall back on the European Union for a decision-not that it ever took a lot of action. The monitoring of the terms of the agreement is now our responsibility and ours alone. Will the Minister tell the House how this monitoring is to be done?"

Looking further across the world, she raised, among other countries, Saudi Arabia: "I remind the Government of the pledge in the Export Control Act, passed in 2002, not to sell arms to countries that would use them for internal repression or external aggression. Those are also fine words. On this and other issues, when is our country going to practise what it preaches?"

Indeed Baroness Tongue was not alone in challenging the government, and the tenor to this debate reflects that the people are not going to accept the warmongering anti-social policies of the British government imposed by executive dictate.

The Lords itself following this debate also defeated the government with an amendment to the Agriculture Bill requiring food products imported under future trade deals to meet or exceed domestic standards, to prevent farmers in Britain from being undermined.

It was the second defeat for ministers in Tuesday's report stage debate on the legislation, as the Lords earlier backed a move demanding a ban on the use of pesticides near homes and public buildings or spaces, such as schools and hospitals.

This further confirms that the mood in the country is that people are speaking out on these questions and that a new human-centred anti-war direction is needed in international relations and trade. The resistance of the people to the Trade Bill shows that the fight is on to limit the power of the global monopolies to impose trade agreements on society and that the issue is that the people themselves should decide these vital questions.

A day of action by Global Justice and others is being held on October 24. See:


[1] UK Parliament - Second Reading Lords
The protocol states that the "Second reading is the first opportunity for members of the Lords to debate the key principles and main purpose of a bill and to flag up any concerns or specific areas where they think amendments (changes) are needed."

[2] The Necessity to Limit the Power of the Monopolies to Impose Trade Agreements on Society

The Necessity for Trade on an Equal Basis and for Mutual Benefit, Where the People Decide

[3] KEEP TRUMP AWAY FROM OUR NHS: Ten ways to protect the NHS from trade deals

[4] UK Parliament - Lords Debates Trade Bill, 9 September 2020

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