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Voting Against the Economic Activity of Public Bodies (Overseas Matters) Bill

By 10 January 2024No Comments

Thank you for getting in touch with me with regards to the Economic Activity of Public Bodies (Overseas Matters) Bill which some have described as the ‘Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions Bill’.

The Government’s legislation reached its ‘third reading’ on Wednesday 10 January. I voted against the Bill for a number of strong reasons, which have continued to cause me concern throughout the passage of the Bill.

The Government’s Economic Activity of Public Bodies (Overseas Matters) Bill, enacts a 2019 Conservative Manifesto promise to stop public bodies from adopting their own approach to foreign policy through individual boycotts, sanctions and divestment.

I have previously set out my concerns to constituents who have got in touch with regards to the legislation in its current form, and Labour has tabled serious proposals to address the problems with the Bill but Government Ministers have refused to constructively engage with these.

While recognising the problem this Bill is seeking to solve, it is clear the solution offered by the Government has been ill-thought out.

The Bill contains a number of provisions I am deeply concerned by: from its draconian restrictions on free speech, its threat to actions in support of persecuted people across the world, to its roughshod approach to devolution.

The legislation in its current form is also incompatible with international law and UN Security Council Resolutions.

That’s why, having these long-held views, I voted against this deeply damaging Bill at Third Reading.

Labour believes public bodies should be able to take ethical decisions, but these decisions must be based on consistent principles applied equally to all countries rather than singling out individual nations. Such decisions should be consistent with public bodies’ investment and procurement policies and in line with government guidance.

I will continue to call on Government to constructively engage and consider the damage this legislation could have on the international community’s efforts to achieve a sustained ceasefire as the only means by which civilians can be protected, prevent displacement, ensure humanitarian access and the release of remaining hostages.

More broadly, you can read more about my extensive and meaningful actions relating to the ongoing and hugely concerning situation in Israel and Gaza here.

Stephen Morgan MP