The Public Whip has a detailed record of Mark Lazarowicz’s votes. To his credit, he voted against the declaration of war with Iraq, and supported a failed motion stating that “the case for war against Iraq has not yet been established, especially given the absence of specific United Nations authorisation“. That, however, is pretty much the extent of his rebellion.
Moving on to the issue of fair trade, the motion put forward and supported by the bulk of opposition MPs is extremely broad, but generally of the view that not enough has been done to encourage fairer international trade:
I beg to move,
That this House shares the concern of the Trade Justice Movement about the plight of the poorest people in the world, and congratulates the Movement on bringing their conditions to the attention of the public; notes with concern the fact that a billion people live on less than a dollar a day, that life expectancy in many African countries is declining, and that 30 million people in Africa have HIV/AIDS; believes that rising levels of international trade and trade liberalisation offer the best hope of alleviating poverty in the developing world; calls for high quality legal and economic advice for developing countries on trade issues; further believes that the Government has failed to do enough to promote trade liberalisation, to reform agricultural subsidies and to phase out European trade barriers; and further calls on the Government to use the World Trade Organisation meeting at Cancun to do more to reform the international trade rules to give poor countries a fair deal on international trade.
But the Labour party puts forward this self-congratulatory motion instead:
I beg to move, To leave out from “House” to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof:
“congratulates the Trade Justice Movement on bringing the plight of the poorest people in the world to the attention of the public; notes with concern the fact that a billion people live on less than a dollar a day, that life expectancy in many African countries is declining, and that 30 million people in Africa have HIV/AIDS; reaffirms the commitment made in the 2000 White Paper “Eliminating World Poverty: A Challenge for the 21st Century” to improving international trade rules so that they work for all countries, and especially the poorest, in helping to reduce poverty; notes that the successful pursuit of trade reform through the Doha round of multilateral negotiations could contribute substantially to the Millennium Development Goals; welcomes the substantial efforts the Government is making to promote trade liberalisation, reform agricultural subsidies and phase out European trade barriers; believes that significant progress must be made to improve access for developing countries to developed country markets; further believes that a solution to the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and public health negotiations is urgently needed; and welcomes the commitment to ensuring that the Doha round produces real benefits for the poor.”
As I summarised in a previous post, Mark Lazarowicz “supported trade justice and international development, backs Labour’s 0.7% target for overseas aid”. But in this instance, he toes the party line. I think trade justice is one of those issues which the government should never get complacent on. The gulf is so wide that any little improvement is quickly submerged by the overwhelming lack of workers’ rights, dictatorial regimes, trade barriers, falling raw material prices, and the general abuse of poor nations by MNCs and other first world countries. Sure, I too welcome the government’s efforts, but I want more, dammit! Labour cannot afford to pat itself on the back, and a well-meaning MP should have voted for the first, not the second, motion. All the recent campaigning has been about very local, domestic issues. Shouldn’t we be bothered about where the parties stand on issues like fair trade and eradicating poverty?
Noticed an odd thing while browsing the ‘Criminal Justice Bill’ votes: the Tories mainly abstained on most votes. Why was that?