Statement following Economic Activity of Public Bodies (Overseas Matters) Bill Vote

Last night, I made the tough decision to vote against the Economic Activity of Public Bodies (Overseas Matters) Bill. This is not a choice I have made lightly, but I firmly believe it is the right decision for our democracy and society as a whole.

I have been overwhelmed with concerns from hundreds of residents of Brent regarding this Bill, and I would like to express my gratitude to all those who have reached out to me and my office.

The Bill has faced criticism from human rights organisations and lawyers, including high-profile human rights lawyer Richard Hermer KC, who stated, "This poorly drafted Bill is likely to have a detrimental impact on the United Kingdom's ability to protect and promote human rights overseas."

To emphasise the significant dangers of this damaging Bill, Hermer goes on to state that if this Bill were in effect during the 1980s, it would have made it unlawful to refuse to source goods from apartheid South Africa. This method had a profound impact and ultimately contributed to bringing down the regime at the time.

I strongly believe in the autonomy of councils and other public bodies to make decisions regarding the investment of public funds. These decisions must uphold rigorous standards in areas such as the environment, human rights, workers' rights, and international law.

I acknowledge concerns about the potential hindrance to divestment from morally problematic sectors like fossil fuels and fracking, as well as the importance of adopting ethical stances concerning countries with poor human rights records, such as Russia. These are valid concerns that require careful consideration, and I am fully committed to safeguarding the rights of public bodies to make these decisions independently.

I am deeply disappointed that the Labour Party's reasoned amendment did not pass and that this Bill eventually passed its second reading in the House last night. However, please be rest assured that I will continue to be a vocal opposition to this Bill in its current form and Labour's policy is to vote against at third reading.