Thank you for contacting me about the Lords ‘anti-genocide’ amendments.
I fully appreciate your concerns and I want to assure you that my opposition to the Lords amendment does not in any way diminish my abhorrence at genocide or my commitment to upholding the UK’s moral and international obligations.
The Lords have put forward two successive amendments on genocide. The first would have enabled the courts to strike down free trade agreements ratified by an elected Parliament. I opposed this amendment on constitutional grounds because the amendment could have upset the balance of power between the institutions of the UK.
The second amendment would have required a debate in Parliament if the courts had made a determination of genocide. I opposed this amendment because of the continued role of the courts. Genocide is notoriously difficult to prove and it is unlikely that a judge would have been able to make a determination of genocide. Such a result would have been a significant propaganda win for accused foreign governments and I did not believe we could take this risk.
I have instead supported the Government’s own amendment on genocide. This states that if a Committee in Parliament publishes a report on the credible existence of genocide, the Government would be required to respond. If the Committee were dissatisfied with the response, there would be a debate and a vote in the House of Commons. There would be no role for the courts and Parliament would take its rightful role at the centre of proceedings.
This is a difficult and emotive issue. No-one in Parliament would condone or turn a blind eye to genocide. The debate at the moment concerns the best mechanism for determining genocide and holding countries to account for their heinous crimes.
Thank you again for contacting me.