Alistair Carmichael, MP for Orkney and Shetland, challenged the International Trade Secretary, Liam Fox MP, to ensure that trade deals signed by the UK Government after Brexit, match our values as a nation. Raising the case of Hikvision, a security equipment company which provides surveillance cameras, Mr. Carmichael called on the Minister to not encourage that type of corporate practice.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr. Carmichael said:
“The persecution and mass incarceration of the Uyghur community in Xinjiang province of China is something that is facilitated by companies such as Hikvision, who manufacture and supply much of the surveillance equipment which is used there. Hikvision have an expanding presence in this country. Can the Secretary of State assure me that the trade deals we may have post-Brexit are not going to be encouraging companies of this nature?”
Responding on behalf of the Government, the Secretary of State for International Trade, The Rt. Hon. Dr Liam Fox MP, said:
“Any future trade agreements that we have beyond the European Union will be subject to public consultation, they will be subject to debate in this house, and I hope rigorous processes that I may set out in due course about how we can actually increase the scrutiny of those agreements. Members across the House will have different types of emphasis on different constituencies, and different sectors of the economy, and indeed, I think the whole house will share those concerns about ethics, and I hope that the design of the scrutiny we will have on those trade agreements which I will bring to the house in greater detail soon will give him the reassurance he seeks.”
Speaking after the exchange, Mr. Carmichael added:
“It is good to hear that the Minister takes this issue very seriously, and I look forward to seeing his proposals for ensuing our values are delivered in all future trade deals.
“Of course, the Minister’s warm words here contrast somewhat with the actions of the Prime Minister, who was the first UK Prime Minister to not raise Human Rights concerns with the Chinese Government on her recent visit there.
“There is more pressure we can put on the Chinese Government, and human rights abusers around the world, to ensure that we are not passively facilitating gross abuses of individual freedoms, like has been experienced by the Uyghur people.”