Economic Activity of Public Bodies (Overseas Matters) Bill

The House debated and voted on the Opposition’s reasoned amendment and the Third Reading of the Economic Activity of Public Bodies (Overseas Matters) Bill on Wednesday 10 January 2024. The Bill seeks to prevent public bodies from making procurement and investment decisions – such as direct or indirect boycotts, disinvestment, or sanctions (BDS) campaigns – based on their own moral or political disapproval of a foreign authority.

The Opposition tabled a reasoned amendment in the name of Sir Keir Starmer which would add the following text to the Bill:

“this House, while opposing any discrimination or prejudice in the economic activities of public bodies, believing that all such bodies must act without bias or selectivity when making ethical decisions on procurement and investment and recognising the impact selective and biased campaigns have had on the Jewish community in particular, declines to give a Third Reading to the Economic Activity of Public Bodies (Overseas Matters) Bill because it does not effectively address the problem it rightly seeks to solve, is incompatible with international law and UN Security Council Resolutions, risks undermining support for groups around the world facing persecution, includes needlessly broad and sweeping draconian powers while placing unprecedented restrictions on public bodies to express a view on current and proposed policy and represents a major departure from the UK Government’s long-established diplomatic position on the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Golan Heights, in a way that undermines the UK’s future credibility and capacity to support diplomatic negotiations towards a just and lasting peace in Israel and Palestine based on a two-state solution, at a time when consistent support for that objective is more important than ever.” 

I voted in favour of the reasoned amendment which was defeated  Ayes 228: Noes 284.

I voted No on the Third Reading of the Bill but this passed Ayes 282: Noes 235.

The Bill has now moved to the House of Lords where it will have its 1st Reading tomorrow, 11 January 2024.