13 January 2022
Harriett Baldwin backs calls to eliminate trade barriers on covid-19 vaccines

Speaking in a debate on global vaccine access, Harriett Baldwin highlights the motion unanimously agreed by the Inter-Parliamentary Union to work with national Governments to eliminate all export restrictions and trade barriers on covid-19 vaccines as we will not be safe until everyone in the world has been vaccinated.

Harriett Baldwin (West Worcestershire) (Con)

I will try to be as quick as possible, Mrs Murray. I congratulate the hon. Member for North East Fife (Wendy Chamberlain) on securing this debate.

I want to report to the House from my privileged position as chair of the British group of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. When we had our first in-person gathering of the Parliaments of the world in Madrid in November, one motion came out top of all of the motions put forward from all the Parliaments in the world. Over several days we were able to come up with a form of words that every single politician from every single Parliament that attended was able to sign up to. I want to share it with the House because it demonstrates the value of the work across Parliaments, and also addresses some of the points that the hon. Lady raised in her opening remarks that would make it difficult for me or perhaps even the Government to support everything that she asked for. If Members look up on the internet the Inter-Parliamentary Union minutes of the meeting, they will find links to the motion. I call upon colleagues to look at that because I do not have enough time to go through all of it.

The motion’s crucial wording is around the issue of the World Trade Organisation. There were German parliamentarians at the IPU who would not have been able to support the TRIPS waiver wording, but parliamentarians did work together and came up with some wording that everyone was happy to endorse. It implores parliamentarians to work with their national Governments to exert a global, collective influence on the World Trade Organisation to eliminate all export restrictions and other trade barriers on covid-19 vaccines and the inputs involved in their production. This issue is so important because, as we heard in the opening remarks, we will not be safe until everyone in the world has been vaccinated. The more parts of the world lag behind us on vaccination rates, the more the virus will be able to mutate.

Extensive covid-19 immunisation is a global public good. Although the Government are doing much good work in this area, I call on them to do even more, because it is so important to our health. It is a development issue; it has never been so obvious to everyone in this country that by helping others around the world, we help ourselves. Let us do it. Please read the motion that we all agreed.