UKLFI: Supporting Israel with legal skills

Bill to Ban BDS by Public Authorities Passed in Commons Committee without Amendment

The UK Government’s Bill to ban BDS by public authorities has passed the Committee Stage in the House of Commons unamended.

A series of amendments tabled by MPs of the opposition Labour, Scottish Nationalist and Liberal parties were rejected or withdrawn.

UKLFI Chief Executive Jonathan Turner gave written and oral evidence to the Committee. His evidence was cited by the Minister, Felicity Buchan MP, in the debate on two of the Bill’s clauses.

Written and oral evidence was given by a number of other organisations and individuals, some for and some against the Bill. The Committee was criticised by some pro-Palestinian organisations for not taking oral evidence from any Palestinian organisation. However, the Committee did hear oral evidence from several organisations sympathetic to the Palestinian cause that opposed the Bill, including the Balfour Project, UNISON, the TUC, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and Richard Hermer KC.

The Bill will now go forward to the Report Stage and Third Reading in the Commons, followed by consideration in the House of Lords.

If passed, the Bill will apply to both procurement and investment decisions of public authorities throughout the UK. It will prohibit them from having regard to a consideration that relates specifically or mainly to a particular foreign territory in a way that indicates that the decision was influenced by disapproval of the conduct or policy of a foreign state authority.

A further section will prohibit public authorities from publishing statements that they intend to contravene the main prohibition or would do so if they could.

The prohibitions are subject to several exceptions set out in the Bill and further exceptions which may be made by a Minister subject to approval by resolutions of each House of Parliament.

Further sections of the Bill provide for enforcement by special enforcement authorities as well as judicial review by the Administrative Court and address the relationship with other legislation.

Jonathan Turner said, “We are very pleased that the Bill has been approved by the Committee without amendment. A majority of the Committee were Conservative MPs, but I think we also won the arguments. We hope that passage of the Bill through the remaining stages will be completed successfully within the next few months.”

Further resources on the Bill: