A warning about Patricia Hewitt, chair of the UK India Business Council

CHSUK wonders if a warning should be given about the character and policies of former Labour cabinet minister Patricia Hewitt, who now chairs the UK India Business Council. She accompanied the Prime Minister on his trade mission, saying  “India, one of the world’s most exciting and fast-growing economies, offers opportunities that no British business can afford to neglect, particularly as we emerge from the global financial crisis.” 

Character 

Ms Hewitt was recently suspended from the Parliamentary Labour Party after being secretly filmed by the Channel 4 programme Dispatches agreeing to accept money from lobbying companies. See video. 

Earlier she had worked with the other disgraced minister Geoff Hoon, to set up a secret deal worth £1 billion to sell arms to Thailand in return for promoting food that has been linked to cancer-causing chemicals. 

Though he has accompanied her on the Cameron visit without visible misgivings, coalition minister Vince Cable commented at the time: 

“Linking arms sales with food production gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “swords to ploughshares”. 

Policies 

We see a gameplan which will damage India’s food security and the lot of its small farmers. In 2003 as UK trade minister she spoke of the enormous scope for developing a partnership that brings together the expertise of UK’s food production and agricultural sector with India’s agri-business industry. 

She advocated the opening of the UK’s markets to products such as roses and mushrooms from India [products regularly grown in UK]. This is part of the trade exploitation which would harm UK producers and hope to commandeer large tracts of India’s fertile land for export led production. 

If India allowed this and also imported American staples it could be subject to food export/import embargoes whenever it was deemed politically advisable. 

Well-governed countries with enough fertile land would do all in their power to meet their citizens’ needs for food.

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