The government has seen off a major Tory rebellion mounted to prevent ministers signing trade deals with countries implicated in genocide.
An amendment to the Trade Bill tabled by Conservative MPs Nus Ghani, Iain Duncan Smith and Tim Loughton was on Monday night defeated by 318 votes to 300, slashing the government’s majority of 80 to just 18.
They wanted to establish a parliamentary panel of judicial experts to determine whether any proposed signatory to a trade agreement with the UK had committed genocide, a proposal added to the bill in the House of Lords.
MPs later voted to formally reverse Trade Bill amendments made by peers which had sought to establish the panel, voting 319 to 297, a majority of 22, to disagree with the Lords.
The vote also approved a government compromise amendment.
MPs heard earlier that this will ensure ministers must put their position on record in writing to any select committee publication that raises “credible” reports of genocide in a country with which the UK is proposing a bilateral free trade agreement.
It follows a similar rebellion last month.
Ministers opposed the move arguing it would “blur the distinction between courts and parliament” while the response to concerns over genocide in relation to trade policy was ultimately a “political question”.
However they have faced growing unrest on the Tory benches among MPs concerned about China’s treatment of its Uighur minority in Xinjiang province.