The move aims to stop councils from introducing restrictions on the companies and countries they use, if it is against the Government’s position.
The Government’s latest plans will require local authorities by law to treat suppliers fairly and in line with the British Government’s policies.
It would mean that no council could boycott any country or industry unless restrictions have already been put in place by the Government. This follows rules set by the World Trade Organisation requiring all member countries to treat suppliers equally and without prejudice.
The Cabinet Office first published guidance in February 2016 to curtail anti-Israel boycotts by publicly funded bodies, and rules were introduced to prevent councils from using local government pension policies to conduct boycotts.
Today’s announcement applies to councils, and would make following the British Government’s foreign policies a legal requirement when buying goods and services – effectively outlawing locally-imposed boycotts.
Communities Secretary, Rt. Hon. Sajid Javid MP, said: “We need to challenge and prevent divisive town hall boycotts which undermine good community relations. No council should be boycotting any company or country unnecessarily – instead their main focus should be delivering the value for money taxpayers rightly expect. We will clampdown on these inappropriate and needless boycotts once and for all”.
Mr Javid also confirmed that he would look to put Government guidance published in February 2016 on a legal footing to make clear that councils should not introduce boycotts of countries or companies when making procurement decisions.
Similar boycotts have led to the removal of Kosher food from the shelves of supermarkets, or calls for Jewish films to be banned.
CFI Parliamentary Chairman Rt. Hon. Sir Eric Pickles MP welcomed the announcement: “Attempts to boycott Israel are bad for Israelis, Palestinians, and the British economy, and are deeply damaging to community relations. These new regulations are to be warmly welcomed. The measures will further prevent politically-motivated council boycotts, which run counter to Government foreign policy”.