By Lucette Davies
East Sussex Save the NHS has been campaigning to ensure our NHS is protected in future Trade Agreements. A Trade Bill has been making its way through Parliament that will decide on how the UK forms Trade Agreements with other nations after Brexit.
It all sounds quite theoretical and dry but in fact trade agreements can have huge implications on employment rights, health, food safety and democracy. These agreements normally negotiated in secret can result in foreign corporations suing our Government if anything gets in the way of their profits.
Trade agreements aim to allow businesses from trading partners to operate freely across borders. They would normally reduce down any regulatory standards in both nations to the lowest common denominator. Which is why many people who are opposed to the US-UK trade agreement have talked about chlorinated chickens. In America where food hygiene standards are lower than here, they dip chickens into chlorine to remove any bacteria they may have on them. A US-UK trade deal would allow US business to import their chlorinated chickens to the UK.
It is a US-UK trade agreement that has given NHS campaigners the most nightmares. We know US corporations are desperate to get a foothold in our NHS. They have bled America dry and want to do the same here.
Unless we have an amendment to the Trade Bill that protects the NHS in future Trade Agreements our NHS may soon be taking its final breath. Various amendments have been proposed but every time the Commons have voted against them including our own MP, Caroline Ansell.
We don’t want US corporations or any other foreign corporations granted the right to sue our Government for something like increasing minimum wage. We don’t want to be like Romania who found a Canadian company suing their Government for 5.7bn US$ after locals fought plans to build a gold mine. This right to sue can last for another 20 years even if a Government ends the Trade Agreement.
We will continue to call for our NHS to be restored to the publicly owned and publicly provided service it started out as. This is the most efficient and equitable means of delivering healthcare to the nation. We don’t want to see our Government sued if they ever renationalise the service.
We have written many times to Caroline Ansell calling on her to vote in favour of amendments to protect the NHS. Every time she has voted against. But she has another chance coming up when an amendment from the Lords returns to the Commons for approval.
This amendment from the Lords would mean trade agreements must be presented to parliament for scrutiny before being signed. It also states that trade agreements must include a plan to maintain UK levels of statutory protection on health and human rights amongst other things.
Please call on Caroline Ansell, write to her and make it clear she was not elected to destroy our NHS.
Caroline please, this time do the right thing.