While I support the principles behind TTIP - the free trade agreement that is currently being negotiated between the USA and the EU - as it has huge potential to create jobs, improve wages and deliver a better deal for consumers. It is also supported by the TUC, the CBI and many consumer groups and would strengthen the trade relationship between our two most important markets. (These negotiations also show once again how important our membership of the EU is for British trade, businesses and consumers and that the UK's national interest lies at the heart of a reformed EU). It is crucial, though that:
. the benefits of TTIP filter down to employees, small businesses and consumers,
. that the deal is open and accountable,
. that it respects environmental concerns
and that national Governments can still act in their own interests.
I also share the concerns that many constituents have raised about the impact that TTIP could have on public services - particularly the NHS - which would potentially allow investors to bring proceedings against any foreign government that signs the treaty.
I believe that the NHS and all public services need to be more, not less, integrated and I am concerned that including public services in the final TTIP could increase the fragmentation of health services that is already taking place under this Government. That is why I believe that the NHS and public services should not be included in any final TTIP agreement.
I also have wider concerns about the Government's recent changes to the NHS, which have increased competition and fragmentation in one of our most cherished public services. That is why I opposed these changes when they were debated in Parliament and why I welcome the commitment by the Shadow Frontbench that a future Labour Government would repeal the current Government's 2012 Health and Social Care Act.
I hope that the Government listen to these very serious concerns and ensure that this agreement can deliver real benefits for UK jobs, businesses, workers and consumers.
Karen Buck MP