The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and the impact this could have on public services, including the NHS.
Let me start by saying that I support the principles behind TTIP - the free trade agreement that is currently being negotiated between the USA and the EU. These are, of course, the UK's two largest markets and I believe that TTIP has the potential to bring significant benefits, including removing trade barriers, boosting growth and creating jobs.
It is also crucial, though, that the benefits of TTIP filter down to employees, small businesses and consumers, that the deal is open and accountable and that it raises or at least maintains labour, consumer, environmental and safety standards.
I also share the concerns that many constituents have raised about the impact that TTIP could have on public services - particularly the NHS. I believe that the NHS and public services need to be more, not less, integrated and I am concerned at the worrying fragmentation of health services that is taking place under this Government. That is why I believe that the NHS should be exempt from the agreement and that the Government should now push for this exemption.
I know that there is also considerable concern about the proposed inclusion of Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions in the TTIP deal. I believe that governments should be able to legislate in the public interest and that this should be protected in any dispute resolution mechanisms. I also believe there needs to be far greater transparency in this area and that while the EU Commission has recently instigated some welcome changes on this, they can and must go further.
I hope that the Government now listen and respond to these concerns and ensure that TTIP delivers the jobs, growth and fairer deal for consumers that we all want to see.
Karen Buck MP