Thank you for contacting me regarding the recent Trade Bill.
The Conservatives have been running the NHS for 44 of its 71 years, and fundamentally believe it’s there for everyone in the country to rely on free at the point of use.
Claims that the NHS is, or could be, for sale in future trade deals are false. These baseless rumours were started by Jeremy Corbyn, pushed by Labour during the last General Election and were roundly rejected by the public. They have remained part of the opposition’s strategy long after Mr Corbyn has gone. They are nothing more than a disappointing misrepresentation.
To be clear, the NHS will never be on the table. The price the NHS pays for drugs will never be on the table. The services the NHS provides will never be on the table. This also applies to the Devolved Administrations.
The only purpose of the Trade Bill is to ensure continuity, allowing us to transition existing trade agreements that the EU already signed while we were a member. This Bill does not lay the framework for our future trade with countries like the US and cannot be used that way. This is why I voted against NC17 on Monday.
Locally, I continue to work with local CCGs and stakeholders to submit proposals for the redevelopment of the East Leake Health Centre. I have raised the profile of East Leake and local health services in the House of Commons and, in March, called on the Health Secretary to regognise the extraordinary efforts put in by staff during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Regarding imports and food standards, all imports under all trade agreements, whether continuity or future FTAs, will have to comply with our import requirements. The Food Standards Agency and Food Standards Scotland ensure that all food imports comply with the UK’s high safety standards, and that consumers are protected from unsafe food that does not meet those standards.
Decisions on those standards are a matter for the UK and will be made separately from any trade agreements.
In relation to New Clause 4, the Government is a strong advocate for scrutiny in trade and engagement with stakeholders and remains committed to ensuring that every region of the UK benefits in all future trade. The Department for International Trade established Strategic Trade Advisory Groups, as well as sector-specific advisory groups, to bring stakeholders on board in defining our trade policy. The Department for International Trade (DIT) recently launched the Trade and Agriculture Commission, bringing together stakeholders from farming, manufacturing along with environmental, consumer and animal welfare groups to help shape future trade policy. Legislating in the way proposed by these amendments was not necessary and our high food standards will be kept in future trade. You can read about the DIT’s announcement here and my earlier response on the topic of food standards in future trade here.
Provisions already exist so that Parliament can see exactly what we have negotiated, and if it does not agree it can prevent the Government from ratifying the deal.
I hope this gives you some reassurance.