15th October 2014
In recent days I have been contacted by thousands of constituents regarding the EU/USA Trade Deal, officially known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Unfortunately, various left wing pressure groups have propagated a number of lies that have misled people about TTIP.
The purpose of TTIP is to remove as many unnecessary barriers as possible to trade between the EU and the USA. A successful agreement could add £10 billion to our economy every year, benefitting an average family of four by an extra £400 per year. It will do this through:
• Lower prices
• Greater choice of products and suppliers
• Easier online purchases from the US
• Stronger Consumer Protection when buying from the US
Let me now deal with some of the most common scare stories:
TTIP will NOT lower our food standards. It is not true that TTIP will allow genetically modified foods and hormone beef from the US to enter our supermarkets. What is illegal here will remain illegal.
TTIP will NOT change the way the NHS is run. It will remain for the UK Government to decide how all public services, including the NHS, are run. Access to NHS services will continue to be based on patients’ needs, not ability to pay. Local NHS commissioners will remain in charge of deciding who should provide services in the best interests of patients. It is up to each member state, not the EU or any provision in TTIP, to determine whether or not to open up public services to competition.
TTIP does NOT give businesses a carte blanche to sue the Government. The EU has made it clear that the freedom of national governments to regulate would be explicitly protected. The Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions being discussed cannot overturn our laws. Their purpose is to protect investors from discriminatory treatment from Governments. An example would be if a company won a seven year contract for a rail franchise, invested money in new rolling stock and then after only 2 years the Government cancelled the franchise. This could potentially be a breach of contract and lead to a hearing before an International Court of Arbitration, such as the one in London.
The UK already has over 90 bilateral investment agreements in place, the majority of which include similar provisions, and has never lost a case. The Commission recognises that there are public concerns about the lack of transparency of these settlement arrangements and has therefore launched a public consultation to inform its position.
To be clear, there is nothing in this proposed agreement that would weaken environmental regulation, lead to the privatisation of the NHS or allow private companies to overturn laws made by democratically elected governments. Anyone who says otherwise is simply trying to scaremonger. I can only assume that the benefits TTIP would bring are being deliberately ignored in an effort to score political points. TTIP has the potential to boost the British economy and create jobs.
I am a supporter of Free Trade. I hope that the TTIP negotiations are successful and I look forward to voting for it.