Thursday, 4 December 2014

Stephen Metcalfe MP: seeks reassurances from Government over NHS privatization

This week, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock Stephen Metcalfe has spoken in Parliament to seek reassurances over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and its potential impact on the NHS.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (or TTIP) is a trade agreement currently in negotiation between EU nations and American partners designed to reduce the barriers and red-tape that are known to make it difficult for businesses to invest in UK infrastructure. It will also help to ensure that businesses have the right to be treated fairly in their dealings with Governments.

Although this agreement has the potential to deliver £10 billion to the UK economy each year, critics have accused the Government of allowing TTIP to open up the NHS to privatization. 

Stephen Metcalfe, seeking reassurances on the subject, rose to the floor of the House of Commons, and asked the Minister for Europe to confirm that “signing up to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is not the start of privatisation of the NHS?”

The Minister David Lidington replied, “I can absolutely confirm that to my hon. Friend. In early October, both the United States and EU chief negotiators made it clear in public statements that there would be no provisions in the trade agreement that would limit the ability of Governments to regulate health provision or other public services.”

Stephen Metcalfe later commented: “I believe it was worth taking the time to seek reassurances from the Government on this issue so that we can begin to dispel some myths.”

“I have said it before and I’ll say it again, the Conservatives are absolutely committed to the founding principles of the NHS - that care is free at the point of use based on need, not on the ability to pay. There is nothing in the TTIP that would change the fact that it is up to the UK Government to decide how public services are run and it is up Parliament to vote on how the NHS conducts its work.” 

“I know that my constituents will be pleased to hear the reassurances by the Minister that the fundamental principles of the NHS are not in threat. The truth, is that if they were in threat, then I nor my Conservative colleagues would support the proposed partnership.”