I have had many constituents contact me with their concerns regarding the current TTIP negotiations for a new Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the EU and USA. I know that this is an issue that concerns many voters across the constituency and it is one of the reasons that I organised a public meeting about it at the end of last year. I share many of your concerns about the way in which these negotiations have been conducted and the scale of the impact on our key public services both now and in the future.
Until parliament was dissolved at the end of March, I was a member of the Business Innovation and Skills Committee, which recently produced a major report on a number of key issues in the current negotiations, including protection of our NHS and public services and the controversial Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) clauses. The Committee also criticised the UK Government of its lack of public engagement and its over reliance on estimated benefits – you can read the full report at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmselect/cmbis/804/80402.htm and my analysis at https://www.politicshome.com/economy-and-work/articles/opinion/house-commons/ann-mckechin-mp-it%E2%80%99s-time-government-talk-british
I believe, as does the TUC, there are ways the agreement could bring significant benefits to Britain, including removing trade barriers between our two most important markets, boosting growth and creating jobs. It is crucial, however, that the benefits of TTIP filter down to employees, small businesses and consumers, that the deal is open and accountable and that it does not water down current labour, consumer, environmental and food safety standards.
I also believe we should only support a deal that fully protects public services – in particular the NHS. Our 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 Tory led Government. That is why I believe the Government should commit, as the Labour Party has made clear, to exempt the NHS and our public services from any final deal.
I know particular concern has also been expressed about the proposed inclusion of Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions in TTIP. I am not convinced that the proposed ISDS mechanism is either necessary or desirable in its current form and believe there needs to be greater transparency on this. The European Commission’s public consultation on ISDS was welcome and it is right that the European Commission has decided to temporarily suspend negotiations on ISDS until the final stages of the negotiations. I hope the Government will use this opportunity to call for far greater transparency and ensure that the interests of voters are fully protected.