Read Norman Lamb's letter to constituents concerning the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations.
1 December 2015
Re: Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)
Thank you for your email regarding the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations.
I can assure you that the Liberal Democrats are passionately committed to the principles of the NHS: a taxpayer funded system, free at the point of use with access to healthcare based on need, not ability to pay. The UK's NHS is the envy of the world and Liberal Democrats want to keep it that way.
We are committed to ensuring that the NHS is not put at the mercy of vested interests. During the Coalition Government, Vince Cable, former Secretary of State, raised concerns with other Government ministers about the need for real transparency during the TTIP negotiations and said it was critical to ensure that the public's concerns were addressed. Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder has also criticised the ISDS system, calling it 'seriously flawed'.
After having made representations of these concerns at the European level, the UK now has a clear guarantee from European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström that under TTIP:
- Member states do not have to open public health services to competition from private providers, nor do they have to outsource services to private providers.
- EU member states will continue to manage their public services however they see fit.
- Any outsourcing of public services to private providers will not mean that those services are forever part of the commercial sector - as they are still funded by the public purse.
The Commissioner's full written guarantee, sent to the then Minister of State Lord Livingston, can be viewed online by visiting http://bit.ly/15Oe2eK
For TTIP to work, it needs the confidence of businesses and the people of the countries involved. The current ISDS system needs radical reform as its secretive tribunals and private arbitration often give too much power to multinational corporations and undermine the democratic process. Catherine Bearder MEP and other Liberal members of the European Parliament have voted strongly in favour of removing these provisions from TTIP, to stop private companies from suing governments behind closed doors, because of changes in their policies. Liberal Democrats believe the EU should lead the way in replacing the flawed ISDS system, with a public International Investment Court, guaranteeing that the State's 'right to regulate' takes priority over an investor's 'right to invest'. This will ensure that companies cannot hold governments to ransom or try to bully them into changing policy.
If the EU reaches an agreement with the US in principle, that agreement will be sent to the 28 EU national governments which must unanimously agree to the final deal. If just one EU country deems the TTIP deal unacceptable, they can withhold their consent and the agreement will fall. I am clear that if the version of TTIP which is brought before Parliament would jeopardise the free and public nature of the NHS, then the Liberal Democrats will not support it.
With best wishes.
The Rt Hon Norman Lamb
Member of Parliament for North Norfolk