A future government must be allowed to expand theÂ NHSÂ without facing legal challenge under a proposed new EU-US trade deal, according to a sharply critical report from an all-party committee of MPs. The Business, Innovation and Skills committee said the government needed stronger evidence to back up its claim that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) would bring a boost of ÂŁ100bn a year to the UK.
It also said the case had not been made for the highly controversial investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS), the provision that would allow private investors to sue governments for the loss of future profits caused by decisions made by national parliaments.
Adrian Bailey, the BIS committee chair, said TTIP had the potential to help the UK economy and criticised the â€śdog whistleâ€ť politics used by both supporters and opponents of the deal. â€śMore detail needs to be made available to allow greater public scrutiny of this extensive trade agreement,â€ť Bailey said. â€śCampaigners, lobbyists, business groups, government and the European commission also need to do more to engage with the evidence rather than make unsupported claims about the benefits or risks ofÂ TTIP.â€ť
The report added that MPs were â€śdeeply concernedâ€ť about the governmentâ€™s intention not to submit a formal response to the ECâ€™s consultation on ISDS provisions. â€śConcerns have been raised about ISDS provisions in TTIP. We are not convinced the case has been made for the inclusion of ISDS clauses and we urge the government to set out a clear statement guaranteeing the protection of public services at present â€“ and the right to expand them in the future â€“ is set out in any ISDS provisions,â€ť the report said.
BIS said the government wanted to put to bed the myths that surrounded TTIP. â€śNational governments set the rules about which companies can run NHS clinical services. These rules have never been, and will never be, set by trade deals such as TTIP. The European commission has repeatedly confirmed that this is the case.â€ť
Polly Jones, head of campaigns and policy at Global Justice Now, said: â€śThe BIS report shares the concerns of the general public on TTIP â€“ the secrecy, ISDS, the lack of evidence to substantiate the benefits, and the threat to public services. It demonstrates once more that the government is out of step in aggressively pushing this controversial trade deal.â€ť
Poscript: Welcoming the report on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) by the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee , TUC General SecretaryÂ Frances Oâ€™GradyÂ said:
â€śMPs areÂ right to demand that the protectionÂ of the NHS and public services should be put beyond doubt by writing it in to the deal rather than just relying on theÂ assurancesÂ of ministers andÂ EUÂ commissioners.Â The TUC also agrees withÂ the MPs’ callÂ forÂ a sector by sector assessmentÂ of the potential risks and benefitsÂ of TTIP.
â€śThe governmentÂ shouldÂ respond to the MPs’ view that the case for includingÂ Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) has not been madeÂ by scrapping thisÂ undemocratic and unfair preferential treatment for foreign investors.â€ť