Wirral MP: Government should legislate to protect our NHS as a public service in future trade agreements

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22 Jan 2021
Margaret Greenwood MP urged colleagues to back an amendment to the government’s Trade Bill that would provide for protection against the undermining of the ability of government to deliver free and universal public health and care services. 

Speaking in a debate in the House of Commons, in which MPs were considering amendments to the Trade Bill from the House of Lords, the Wirral West MP said: “The fact that the Government will not commit in legislation to protect our NHS is worrying for us all. It is time for Members across this House to show their support for the NHS and those who work in it by voting for the amendment.” 

Margaret Greenwood also used her speech to call on MPs to support amendments that would: 

Provide vital parliamentary scrutiny obligations preventing the UK from signing a free trade agreement unless a draft of the agreement had been laid before and approved by both Houses of Parliament. 

Require the Secretary of State to establish a code of practice setting out how a Minister should maintain standards in certain areas, including the environment, animal welfare and food standards, where they are likely to be affected by a proposed international trade agreement.  

However, all of these amendments were defeated by government MPs. 

Speaking after the debate, Margaret Greenwood MP said: 

“I am very concerned by the government’s refusal to commit in legislation to protecting our NHS. 

“It is also very worrying that the government refused to back amendments which were designed to protect human rights and UK standards on the environment, animal welfare and food quality. 

“More than a million people have signed a National Farmers Union petition that calls on  the Government to ‘ ensure that all food eaten in the UK…is produced in a way that matches the high standards of production expected of UK farmers’. This is clearly a matter that people feel strongly about and ministers should be listening to the public. 

“Government MPs also blocked an amendment to give MPs more scrutiny of trade deals with other countries. The Trade Justice Movement has already pointed out that our processes for scrutinising trade agreements lag behind those of the US, the EU and other countries.” 

“The government had a real chance here to show that it is committed to protecting environmental and animal welfare standards, human rights and defending our NHS in future trade agreements. It has failed to do so.” 

You can watch Margaret Greenwood MP’s contribution to the debate here: https://tinyurl.com/y4aaf7xm.  

You can read the text of her speech here: https://tinyurl.com/y2munn6q.