MPs demand NHS clauses go from EU-US trade deal

Charlotte Henry
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TTIP sparked protests on both sides of the Atlantic
A POWERFUL group of MPs has told the government to drop one of the most controversial aspects from the Trans­atlantic Trade and Investment Part­ner­ship (TTIP), between the EU and the US.

The business, innovation and skills (BIS) select committee reported that investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS) clauses, which could allow companies to override local laws by suing EU governments in international courts, should not be included in the final agreement.

The ISDS clause was suspended in January pending EU negotiation.

Some opponents fear inclusion could lead to NHS privatisation, although trade minister Lord Livingstone has said the NHS is not covered by TTIP.

Adrian Bailey, a Labour MP and the chair of the committee, said: “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 – and the right to expand them in the future – is set out in any ISDS provisions.”

The committee said TTIP could benefit the UK, but both sides have clouded the debate. Bailey added: “Too much of the debate on TTIP has been based on oversimplification and misrepresentation of arguments, saying both sides were guilty “dog-whistle politics”.

John Longworth, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “Businesses strongly support the principle of free trade between the EU and the US. Many will agree with the BIS committee, that there is still a lack of clarity around how TTIP would work in practice.”

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