I have had a number of emails about the Trade Bill and the NHS, following Labour’s amendment which claimed to ‘protect the NHS and publicly funded health and care services in other parts of the UK from any form of control from outside the UK.’
I voted against this amendment because it was not germane to the Bill. The Bill concerns trade continuity, namely the continuation of trade deals with third countries which we have enjoyed as members of the EU. It has nothing to do with future trade deals, which is where Labour claim to see a threat to the NHS.
This threat does not exist. The purpose of Labour’s amendment - to protect our NHS - is already met by repeated statements of government policy, including the Manifesto we were elected on. When we are negotiating trade deals, the NHS will not be on the table. The price the NHS pays for drugs will not be on the table. The services the NHS provides will not be on the table. And every trade deal will have to come before Parliament anyway.
Labour know very well that the Government has no plans to ‘sell off’ the NHS, or put health services under foreign control. They are simply using Parliamentary procedures to force a vote on questions which they know are irrelevant to the legislation, but where the Government voting ‘No’ gives them a cheap stick to beat us with.
The business of legislation is more serious than this. The law of the land should not be encumbered with unnecessary and meaningless declarations, even if they sound nice. That is why I voted against Labour’s amendment.