Response from Kate Green, Labour MP for Stretford and Urmston

Good afternoon

Thank you for your recent email about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the free-trade agreement that is currently being negotiated between the USA and the EU. I know that there are very strong concerns about some aspects of the TTIP and I have been passing on those concerns to my colleagues.

Firstly, with regard to the Backbench Business Debate taking place today, I‘m afraid I am unable to take part due to commitments in the constituency but I am really pleased that this important issue is being debated in Parliament and very strongly agree that the proposals require complete transparency and robust scrutiny at both UK and EU level.

I want to make clear first of all that the TTIP, a trade agreement between the US, the world’s largest economy, and the largest single market, the EU, really does have the potential to bring significant benefits. Europe and the United States are the UKs’ most important markets today. Indeed, the US is the UK’s biggest export market and likewise the UK economy attracts a significant level of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) from across the Atlantic. That’s why Labour is supporting the basic principles behind these negotiations in recognition that more and better trade is good for the UK. From a US perspective the US unions are pressing to get EU levels of rights and protection in areas such as employment, so it has the potential to create equal measures across the Atlantic in solidarity with the US unions.

However, we do have four main areas of concern:

Public services: we share the concerns about the impact that TTIP could have on public services encouraging commercialisation, particularly in the NHS. Labour believes that the NHS and all public services need to be more, not less, integrated. That is why we believe that the NHS and other public services should be exempt from the agreement. Other countries are seeking to exempt such areas from the agreement but our Tory-led Government has not done this. Labour will continue to press for exemption.
Investor State Dispute Resolution (ISDS): this is a dispute mechanism, already used in trade agreements and bilateral investment treaties. It allows investors to take proceedings against a government that is party to that trade agreement. If the government is found to be in breach of the obligations, the investor can receive redress. There is a major concern that the ISDS provisions could hinder our plans to reverse the privatisation of the NHS as it could result in those companies seeking compensation for loss of potential earnings. We believe that it is a right of governments to be able to legislate in the public interest and this should be protected effectively in any dispute resolution mechanisms. The European Commission has instigated several changes which have improved the transparency of the agreement, however it can and must go further. That is why Labour has been calling for far greater transparency around an exclusion for legislation in the public interest, like the NHS or food safety regulations.
Standards: the benefits of any treaty must filter down to employees and consumers. Treaties can cement and even increase labour, consumer, environmental and safety standards. Concerns have been raised that TTIP could reduce standards, although the principle behind the treaty is to keep or raise standards rather than reduce them. Labour will only support an agreement that avoids a race to the bottom and promotes decent jobs and growth with robust safeguarded standards on environmental, labour, safety and consumer issues
Non-inclusion of the US States: A significant stumbling block has been raised that the US states are not covered by the agreement and therefore procurement will not opened up. This mean we could be at a disadvantage as our markets are opened up but not to the same extent in the US. This is important because significant procurement spend in the US is at the State level.
A number of worries similar to our own have been raised by other member states and these have to be reflected to secure agreement and taken on board by the new Trade Commissioner.

So, the TIIP is a trade deal as is the one the EU has just signed with Canada, Korea and Columbia. It’s also the same as the negotiations with India and other nations, but Labour will not support it at UK or EU level if ISDS is included and if the general exemption for public services is not included.

I hope this is helpful and outlines our position with regard to TTIP.

Kind regards

Kate Green

Kate Green MP
Labour Member of Parliament for Stretford and Urmston

Parliamentary office tel:
020 7219 7162
Constituency office tel:
0161 749 9120
http://www.kategreen.org

If you have a response from your MP on TTIP, please email it to stopTTIP.MCR@ gmail.com. Thanks!

Response from Mark Hunter MP for Stockport

MARK HUNTER MP

Dear Mr _____

Many thanks for contacting me regarding the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) debate which took place In Parliament yesterday. After a largely well-informed and consensual debate, no vote took place. I fully agree that this important issue should be subject to close scrutiny in the UK Parliament: transparency on such matters is always important.

On balance, Liberal Democrats support the TTIP negotiations, which could be a once in a generation opportunity for the UK. Indeed, it is our party policy — agreed at Spring Conference last year – to ensure the success of TTIP and to pursue global and bilateral trade agreements.

TTIP is being designed to bring significant benefits to individuals and benefits by removing as many unnecessary barriers as possible, much in the same way as the EU Single Market has done over the past few decades.

First and foremost, it is important to realise that no trade or investment agreement has ever been negotiated by publishing in advance every piece of negotiating text to the general public and to do so would make any negotiation with other parties impossible. However, its important that the TTIP negotiations are as open as possible and that people get the chance to raise their concerns. The next formal negotiating round is about to get underway with even greater emphasis on transparency and scrutiny. The EU Trade Commissioner is making public more EU negotiating documents already available to MEPS and is classifying fewer documents as ‘restricted’.

MPs here in the UK have submitted many Parliamentary Questions about TTIP and there
have been two separate backbench business debates specifically on it. There has been a
House of Lords EU Committee Report on TTIP, as well as a House of Commons Scrutiny
Committee session which questioned the Minister responsible. TTIP was discussed in the
debate on the National Health Service Bill in November and the BIS Select Committee is
currently undertaking an inquiry into TTIP.

Constituency Office: Hillson House. 3 Gillbent Road, Cheadle Hulme,Cheadle, SK8 7LE
Tel: 0161 486 1359
Westminster Ofifice: Tel: 020 7219 3889
Email: mark.hunter.mp@parliarnent.uk
http://www.markhunter.org.uk

If you have any letters from MPs please send your responses to stopTTIP.MCR@ gmail.com so we can add these to our website. Thanks!

Public seminar on TTIP

The secret threat to democracyIT SHOULDN’T BE A SECRET… WHY NOT COME AND FIND OUT MORE ABOUT TTIP?

Standards in Multiple Authorities: revisiting the transatlantic divide

A Manchester Jean Monet Centre of Excellence seminar on the current trade negotiations between the EU and the USA.

2-3pm, 12th November at 2.2
Roscoe Building 2.2, University of Manchester

Speaker: Dr. Jean-Christophe Graz from the University of Lausanne

 

Manchester Policy Week debate on TTIP

LOGO7-9pm, Tuesday 4th November

CASH BONANZA OR RISKY DEAL? Panel Discussion and Public Debate

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (or TTIP) has provoked intense public debate in the UK and further afield. Advocates claim that it will significantly boost growth, while critics argue that it will lead to the erosion of hard-fought social and environmental protections. But who is right when it comes to TTIP?

Speakers: Polly Jones, Head of Policy and Campaigns, World Development Movement Clive George, Visiting Professor, College of Europe, Bruges and author of The Truth About Trade (Zed Books) Gabriel Siles-Brügge, Lecturer in Politics, The University of Manchester David Henig, Assistant Director, Department of Business Innovation and Skills (BIS)

Venue: Nowgen Centre, 29 Grafton St, University of Manchester M13 9WU
Organisers: Politics Department
Contact: Louise Pemberton (louise.pemberton@manchester.ac.uk)
Please register HERE
Price: Free

Saturday 11th October is the International Day of Action against TTIP!

londonTomorrow Stop TTIP Mcr members will join with 38 Degrees activists to leaflet and raise awareness about TTIP around Manchester and Stockport.

1. The day will start at 9.45am with a lobby of Gerald Kaufman MP’s regular surgery at St Andrew’s Primary, Broom Avenue, Levenshulme M19 2UH.

2. 11am leafleting meet-ups:
Manchester City Centre: Outside Selfridges on Corporation St,
Fallowfield: Outside the Methodist Community Church on Hart Rd
Chorlton: Outside Costa Coffee in Chorlton Precinct
Stockport: At Stockport Shopping Centre, Mersey Square
Marple: Near Boots on Market Street
For additional 38 degrees meeting points (Salford, Sale, Ashton Under Lyne etc.)
see http://bit.ly/1thzmnR

3. From 2pm there will also be an info stall aimed at students on Wilmslow Rd in Fallowfield, outside Sainsbury’s if dry and under a bus shelter outside Owen’s Park if wet.

Please come and join in with any of these actions if you can!

PS If you’re in Bolton there’ll be a family-friendly joint Global Frackdown/StopTTIP meetup on the Town Hall Steps in Victoria Square at 12 noon.

Get involved in Stopping TTIP in Manchester!

Stop TTIP Mcr will meet TONIGHT, 3rd September, at the Town Hall Tavern (M2 4JA) at 6pm.

Over the next few weeks we will be leafleting in different parts of Manchester, and organising a lobby of the Labour Party Conference this month.

To join us or just join our email list, leave a message here or contact through our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Stop-TTIP-MCR/214321718779110

 

Nick Dearden of WDM – Guardian article, 2/9/14

Bring on the defeat of the EU-US free trade deal

In spite of previous suggestions to the contrary, the proposed EU-US free trade deal will, after all, include the NHS, trade minister Lord Livingston admitted on Monday. The deal, known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership or TTIP, is a priority of David Cameron’s government – a “once in a generation” opportunity. But officials have been taken aback by the extent of public hostility.

At the heart of this opposition is the fear that the TTIP will give big business vast new powers over public services like the NHS, and undermine rights at work, environmental protection and food safety standards. According to a poll commissioned by Unite, 68% of people in marginal constituencies oppose the inclusion of the NHS as part of the deal. Even among Tory voters, just 23% supported its inclusion.

After weeks of the government telling the public that “the NHS won’t be affected”, Lord Livingston has admitted that Cameron won’t exclude the NHS, because the TTIP is too good an opportunity to sell our “world class health services” to the US market. This also means US health corporations would gain new “rights” to sell their health services here. And should they be impaired from doing so by, let’s imagine, a future government abolishing the Health and Social Care Act, those corporations will have the right to sue the British government through a parallel legal structure created by the TTIP. They won’t even have to go through our domestic court system.

The same fate awaits other public services and potential public services, from education to transport and energy provision. Protecting or renationalising services will mean the government is forced to “compensate” foreign businesses that want to invest.

It’s no wonder that an opinion poll commissioned by 38 Degrees at the weekend found that 39% of those surveyed thought the TTIP would be bad for Britain – three times as many as thought it would be beneficial.

The government’s strategy is becoming increasingly defensive. Yesterday, Livingston again repeated that the UK would benefit to the tune of £10bn. This is a fantasy figure, as former trade minister Ken Clarke has admitted. Even more ludicrous is the idea that the average UK household will “benefit by as much as £400 a year” – as if any advantages that do accrue would equally benefit every household in the country.

Perhaps the minister should be more worried that the same studies he is quoting from also predict that more than a million jobs would be lost in the EU.

So the government is now down to its last defence: suggesting that those opposed to the treaty are motivated by “anti-American” sentiment. But it is precisely in the US where opposition to the TTIP, and its sister treaty the Trans-Pacific Partnership, has been most vociferous. Democrat opposition in Congress has even prevented President Obama from getting special “fast track” negotiating authority.

Without this authority, the TTIP’s chances are radically reduced. That’s a good thing, because TTIP isn’t simply a threat to the NHS, or even public services in general. It’s an aggressive expression of the “free market” ideology that should have been binned with the financial crash. The defeat of the TTIP will be one more nail in its coffin.