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UK Parliament - where NHS policy is decided
“The Palace of Westminster 2. Night Shot. Nikon D3100. DSC_0574.” by Robert.Pittman is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

On this page we will be sharing information about how our MPs are voting on NHS policy.  We will be providing information about the nature of these votes and letting you know how the MPs of East Sussex voted.  It is really important that we all remember that MPs work for us.  Keep up to date by loking at the website They Work For You.

We live in a representative democracy meaning the people we elect represent us in Parliament.  They are not there to represent their parties or themselves.  Too often we see our elected representatives towing the party line in order to protect their jobs. We also see them voting for something when they stand to benefit financially from it.  We must all watch how the people we elect use their positions.  That includes the people we elect as Councillors as well as MPs.

The Trade Bill

This campaign has sent out emails to our MPs in East Sussex  about the Trade Bill that has just had its third reading in the House of Commons.  This Bill aims to allow us to continue with any trade deals we had before Brexit after the transitionary period ended.  But this BIll is also about legislating on how Britain can go about forming new trade deals and altering existing trade deals with other countries post-Brexit.

Trade deals have many implications for our lives.  They exist largely for the benefit of the large multinational corporations rather than you and me or the small and medium sized businesses.  We were particularly concerned about the impact any future trade deal with America could have on our NHS. 

We have been contacting all the MPs in East Sussex and urging them to back an amendment which would protect our NHS from any future trade agreements.  Our Conservative MPs have all come back with the obvious party line of:- “This Government is committed to keeping the NHS off the table in any trade deal we form with America.”

We believe this argument is unsatisfactory because our NHS could suffer from a US-UK trade deal even if it is technically ‘off the table’.

For example:-

*If US pharmaceutical coporations could extend the duration of patents this would prevent UK firms manufacturing cheaper generic drugs.    The cost of some drugs for our NHS may then increase seven fold.

*Our medical records are worth billions of dollars to US health corporations and insurance companies.  We know the Americans desperately want to get their hands on our patient data. 

*NHS workers could also find that their pay and working conditions are affected by trade deals.  Any improvement in pay or working conditions could under a trade deal result in an Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS).  An ISDS occurs when a foreign investor sues our Government over legislation introduced that reduces their capacity to make profit.  Under a trade deal our Government cannot make any change to legislation that will limit the capacity to profit.

At the third reading of the Trade Bill in the House of Commons, Keir Starmer and Caroline Lucas presented an amendment to protect the NHS.  This amendment lost the vote.  The following MPs in East Sussex voted against protecting your NHS from foreign corporations.

Sally Ann Hart    –   Conservative (Hastings and Rye)

Huw Merriman –   Conservative (Bexhill and Battle)

Caroline Ansell –   Conservative (Eastbourne and Willingdon)

Nusrat Ghani   –    Conservative (Wealden)

Maria Caulfield-   Conservative (Lewes)

The Bill was then passed back to the House of Lords.   As a result of the pressure placed on them by organisations such as We Own It, Keep Our NHS Public, and the Trade Justice Movement an amendment was passed.  This amendment  would have protected the NHS in any trade agreement.  On the 19th January in the House of Commons 357 MPs voted against this amendment to 266 who voted in favour.

The MPs who voted against the Lords Amendment in East Sussex were:-

Sally Ann Hart   – Conservative (Hastings and Rye)

Huw Merriman – Conservative (Bexhill and Battle)

Caroline Ansell – Conservative (Eastbourne and Willingdon)

Nusrat Ghani  – Conservative (Wealden)

Maria Caulfield  – Conservative (Lewes)

The Bill has since returned to the House of Lords who have proposed another amendment.  This amendment requires trade agreements to be debated and voted on in Parliament before they are signed.  It also states that trade agreements must include a plan to maintain UK levels of statutory protection on health and human rights.

Please write to your MP and ask that they vote for this amendment when it returns to the Commons.