Friday, 20 May 2016

TTIP, the NHS and the South-West

There has been a lot of disquiet building over the TTIP agreement:
Futures Forum: The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership >>>> “I do not take my mandate from the European people.” >>> >>> but the petitions multiply
Futures Forum: The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership >>>> "an increasingly contentious topic"

Yesterday, there was an unprecedented rebellion over the Queen's Speech:
Queen's Speech 2016: Tory MPs To Join Labour On Amendment Exempting NHS From EU-US Trade Deal
Cameron accepts TTIP amendment to mollify rebel Tory MPs | Politics | The Guardian
Ridiculous Parliamentary Manouevres Over The NHS, Privatisation And The TTIP - Forbes
Tory rebels force another U-turn – this time on NHS | East Devon Watch

Meanwhile in Devon and the South-West, various actions have been happening around the issues:

Save Devon NHS group meets MP to stop TTIP deal

By Sam Hall in Local People
MEMBERS of Save Devon NHS met with Newton Abbot MP Anne Marie Morris to discuss their views on a deal that could threaten the NHS and called on her to take action.
They met with the MP at her constituency surgery in Newton Abbot’s Passmore Edwards Centre on Friday to talk about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
TTIP is a trade deal agreement between the EU and the United States that could privatise the NHS and it could grant any firm with American investors the power to sue the government if it ever attempted to take the privatised NHS back into public ownership.
After the meeting with Save Devon NHS, Anne Marie Morris said: ‘We had a constructive meeting, talking about the issues raised by TTIP. I think we all agreed that voting to leave the EU would resolve all our concerns. The UK can only suggest what is or is not in TTIP, it can’t veto it.’
A spokesman for Save Devon NHS said: ‘She seemed very interested in the legal document we handed to her. We are hoping that she’ll write to David Cameron to get the NHS out of the TTIP trade deal. All we can do now is keep up the fight.’

Save Devon NHS group meets MP to stop TTIP deal - Mid-Devon Advertiser

Council votes to become Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership (TTIP) free zone.

09:00 14 May 2016

Bideford Town Council has voted to show its feelings against deal between EU and USA.

Bideford Town Council has voted to declare itself a Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership (TTIP) free zone.
The symbollic agreement was agreed by councillors at their meeting on Thursday with one voting against, and three abstentions.
Councillor Joe Day put forward the suggestion and said: “The TTIP is a deal between the European Union and the USA. Under this, town and district councils could be punished for making decisions that go against foreign corporations. Becoming a TTIP free zone is purely symbollic but it shows strength of feeling.”

Council votes to become Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership (TTIP) free zone. - News - North Devon Gazette

In My Opinion - Trade deal will undermine democratic decision-making

By Western Morning News | Posted: July 02, 2015 By Lynne Walmsley, Newton Abbot

Are readers aware of the TTIP deal between the EU and USA?

TTIP is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership which our government is supporting. TTIP is being negotiated ‘on our behalf’ by unelected European officials. Even our MPs are not allowed to know what is being negotiated away. TTIP is a ‘free trade’ deal between the European Union and USA.

It will give big business huge powers over our society, as something called The Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) is part of TTIP, and its purpose is to ‘protect investors from discriminatory treatment from Governments’ (quote from Ashley Fox, MEP).

This protection will take the form of secret tribunals held by large corporations which have the power to sue our government for damaging their profit line – even when the government was only trying to protect its people and safeguard their health.

It is worrying because ordinary forms of justice are being bypassed. Governments will not be able to use their discrimination when it comes to safeguarding the interests of its people – this trade partnership will undermine democratic decision-making which is very much in the public interest.

I am one of two million people who have signed the petition to scrap the trade deal.

Our MEPs were meant to vote on TTIP on June 10 but when it looked like they might actually vote against TTIP – as a result of pressure from the UK and people in Europe – the Parliament’s president cancelled the vote! But they are now hoping the fuss will die down and that they will be able to bring in TTIP through the back door.

There are additional reasons why we should be concerned about TTIP: firstly, it will create new markets in public services such as health and education, leading to greater privatisation. This in turn would make it very difficult to bring these services back under public control or renationalise them.

Secondly, environmental checks and regulations could be further threatened through TTIP, as corporations would be free to introduce more fracking, for example, into the UK under its terms and provisions.

If you are at all concerned about TTIP, write to your MEP – they need to feel public pressure.

In My Opinion - Trade deal will undermine democratic decision-making | Western Morning News

Meanwhile, parallel developments are happening in the South-West:
Devolution TTIP For The Shires | Southdevonwatch.org.uk
Futures Forum: Devolution as "the TTIP for the Shires" >>> public meeting >>> Totnes: Thursday 25th February

The campaign group 38 Degrees issued this call earlier today:

38 Degrees Logo

This is the moment we’ve been waiting for: yesterday, 25 Conservative MPs broke ranks, joined with other political parties and said the government needs to pass a law if they want to protect the NHS from TTIP. [1]

There’s a debate scheduled for Monday, but the government is trying to brush it under the carpet. They say the NHS is already protected under TTIP - but experts disagree and say a law is needed. [2]

There’s only one way to settle this: together, we could create the new law saying what the government needs to do to protect the NHS from TTIP ourselves. If enough of us chip in we could get a lawyer to write the law and then ta-da! We could present it to the government, written and ready to go. And if they’re serious, they’ll sign up to it. There’s no way to wriggle out of that.

The government says the NHS would be safe under TTIP but the proof is in the pudding - if they’re serious, they’ll accept our new law which would set out what they’d need to do to protect it. If they’re not, they’ll have to admit that they’ve been bending the truth all along - and they will have lost the support of many of their own MPs.

Top legal experts have said that TTIP poses a serious risk to the long term future of our NHS. [2] But it’s a toxic deal for many other reasons too. It lets big corporations sue our government if they don’t like our laws, lowers environmental standards and is a risk to other public services. [3] By chipping away at the deal piece by piece, we could bring the whole thing tumbling down.

[1] On Thursday, MPs introduced an amendment to the Queen’s Speech (which has to be voted on by parliament) saying that the NHS should be excluded from TTIP. This was a big problem for the government, since if the Queen’s Speech was voted down, it would be the first time that’s happened since 1924:
BBC: David Cameron moves to head off TTIP rebellion:
David Cameron’s trying to resolve this problem by accepting the amendment, but there’s still a lot of political wrangling going on:
The Guardian: Cameron accepts TTIP amendment to mollify rebel Tory MPs:

[2] “A Number 10 spokesman said: “As we’ve said all along, there is no threat to the NHS from TTIP. So if this amendment is selected, we’ll accept it.”
Huffington Post: David Cameron Caves To Tory Eurosceptic Pressure To Protect NHS From EU-US Trade Deal:
But experts say that TTIP is a real risk to our NHS:
The Guardian: TTIP Deal poses ‘real and serious risk’ to NHS says leading QC:

[3] It's easy to get confused in all the detail, but there are some helpful resources out there to understand what the deal is, and why it's bad. It’s been criticised for a number of different reasons – as a threat to our NHS, our food standards, animal welfare and our democracy. Many 38 Degrees members have been in touch to ask for further information on the deal, so here are some news articles and comment pieces you might like to read:

Stop the TTIP trade deal

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