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Backbench Business — Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership

Part of National Insurance (Renaming) – in the House of Commons at 1:54 pm on 25th February 2014.

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Photo of John Healey John Healey Labour, Wentworth and Dearne 1:54 pm, 25th February 2014

I beg to move,

That this House
has considered the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

I am pleased to have secured this debate on behalf of the all-party group on European Union-United States trade and investment, which I chair, and to have done so with support from the hon. Members for Aberconwy (Guto Bebb), for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr (Jonathan Edwards), and for Ceredigion (Mr Williams). I am also pleased to see that the Minister without Portfolio, Mr Clarke, is on the Government Front Bench and will respond to the debate. It must be rare, if not the first time, for a Cabinet Minister to respond to a debate such as this. I take that as a good sign that the Government are at last starting to put some serious political weight behind the debate about securing a very good deal for Britain in the trade negotiations between the EU and the US.

It is seven months since the House last debated the transatlantic trade and investment partnership. That debate was also secured and led from the Back Benches by members of the all-party group. It took place in July, just a week before the first round of negotiations began. Since then, there has been very strong progress, with three rounds of negotiations and a fourth round set for next month. The European Commission has taken the unprecedented step of setting up an advisory panel of business, trade union and consumer interests, and of freezing any discussion on dispute resolution while it conducts consultation. We have seen a level of political and media attention on both sides of the Atlantic that is markedly and unprecedentedly up on that for these sorts of deals in the past. Last week, we had a top-level political stock-take led by Commissioner de Gucht and US trade representative Michael Froman on progress so far.