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Backbench Business — Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership

Part of National Insurance (Renaming) – in the House of Commons at 4:46 pm on 25th February 2014.

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Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn Labour, Islington North 4:46 pm, 25th February 2014

Absolutely. It seems strange that we cannot say that we are going to exempt the NHS from discussions. I am sure plenty of pressure will be put on to exempt cultural industries, particularly from France, which will probably be accepted. The same thing should apply to the NHS.

There are a couple of other issues that I want to mention. The first relates to our ability to decide the future of our own public services. At the moment, Britain’s railway system is a combination of a state-owned rail company and privatised services. The European directive on railways envisages a totally privatised system across the whole of this continent. I suspect that, under the kind of agreement we are discussing today, privatisation would be foisted on everyone on both sides of the Atlantic.

Secondly, concerns have been raised about working conditions, health and safety at work conditions and environmental protection. I am sure that all those companies that are busy lining up to destroy union organisation in the USA would want to do exactly the same on this side of the Atlantic. Various Members have mentioned environmental protection and environmental conditions. In the US, there are far fewer environmental protection measures—there is much more genetically modified food on sale and in regular supply, for example. Are we to destroy many of the hard-fought and hard-gained social advantages across Europe in relation to farming systems, to animal protection and welfare and to health and safety, in favour of a free-for-all for those big companies? We need to be very careful. Democracy is the issue, and democracy ought to be the means by which we decide these issues, rather than secret negotiations resulting in a fait accompli being presented to us.