NHS and Future Trade Deals — [Sir Roger Gale in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:43 pm on 22nd July 2019.

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Photo of Craig Mackinlay Craig Mackinlay Conservative, South Thanet 4:43 pm, 22nd July 2019

To date, obviously none, because we are not able to, but many roll-over agreements are coming to fruition. The biggest, which the Department for International Trade concluded just a few weeks ago, is with Switzerland, which is a major provider of both pharmaceuticals and high-level industrial equipment, which is often used in manufacturing and in our hospitals.

Agreements are rolling over gradually, but I want us to be more ambitious. I want us to have international trade deals that open up greater transparency and friendship and boost trade. If that means we start having zero tariffs on fantastic products from Japan or elsewhere, what is the problem with that? I want the health service in this country to be the best in class and free at the point of delivery. If UK companies are able to provide services internationally, that has to be a good thing too. But the decision on procurement and whether to open up the NHS to competition from America, Australia or anywhere else should be taken in this place. We should not be caught on the coat-tails of perpetual customs union membership, which would give us no decision-making power whatsoever. In the future, this should be a decision for us—for this Parliament, in consultation with the public and indeed the very good people who put their name to the petition.