This week the House of Commons voted on the Trade Bill. This legislation is a continuity Bill, and cannot be used to implement new free trade agreements.
Indeed, it is designed to enable those free trade agreements that the EU had signed with other countries before the UK left to be transitioned.
Our NHS is already protected by specific exceptions and reservations in these trade agreements. Some 20 continuity agreements have already been signed, retaining all of these protections for the NHS.
Sadly, but predictably, some have sought to frighten people with cynical fake news into believing those MPs, like me, who supported this Bill voted to sell our NHS to foreign companies, that is simply not the case. Such scare tactics when it comes to our NHS, especially during a global pandemic, are appalling and those involved in misinformation should be ashamed of themselves.
Anyway, international treaties cannot themselves amend domestic legislation and any changes required as a result of trade agreements would be subject to the separate scrutiny and approval of Parliament.
Some of the amendments to the Bill were laid with little other intention than to prompt parliamentary debate on a topic. Unfortunately, the scope of some amendments has been wilfully misinterpreted by some, as is often the case with opposition amendments.
The Government has made an absolute commitment that our NHS will not be on the table in any future trade agreements to which Britain is party.
This was clear in the manifesto which I, and every single other Conservative MP, was elected on at last December’s General Election.
Also earlier this week I met with the Health & Social Care Secretary where we discussed promising developments in securing a COVID-19 vaccine, support for cancer patients and an above inflation pay rise for National Health Service clinicians.
The facts are that record high levels of NHS investment are being made by this Government with some 6,000 extra doctors and 12,000 additional nurses recently recruited.
Henry Smith MP