Many constituents have contacted me recently regarding the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
I appreciate there is considerable public concern about the TTIP negotiations and, in particular, about the impact this agreement could have on our public services and in important areas such as consumer safety.
I agree these proposals should receive proper scrutiny at both a UK and EU level and that any final deal must have transparency and accountability at its heart. I was disappointed that the Coalition Government paid such little attention to these concerns and I believe it is important the current Government ensure they are covered in the negotiating process.
I support the principles behind the negotiations on TTIP and I believe there are ways the agreement could bring significant benefits to Britain. It is crucial, however, that the benefits of TTIP filter down to employees, small businesses and consumers, that the deal is open and accountable and that it does not water down current labour, consumer, environmental and food safety standards.
I also appreciate there has been particular concern about the potential impact of TTIP on consumer safety standards following recent allegations that the car industry withheld a report suggesting safety standards in some US cars are lower than in the EU. I recognise how important these concerns are and I believe we should not be prepared to accept any deal that does not protect consumer safety standards.
I fought the General Election on a manifesto that recognised the potential benefits of TTIP but emphasised that any final agreement needs to ensure that the NHS is protected and that it also promotes decent jobs and avoids a race to the bottom. Labour MEPs have also made the case in the European Parliament to exclude public services – including our NHS – from TTIP negotiations and to ensure workers’ rights, environmental standards and food safety standards are protected.
I hope that the Government now listen and respond to these concerns. I will follow this issue very closely and press the Government to ensure that TTIP delivers the jobs, growth and fairer deal for consumers we all want to see.