Trade Bill and the NHS

Thank you for contacting me about the Trade Bill and the NHS.

The Trade Bill is a continuity Bill. In other words, it simply puts the trade agreements that we already had as members of the European Union into UK law. It cannot be used to implement new free trade agreements with countries such as the US.

The Government has been clear that the NHS will not form part of trade negotiations in the future. This is a manifesto commitment and other means of Parliamentary scrutiny exist to ensure that the Government is held to account for its promises.

I know that my Ministerial colleagues have no intention of lowering standards in transitioned trade agreements – the very purpose of these agreements is to replicate as close as possible the effects of existing commitments in EU agreements. Indeed, I can reassure you that none of the 20 continuity agreements signed so far have resulted in standards being lowered.

Rigorous checks and balances on the Government’s power to negotiate and ratify new agreements also already exist, including through the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010.

Moreover, trade agreements cannot by themselves make changes to our domestic law. Any legislative changes required as a result of trade agreements would be subject to the separate scrutiny and approval of Parliament in the usual ways.

I hope this response has reassured you and thank you again for taking the time to contact me.