I am extremely disappointed that Amendment F to the Health and Social Care Act, tabled by Labour, was voted down by the Tories, and abstained on by 19 Lib Dem MPs. The vote was lost by 18.
Our amendment sought to repeal the Health and Social Care Act, which opens NHS services up for purchase from UK and foreign investors. The Lib Dems and Tories did not vote for our amendment because they co-wrote the Health & Social Care Act, and are more than happy for the NHS to be sold off in bits and pieces, with a view to full privatisation of the service in the wake of a new Trade Agreement.
That act enshrined competitive tendering at the heart of the NHS and makes the NHS vulnerable to a new Trade Agreement. Trade Agreements are about opening up your services to competition and they demand that you give equal rights to foreign service providers. In fact though, foreign companies end up with greater rights than U.K. domestic service providers.
This is because they also include Investor Protection Clauses (ISDS) which give foreign companies the right to sue our government if we take public health policy decisions the companies think will damage their profits like plain paper packaging of cigarettes or regulating polluting diesel cars. Our companies cannot sue the government in this way and the foreign companies even have their own private courts in which to bring their multi million law suits.
This very transparently signals the intention of Boris Johnson’s government to flog off the NHS to Donald Trump and his cronies. They are not worried about how the loss of public health care, free at the point of delivery, will impact the public. Their callous austerity policies have long made clear the contempt with which Conservatives hold ordinary people. The aim is to make a quick quid off hard-won public services and cosy up to billionaire bankers and multi-national corporations.
When the Health and Social Care Act was originally passed, the Lib Dems claimed that they backed it due to their Coalition promise. Now, free of that promise, we see the true, cowardly colours of the Lib Dems, who turn their backs on the general public.
It is clearly only the Labour Party fighting for the NHS.