Ritchie: Trade agreement poses serious threats to Health Service
Speaking following her exchange with Leader of the House William Hague, who was standing in for David Cameron, Ms Ritchie said:
“This UK government has consistently undermined our public health service and are intent on imposing ever greater levels of privatisation.
“This trade agreement poses a tangible threat to our health service, including in the devolved regions, and leaves it wide open to the worst outcomes associated with further privatisation. I fear that the health service in Northern Ireland could be confronted with legal challenges and financial claims under the new system, leaving it vulnerable to the more predatory aspects of privatisation.
“Under the deal, private investors would be able to haul any government or devolved administration to a tribunal through the “investor state dispute settlement”. This tribunal would be outside of UK law and have the power to award vast amounts in damages for lost profits and lost potential future profits to private companies. Astonishingly, there would be no right of appeal.
“William Hague was unable to offer me any further guarantee that the health service would be protected from such practices and his response focused on free trade rather than the protection of public services. The Conservatives make a great show of claiming that they want to reclaim powers from Brussels, yet here they are throwing away powers with no concern for the impact.
“The SDLP will continue to stand up to the further privatisation of the health service.”