Dear Mr Chyba
Thank you for your email regarding the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) currently being negotiated between the European Union and the United States and the motion that was considered in Parliament on Thursday 15 January. Unfortunately I was not able to attend the sitting that day due to a long-standing obligation in my constituency. However, I can assure you that I was kept well-informed of the issues around the debate, and I have attached a link to the debate below for your attention.
I agree that greater Parliamentary scrutiny over TTIP should be a priority. We have seen in the past that UK public services are a particular priority for US investors. In 2009, for example, our higher education market was subject to several acquisitions by US companies; the for-profit company Apollo took over BPP in 2009.
The situation could potentially be worse than you have suggested, as for-profit companies who acquire certain public services can be eligible for public subsidies. To take higher education as an example, for-profit companies will be able to access public subsidies through the form of student support. This would be occurring at the same time as the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills removing even more of the funding from our universities.
The negotiations have been criticised by a wide array of organisations and unions, mostly on the grounds that the move poses a threat to our public services. It is also disheartening to see that the deal is being negotiated entirely behind closed doors. The Government was recently asked about the TTIP in Parliament; I have attached a link below for you to see their response in full, but I would draw your attention to several quotes from the Minister that may be of interest to you:
“The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is a top priority for the Government. It has the potential to be the largest bilateral trade agreement in history and to bring significant economic benefits…it demonstrates clear EU-US leadership on the trade agenda and a firm commitment to liberalisation and open markets…negotiations will be tough but we hope that a deal can be reached by early 2015.”
The Minister was also pressed on what implications the deal would have for national sovereignty, and whether it would hamper the ability of the Government to act in the public interest with respect to our public services. The Minister replied:
“Negotiations for TTIP are at an early stage. As with any trade or investment agreement, the UK aims to promote the UK’s interests while ensuring that the UK Government is not prevented from acting in the public interest.”
There was also a Backbench Business Debate on the subject of TTIP in Parliament recently, and I have attached a link to the debate for you to see in full, which I think may be of interest to you.
You will be able to see that the Minister partly blames the media for the lack of publicity TTIP had attracted up to that point. You will also be able to see that the Opposition broadly accepts the proposals that the Government has put forward around TTIP, but has said that more action is required in order to guarantee that small businesses will not lose out, and that there must be exceptions in place to ensure services such as health and education are not affected by loopholes like the example I gave above.
Unfortunately, the comment made by the Minister regarding negotiations between the EU and the US being at an early stage are the closest we have come to finding out anything about the negotiations, as no information about them is being publicly distributed. The Government have maintained that they will not reveal any further information about the negotiations they are holding while they are at that stage.
Thank you once again for your email. If you feel there is anything further I can do, please do not hesitate to contact me again.
Madeleine Moon MP
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
47 Nolton Street