Lib Dems stop Tories from offering up NHS in return for trade deals.
Today Liberal Democrat Lords inflicted two significant Government defeats on a bill which could have allowed healthcare deals offering access to the NHS to be signed in return for trade deals.
The two cross-party amendments, which restricted the application of the Bill to the EEA and Switzerland and also restricted the scope of the regulation making powers, were passed by the House of Lords by 36 and 38 votes respectively.
The Healthcare International Arrangements Bill legislates for the Government to makes reciprocal healthcare agreements with other countries.
However, the Bill does not just guarantee that UK citizens can continue to benefit from their EHIC cards in the case of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, but in fact gave ministers the power to sign these deals with any country in the world, not just to replace the deals we currently have with the EU.
Speaking after the vote, Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson Judith Jolly said:
“Tonight, the Liberal Democrats have defeated the Tory Government so that the Bill is limited to only allow ministers to replace the health deals we already have.
“This is an important victory for the NHS. We know the NHS has long been struggling due to unprecedented demand on its services. Giving NHS access to a multitude of new countries without Parliament having any say was alarming to say the least.
“We all know Liam Fox is completely desperate to sign pretty much anything, and today we ensured that access to the NHS is not up for grabs in return for a trade deal. The Liberal Democrats are not against the Government signing new health deals, but these new powers without proper scrutiny could have led to the NHS being put under more pressure than ever before.
“Throughout the Brexit process, we have witnessed the Conservative Government grab power and water down our standards and protections. Sadly, this Bill was no different. Today’s vote marks a huge success in stopping the Tories selling our NHS down the river.”