'A government that is scared of parliament and big corporations'

Monday, 14 October, 2019

On the announcement of a new Trade Bill (1), Jean Blaylock, trade campaign manager at Global Justice Now, said:
“Parliament needs to have a say on trade deals so that unaccountable government ministers aren’t able to use them to slash regulations, entrench privatisation and block climate action. This should be a simple, basic requirement in any democracy. MPs, Lords, business and civil society have all steadfastly been raising this for the past two years, and earlier this year Parliament introduced a clause in the old Trade Bill to guarantee that trade deals will be voted on. Yet Johnson’s government is so scared of having to answer to Parliament that it plans to have a new Trade Bill that conveniently leaves out all of these democratic provisions.

“We know that Johnson’s government wants to do a trade deal with the US in a hurry. Trump’s administration has already told us what it wants in deal, and it’s very worrying – chlorine chicken, higher prices for medicines, and an end to any attempt to rein in the power of Silicon Valley big tech firms like Google, Amazon and Facebook. A deal like that demonstrates the need for Parliament to be able to review what’s on the table and have a vote. We need trade democracy if the Trade Bill returns.”

On the announcement of a Medicines and Medical Devices Bill (2), Heidi Chow, pharmaceutical campaign manager at Global Justice Now, said:
“The biggest omission on medicines today is any mention of the high and unsustainable drug prices being charged to the NHS by pharmaceutical companies. Where are the solutions to tackle the crisis in medicines prices? The NHS is increasingly having to ration or reject effective drugs because they are too expensive, leaving patients without life-saving drugs or forcing them to crowdfund their own treatment.

Government promises around ‘faster access to innovative medicines’ should not compromise stringent safety and efficacy standards – in reality, we fear it means the NHS paying through the nose for medicines that have been rushed through. To truly deliver for patients, we need bold, transformative policies that take more control over publicly-researched drugs and redirect the way we research and develop medicines so accessibility and affordability come before corporate profit.”

Notes

1. Trade Bill, p.23-24, https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/839035/Queen_s_Speech_background_briefing.pdf

2. “A Medicines and Medical Devices Bill will capitalise on opportunities to ensure that our NHS and patients can have faster access to innovative medicines, while supporting the growth of our domestic sector.”, p.26, https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/839035/Queen_s_Speech_background_briefing.pdf


Photo: Houses of Parliament