Tens of thousands sign petition to urge House of Lords to protect NHS in Trade Bill

Graffiti in support of the NHS, near Waterloo Station, London. Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA.

Graffiti in support of the NHS, near Waterloo Station, London. Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA. - Credit: PA

A petition calling for peers to amend the government's trade bill to protect the NHS has been signed by more than 40,000 in less than a day.

The petition comes after MPs in the House of Commons voted against amendments to the bill earlier in the week that would have stopped the NHS from being included in trade deals.

The Commons also voted against an amendment from Conservative MP Jonathan Djanogly which would have given MPs the power to accept or reject trade deals negotiated by the government.

According to campaigners, the Trade Bill as currently worded would pose a range of dangers for the health service, opening up the NHS to being charged more for drugs, enshrine the rights of American healthcare companies to access our NHS in international treaties and 'lock in' privatisation that would be incredibly difficult for a future government to reverse.

A poll from Survation, commissioned for campaign group We Own It, found that three-quarters of the public want to see specific protections from the NHS in the bill with 84% of Leavers agreeing and 76% of Remainers.

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We Own It campaigns officer Ellen Lees, who helped create the petition, said: 'On Monday, Tory MPs betrayed the country, and betrayed our NHS. After all the bluster about 'taking back control', they voted to do the exact opposite.

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'Rather than protecting our NHS and allowing parliament a say in trade deals, they have given the government carte blanche to sign away our NHS to Donald Trump and his mates in the private healthcare industry. At a time when we're relying on our NHS more than ever before, this is nothing short of a disgrace.

'But it's not too late to protect the NHS. The Trade Bill hasn't become law just yet. Now it's time for the House of Lords to step in and stop this madness before it's too late.'

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The House of Lords will continue to sit until the middle of next week, with the bill likely to be discussed by peers after the recess.

The petition can be signed here.

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