Hudghton (Greens/EFA), on behalf of the Group - Mr President, my Group has tabled a number of amendments and requested several separate votes on this report. This has been done to give Members the opportunity to ensure that the report clearly favours public service providers, particularly in the fields of health and social housing provision. The report affirms our belief in the importance of high quality services of general interest that are accessible to all. It also recognises the right of local authorities to self-government. So far, so good. However, recital E contends that 'the internal market, liberalisation and compliance with the rules on competition have on the whole led to improved access to SGIs, new services with more choice, better quality and lower costs for consumers'. In our view this is questionable to say the least. The report also asserts that no distinction should be made between public and private enterprises and that all SGIs should be put out to tender. The rapporteur seemed to suggest that there was some misunderstanding about this, but that is how it comes across. This would cause problems for in-house services within public bodies such as local housing authorities and health boards. My Group cannot accept a lack of clarity on this point. On the contrary, we would support an approach that clearly exempts from the prior notification requirement the kinds of local services that do not affect the development of trade, and do not conflict with the interests of the European Union. State-aid rules have frequently led to difficulties and uncertainty for local authorities and other public service providers. We ought to have certainty, and we hope the House votes in favour of that tomorrow.

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