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Lords pass Health Bill at second reading


The House of Lords has voted through the government’s Health and Social Care Bill at its second reading, defeating motions to place sections under greater scrutiny or stop it in its tracks altogether.

Peers this afternoon voted down an amendment proposed by crossbencher Lord Owen, to set up a special committee to examine the proposals for changes to the duty of the secretary of state for health, by 330 votes to 262.

The bill will now pass to the committee stage, where Lords will review the legislation line by line.

Another motion put forward by Labour Lord Rea, which would have effectively “killed” the bill by preventing it getting a second reading, was defeated by 354 votes to 220.

The votes followed a two-day debate involving more than 100 peers.

Although Lord Rea’s amendment was widely expected to fail, the fate of Lord Owen’s had been more uncertain, with negotiations between Labour, Conservative and crossbench peers continuing until the final moments before the votes took place.

Earl Howe had objected to setting up a committee as it could delay the passage of the bill through parliament, which he warned could prove “fatal” to the reform plans.

This was despite assurances from Lord Owen that his amendment was not a “blocking motion”, and shadow leader of the house Baroness Royal gave her word that the bill would leave the Lords by mid-January.

But Lord Ashdown, former leader of the Liberal Democrats, told the house he could not understand how scrutiny of the bill would have been improved by setting up a special committee.

Today’s vote does not mean that further changes cannot be made to the bill. Earl Howe told the Lords this afternoon that the secretary of state would be responsible and accountable for a comprehensive health service. “If there is an amendment which will improve the bill, we will make it.”

He also said ministers would table a new duty for the secretary of state regarding education and training during the committee stage.

The government is also considering how foundation trusts can be required to explain how their income from private patients is benefiting NHS patients.

Earl Howe also confirmed that after the bill is written into law, post-legislative scrutiny will take place within three years, sooner than the normal five.


Readers' comments (14)

  • NHS R.I.P

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  • Where angels fear to tread, the tories blunder in like a bunch a freshers at a piss up.

    As for the Lords, I hope that pompous, sententious prat 'Lord' Paddy Ashdown is on Question Time tomorrow for a grilling.

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  • privatisation here we come?

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  • god help us all
    the nhs is finished

    well well what a surprise mps voting for something that will make them richer while us workers get poorer and the nhs dies

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  • tinkerbell

    Wheeling, dealing, lying, cheating, treacherous, greedy, devious, unprincipled, nasty ...................................please feel free to fill in the gap.

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  • it pays to be rich doesn't it.............lets join america were you can only have healthcare if you are insured(!) (sarcasm btw)

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  • tinkerbell

    It isn't over yet, thank God. See 38 degrees website for updates. Keep on trucking.

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  • Why oh Why oh Why do they never listen to the people who ARE the NHS....!!!!
    Nurses and Dr's on the 'front line'.
    This bill is madness.. It will all end in tears.............

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  • Well, what a disaster. As everyone says above, goodbye NHS and all the hard work we put into it and hello a country full of people underinsured and unable to acces healthcare - just like the USA. And look at them... the American dream that has become a nightmare. We are already living in the aftermath of the Global meltdown. Why oh why can't ANY Govenment truly ask the people who work in the NHS what needs to be done - not some egocentric Lord who happens to be a doctor.

    Yes, we need changes but not this Bill. More appropriate nurse and doctor training, decent pay and conditions - yes, pensions that are reasonable and appropriate - and bottom up planning is what is needed. Dear Lords, what have you done? Presumably you don't mind as you all have Private Health Insurance? Wait until you have something that the Private sector can't deal with. You didn't even listen to the dissenting GP's onto whom you are foisting these changes. Let's hope there is not some new House of Lords scam to top the MP's scandals we have had to sit back and endure? Why are you not behind the country and the health of the nation? It is not the fault of the NHS in it's entirely that the country is in such financial straits. All the Managers in the NHS have not stopped this happening. As far as I can see their ranks are getting bigger and the front line staffing levels are shrinking.

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  • Well, you don't know what you've lost till its gone (to paraphrase Joni Mitchell).

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