NHS Reform Bill Looks Set To Be Passed After Lord Owen's Last-Ditch Blocking Motion Fails

Posted: Updated:
Print Article
NHS BILL LORD OWEN LORDS
PA

The NHS Reforms enshrined in the Health and Social Care Bill are almost certain to become law within a matter of days after a last-ditch attempt to delay the Bill in the House of Lords was seen off by the government.

The controversial Bill which will radically change the way the NHS functions completed its passage through the House of Lords on Monday night.

Lord Owen had tried to hold up the passage of controversial NHS legislation, but this was defeated by 328 votes to 213, a government majority of 115.

His amendment had called on the NHS Risk Register to be published before peers signed off the Bill. The risk register is a document detailing what the effects of Andrew Lansley's far-reaching reforms might be on the day-to-day running of the Health Service.

Lansley has refused to publish the dossier, despite rulings by the Information Commissioner and an appeal tribunal compelling him to do so.

The size of the defeat was quite surprising but the government packed out their lobby in the Lords and the Lib Dem peers opted not to rebel.

A further amendment from Labour peer Baroness Thornton, which called for the Bill to be dropped entirely, was similarly defeated later on Monday evening.

The Commons will consider the amendments made to it on Tuesday afternoon, but not before an emergency debate among MPs secured by shadow health secretary Andy Burnham. He won a motion in the Commons on Monday afternoon, also calling for the NHS risk register to be published.

Under a standing order of the Commons, Burnham said it was imperative that MPs had the full facts before them as they voted to pass the Bill into law.

"This is not a matter of the rights and wrongs of the Bill," Burnham told MPs on Monday afternoon. "Parliament has a right to know before it makes a final judgement."

The decision to allow the emergency debate came after Labour packed out its benches in the Commons and a visual gauge of the mood of the house was made by the Speaker.

Labour MPs cried "shame" to Lib Dem MPs Simon Hughes and Sir Menzies Campbell, who refused to stand up and be counted in favour of the emergency amendment.

Andrew Lansley was not present in the Commons at the time of the motion.

Labour has no chance of winning Tuesday's motion in the Commons, where the coalition has a clear majority. This means Andrew Lansley can expect the Bill to be given Royal Assent and passed into law by Easter.

Some amendments have not been approved by ministers, who are expected to try to overturn them when the Commons considers the amendments, following the emergency debate on Tuesday afternoon.

Around the Web

NHS reforms live: Monday 19 March

Bid to block NHS reforms fails

Politics live blog: David Cameron's speech on roads and peers debate health bill

Living with the NHS bill

Lord Owen attacks PM's tactics on NHS