House of Lords rejects attempts to stop passage of health bill

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 14 October 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d6644
  1. Adrian O’Dowd
  1. 1London

The government’s controversial reforms of the NHS have passed their first substantial hurdle in the House of Lords as peers this week rejected attempts to stall the process and prevent the Health and Social Care Bill from becoming law next year.

Two amendments that would have either killed the bill or led to delays while parts of it were scrutinised by a special committee were both defeated in a vote on 12 October.

In a marathon two day debate some 100 peers spoke on the bill. The bill had led to an “unprecedented” level of concern from clinicians and the public, said peers.

Two crossbench peers—Lord Owen and Lord Hennessey—tabled an amendment calling for part of the bill to be sent to a special select committee to allow for closer scrutiny on issues such as the role of the health secretary in overseeing the NHS (BMJ 2011;343:d6391, doi:10.1136/bmj.d6391). This amendment was rejected by 330 to 262 votes.

Only two Liberal Democrat peers supported this amendment (Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne and Baroness Tonge), while 80 Lib Dems opposed it. Baroness Shirley Williams, who has been outspoken in her opposition to the bill (BMJ 2011;343:d6359, …

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