A very important amendment to the government’s controversial Health and Social Care Bill is due to be moved on Wednesday by Lord (David) Owen and Lord (Peter) Hennessy.
They are calling for the whole of part 3 of the Bill – the part that deals with increasing competition in the NHS, and the part that has aroused the most opposition, to be referred to a special Select Committee to be studied in depth.
Please send a message to a member of the House of Lords, asking them to support Lord Owen and Lord Hennessy’s amendment.
There is a strong argument for this as the House of Commons has hardly considered this part of the Bill. This is because it was changed in a very major way by government amendments in its final stages in the Commons, following the pause and listening exercise conducted by ministers.
Even non-controversial bills traditionally get closely examined in Committee by the House of Commons. Arguments are tested and hard questions are asked about detailed implementation.
So much of part 3 of the Bill has now been changed that it cannot now be said to have received this detailed scrutiny. There has not been any substantial debate about whether the changes meet the many concerns raised by health experts. Some say that the Bill is now even more bureaucratic and complicated than when it started.
This is why a proper in-depth review of this part of the Bill is absolutely necessary even if it gets in the way of the government’s preferred timetable.
The constitutional convention is that the House of Lords is a revising chamber and that it does not tamper with the principle of bills that have been put before the voters by the winners of a general election manifesto.
But the proposed NHS reforms were not featured in either coalition party manifesto, nor has the bulk of part 3 of the Bill received any scrutiny in the Commons. The House of Lords therefore does not just has a right, but a duty, to ensure that this part of the Bill is properly examined, and a select committee that can call witnesses is the right way to do this.
Please take a moment to write to a Member of the House of Lords about this. If enough Peers, especially Crossbenchers and Liberal Democrats, make a stand and vote for the amendment, it offers one of the best chances to slow or halt the progress of this controversial Bill.
If you’ve already used our Adopt A Peer tool, just use the same email address and it will recognise you and find the details of the Peer you last wrote to for you. Or if you’d rather write to a different Peer this time, it will give you the option of doing so.
If you haven’t yet written to a Peer, then the tool is really easy to use. It will pick a member of the House of Lords at random, tell you a bit about them, and then give you a tool to email them a message directly.