"The NHS will last as long as there are folk left with the faith to fight for it"
Aneurin Bevan

Friday, 24 June 2011

Bill Committee

The Health and Social Care Bill Committee will sit next Tuesday for ten sessions to scrutinise the government's new amendments. The Committee is listed here and I have listed their party loyalties here:


Mr Steve Brine
Mr Simon Burns
Dan Byles
Stephen Crabb
Nick de Bois
Margot James
Jeremy Lefroy
Nicky Morgan
Dr Daniel Poulter
Anna Soubry
Julian Sturdy


Debbie Abrahams
Mr Kevin Barron
Tom Blenkinsop
Liz Kendall
Grahame M. Morris
Fiona O'Donnell
Owen Smith
Emily Thornberry
Karl Turner
Phil Wilson

Liberal Democrat

Paul Burstow
John Pugh


Jim Shannon

Bill committees are made up in proportion to the number of MPs in the Commons so there are 11 Conservatives, 10 Labour two Lib Dems and one DUP. In addition there are four chairs, one from each of these four parties (Labour: Mr Jim Hood, Lib Dem: Mr Mike Hancock, Conservative: Mr Roger Gale and DUP: Dr William McCrea).

When the government's response to the Field Report was released it was reported that Dr Evan Harris was not happy and thought that the response did not completely address the motion passed at the Lib Dem spring conference. Today Nicholas Watt at the Guardian reports that Dr Harris is not happy with the bill amendments.
The plans remain bad for the NHS, go beyond the coalition agreement and we must insist on sovreignty (sic) of conference on major issues not in the CA [coalition agreement].
Further, he indicates that Shirley Williams broadly agrees with him.

So if the Liberal Democrats are not in favour of the amendments what will happen now? There are 11 Conservatives on the Committee and they will vote with the government. There is also the Liberal; Democrat Paul Burstow who is a minister and so has to vote with the government. So whatever happens the government's amendments will get 12 votes out of 24 and there will always be a majority over Labour's 10 votes. Crucial will be John Pugh and Jim Shannon, but even if they both vote against the government there will be no majority which would mean the casting vote of the Chair.

Will the Lib Dems table their own amendments to the Bill? If so, that will put Burstow in a quandary if the government's position is to vote against a Lib Dem amendment.

It seems to me that regardless of whether Dr Evan Harris thinks the amendment addresses the Lib Dem Spring Conference motion the amendments will be passed. And if Dr Harris is correct then this will continue to be a "bad bill" and one which grassroots Lib Dems will oppose.

But remember above that I said that "Shirley Williams broadly agrees with him"? The amended Bill will have a rocky ride in the Lords. perhaps this is why Nick Clegg is so keen on replacing the independent minded peers with a senate stuffed full of compliant politician clones?


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  2. thanks for sharing details about bill committee