Labour fails to block health reform
Labour has failed in an 11th-hour attempt to block the Government's health reforms until an internal assessment of their risks is published.
The Commons voted 328 to 246, majority 82, against shadow health secretary Andy Burnham's attempt to derail the Health and Social Care Bill.
Mr Burnham accused the Government of gambling on the future of the NHS in England without letting the public know the potential risks. He told MPs: "People outside will struggle to understand how Members of this House could make such momentous decisions without having carefully considered all of the facts and all of the evidence.
"But the truth is, Members will go through the lobbies tonight without knowing the full implications of what it means for the NHS in their constituencies. How do they begin to justify that to their constituents, to patients who depend upon the NHS and to staff who devote their lives to it?"
He added: "Ministers want this House to back the gamble they are taking with the NHS, without having the courtesy to tell it the odds."
Opening the emergency debate on the publication of the register, Mr Burnham appeared to concede that there was nothing Labour could now do to prevent the Bill becoming law.
"The only hope that I can give to people worried about the future of the NHS today is that this might be the end of the Bill, but it is just the beginning of our campaign. The NHS will find a way of working round these changes, it won't deteriorate overnight and we will be working to mitigate the worst effects of this Bill."
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley accused Labour of "political opportunism", adding civil servants needed "safe space" in which to advise ministers. He said: "They do not represent a balanced view, they are not a prediction of the future. They set out a worst-case scenario to challenge decision making. The point is that we have looked at that balanced view of capturing where the risks and indeed the benefits indeed lie in the impact assessment.
"But publication of the risk register would prejudice the frankness and integrity of the decision-making processes of government and the Government is opposed to their publication."
Mr Lansley said he could not comment on the Government's response to the tribunal's findings that the register should be published.