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LibDem NHS reforms revolt defeated

A Liberal Democrat revolt to stop the coalition's NHS reforms in their tracks was defeated by the Government as the Health and Social Care Bill moved closer to the statute book.

Rebel leader Andrew George called for the legislation to be dropped and urged ministers to hold a summit with medical groups and patients' organisations to thrash out a new set of reforms based on the coalition agreement.

He said the Bill had "many failings" and the amendments the Government had been forced into accepting had made it "less bad but not sufficiently good enough" to be pushed through Parliament.

Despite being backed by the Labour frontbench, Mr George's amendment - signed by four other Lib Dem backbenchers - was rejected by 314 votes to 260, majority 54.

"There are many failings within the legislation as it is at present," Mr George, a member of the Commons Health Select Committee," said.

"Support is ebbing away, opposition even at this stage is increasing and therefore I would urge the Government to reflect on this debate, the opposition in this country and to allow a summit to go ahead."

His unsuccessful amendment was made to a Labour motion, also calling for the Bill to be scrapped and also defeated, by 258 votes to 314, majority 56.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley insisted the reforms to the NHS in England were "the right idea".

The legislation also cleared another significant hurdle in the Lords, where it completed its seven-day report stage. An attempt by Labour to delay the implementation of the competition clauses of the Bill were defeated.

It now faces one further major test in the Lords, at third reading on Monday, before it is sent back to the House of Commons. Peers are likely to vote on Monday on whether to delay third reading until after a confidential risk assessment drawn up by civil servants has been published.


From Belfast Telegraph