The first day of Committee stage consideration of the Government’s Health and Social Care Bill is taking place in the House of Lords today.
To no-one’s surprise the LibDems again demonstrated that they are happy to place their loyalty to the Coalition with the Tories above the future of the National Health Service.
They voted en masse to reject a Labour amendment which would have reaffirmed the basic principles of the NHS as the first clause of the Bill.
The amendment was to begin the Bill by stating:
“Principles of the Health Service in England
(1) Any person or body performing functions or exercising powers under this Act in relation to the Health Service in England must have regard to the principles and values outlined in the NHS Constitution.
(2) Any person or body performing functions or exercising powers under this Act in relation to the Health Service in England, or providing services as part of the Health Service in England, must provide quality, equity, integration and accountability, not the market.
(3) The primacy of patient care shall not be compromised by any structural or financial re-organisation of the Health Service in England.
(4) There must be transparency and openness wherever taxpayers’ money is being spent, and all accountable individuals and bodies should abide by the Nolan principles.
(5) “The Nolan principles” means the seven general principles of public life set out in the First Report of the Committee on Standards in Public Life (Cm 2850).
(6) Schedule (Principles of the Health Service in England) has effect.”
The amendment was rejected by 212 votes to 244.
59 Liberal Democrats voted against the amendment with only one (Baroness Tonge) in favour.*
So can someone just remind me – after all the fuss about how the LibDems were going to fight for the NHS – when did they decide that it wasn’t necessary to require providers of health and social care to provide ”quality, equity, integration and accountability”, when did they decide that it doesn’t matter if the primacy of patient care is compromised by structural or financial re-organisation, and when did they decide that the Nolan principles of public life weren’t necessary for those responsible for the provision of the NHS?
* The full figures were as follows: in favour of the amendment - 172 Labour Peers, 37 Crossbenchers and others, two Bishops and one LibDem; against the amendment – 147 Tory Peers, 38 Crossbenchers and others, and 59 LibDems.