AN INFLUENTIAL Parliamentary committee has turned down a request for a debate on the future of the NHS – even though more than 160,000 people believe government plans should be dropped.
Earlier today (Tuesday 28 February, 2012) Stalybridge and Hyde MP Jonathan Reynolds put the case for a parliamentary debate calling for the Government’s Health and Social Care Bill to be dropped.
His application to Parliament’s Backbench Business Committee came after an e-petition - started by constituent Dr Kailash Chand OBE and calling on the Government to drop the controversial Bill -was backed by more than 162,000 people.
The application for a debate was backed by MPs from the Labour Party, the Green Party, the SDLP, the DUP and the Liberal Democrats.
However the Backbench Business Committee - which has the power to determine what is debated on a number of days it has allocated – has decided not to allocate a day to further debate of the future of the Health and Social Care Bill.
The Committee said the decision reflected the ongoing passage of the Bill through Parliament and an absence of sponsors from the Conservative Party.
Following the publication of the decision, Mr Reynolds said: “Clearly this is an issue that a large number of people care about, so it is disappointing that the Backbench Business Committee did not allocate a day for further debate of the Health and Social Care Bill.
“The Government allocated just one day to the Second Reading of the Health and Social Care Bill last year – and there is clearly a groundswell of opinion to suggest that was not enough.
“Now a wide range of professional bodies have spoken out against the proposed changes – and the growing e-petition reflects the mounting public feeling against it.
“This Bill will prompt the biggest ever shake-up of the NHS which could lead to widespread variation in the treatments that will be available in different parts of the country.
“It would abolish national standards. It would scrap the current limit on the number of private patients that can be treated in NHS hospitals. And it would create a potential conflict of interest for doctors, where financial incentives could interfere with medical decisions.
“I believe there is a strong case for the Bill to be debated further – and that the Conservative Party appears to be afraid to do so is an insult to Parliament.
“The Secretary of State and the Prime Minister have appeared to suggest that the Bill cannot be axed at this stage, because they are too far down the road of implementation. Yet to be in that position before the Bill has been passed as Law is disrespectful to Parliament.”
Mr Reynolds made the application for the debate in response to an e-petition that had been launched by Stalybridge and Hyde constituent and former GP Kailash Chand.
The petition – which can be found at epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/22670 – has already been signed by more than 162,000 people and it continuing to attract more signatures every hour.
In 2010 Prime Minister David Cameron promised that any petition with more than 100,000 signatures would be eligible to be formally debated in the House of Commons.