Page last updated at 21:33 GMT, Tuesday, 21 June 2011 22:33 UK

Coalition accused of 'railroading' health reforms

Shadow health secretary John Healey has accused the government of "railroading" its reforms to the NHS in England through Parliament "at breakneck speed".

On 21 June 2011, as MPs debated a motion allowing the parts of the Health and Social Care Bill to be reconsidered at committee stage, Mr Healey argued that the committee should have been allowed time to debate the whole bill.

"Last week we had a political fix on the government's Health Bill. This week we have a procedural fix," Mr Healey said.

He concluded: "The way this government is dealing with the NHS and with this House of Commons is a disgrace."

But Health Minister Simon Burns said it was "not necessary" to recommit the entire bill, arguing that MPs only needed to examine "those parts of the bill that will change".

"Indeed we feel very strongly that [recommitting the legislation in full] would unnecessarily delay the progress of the bill to the ultimate detriment of patients. It is now time to give greater clarity and direction to staff and patients," Mr Burns said.

He explained that the government would recommit 63 of the bill's clauses to committee and add a further five. Ministers expected to make around 160 amendments in total.

"These clauses will cover the key areas of the bill, including the role of the secretary of state, clinical commissioning groups, the NHS Commissioning Board, the role of Monitor, foundation trusts, Health and Wellbeing Boards, and Healthwatch," he said.

The government's timetable motion was backed by 297 votes to 224, a majority of 73.

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