Lib Dem NHS activists take heart from extent of Parliamentary rebellion as new analysis shows “two-thirds of MPs” withhold support from Government on health bill.
Liberal Democrat activists and Parliamentarians seeking to amend the Health Bill today released an analysis of the Report Stage votes , based on House of Commons Library figures , showing that more than two thirds of the eligible English Lib Dem Backbench MPs failed to support the government on key votes, the vast majority of whom voted against the government at some point.
The figures showed that, of the 24 Liberal Democrat English backbenchers who are neither on the Government payroll, no Ministerial aides, abroad or disqualified from voting (as chair of the Bill Committee), 16 failed to support the Government in at least one of the three main votes on the Bill at report stage (on amendments to retain the private patient cap, to retain the Secretary of State’s duty to secure provision of health services, and on the 3rd reading of the Bill).
The majority of those, 11, voted against the Government on at least one of the divisions.
Commenting on this, Andrew George MP (who tabled the amendments) said,
“There is an underlying unease about the Bill amongst my colleagues. Although I knew I was not alone I hadn’t anticipated a rebellion on this scale. Liberal Democrats were the architects of the NHS and do not want, by default, to become the architects of its demise.”
“Those of us who voted to ask the Government to reflect on the folly of carrying on with the Bill in its present form will be vindicated with further concessions in the Lords.”
Dr.Evan Harris, a former party health spokesman and a Vice-Chair of the party’s Federal Policy Committee, said, “The extent of unhappiness on the Lib Dem backbenches, is a real encouragement to Baroness Shirley Williams and her cross-party colleagues in the Lords as they seek to make major changes to the Bill.”
“The vast majority of activists at our conference have only ever wanted the government’s health policies and the Bill to go no further than the Coalition Agreement. The amendments tabled yesterday and our party conference motions are only seeking to restrict the government to the Coalition Agreement that the party voted for. ”
Dr. Graham Winyard, Chair of Winchester LD and a former NHS Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England said, “Full credit needs to be given to Nick Clegg and Paul Burstow for securing the changes already made to the Bill following the Party’s spring conference. “
“However it is clear that further change is necessary before many Liberal Democrats can support it. We were encouraged by the clear hints given by Paul Burstow that the government would seek to make changes to the Bill.”
1. The 10 Lib Dem MPs who voted against the Government, in favour of Amendment 1176 (Division 340) were Annette Brooke, Tim Farron, Andrew George, Martin Horwood, Julian Huppert, Stephen Lloyd, John Pugh, Dan Rogerson, Adrian Sanders and David Ward.
Those who abstained were Stephen Gilbert, Simon Hughes, John Leech and Greg Mulholland
2. The 4 Lib Dem MPs who voted against the Government for the Third Reading of the Bill (Division 342) were: Andrew George, Julian Huppert, Greg Mulholland and Adrian Sanders.
Those who abstained were Annette Brooke,Tim Farron, Martin Horwood, Stephen Gilbert, John Pugh and Dan Rogerson
3. The 3 Lib Dem MPs who voted against the Government on Amendment 1165 on Private Health Care (Division 338) are Andrew George, Martin Horwood and Adrian Sanders.
Those who abstained were Annette Brooke, Tim Farron, Simon Hughes, Julian Huppert, John Leech, Greg Mulholland, John Pugh, Dan Rogerson, Ian Swales, Stephen Williams