Majority of conference calls for detailed debate on the Health Bill

An attempt to suspend standing orders and allow an emergency motion on the Health and Social Care Bill was approved by a majority of conference representatives but failed to get the two-thirds majority needed (235 voted to suspend standing orders against 183 who opposed it).  Commenting on the vote, Chair of the Social Liberal Forum Dr David Hall-Matthews said:

“Despite the steer to leave the agenda as it is, a clear majority of conference representatives voted to ensure that health was properly debated.  We regret that the motion will not be debated but feel that we have made our point.

“This wasn’t just a debate about the future of the NHS; it was about the health of our party’s democracy.  We cannot allow party policy to be dictated by government.

“It is clear from the mood at conference that the party still has deep concerns about the Health and Social Care Bill.  In the interests of party unity, it is crucial that the leadership and members of the House of Lords listen carefully and respond positively as the legislation enters the final stages of its passage through parliament.”

Vice Chair of the Liberal Democrats’ Federal Policy Committee Dr Evan Harris added:

“I am confident that the widespread concern about the health bill in its current form will come across when it is discussed at conference later this week.”

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5 comments on “Majority of conference calls for detailed debate on the Health Bill
  1. Chris says:

    Viewed another way, 43% of the delegates who voted were against even debating the measure.

    If the Lib Dems plan to remain a separate party, it may help if it has some policies that aren’t identical to those of the Tories. On the other hand, if they plan to merge with the Tories, wouldn’t it be better to get it over and done with as soon as possible?

  2. Terry Gilbert says:

    @Chris – If you think anyone in Lib Dems wants a merger with the Tories, you are clearly not paying attention. Those who voted against included a whipped payroll vote; their argument (which I happen to disagree with, but respect) is that we have modified the Bill and it has already been passed by the Commons, and there is little to be gained by publicly the issue now. Those in favour of further debate hoped – and still hope – to influence the Lib Dem Lords to support further modification in the upper house.

  3. Chris says:


    Well, if the plan is to remain separate, the party has got to articulate some distinct policies of its own – otherwise why should anyone vote for it?

    As it is, apparently areas of disagreement between party policy and coalition policy can’t even be discussed publicly. Crazy.

  4. James says:

    Can I say that this isn’t quite true. The vote was to put the issue on the ballot for emergency motions. I voted for suspension of standing orders in the hall, but was unsure where I would have placed it in the ballot. I have no idea how many others felt the same as me. I voted to give conference reps the chance to choose to debate this issue – mine was essentially a democratic vote.


    There was a ‘topical discussion’ on the NHS which was by no means relentlessly on message.

  5. Thank you for sending this report of Conference. I, also regret the motion to discuss NHS matters was not carried. The people of Enfield are desperate to keep the A & E and Maternity services at Chase Farm Hospital. I wrote to Nick Clegg on the matter recently. His reply ignored my reason for writing. WHY?
    If possible can this comment be forwarded to him?
    Many thanks. Cyril Jones

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