Hague to attend protest rally over health cuts


The Government's controversial health reforms suffered another setback yesterday when the president of the Liberal Democrats said his party should have killed them off last year.

Tim Farron, the MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, said the Health and Social Care Bill should have been "dropped" or "massively changed" at an earlier stage. "Lots of us are guilty for allowing it to get as far as it has done now. Basically this should have been dealt with far earlier in the cycle," he told Granada TV.

As the Liberal Democrats wavered, the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, denied that he opposed the reforms but confirmed that he would address a rally against plans to cut children's and maternity services in his North Yorkshire constituency of Richmond.

Labour accused Mr Hague of double standards over his constituency rally, saying he was backing plans for the NHS to save £20bn by 2015 and the Coalition's reforms while opposing cuts locally. Its attack will heighten fears among some Tories that the shake-up will be blamed for cuts at local level even if they would have happened anyway.

Mr Farron's comments will infuriate Tory ministers since they will be seen as giving the go-ahead to Liberal Democrat peers to rebel against the Bill, which continues its passage through the Lords next week. Senior Tories are accusing Nick Clegg of reneging on a promise to David Cameron almost two weeks ago that he would not undermine the shake-up. But Liberal Democrat peers, led by Baroness Williams, have tabled new amendments to restrict competition, in order to allay fears that the changes could lead to the backdoor privatisation of the NHS.

A source close to Mr Hague, right, said his speech at the rally in May would have nothing to do with reforms. The protest is over plans to switch the maternity and paediatric units at Friarage Hospital in Northallerton to James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough. "He supports government policy," the source said. "He thinks these are bad proposals, as do most people in Richmondshire."

Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, received strong backing from Tory MPs at their annual "bonding session" yesterday after Mr Cameron urged them to rally behind the reforms. A document handed to Tory MPs admitted: "We need to continue to explain our reforms, ensure the Bill is passed and demonstrated how these reforms are working on the ground.

"We will never privatise the NHS ... We believe in the NHS and its core principles – of treatment free at the point of use, funded from general taxation, and based on need and not ability to pay."

Changing their tune: The Nimby ministers

"Improved rail connectivity is a vital component for delivering a successful Welsh economy".

Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan, 11 September 2011

"This will leave a deep scar on the stunning and fragile countryside."

Cheryl Gillan in November 2011

"Above and beyond everything, that structural deficit has to be gripped."

Home Office Minister Lynne Featherstone, April 2011

"A cut in the number of police on the beat is worrying."

Lynne Featherstone, October 2011

"Healthcare reform is vital to deliver continued improvements."

Home Office Minister James Brokenshire, 12 May 2011

"I'm proud to be campaigning to have services returned to Queen Mary's Hospital"

James Brokenshire, December 2011

Andy McSmith

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Process Improvement Analyst (Testing)

£40000 - £45000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Service Delivery Manager - Derivatives, Support,

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Service Delivery Manager - (Derivatives, Support...

Technical Account Manager - Java, FIX Protocol, FIX 5.0, C++

£30000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Technical Account Manager - Java,...

WPF .NET Developer

£300 - £350 per day: Harrington Starr: WPF Analyst Programmer NET, WPF, C#, M...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform