Lib Dem health reforms vote bid fails

 

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A bid to allow Liberal Democrats to vote for controversial health reforms to be dropped has failed, the party has confirmed.

Campaigners against the NHS shake-up won enough support to have their "kill the Bill" emergency motion debated tomorrow at the party's spring conference in Gateshead.

But, under the party's alternative vote system, the attempt failed on second preferences.

Instead a rival motion on the Health and Social Care Bill that calls on Lib Dems to support the changes was selected.

That was put forward by Baroness Williams, who initially opposed the proposals.

In the first round of voting the "kill the Bill" bid won 270 votes to 246 for Baroness Williams' motion.

Second preference votes put the anti-reform motion on 280, compared with 309 for the motion backing the reforms.

It will come as a relief for party leader Nick Clegg, who faced potential embarrassment if members had called for the Bill to be withdrawn.

Speaking earlier today on a visit to Siemens in Newcastle, he said: "I think it is quite right that people have a look at it.

"My own view is that when people look at what we have done - rather than what we are alleged to have done, because many of the critics I speak to about the Bill, when I ask them if they have read the health Bill, they say they haven't - I think there is a big gap between what people think the Bill is going to do and what it actually says.

"I think when people actually see that they will be quite comforted."

The legislation was "paused" after the party's spring conference last year amid a furious backlash. It has since been amended more than 1,000 times, but many prominent health organisations remain fiercely opposed to the plans.

More to follow...

PA

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