MPs defy minister on drugs Bill

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Indy Politics
A PRIVATE Member's Bill providing much more public information about drug safety looked yesterday to have a chance of becoming law after Conservative MPs defied Tom Sackville, Under-Secretary of State for Health, and put the Bill through its committee stage, writes Nicholas Timmins.

Their backing came after the Bill's sponsor Giles Radice dropped its most controversial clause and was able to tell MPs that the British Pharma Group - the research grouping of British drug companies - and the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry believed that, with that clause gone, the rest of the Bill would require 'relatively minor modification'.

The surprise approval for the Bill - with Mr Sackville losing committee votes heavily yesterday - left the Department of Health saying last night that the Government remained 'in support of open government, and of the principle of the Bill'.

Ministers may yet try to kill it at report stage on 30 April, however. Mr Sackville said that while ministers supported open government, 'the Government has different priorities at different times - and at the moment we are concerned with jobs and employment'. The Bill might damage those, he argued.