Health and Social Care Bill: Third reading update

20 March 2012

Members of the Lords completed third reading of the Health and Social Care Bill yesterday (Monday 19 March) with further detailed scrutiny and three votes

Before the debate on the bill began Lord Owen (Crossbench) presented the House with a petition from 38 Degrees containing 486,000 digital signatures and asked the House to consider the risk register and the government's response to the tribunal's findings before a third reading. After much debate the amendment went to a vote with 213 for and 328 against.

The bill began its third reading and Lord Patel of Bradford (Crossbench) opened the debate with a group of amendments to Clause Eight which covers VAT recovery for charitable organisations, social enterprises, co-operatives and mutuals providing healthcare. The group of amendments, which also received support by the government, was agreed.

Earl Howe (Conservative), on behalf of the government, moved Amendment 7 to Clause 23 to strengthen the duties on the NHS Commissioning Board and the Clinical Commissioning Group to assess their annual reports on how they have 'reduced inequalities between patients with respect to their ability to access health services' and the outcomes of healthcare received. The amendment was agreed.

Further government amendments to Clause 40 on after care for the mentally ill in addition to previously agreed amendments made by Lord Patel in report stage were agreed.

Baroness Emerton (Crossbench) moved Amendment 17 to include a new clause after Clause 229 which covered the voluntary registration of health care work assured by the Council for Health Care Regulatory Excellence. After consideration of the amendment it went to a vote resulting with 209 for and 267 against the amendment.

The third and final vote was moved by Baroness Thornton (Labour). She made an amendment which questioned whether the House should allow the bill to pass back to the Commons when 'it does not command the support of patients' and healthcare professionals, and 'despite amendment, still creates an economic regulator and regime which will lead to the fragmentation and marketisation of the National Health Service'. 

Baroness Thornton stated: 'There is no doubt that this House has made this bill more respectable in some areas....However, improving a bad bill into a bill that is marginally less destructive is not a good reason to vote for its passage.'

Members of the House voted with 174 for and 269 against, a third government win.

The bill has completed its passage through the Lords and will be returned to the Commons for consideration of amendments.

Health and Social Care Bill: Key areas

  • Establishes an independent NHS Board to allocate resources and provide commissioning guidance.
  • Increases GPs’ powers to commission services on behalf of their patients.
  • Strengthens the role of the Care Quality Commission.
  • Develops Monitor, the body that currently regulates NHS foundation trusts, into an economic regulator to oversee aspects of access and competition in the NHS.
  • Cuts the number of health bodies to help meet the government's commitment to cut NHS administration costs by a third, including abolishing Primary Care Trusts and Strategic Health Authorities.

Catch up on the Health and Social Care Bill so far

The House of Lords Constitution Committee report

The Constitution Committee published a follow-up report calling for changes to the Health and Social Care Bill to ensure that ministerial responsibility to Parliament and legal accountability for the NHS are not diluted.

After third reading - consideration of amendments

  • As the bill started in the Commons the bill will now return with the Lords' amendments for consideration.
  • Both Houses must agree on the exact wording of the bill.
  • A bill 'ping pong' between both Houses until both Houses reach agreement.
  • Once a final version has been agreed the bill can receive Royal Assent and become an Act of Parliament.
  • Read more information about the passage of a bill and ping pong.

Further information

Find out more about watching House of Lords debates.

Image: PA

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