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Healthcare (International Arrangements) Bill: Lords third reading

20 March 2019


The Healthcare (International Arrangements) Bill had its third reading, a chance to 'tidy up' the bill and make changes, in the Lords on Tuesday 19 March.

Members discussed government changes to reflect the House's decisions to limit regulations (powers delegated to the Secretary of State) and to confine the bill to replacing arrangements with EEA countries and Switzerland which will end with Brexit.

The bill now passes back to the Commons for its consideration of Lords amendments.

Proposed change to bill title

At report stage on 12 March, a change in the House of Lords amended the title to Healthcare (European Economic Area and Switzerland Arrangements) Bill.

Lords report stage: Tuesday 12 March

Members discussed requirements for consultation with devolved authorities and government reporting on healthcare payments made under the bill.

There were also two divisions (votes) on a proposed amendment (change) to the bill.

The first vote concerned the opening clause of the bill, which allows the government to make payment arrangements for healthcare provided outside of the United Kingdom.

Members considered whether to remove 'outside of the United Kingdom' from the clause and define the specified area as being 'in a European Economic Area country or Switzerland'.

262 members were in favour of this amendment, with 226 against, and so the change was made.

The second vote was in relation to a section of the bill which listed the possible powers that could be delegated to the Secretary of State under the new law.

Members discussed removing the words 'for example', before the list of powers, on the grounds that the phrase increases the scope for expansion of those powers at a later date.

Peers voted on the removal of the words, with 254 in favour and 216 against, and so the change was made.

Third reading, a chance to 'tidy up' the bill and make changes, is scheduled for 19 March.

Lords committee stage day two: Thursday 21 February

Members discussed subjects including the duty of the government to consult the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and ensuring the regulations made under this bill do not negatively affect legislation passed in those administrations or any EU legislation retained following Brexit.

Lords committee stage day one: Tuesday 19 February

Members discussed the retention of the current reciprocal healthcare agreement with the EU after exit day, annual report of the cost of healthcare agreements and continued access to medical care in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Lords second reading: Tuesday 5 February

Members discussed a range of issues raised by the bill, including UK reciprocal healthcare agreements with EU member states and other countries around the world, the protection of British citizens in the event of a 'no deal' Brexit, data security and government payments for healthcare provided outside the UK.

Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford  (Conservative), parliamentary under-secretary in the Department of Health, responded on behalf of the government. Baroness Blackwood opened the debate with her maiden speech in the Lords.

Healthcare (International Arrangements) Bill summary

This bill aims to enable the funding of reciprocal health care agreements with EU Members states and non-EU countries and unilateral funding of treatment abroad. It also provides a legal basis for processing personal data to facilitate reciprocal healthcare after EU exit.

 Further information

Image: PA