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Tim Farron wants competition dropped from the Health Bill

24 February 2012

3:50 PM

24 February 2012

3:50 PM

Will there be further changes to the Health and Social Care Bill? Liberal Democrat
President Tim Farron certainly wants some, as he told ITV’s Party People last night:

‘If the new competition introduced through this Bill is removed, then I think it’s better on the books than it is off it… What I want is for the Lords to propose changes
that will remove the new competition elements from the Bill and I would like the Government to give way on those things. It’s all to play for.’

Farron’s echoing the call made by fellow Lib Dem Shirley Williams last week and by a
group of activists who have submitted an emergency motion for their party conference in two

And on the Conservative side of the coalition, Earl Howe — health minister in the Lords — sounds a conciliatory note in an interview for the latest issue
[] of The House magazine, saying:

‘A lot of the concern is unnecessary and unwarranted, but there are, of course, worries about competition law which we’ve got to sort out, and I believe we can. Shirley Williams
has been tremendous in challenging us all along the way — with her immense experience, she’s very well equipped to do that. I see her a lot and I shall hope to talk through her
particular concerns on this aspect of the bill… and I hope we can reach an accommodation.’

But No.10 and Andrew Lansley seem far less inclined to accommodate these Lib Dem demands. The Evening Standard has got hold of a briefing note for Tory MPs in which they

‘If we changed or altered the Bill now, we would end up in a no man’s land, and chaos.’

That fear may be well-founded, but certain Lib Dems — now including the part’s President — seem determined to ensure that there’ll also be chaos if they
don’t alter the Bill.

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