Shirley Williams

Last week, we were told that the government was going to support the Lord Mackay amendment to the health bill, which adds in a clause saying the health secretary “retains ultimate responsibility” for the health service.

This was supposed to have won the support of Baroness Williams and other rebellious Lib Dem peers who have been concerned about the fact that the bill as it stands removes the legal duty on the secretary of state to provide a health service free at the point of contact.

But today, Lord Howe, the government health minister in the Lords, asked Lord Mackay and all other peers to withdraw their amendements for further consideration. They want to reach a compromise that all sides can agree on. Read more