What the Liberal Democrats decided this morning on the Health and Social Care Bill

The LibDem conference voted to not ask our MPs and peers to support the bill.

The conference did not ask our MPs and peers to not support the bill. That is quite different.

Clear?

BBC sort yourself out. LibDem members did NOT “oppose NHS reforms in conference vote” you total clods!

As usual, the LibDem conference acts very sensibly and with great wisdom. …A totally understandable finessing of the motion for people like me who are somewhat used to this sort of stuff.

But, for the rest of the world, it’s all totally impenetrable and a total political disaster! Plus ca change!

Perhaps it is best to see the whole motion which was passed, as amended (one line was taken out about supporting the bill):

Conference notes:

A. That during the Lords Report Stage of the Health and Social Care Bill in February and March 2012 Liberal Democrats, in conjunction with peers from other benches, have achieved significant changes to the Conservative Health Secretary’s original Health and Social Care Bill.

B. Taking the lead from the motion passed at Spring Conference 2011 Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords have worked successfully to:

i) Guarantee the Secretary of State’s responsibility for a comprehensive health service, his power to intervene if things go wrong and his accountability to Parliament.

ii) Ensure that competition in the NHS is in the interests of patients, based on quality not price.

iii) Secure the commissioning process against damaging conflicts of interest.

iv) Ensure that any profits from treating private patients in Foundation Trust hospitals are invested in the NHS.

v) Underpin the independence of public health.

vi) Place a duty on the National Commissioning Board and CCGs to address and report on progress in reducing health inequalities as part of how their performance is assessed.

vii) Place on all service providers an equal duty to provide NHS education and training; and

viii) Put the NHS in the vanguard of medical research.

Conference further:

1. Confirms the commitment of Liberal Democrats to a comprehensive national health service accessible to all and free at the point of need.

2. Welcomes the changes made to the Bill, which meet the main demands made by Conference at Sheffield, including:

a) Making Monitor’s top priority the interests of NHS patients, not competition.

b) Ending Labour’s policy of giving preferential terms to the private sector.

3. Supports the Liberal Democrat team in the House of Lords in its endeavours to ensure that the Bill is further amended to:

a) Remove reviews by the Competition Commission from the Bill.

b) Retain Monitor’s regulation of Foundation Trusts after 2016.

c) Ensure that individual Foundation Trusts have to justify in advance any substantial increase in their private income.

4. Calls on Liberal Democrat peers to support the Third Reading of the Bill provided such further amendments are achieved.

5. Calls (on) Liberal Democrats nationally and locally to work with Royal Colleges, NHS staff, patients and carers groups and local authorities in the interests of upholding the NHS as a public service, ensuring its ability to meet the challenges of an ageing society despite constrained financial circumstances, and securing better health outcomes for all.

That Shirley Williams NHS motion in full

It is good to see the conference daily on the web these days.

You can see here today’s agenda including Shirley William’s NHS motion which will be debated at 9.30 until 10.00.

Here it is in full also:

09.30 Emergency motion

F19 Protecting our NHS: the Shirley Williams Motion

15 conference representatives

Mover: Baroness Jolly (Co-Chair, Parliamentary Party Committee on Health)

Summation: Baroness Williams of Crosby

Conference notes:

A. That during the Lords Report Stage of the Health and Social Care Bill in February and March 2012 Liberal Democrats, in conjunction with peers from other benches, have achieved significant changes to the Conservative Health Secretary’s original Health and Social Care Bill.

B. Taking the lead from the motion passed at Spring Conference 2011 Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords have worked successfully to:

i) Guarantee the Secretary of State’s responsibility for a comprehensive health service, his power to intervene if things go wrong and his accountability to Parliament.

ii) Ensure that competition in the NHS is in the interests of patients, based on quality not price.

iii) Secure the commissioning process against damaging conflicts of interest.

iv) Ensure that any profits from treating private patients in Foundation Trust hospitals are invested in the NHS.

v) Underpin the independence of public health.

vi) Place a duty on the National Commissioning Board and CCGs to address and report on progress in reducing health inequalities as part of how their performance is assessed.

vii) Place on all service providers an equal duty to provide NHS education and training; and

viii) Put the NHS in the vanguard of medical research.

Conference further:

1. Confirms the commitment of Liberal Democrats to a comprehensive national health service accessible to all and free at the point of need.

2. Welcomes the changes made to the Bill, which meet the main demands made by Conference at Sheffield, including:

a) Making Monitor’s top priority the interests of NHS patients, not competition.

b) Ending Labour’s policy of giving preferential terms to the private sector.

3. Supports the Liberal Democrat team in the House of Lords in its endeavours to ensure that the Bill is further amended to:

a) Remove reviews by the Competition Commission from the Bill.

b) Retain Monitor’s regulation of Foundation Trusts after 2016.

c) Ensure that individual Foundation Trusts have to justify in advance any substantial increase in their private income.

4. Calls on Liberal Democrat peers to support the Third Reading of the Bill provided such further amendments are achieved.

5. Calls (on) Liberal Democrats nationally and locally to work with Royal Colleges, NHS staff, patients and carers groups and local authorities in the interests of upholding the NHS as a public service, ensuring its ability to meet the challenges of an ageing society despite constrained financial circumstances, and securing better health outcomes for all.

Background briefing:

This motion updates policy on the Health and Social Care Bill. Existing policy is set out in the conference motion Updating the NHS: Personal and Local (March 2011).

Now let's get this straight…the mainstream media are reporting on a LibDem Spring conference emergency motion ballot – yes?

Many moons ago I actually put forward an emergency motion for the ballot at our annual conference at Bournemouth. It was about Fiji and the awful abeyance of democracy there. I well remember standing at the entrance giving out leaflets prepared by own fair hand saying: “Vote for Emergency Motion 3 on Fiji”. And Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP, bless her heart, stopped to talk to me to say she fully supported my motion. She was, at the time, making sure the EU was making condemnatory moves against the coup.

These conference Emergency Motion Ballots don’t usually need the local police to control the crowds around the ballot box. When you pick up your papers you get a ballot slip somewhere in the bumpf and the most earnest of conference reps put a 1,2,3 on it and stick it in the little box on the information desk.

My Fiji motion got good support but not enough. But I’m proud, looking back on it, that I was sufficiently moved by the plight of democracy on some islands on the other side of the world to organise a motion proposal for them.

…And that was at an Autumn Conference. Spring conferences are usually smaller and, therefore, emergency motion ballots attract even less attention at them.

And, let’s be clear, the emergency motion debates, resulting from the ballot, are normally held first thing in the morning when everybody is far too hung over or enjoying a….ahem……lie-in with someone they met at the bar to attend that early. Those who do attend are rather bleary-eyed. The debates usually proceed with very little noise or controversy. “Going through on the nod” would be a reasonably accurate description about the passage of most emergency motions.

So it is with enormous pride, and some surprise, that I see the mainstream media discussing an emergency motion ballot at a Spring conference.

Not only that but, my goodness me, the conference committee and the Electoral Reform anoraks (which include me) must be laughing themselves silly. The eventual emergency motion, which was behind on first preferences, was actually chosen after the inclusion of second preferences! Gorgeous!

That brings us to the equivalent of a Liberal Democrat simultaneous orgasm!