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Bill could be sent back to Commons, admits Lansley

By Gareth Iacobucci

The Government's controversial health and social care bill could be sent back to the House of Commons following the conclusion of its listening exercise, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has admitted.

Responding to a question posed in an online webchat for The Guardian, the secretary of state said the bill could be ‘recommitted' to the commons, with a decision due to be made after the Government receives the NHS Future Forum report from Professor Steve Field and his panel next month.

Mr Lansley said: ‘We won't decide that until we have received the NHS Future Forum report and have responded to that. I told the House of Commons on 4th April that we would ensure proper scrutiny of the Bill - we have done that so far and we will continue to do so.'

If enacted, such a move would significantly delay the Bill's passage through Parliament, and would be almost unprecedented in recent years, with the 2003 Bill on fox hunting a rare instance of legislation being sent back.

When asked a question about his own shortcomings, Mr Lansley admitted that there had been ‘misinformation and misunderstanding out there about some of our proposals'.

He also acknowledged that the duty of Monitor should be to ‘promote the best interests of patients' as proposed by Nick Clegg, rather than to promote competition as many had interpreted from the legislation.

Andrew Lansley