The GP behind a petition aimed at getting the Health and Social Care Bill scrapped has secured a debate in House of Commons – despite being told it had been ruled out.
Dr Kailash Chand’s ‘Drop the Bill’ e-petition has now attracted more than 170,000 signatures – 70,000 more than the level of support needed to trigger a debate in the Commons under e-petition rules.
However, he was told last week that a debate had been rejected because MPs on the Backbench Business Committee had refused to allow it time.
But pressure from shadow health secretary Andy Burnham has secured a slot for the Drop the Bill debate and vote next Tuesday (March 13th). It will effectively form a last-ditch attempt by Labour and rebel Liberal Democrats to delay the bill, currently before the House of Lords and expected to reach the statute book on March 20th.
Speaking at a ‘Save our NHS’ rally in London yesterday (Wednesday March 7) Mr Burnham said: ‘170,000 people have signed an e-petition and yet the government has denied them a debate on this health bill. This why tonight I am announcing that Labour will give them that voice with a House of Commons debate and Drop the Bill vote next Tuesday.’
Dr Chand, a GP and chair of Tameside and Glossop PCT said he was ‘delighted’ about the news because the public was ‘sleepwalking into a disaster’. He said the debate was necessary to make people aware of what would happen to the NHS under the bill.
‘Its a recipe not just for a postcode lottery but for a taxcode lottery in that the treatment you get will depend on how wealthy you are. It will be down to what insurance you have.’
Dr Chand told Pulse that the issue was not about party politics, pointing out that he was a long-term critic of the Labour party – as well as a supporter. ‘I’m a socialist – but it’s not necessarily about party politics,’ he said.