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The Liberal Democrats, at their annual party conference in Gateshead, voted against discussing the Health and Social Care Bill in an emergency motion tomorrow, which would have aimed to get it withdrawn. Under the party's alternative voting system Baroness Williams's rival motion to support the bill was instead accepted and will be debated tomorrow, rather than a motion to "kill the bill".
Nick Clegg had urged his party to get behind the NHS reforms, saying the Health and Social Care Bill had "changed considerably" and "deserves the support of the whole party".
Deputy leader Simon Hughes earlier defended the Liberal Democrats' record in Government, and insisted he was "not worried" about the future of the party.
Speaking to the BBC's Today programme, Mr Hughes said: "Of course I am worried when people are concerned in the community that we are not doing the right thing, and I have concerns about that, but I am not worried about the future of the party and our ability to achieve in government the sort of changes that would not have been delivered if the Tories were there on their own."
Nick Clegg yesterday stressed the Health and Social Care Bill had been changed beyond "all recognition" since its first publication thanks to Liberal Democrat amendments.
He insisted that Liberal Democrat peers had mad "absolutely sure" competition would always be the servant of the NHS and "not its master".
Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, echoed the words of his party leader and welcomed th news that Shirley Williams's motion had been chosen instead of discussing whether to drop the bill.
Speaking to Sky News he said: "Shirley has played a key role along with other Liberal Democrat peers in the House of Lords in terms of improving the bill, improving the bill with a view to passing it into law. I think that’s the right thing for the NHS, I think it’s the right thing for the country and so if that’s the debate we’re going to have tomorrow then I welcome that."
Baroness Williams added that after the changes made she is now prepared to support the bill.
Speaking on Sky News she said: "We’ve done everything we can to support the NHS including dealing with health inequalities and therefore I’m prepared to stand up for those reforms but not the original bill which I think was very ill-judged and very ill-conceived.”
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10/03/2012 on BBC News
10/03/2012 on BBC News
10/03/2012 on Sky News
10/03/2012 on Liberal Democrats
10/03/2012 on the Liberal
Summaries and transcripts from TV and radio
25/05/2013 on BBC News
25/05/2013 on Week in Westminster, BBC Radio 4
25/05/2013 on Week In Westminster, BBC Radio 4