Further delays to the progress of the controversial Health and Social Care Bill are expected due to several challenges to its proposals during its passage through the House of Lords.
Baroness Glenys Thornton intends to seek crossbench alliances in order to question aspects of the reforms, including the role of the health secretary and competition regulation.
Labour’s health spokeswoman said to the HSJ that peers were likely to “demand” that the legislation was analysed in a Lords bill committee, rather than on the floor of the house.
A bill committee is the only way the house can hear evidence from external bodies.
The Baroness says the rare move away from a discussion on the floor would be justified due to the Bill’s length, complexity and as it has been significantly amended following the Government’s NHS Future Forum’s recommendations.
It’s believed that the move to a committee discussion has support from Lib Dem peers, although it is understood the Government has serious concerns about the resistance and further delays.
Baroness Thornton raised a number of issues that had not been discussed in the House of Commons because a lack of time and other amendments had not been scrutinised fully.
She said that due to the Bill’s impact being so “big and fundamental” it would usually be subject to a comprehensive parliamentary debate and a draft bill before the proposed legislation was published.
“There is certainty a case that some parts of this bill need more attention,” she said.
“Clearly the Government might find itself in some difficulty.
“We are taking this bill very seriously… There is a cohort of members who are well informed about this bill.”
She added that it was impossible to predict likely further delays but said that royal assent may be take place beyond when it is currently expected in early 2012.