The Health and Social Care Bill has passed its final reading in the House of Lords and is now only days from becoming law.
The final vote in the House of Commons today will follow an emergency debate forced by the opposition.
An attempt to delay the Lords vote until the publication of the risk register for the planned NHS reforms was defeated by Conservative and Lib Dem peers.
During the final Lords debate, 25 protests against the Health Bill took place across the UK.
A motion tabled by Labour peer Baroness Thornton called for the Bill to be dropped because it did not have the support of patients, clinicians or the public and would drive the “fragmentation and marketisation” of the health service.
It was defeated by 269 votes to 174, with the support of only one Lib Dem peer.
A further motion by crossbench peer Lord Owen, calling for the Bill’s third Lords reading to be delayed pending the publication of the NHS transition risk register, was defeated by 328 votes to 213.
The Freedom of Information Tribunal recently upheld the decision by the Information Commissioner that the risk register, which the Government has now withheld for 15 months, must be published.
Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham commented that it was “highly unsatisfactory” for the information about the risks of the Bill’s implementation to be denied to MPs until after their final vote.
“Parliament has a right to know, before it is asked to make a final judgment that will have huge implications for every person in this country,” he said.
However, Health Minister Earl Howe (pictured) told the Lords that considering the transition risk register to offer some “deep insight into what this bill means for the NHS” was “an absurd proposition”.
Labour has forced a 90-minute emergency debate today on whether MPs can approve the Bill before the risk assessment has been published.
If approved by the Commons today, the Bill could receive Royal Assent and become law later this week.