Duncan Hames “breaks ranks” to call for publication of risks of health bill

PoliticsHome reports:

An elderly protester clashed angrily with Andrew Lansley today as he attended a Number 10 summit on his NHS reforms.

Mr Lansley was also confronted with fresh signs of dissent over the controversial reforms from within the Coalition as a Liberal Democrat ministerial aide broke ranks to call for ministers to reveal the true risks of the new legislation.

Duncan Hames, who is Parliamentary Private Secretary to Energy Secretary Ed Davey, signed an early day motion calling for the publication of a “risk register”, which outlines the costs and risks of the Health and Social Care Bill. He signed the motion along with 12 other Liberal Democrat MPs.

Mr Hames told PoliticsHome: “At the time that I first asked the Government about the risk register – nearly three months ago, at Health Questions – the Health Minister stated that they were still considering how to move forward in the timescale the Information Commissioner had given them. I encouraged him to publish the risk register in the knowledge that such documents would normally contain carefully-thought through mitigation strategies that rather than alarm, may actually serve to reassure the public.”

The Government has so far refused to reveal the risks in spite of a ruling by the Information Commissioner, but the motion says: “This House expects the Government to respect the ruling by the Information Commissioner and to publish the risk register associated with the Health and Social Care Bill reforms in advance of Report Stage in the House of Lords in order to ensure that it informs that debate.”

In total, 75 MPs have signed the motion, which was tabled by Liberal Democrat Andrew George.

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  • Jayne Mansfield 20th Feb '12 - 3:12pm

    Well done Duncan Hames.

  • David Blake 20th Feb '12 - 3:12pm

    We need to reject this Bill and be seen to reject it.

  • Good for Duncan Hames. I hope he’s setting a trend.

  • Daniel Henry 20th Feb '12 - 3:38pm

    Well done to the other 11 MPs who signed too!

    Any government, regardless of its ideology should be honest and open with information like the risk register, especially when instructed to by the Information Commissioner.

    Lansley is embarrassing our entire government with his antics!

  • “especially when instructed to by the Information Commissioner”

    To be fair, if I understand correctly, the government has appealed to the Information Tribunal against the Information Commissioner’s decision, and that appeal is in progress. Ultimately the FOI Act does provide for a ministerial veto in exceptional circumstances. This provision has been used only three times, twice by Labour in 2009 and once by the present Attorney General only about a fortnight ago.

  • David from Ealing 20th Feb '12 - 9:18pm

    “a ministerial veto in exceptional circumstances” —– should be only when national security is involved,

  • ““a ministerial veto in exceptional circumstances” —– should be only when national security is involved,”

    Well, of course information that would jeopardise national security is exempt from disclosure under the FOI Act anyway, as is information in dozens of other categories. So a strong argument can be made that there shouldn’t be a ministerial right of veto.

    But there it is. It’s in the legislation.

  • Dave Eastham 21st Feb '12 - 7:08am

    From the partial risk registers that have been published already e.g. London, it would seem that there are possibly serious concerns regarding this Bill’s risks. Lansley’s refusal to publish the Risk Register and his almost petulant defying of the Information Commissioner, is hardly open Government. If the authoritarian wing of the Labour party only used the provisions of the act twice in 13 years and the Coalition, if Lansley’s decision stands, use it twice within two years, it is hardly open government. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that Lansley has indeed something hide in this and is trying to conceal information until after the Bill becomes law. I cannot see how the risk register’s are an issue of national security. Publish and be damned. Or not, as the case may be.

  • Well done Duncan Hames and Simon George and Vince Cable and Simon Hughes and David Laws for challenging the the Tory side of the Goverment. That’s what I voted for!

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