Lib Dem MPs voted to debate Bns Shirley Williams’ emergency motion on supporting the Health Bill at the party’s Spring Conference out of “respect” and “trust” for her judgement as most do not fully understand the complexities of the bill, it is believed.
Bns Williams told MiP she was aware of the criticism she has received since coming out in support of the controversial Health Bill but said most of it comes from people “who haven’t a clue about what is really happening”.
“All the major concessions have been made in the past couple of weeks and the bill’s biggest opponents seem to be a month of so behind,” she said.
“They are talking about the bill as if it were still around Christmas time.
“Lib Dem MPs don’t have a clue about what we have achieved in the Lords themselves. They voted for the debate in my name out of respect and trust for the team.”
According to Bns Williams such recent concessions include: the throwing out of the Competition Commission, extending the life of economic regulator Monitor and placing further safeguards around Foundation Trusts increasing their numbers of private patients.
The Lib Dem peer said social networking website Twitter was at fault for the creation of a lot of the ‘myths’ and ‘untruths’ around the Health Bill and claimed it was being used as a ‘propaganda tool’.
Speaking about her u-turn in her now support for the government’s Health Bill, Bns Williams said it is the legislation that has changed, not her position.
“The only reason I am not opposed to the bill anymore is the concessions that have been made,” she said.
“It would be a little odd of me to turn around once I have been given everything that I have asked for, to then still be opposed to the bill.”
Bns Williams conceded the bill had been “ill thought out”, was “very complex” and hadn’t been communicated “at all” to the vast majority of health professionals and general public.
Rebel Lib Dem and retired GP Dr Charles West told MiP he feared peers had persuaded themselves they had done a better job than they had in the Lords.
By Louise Naughton