The House of Lords will vote today (12 October) on plans to delay proposed health reforms that could "prove fatal" to the future of the Bill.
Crossbench peers Lord Owen and Lord Hennessy have moved for parts of the Bill to be placed in a Select Committee to allow for further scrutiny.
In a last-ditch attempt to block support for Lord Owen’s proposals, Lord Howe sent a letter to all members of the House of Lords 20 minutes before the health reforms debate began yesterday (11 October).
“This.. potential for slippage in the timetable carries grave implications for the government’s ability to achieve royal assent for the bill by the end of the session. The bill cannot be carried over from this session to the next.
“The House must have proper time to examine the bill but the proposal put forward by Lord Owen could result in delay, which could well prove fatal to it. This is not a risk that I believe this House should take.”
Surgeon and former Labour Health Minister Lord Darzi also said it would be "cruel" if a further delay is imposed.
Peers will also vote on an amendment by Lord Rea to kill off the Bill altogether.
Speaking to the House, Lord Rea criticised the government for imposing changes in the NHS ahead of the Bill becoming law.
He said a review could find such behaviour was "unconstitutional" and "illegal".
The changes that have been made "can be reversed", argued Lord Rea. He suggests re-establishing PCTs as more "leaner" and "efficient" organisations by way of achieving more clinican-led commissioning.
Co-Chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Committee on Health and Social Care Baroness Jolly admitted the Health Bill "drove a coach and horses" through the coalition agreement but claims it should be supported.
Shadow Health Minister Baroness Thornton later tweeted she was "confused" by Jolly's comments.