The Medical Innovation Bill has today been introduced into the House of Commons as a Private Member’s Bill by Chris Heaton-Harris MP.
This is now his Bill and already he has changed the title to: “Access to Medical Treatments (Innovation) Bill”.
Lord Saatchi said: “It is wonderful news for patients that the bill has moved forward to the next stage. The House of Commons will bring great expertise to the scrutiny of the bill.”
Here’s how we got to today.
The Bill was taken through the House of Lords by Lord Saatchi, supported by the government health minister in the Lords, Earl Howe.
It was debated, amended and passed by the Lords and handed over to the House of Commons for MPs to debate and amend.
However, it was halted before it got to the Commons by the then Liberal-Democrat health minister Norman Lamb. (He was able to do this under the coalition agreement the Lib-Dems had with the Tory leadership – allowing them to veto discussion of Bills in the Commons).
We then had the general election – so the Bill ran out of time.
Where are we now?
First of all, all the amendments made in the House of Lords, which won over the support of the Lords, remain.
Second, there is much more time available now for MPs to debate the Bill. We are not faced with a looming general election and we are at the beginning of the new Parliament. This means that MPs can debate and amend the Bill.
We know that government ministers support the Bill, as does Labour’s shadow health Minister Andy Burnham. So, it has a good chance.
But there is, as you know, genuine opposition from some medical bodies, including Royal Colleges and the BMA. Many have changed their positions over the past two years and we hope we can persuade them to change their minds back again to supporting the Bill, as it develops.
Lord Saatchi listened to his colleagues in the Lords and amended the Bill and now MPs will have their say – and through them, so will all those – patients, doctors and lawyers – who have an opinion.
This is democracy and we hope all will join the debate and make this Bill a success.