By Matthew Barrett
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The amendment would have placed the whole of part three of the Health and Social Care Bill - the section relating to competition in the NHS - in a special select committee for further scrutiny.
As covered this morning, the 7th Earl Howe, a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Health, warned that the:
"...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."
Government ministers will breathe a sigh of relief, as the amendment was defeated by 330 to 262 - a relatively comfortable margin, considering the media interest in the amendment over the last few days.
Update: GB£.com - I've changed the offending headline! Tom Greeves
Earl Howe - a gentleman who reminds us of the many merits of a hereditary system - is a Shadow Health Minister. He has recently had an answer to a question about food supplements. The matter of the European Union wanting to set maximum levels for minerals and vitamins has been a cause of concern for several years.
Both athletes like me and normal people like you are worried, and annoyed, about it.
What is the timetable for setting maximum permitted levels for vitamins and minerals under Article 5 of the food supplements directive; what consultation the Food Standards Agency will hold on any such proposed maximum permitted levels; and what steps they will take to ensure that Parliament is involved in considering those levels prior to their finalisation and transposition into domestic law; and [HL6475]
When Ministers will next meet Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou; what subjects they will raise at that meeting; and whether they will discuss the implications for consumer choice in the United Kingdom of setting restrictive maximum permitted levels for nutrients in food supplements; and [HL6476]
What assessment they have made of the likelihood of achieving in negotiations in the European Union their objectives for the setting of maximum permitted levels for vitamins and minerals in food supplements; and whether the resources devoted to the negotiations by the Food Standards Agency are sufficient. [HL6477]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): The European Commission has indicated that it intends to publish proposals for minimum and maximum levels for vitamins and minerals in food supplements in early 2009.
In the absence of proposals, no formal assessment has been made of the likelihood of achieving the Government's objectives in European negotiations.
In the mean time, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has been holding bilateral meetings with its counterparts in other member states to promote the Government's objectives, in addition to promoting these objectives in working group meetings with the European Commission and other member states.
When the proposals for setting maximum levels are published, the FSA will conduct a full consultation with United Kingdom stakeholders in line with the government code of practice on consultation. The FSA will ensure that copies of the consultation documents are placed in the Library.
There are no current plans for Health Ministers to meet the European Commissioner for Health to discuss matters relating to the setting of maximum permitted levels for vitamins and minerals in food supplements."
Honestly - can't we just decide this stuff for ourselves?!
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