Government concession in pre-election rush to tie up loose ends

By Esther Webber
BBC News, London

Image source, AFP

Before the Easter recess, the government was defeated in the Lords after crossbencher Lord Warner successfully insisted on an amendment to the Health Service Medical Supplies (Costs) Bill.

The amendment seeks to introduce a commitments to the life sciences sector and on patient access as the government reforms the way new drugs are priced.

Now Labour's health spokesman in the Lords, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, has tweeted that the government has conceded on the issue.

His tweet reads:

Image source, Lord Hunt

Next week, Parliament will have to finalise or bin the remaining legislation still passing through Westminster.

There are a few bills at ping-pong stage at the moment bouncing between the Lords and Commons in search of final agreement.

What normally happens in these circumstances is that the government seeks as much agreement as possible, and drops controversial parts of the legislation to get the rest through - a process known in Westminster slang as the "washup".

As Emma Norris of the Institute for Government points out, bills which are currently in ping-pong stage which the government wants to see passed "are only likely to make it through to the statute book with compromises".

Yesterday, ministers were able to resist a Lords amendment to the Technical and Further Education Bill attempting to secure child benefits for apprentices on the grounds that it is a financial matter, giving MPs the final say.

With next week's business full of consideration of amendments, it is likely there will be more concessions such as that on the Health Service Medical Supplies (Costs) Bill seen.

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