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News, gossip and insight from PoliticsHome Editor Paul Waugh

Fatal Attraction

Long after it was finally passed, the Lansley Act continues to dog the Government.

As with many complex bills (the Welfare Reform Act is another), the devil in the detail comes in secondary legislation needed to give effect to the main policy changes.

A Lib Dem spring conference rebellion is in the offing, particularly over the set of regulations to implement plans to open up the NHS to outside providers. The regulations forbid a commissioner of health services from acting in an anti-competitive manner.

Jeremy Hunt's aides hinted earlier this week that Lib Dem peers concerns over the regulations would be taken seriously, prompting suggestions of a U-turn.

But Labour have today decided to step up the attack. The party has just tabled a 'fatal' motion in the House of Lords aimed at dumping the regulations in their entirety.

This is only the third fatal motion tabled this Parliament (the previous two were on tuition fees and legal aid) and they are used sparingly precisely because they a high risk The latest one would force a debate and vote in March where, if passed, would see the regulations dropped altogether.

It's a tactic aimed directly at exploiting Lib Dem peers' concerns and it now seems upto Hunt to come up with a possible word change that could keep them happy. Earl Howe, the man who did most to keep the Lansley bill on the road, has his work cut out again.

Let battle commence.

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