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My hon. Friend puts the position and the challenge, especially to the Lib Dems, very clearly. The challenge to Conservative Members is this: they must recognise that the Prime Minister made the NHS his most personal pledge before the election. People wanted to believe him, but in just one year the NHS has become his biggest broken promise. My hon. Friend mentions the pause. In our Opposition motion in March, we urged the Government to
“pause the progress of the legislation in order to re-think their plans”.—[Hansard, 16 March 2011; Vol. 525, c. 374.]
However, many of the signs point to the Prime Minister’s “pause to listen” being a sham. Just one week after the announcement, and in fact on the day that the Health Secretary received that historic vote of no confidence at the Royal College of Nursing, the NHS chief executive wrote to NHS managers to tell them that
“we need to continue to take reasonable steps to prepare for implementation and maintain momentum on the ground”.
The House is used to pre-legislative scrutiny, but not pre-legislative implementation.