MPs are looking to avoid debating NHS reforms in the House of Commons as the subject is too ‘contentious’.
After Labour leader Ed Miliband attacked David Cameron’s ‘broken promises’, during a visit to the Royal Bolton Hospital today, it was revealed that the plans may not be debated by MPs despite having over 140,000 e-petition signatures on the Government’s website.
Labour MP Natascha Engel, chairwoman of the Backbench Business Committee, claimed it was difficult to force the Government to dispute the matter as it will be a ‘conflict of interests’ for the coalition.
Ms Engel said: "We have loads of different debates waiting for allocation. The Migration Watch debate still hasn't been scheduled.
"It's such a contentious issue and it's against the Government's position and it's the Government that allocates us time, so there is definitely a conflict of interests."
Under the Government's scheme, many signatories hope that by adding to the e-petition they can force MPs to debate the issue in the House of Commons.
Ms Engel's comments come as Labour leader Ed Miliband said the NHS would become the ‘defining issue’ at the next election. He also claimed that David Cameron had ‘concealed his plans for creeping privatisation of our National Health Service’.
Mr Miliband said: "The Prime Minister made solemn promises before the election to the country. No going back to waiting for hours on end in A&E. Three thousand more midwives. An end to hospital closures. And no more top-down reorganisations.
"He has broken all these promises and more. It is bad for our NHS and bad for politics.”
"People didn't get a vote on these plans at the last election. But I give you my word that if he goes ahead, they will be a defining issue at the next."
The Government's website states any petition reaching 100,000 signatures ‘could be debated’ in the House of Commons, but this is not guaranteed.
Health minister Simon Burns hit back at Mr Miliband today, claiming the Government had not reneged on their pre-election promises.
Mr Burns said: "Ed Miliband can talk the NHS down all he likes, but the truth is that services are getting better all the time - with shorter waits since the election, 820,000 more people able to access an NHS dentist, 15,000 fewer administrators, 4,000 more doctors and 600 more midwives.
"Our plans deliver control for patients, power for doctors and nurses, and less bureaucracy. Labour still have no plan to help our NHS meet the challenges of the future. Their approach is simply one of cynical opportunism."
Miliband’s comments received support from the Royal College of Midwives, saying the best thing for the Government to do would be to abolish the plans.
Louise Silverton, deputy general secretary of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), said: “The Royal College of Midwives remains opposed to the Government’s Health Bill and believes the best thing for the NHS, for the people who use it and for the Government would be for the Bill to be dropped, with immediate effect.
"If it goes ahead, there is a very real danger that NHS will simply become a franchise with services being provided by a plethora of private companies with an eye on the bottom line and their shareholders.
“Ed Miliband rightly points out the Prime Minister’s failure to honour his pre-election pledge to recruit 3000 more midwives as the birth rate reaches its highest level for over forty years. So, I repeat our call for him to do the decent thing, honour his promise, and give England’s seriously under-staffed maternity services the people and resources needed.”