Stop the Saatchi Bill

Driven by an extraordinary two-year PR campaign on social media and a supportive newspaper partner, this all started as Lord Saatchi’s Medical Innovation Bill, metamorphosed through several versions, and was resurrected under a new name by Chris Heaton-Harris, before finally clearing its last hurdle in the Lords this week to become the Access to Medical Treatments (Innovation) Act. Pretty much the only thing they share is the word 'Innovation' in the title.

One day, it may be possible for politicians to ask the people who actually work in the medical field: what are the problems you face, and how can we help you overcome them?

One day, politicians may actually listen to the answers they receive, and thus try to tackle genuine problems rather than imagined ones.

One day, politicians, medics, researchers, lawyers, patient groups, charities, and the public, may work together to overcome the barriers to the development and provision of new treatments.

But it is not this day.

Read more: Not this day

The current, revised, re-drafted, tweaked, changed, updated and amended latest draft

As we’ve said before, the Medical Innovation Bill has already gone through numerous incarnations during its current and previous attempts to survive the scrutiny of both Houses.

The Committee Stage of the Bill took place on 24 October. There were 39 amendments tabled and they were generally discussed in groups. The (nearly) four hours of debate can be watched here:

The Hansard record of the debate can be read here.

Lord Saatchi said he had taken many of the previous criticisms of the Bill into account. However, although 14 of the 39 amendments were in his name, many of those were trivial and minor; some were just single word changes. But that does raise the question of why these errors were not discovered and sorted long before now.

Of the thirty-nine amendments, 15 were moved and agreed. 19 were not moved, leaving open the possibility of them being reintroduced at Report Stage. Only five were withdrawn.

Of the 15 amendments that were agreed, 14 were ones in Saatchi’s name and only one by someone else.

But in what appeared to be a concession, Saatchi agreed to a ’round-table discussion’ of the Bill before the Report Stage, which has yet to be scheduled.

It remains to be seen who is invited to this discussion. Will all those who proposed amendments be invited? Will Saatchi pay any attention to anything said or will it be no more than a sop to the Bill’s many critics? Will Saatchi listen?

We will need to wait and see.

Meantime, the consolidated Bill has been published. The Bill as introduced comprised 373 words; the latest version of the Bill has 612 words.

The text of the current Bill can be found here (html) and here (pdf).

This Bill still has a long way to go.


HoL Round Table