The father of a terminally-ill boy has accused the Liberal Democrats of being "spineless" after they killed off a new law to allow doctors to test new cancer drugs.
Lord Saatchi’s Medical Innovation Bill, which was supported by Caring Cancer Trust, would have allowed doctors to test cutting edge new treatments on patients to help find cures for cancer and other serious illnesses. However Norman Lamb, Lib Dem Health Minister, wrote to Jeremy Hunt, the Tory Health Secretary, informing him that that the Lib Dems would not support the Bill despite it passing through the House of Lords.
Lord Saatchi’s Bill started life as a Private Members’ Bill in the House of Lords. It won government and media support last year after new safeguards were introduced following lengthy consolations and debates in the Lords. It was to have been debated by MPs on 27 February in a race to ensure it was put onto the statute books before MPs break for the election campaign. However it was pulled at the 11th hour.
“They have killed the Medical Innovation Bill,” Lord Saatchi on hearing the news. “It is dead. By killing the Bill they have killed the hopes of thousands of cancer patients. It is as simple as that.
"Nick Clegg has handed down a death sentence to cancer patients. It is an extraordinary turn of events.
“This is a grotesque insult to the House of Lords. Lord Saatchi, who lost his wife to cancer, continued. "The Liberal Democrats are saying that the House of Commons will never debate this Bill, which has been sent to the Commons after the House of Lords had passed it.
“I have no difficulty putting this at Nick Clegg’s door. I am very happy to stand that on him. There is no doubt that he has authorised the letter.
“One day he will feel very guilty about this I imagine. To do what he has done, to kill all these people’s hopes, is something that will haunt him.”
Source: Daily Telegraph 28 February. Christoher Hope, Chief Political correspondent