The government has dropped its controversial plan to scrap
community health councils to ensure the health and social care bill
becomes law.

When it became clear that opposition peers in the House of Lords
were ready to throw the legislation out unless the provision was
dropped, health secretary Alan Milburn caved in.

The bill, is today (Friday) awaiting royal assent, after passing
swiftly through the Commons and Lords last night (Thursday).

The legislation introduces free nursing care for older people in
residential care, and paves the way for the setting up of care

Since Tony Blair announced polling day for June 7, the
government has been frantically negotiating with the opposition
parties to save as much business as possible.

As a result it dropped seven bills including the adoption and
children bill. A similar bill will be reintroduced in the next
parliament whoever wins the election.

Another casualty is the homes bill which would place a duty on
local authorities to provide ongoing support to care leavers.

Mr Milburn is understood to be determined to introduce new
legislation to scrap CHCs if Labour wins the election, but insiders
are not convinced he or his successor will be allowed to after the
row almost scuppered the whole bill.

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