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Last week’s Queen’s Speech marked the start of a new parliamentary session at Westminster, meaning that all Private Members Bills that had not completed their passage through Parliament were lost. A new ballot will be held this week for PMBs, with successful MPs being able to introduce legislation in the current session of Parliament.

Sadly this means that my Private Members Bill to protect the NHS from privatisation will not progress in the House of Commons.

Limited parliamentary time is given to debating PMBs and as a result the majority never become law. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been less than usual time available to debate these Bills over the last 12 months. I have faced numerous delays when trying to progress his Bill through parliament, with 8 separate dates being scheduled for its second reading before the Government suspended sittings for all PMBs in January.

As we enter a new parliamentary session, I'm disappointed that my Trade Agreements (Exclusion of National Health Services) Bill, which aimed to make it unlawful to include the NHS in any trade deal, and to give the parliaments of all four UK nations a say in any such deal that affects the NHS, will not progress.

The rules of the House of Commons are heavily loaded against Private Members’ Bills and at least 99% of them have no chance of becoming law even with the support of a majority of MPs. It has been even harder than usual to progress my Bill in the last year due to the impact of the pandemic on parliamentary business.

Presenting my NHS Protection Bill honoured one of the promises of the SNP Manifesto on which I was elected, to ensure our NHS will never be for sale at any price and to give all devolved administrations a say on any future UK trade deals.

I’m very grateful to SNP colleagues and to Labour, Plaid Cymru, SDLP, Green, Alliance Party of N Ireland and Independent MPs who agreed to act as sponsors, and to the parliamentary and constituency staff who put so much work into making the Bill a reality. Sadly it has fallen victim to the archaic practices of the House of Commons and I and my SNP colleagues must continue to fight to protect our NHS any way we can.

I will be entering the ballot again this session and if successful will consider whether to continue to pursue the NHS Protection Bill or look to other important matters which may have more chance of making it through the complex parliamentary procedures to eventually become law.

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