Two weeks ago there was a Westminster Hall debate in parliament concering the provision of A&E, Maternity and Intensive Care at Royal Lancaster Infirmary. So far so normal. Except one Tory MP turned up at the debate to make a different point from everyone else – he wanted to get a petition pulled from the government’s e-petition site. Referring to this petition, David Morris – the MP for Morecambe and Lunesdale – said:
“I want the e-petition removed from Directgov and have written to the Cabinet Secretary to ask for him to intervene. We cannot have this dishonest campaign fought through the Directgov e-petition platform.”
Morris has claimed that the petition is inaccurate, as the CEO of the local NHS trust has told him that it is “hard to imagine” Lancaster losing A&E services, despite an ongoing review. Yet Matt Hood (who drew up the online petition) notes that “A&E, Maternity and Intensive Care services at the RLI are still within the scope of this review – whilst there may be no plans thus far this does not mean there may not be in the coming months once the review is complete”. The truth is perhaps more prosaic – the potential closures are being opposed vociferously by local Labour members.
Regardless though, it’s a worrying development that Tory MPs think that they can get government petitions pulled just because they disagree with the contents. So far the petition is still online – common sense seems to have prevailed and Morris has been ignored, for now.