Andy Burnham MP, Labour's Shadow Health Secretary, said in response to the article by Shirley Williams in today's Guardian:
"This call by Shirley Williams is a significant development and marks a clear shift towards Labour's position on the Health & Social Care Bill. It will cause severe embarrassment for the Deputy Prime Minister who only yesterday was offering Liberal Democrat endorsement for the Bill as it stands.
"The last chapter of this saga is approaching and the battle lines have finally been drawn. David Cameron wants to legislate for a full-scale market in health and yesterday his Health Secretary was arguing the case for more competition. By contrast, Labour's defence of the existing collaborative NHS ethos is receiving the support of patients, the professions and now senior Liberal Democrats.
"As the House of Lords prepares to debate the role of competition in the NHS in the coming weeks, we hope Shirley Williams and other senior Lib Dems will vote with Labour to drop these reckless plans. If the Government was forced to take out this Bill's competitive heart, it would be a devastating blow to David Cameron's privatisation ambitions.
"People have not given the Government permission to change our NHS into a market. Nobody voted for it. It is time for the Government to drop the Bill."