Health and Social Care Bill
Stephen O'Brien (Shadow Minister, Health; Eddisbury, Conservative)
We tabled an amendment on the clause, but it was not selected. I shall not stray from the clause stand part debate, but I would be grateful if the Minister could untangle the circularity that caused much concern and, indeed, mirth, during the oral evidence session with Lady Justice Smith. Under clause 93, a chair must be selected from the lay or professionally qualified members, and additional members must be selected from the professionally qualified list, which is defined as
“the list of persons eligible to serve as professionally qualified members provided for by section 94(1)(b)”.
As Lady Justice Smith rightly said, anybody examining the Bill moves to clause 94(1)(b), which states that those people are
“persons eligible to serve as professionally qualified members”.
That has a certain familiarity about it. As she so accurately said:
“Around we go in a circle.”——[Official Report, Health and Social Care Public Bill Committee, 8 January 2008; c. 37, Q64.]
I had therefore expected a Government amendment so that we could get rid of that circularity. The last thing that we want to do is pass any law that will be held up as a laughing stock by those who have to operate it.
Ben Bradshaw (Minister of State (Health Services; Minister for the South West), Department of Health; Exeter, Labour)
I have been advised that clause 93 refers to the professionally qualified members list as being those eligible to serve as provided for in clause 94. Clause 94(3) allows for rules to specify the requirements that a person must meet to be on that list, so the definition is not circular and we do not believe that a change is needed.