Health and Social Care Bill
Jim Shannon (Strangford, DUP)
On a point of order, Mr Hood. I would like a quick clarification on clause 47, which will make some changes to the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety in Northern Ireland. What will be the effect?
Forgive me for casting the net a wee bit wide, but I would like to get full clarification. Clause 46 will do away with the Health Protection Agency. Clause 47 refers to functions in relation to biological substances being exercised through the Secretary of State. Clause 48 refers to radiation protection functions.
How does the Minister see the Department effecting control in Northern Ireland through this change and the clauses that have been put forward? At the same time, whether it is biological substances or radiation protection, they may be specific to Northern Ireland but they could carry to Scotland, England and Wales as well. Can the Minister clarify that, to put my mind at rest?
Jimmy Hood (Lanark and Hamilton East, Labour)
What I invited the hon. Gentleman to make was a point of order, but that was not a point of order; it was a contribution—a worthwhile contribution. I invite the Minister to respond to it.
Paul Burstow (The Minister of State, Department of Health; Sutton and Cheam, Liberal Democrat)
I am grateful for the hon. Gentleman’s question. The first thing to say is that clause 47 and several others around it ensure that functions that currently rest with the HPA are properly transferred and that the responsibility for discharging them is clear in the Bill.
On the specific changes in Northern Ireland, there have been discussions between the Department of Health and the devolved Administrations to ensure that they are satisfied with those changes, as with any changes that affect them. In addition to that, to ensure that the hon. Gentleman’s mind is fully settled and satisfied, I will write with any further details that may be of assistance in answering his question.