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May I begin by responding to the three hon. Gentlemen who represent Staffordshire seats-in particular, I acknowledge the Under-Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, my hon. Friend Mr. Kidney, who has been present during this debate? The contributions that we have had from Staffordshire Members have been excellent and have reflected the enormous local concern about Mid Staffordshire. I appreciate and am grateful for the kind comments of several Opposition Members about the way in which the Secretary of State and I have dealt with these matters.
We need to ensure that the deplorable and inexcusable situation, as it was described by Sir Patrick Cormack, does not arise again. We need to ensure that the Care Quality Commission, which is an organisation that has recently been set up, has the power to look at trusts. We also need to ensure that Monitor is much more aware than it has been in the past of the problems that might arise with regard to various foundation trusts and that we have a process that will enable Monitor to de-authorise.
The hon. Member for South Staffordshire asked whether the process was fast enough. The time scale is 14 days. A number of parties are involved and we think that it is right that they should be able to express a view and that an investigation should be conducted. The process looks more cumbersome in legislation than it would be in practice. Our aim is that this should be a fairly brisk process and that everyone should know publicly what the time scale is. The Secretary of State should publicly make a request and there should publicly be a response within 14 days. There is potential to extend that time frame if necessary and if investigations need to be conducted for a longer period. I hope that I can reassure the hon. Gentleman that we recognise the need for expedition and would seek to ensure that we can deal with matters as quickly as is reasonably possible.
The hon. Members for Stone (Mr. Cash) and for South Staffordshire both want the Secretary of State to be able to intervene much faster. There seems to be a difference in opinion from those on their Front Bench. I can detect no wish from their Front Benchers for the Secretary of State to take the powers to intervene. The Front-Bench view seems to be that this should be dealt with by Monitor. That seems to me to be a difficult position for them to take, because the amendments give Monitor the power to de-authorise.
I was struck during the speech made by Mr. O'Brien by the fact that he seemed to think that the insolvency regime-an entirely different regime that has nothing to do with problems such as those that we faced with Mid Staffordshire-somehow already provides powers. It does not. It does not provide powers to intervene. As Ministers, we were not able to intervene. Monitor was. It has extensive powers but the problem was that in this case there was an issue with the way that it was dealt with. Public confidence was not restored by bringing in a full-time chief executive quickly-
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