Clause 13 — Regulation of the health professions

Part of Scotland Bill – in the House of Commons at 9:04 pm on 7th March 2011.

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Photo of Tom Greatrex Tom Greatrex Shadow Minister (Scotland) 9:04 pm, 7th March 2011

I rise to support clause 13 on the regulation of health care professionals. In some ways, it falls into the same category as the one we described in relation to clause 12. The Calman commission looked at an issue, and in this instance it decided that the best interests of Scotland would be for the issue to be dealt with on a UK-wide basis. Dr Whiteford said that her response to the previous issue was not a knee-jerk one; I assume that she or one of her colleagues will now rise to explain that there will not be a knee-jerk response to this issue. There seems to be a pattern emerging: when the Calman commission recommends that things be done at a UK level, it must be wrong, and when it recommends that they be done at a devolved level, it must be right. I am afraid that that does not strike me as consistent with serious consideration of these issues.

Since the passage of the Scotland Act 1998, several new categories of health care professionals have come into existence. In some instances, their regulation has been less than complete, and when they require regulation, it is appropriate that it is done in the same place. That proposal has been supported by the Calman commission and by the Scotland Bill Committee, and it was reflected in the White Paper and in the draft Bill. The Health Professions Council, NHS Lothian and others have supported this as a sensible approach. In evidence to the Holyrood Bill Committee, the Health Professions Council observed that

“there is widespread consensus that a consistent UK-wide approach to the regulation of health professions is both appropriate and beneficial to professionals and the public.”

This is beneficial to the public and consistent for the professionals.

We support the clause instead of trying to find a reason to object to it simply because it reserves a power. That does not strike me as a sensible way of dealing with the issue. However, no doubt Pete Wishart will now try to enlighten me.