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I am absolutely amazed. I share my right hon. Friend’s incredulity that the Secretary of State is not here. In my view, clause 119 is one power too many for a Secretary of State who apparently believes the NHS to be a 60-year-old mistake. [Interruption.] That is a direct quotation from the Secretary of State before he took office.
The Secretary of State’s increased power and Monitor’s expanded role directly contradict the Government’s earlier promise that local commissioners would no longer be subject to central diktat. That represents a reversal of the vision that was presented during the consideration of the Health and Social Care Act 2012. Clause 119 supports none of the preconditions for a legitimate reorganisation of a local health economy and will allow trust special administrators to overrule any concerned parties.
If clause 119 becomes law, the Secretary of State will be granted the power to issue directions to require foundation trusts and clinical commissioning groups to take steps that they do not want to take. Any Member who wants to prevent the Secretary of State’s axe from falling arbitrarily on their own hospitals without clinical justification should seek to remove the clause from the Bill. I therefore urge right hon. and hon. Members to support Labour’s amendment 30 and new clause 16, which is a compromise measure to ameliorate the worst aspects of clause 119.