Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 8:45 pm on 13th October 2003.

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Photo of Baroness Noakes Baroness Noakes Conservative 8:45 pm, 13th October 2003

I thank the Minister for that unsurprising reply. She referred to the common law environment as being powerful but she knows that the only remedy is judicial review, just as it is at the moment if the Secretary of State behaves in a way that dissatisfies an NHS body. Anyone who has ever sought to obtain relief through a judicial review will know that that remedy is costly to obtain and not very often used.

It is easy to satisfy a judicial review. Someone sits in a department with their lawyer at their right hand. The lawyer says, "Secretary of State, you must consider what is before you". The Secretary of State then says, "I have considered it", and puts the matter to one side. It is very easy to deal with the process element of a judicial review.

The noble Baroness did not say why this scheme of regulation does not have appeal rights while other schemes in the public sector do. For example, the railway regulators and the energy regulators all have appeal rights. I am not convinced that we should leave this issue to the common law and we shall return to it with some force at the next stage. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.