Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 10:00 pm on 13th October 2003.

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Photo of Lord Clement-Jones Lord Clement-Jones Liberal Democrat 10:00 pm, 13th October 2003

I entirely echo what the noble Baroness said. We on these Benches have put our names to the amendment because we believe that, as the foundation hospitals are currently written into the Bill, this issue will be one of the real problems facing them. We are concerned about its impact on the remainder of the NHS and this "beggar my neighbour" approach could have a widespread effect.

As the noble Baroness said, the problem arises from the unwillingness of the Treasury genuinely to allow foundation hospitals a degree of freedom over their capital borrowing. In this context, capital is of course of huge importance in terms of development of services. I believe that this will be one of the major stumbling blocks in future, both in the way in which non-foundation trusts view foundation trusts and the way in which foundation trusts will be able to develop their own services when they are constrained in this way. There is no reason why they should be because whether foundation trusts will be able to borrow will depend on whether lenders believe they are a good risk. That is the crux of the matter. This set of provisions does not take enough account of that. They are hedged around with all kinds of artificial restrictions.