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It is not for me to second guess the regulator who no doubt would want to take account of the Secretary of State's position in approving a particular applicant for foundation trust status. It would be a matter of public record that that was the Secretary of State's position and that that was the condition on which he had approved a particular application to go forward to the regulator in that sense.
The regulator would have to make his own judgments either before he had considered giving authorisation or after if, indeed, the behaviour had changed from that which was expected at the time he had given it. Both circumstances could apply. The regulator would need to consider whether in subsequent behaviour by a foundation trust there had been a significant breach of the conditions under which he had given the authorisation. The noble Earl and I could debate the issue all day, but none of us is clever enough to think of the myriad of circumstances under which that might happen.
The regulator would then make a judgment about whether he wanted more information from a foundation trust, or whether ultimately he thought that the trust's collective behaviour had been so significantly different from that suggested in its application for foundation trust status that he had to take some appropriate action. I repeat that the duty of partnership is there and would be an important issue if there was a gross change of behaviour by a foundation trust after an authorisation had been given.
I have done my best to try to clarify matters for the noble Earl.