Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 12:30 pm on 16th October 2003.

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Photo of Baroness Noakes Baroness Noakes Conservative 12:30 pm, 16th October 2003

It is clear that we shall not be able to conclude our deliberations on these issues until the letter to which the noble Lord referred has surfaced and noble Lords have had an opportunity to read it.

I wish to comment first on the point made about discipline on management and not guaranteeing debt. I have never heard an explanation of how not guaranteeing debt results in imposing discipline on management. I understand that nothing in the Bill would make management responsible for the debt. Any debts built up by a foundation trust would remain the debts of that trust and would have nothing to do with the management. Perhaps I may suggest that that is a piece of empty rhetoric.

Further, I would suggest that the Minister has not yet explained how, if certain liabilities are not to be picked up for one reason or another, the regulator is to choose between them. Given that there is no framework covering the payment for certain liabilities, I am concerned whether such an ability to pick and choose between liabilities, leaving some of them stranded and therefore not met, satisfies human rights law. No doubt we can expand on that point further.

I look forward to reading the letter, in particular in order to understand how protected and non-protected assets are really defined and to see how the process will work in practice. I had assumed that the importation of the Insolvency Act provisions was much more a matter connected with the voluntary arrangements. Clearly that is something that I shall have to consider further. On that basis, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.