Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 1:02 pm on 6th November 2003.

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Photo of Lord Warner Lord Warner Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Health, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health) 1:02 pm, 6th November 2003

My Lords, as I said earlier, we have some sympathy with the ideas behind the amendment, as the noble Earl has recognised. However, we do not think it is necessary to put this on to the face of the Bill. It will not be in anybody's interest—ours or anybody else's—not to distil the wisdom from the first wave and the subsequent waves of experience in this area. The regulator will be able to do that and we know, as I said on the earlier amendment, that the Joseph Rowntree Foundation will have a look at the governance arrangements of a wide range of public bodies, not just NHS foundation trusts. That has the benefit of looking at NHS foundation trust governance in the context of some other public bodies. As I understand from the noble Lord, Lord Best, it will also look at NHS trusts which are not foundation trusts, so some interesting comparators will be made.

That kind of review is likely to be more beneficial than a separate review on the NHS alone. Noble Lords referred constantly in Committee—not unreasonably—to the Higgs recommendations. The Rowntree proposals would give us a context in which to look at the experience of NHS foundation trusts. So while we are sympathetic to the principles behind the amendment, we do not think that putting such a requirement on the face of the Bill is the right way forward.

On primary care trusts, we have never said that we are opposed in principle to the idea of PCTs moving along some similar path. We have said that the Bill is not the right place in which to do that, as it is concerned with the provider side of the NHS. If we were moving along the commissioning side, it would be for the government of the day, at an appropriate time, to come forward with ideas after consulting a wide range of opinion.