Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 1:15 pm on 6th November 2003.

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Photo of Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Labour 1:15 pm, 6th November 2003

My Lords, I very much welcome all the amendments in this group save Amendment No. 256 which relates to the conduct of elections. This follows the passage of, I believe, an opposition amendment in Committee. Although Amendment No. 256 states, "Regulations may make provision", I take it to mean that regulations are required to be made. How long will that delay the establishment of foundation trusts? Subsection (3) of the new clause in Amendment No. 256 states:

"An NHS foundation trust must secure that its constitution is in accordance with regulations under this section".

I assume that it will take some time to put those regulations in place. They have to be written, consulted upon and come before Parliament under the affirmative procedure. I believe that my noble friend mentioned the affirmative procedure in relation to these particular regulations.

If foundation trusts are now consulting on their constitutions with their own scheme of elections, what is the impact on that if we now have an amendment accepted which states that the constitution cannot be decided upon until it is,

"in accordance with regulations under this section"?

Will that delay the matter by, say, six months? Alternatively, I hope that it is my noble friend's intention and that of his colleagues in the other place to get rid of this section when the Bill goes back to the other place. I certainly hope that that is the intent.