Committee (5th Day)

Part of Health and Social Care Bill – in the House of Lords at 3:30 pm on 14th November 2011.

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Photo of Lord Warner Lord Warner Labour 3:30 pm, 14th November 2011

My Lords, I support the amendment and I do so from a background of having been the chairman of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations and a trustee of a number of organisations that have supplied services to the NHS and local government. This is indeed a very long-running sore; it is a sense of grievance. It often goes with another grievance-one which is not germane to this debate but which I might as well mention, because it explains why voluntary organisations are sometimes reluctant to provide some services for public authorities. That is a kind of meanness, almost, on the part of many public bodies about meeting the administrative costs-the management costs-of local authorities. If one takes the two together-a meanness about meeting management costs and being treated unfairly on VAT-this is a barrier to entry.

I fully support the points made by the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay. As the Minister knows, I have probably made myself a little unpopular on these Benches through my support for the idea of competition on a level playing field. I have a later amendment which raises the issue of barriers to entry. This is a barrier to entry. It is stopping voluntary organisations participating fully on the basis of a level playing field as a qualified provider. Therefore, in terms of the Government's own philosophy in the area of competition, they would do well to listen to these arguments and remove this barrier to entry.