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Health and Social Care Bill — Report (1st Day) (Continued)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 9:45 pm on 8th February 2012.

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Photo of Lord Warner Lord Warner Labour 9:45 pm, 8th February 2012

My Lords, I intervene briefly to echo everything that the noble Lord, Lord Willis, has said. We should not rest on our laurels as regards research. I do not want to go over the ground of micromanagement, but the NHS is very quick indeed to forget its responsibilities on research-and I say this as a Minister who was responsible for NHS research and development under the previous Government. We do not want to go back over the micromanagement debate, but the mandate is a critical issue if the NHS is really to keep research at the forefront of its thinking.

That is because at local level, too often on the provider side of the NHS research is forgotten. It is a Cinderella service which comes second to service delivery, and we end up seeing that people at senior levels and at local level absolve their responsibilities in this area. Nothing is a better example of that than the way in which local ethics committees and the people around them have inhibited the advance and the speedy development of research. I do not think that the Secretary of State can absolve himself of these responsibilities here with just this duty. Year in, year out, he will have to use the standing rules and the mandate to make sure that the NHS's nose is kept to the research grindstone in the very way that the noble Lord, Lord Willis, has said. I hope that the Minister will be able to convey some of that back in the department as well as on the Floor of the House.