Health and Social Care Bill — Report (4th Day) (Continued)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 9:30 pm on 29th February 2012.

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Photo of Lord Fowler Lord Fowler Conservative 9:30 pm, 29th February 2012

My Lords, let me say first and foremost that I am extraordinarily grateful, as I think all who have signed this amendment are, for that reply and the way in which my noble friend gave it. We are grateful for the absolute commitment that she has given. I have had commitments before; I do not think I have ever had an absolute commitment, but I do not think that there is any prospect of withdrawal from it and I am grateful for that. I thank the Ministers for all that they have done. Perhaps I might also thank the public health officials, who I know have worked extremely hard to get a sensible outcome on this. We do not often thank the officials in this House, but in this case I will.

I thank the noble Baronesses, Lady Masham and Lady Finlay, both of whom spoke, and of course I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Gould, who has long campaigned on this issue. As she said, there are very important organisations which have campaigned and put forward proposals over the years. The National AIDS Trust has taken a lead, as has the Terrence Higgins Trust and the British HIV Association. All of them have spoken with the same voice and their campaign has gone on not just for a few months but for six, seven or eight years. This is an extraordinarily good culmination to all those efforts. I congratulate again the Government. It reflects great credit on them and on the Department of Health that they have accepted the case and that common sense, frankly, has triumphed.

I would just add this to my noble friend. I notice that the Terrence Higgins Trust produced a document called HIV and Sexual Health: 12 things the Government can do. They have done one of them now with an absolute commitment. It would be wrong for me to say that they still have 11 to go, as I think they have done some of those as well, but there are other things to do in this area. It is an important area of public health. It does not get the public attention that it deserves but in my view it is absolutely crucial. I congratulate the Government and thank them for their reply. I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment 161 withdrawn.

Amendment 161A had been retabled as Amendment 163AA.

Amendment 162

Moved by Baroness Cumberlege

162: After Clause 59, insert the following new Clause-

"Public Health England

(1) Public Health England shall be an executive agency engaged in the exercise of public health functions accountable to the Secretary of State.

(2) Public Health England shall have a board chaired by an independent chair.

(3) The board shall have a majority of independent non-executive directors appointed by the Secretary of State.

(4) Any appointment of the independent chair or independent non-executive directors of Public Health England shall be made by the Secretary of State after consultation with the Faculty of Public Health and such other bodies as the Secretary of State considers appropriate.

(5) Public Health England shall be able to-

(a) undertake independent research;

(b) bid for funding for research from research councils, charities and national and international funding agencies;

(c) publish research findings;

(d) tender for contracts, including research for work related to the functions of The Agency."