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

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 10:30 pm on 29th February 2012.

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Photo of Baroness Cumberlege Baroness Cumberlege Conservative 10:30 pm, 29th February 2012

I thank my noble friend for that. I must say I am not reassured. What noble Lords were saying about credibility in the public mind is very important. There is a perception, whether we like it or not, that departments within Government tend to be closed-not secretive perhaps, but not very accessible to the general public. They have an image, and that perception is a reality in the public mind. Although there is an intention that they should be open and transparent, I am not sure the public see it like that.

On the question of trust, it was interesting that the Office for National Statistics at one time lacked a degree of credibility. People did not trust the figures that were coming out and so the Government of the day reconstituted it with the UK Statistics Authority and set it up in very much the way that we are trying to set up Public Health England. There is another model there. The Food Standards Agency, NICE and a lot of the new organisations-indeed the NHS Commissioning Board-are all being set up with non-executives and independent chairs. It seems really strange that here we have one of the most important new ideas coming forward with the establishment of Public Health England, trying to do something totally different.

I have never taken an amendment to Third Reading, nor have I tested the opinion of the House against the wishes of the Government whom I support. However, I have to say that I feel so strongly about this issue. I very much welcome the talks that have been promised but that does not rule out the possibility-I hope it will not become a reality-of taking this to Third Reading. I hope, if we meet the Secretary of State and our House of Lords Ministers as has been promised, that we will come to some accommodation. This is just too important to be left as it is and we need to take it further. I very much want to reach agreement in the future. It would not be a good idea to test the opinion of the House right now, because we would have a very small vote, but I do want to give notice that I feel strongly and will bring it back at Third Reading. However, as we cannot reach an accommodation at this time, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 162 withdrawn.

Amendments 163 and 163A not moved.

Consideration on Report adjourned.