Report (5th Day)

Part of Health and Social Care Bill – in the House of Lords at 4:15 pm on 6th March 2012.

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Photo of Lord Clement-Jones Lord Clement-Jones Liberal Democrat 4:15 pm, 6th March 2012

My Lords, clearly I have the Floor. I thought that I had it after the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, as I was guided. I am very pleased to have the Floor before her.

What my noble friend Lord Howe said was extremely constructive, not only about the state of competition within the health service and some of the patching that had to be done to make up for deficiencies of the 2006 Act, but also to do with competition, the block exemptions available, co-operation and the general duties of Monitor. A law court would probably find it much more useful to have my noble friend's fuller statement than simply some rather narrow amendment to the Bill. I recognise the deficiencies in my own Amendments 177 and 178. I much prefer the Pepper v Hart solution that has been found and proposed in these circumstances. The dangers of putting matters in the Bill are entirely illustrated by Amendment 178A. The Minister's criticism of that amendment, which was made to me by expert competition lawyers, of trying to put commissioning in a straitjacket as is proposed-it may give the wrong impression, but it is ineffective in terms of EU procurement law-shows exactly the dangers of trying to put too much into the Bill. The Minister, entirely appropriately, has picked up many of the points made during the course of the Committee and in debate today and put forward a statement that will be used by those looking at provision and commissioning in the NHS in future. On that basis, I wholly welcome it. I may not be able to withdraw my amendment to the amendment, but I shall certainly not be moving my Amendments 177 and 178. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Some Lords objected to the request for leave to withdraw the amendment, so it was not granted.