Report (5th Day)

Part of Health and Social Care Bill – in the House of Lords at 4:58 pm on 6th March 2012.

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Photo of Baroness Thornton Baroness Thornton Shadow Spokesperson (Equalities and Women's Issues), Shadow Spokesperson (Health) 4:58 pm, 6th March 2012

The noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, has a very legalistic manner of addressing the House. Of course I understand exactly what was happening there, and I understand exactly what the deal was between his Benches and the Minister, which was that the noble Lord would get a strong statement in response to his amendment. Is he satisfied with it? If so, he is wrong. That strong statement means that the protection comes when legal action starts to take place. I would prefer the protection to be in the Bill. That is what these amendments are about-protecting the NHS. We disagree about that and the noble Lord knows it. If I may address the Liberal Democrat Benches, it seems likely that the noble Lord's spring conference will agree more with me than with him. However, that is his party's problem for this weekend-not ours, for now, on the Bill.

I should like to make two further remarks on the substantive amendment and what the noble Earl said. He suggested that we were making the procurement rules more complex. We were not; we were making them simpler. The NHS deserves protection in the Bill. The Liberal Democrats have made a deal that sells the NHS short, as happened on the issue debated last week on conflict of interest. That is a great shame.