Report (5th Day)

Part of Health and Social Care Bill – in the House of Lords at 6:00 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) 6:00 pm, 6th March 2012

In response to that last remark, it depends on whether Monitor decides it is collusion or collaboration. That is the key point. We suggested that that was a problem right at the very beginning of the Bill-how you distinguish between collaboration and collusion and what you do about that. I do not think we are any closer to finding the answer.

I turn to remarks that were made during the course of this very useful if diverse debate. I want to take one moment to say something to the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, and her colleagues and to the noble Baroness, Lady Murphy, about the fact that they feel misrepresented in social and other media. Indeed, as politicians it goes with the territory that you may be misrepresented from time to time. I have the greatest respect and admiration for the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, and she knows herself that that is where you are when you are in politics.

However, the noble Baroness herself wrote in an article in the Guardian on 13 February about dropping the chapter on competition, and in a letter that the noble Baroness and her leader wrote to their own MPs and Peers, they set a high bar for how Part 3 of the Bill might be made safe. It is just and proper that everybody will be looking at the noble Baroness and her friends to see and test whether they have succeeded and met their own aspirations. At the moment, I think that that is open to question. I do not think that it has been achieved. I know that that might be painful, but that is the case.

We have had some thoughtful amendments and contributions. As usual, the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, in her amendment and questions put her finger on a very important issue that the Bill needs to address even at this late stage. I had a great deal of sympathy with the amendment of the noble Baroness, Lady Cumberlege. I rather hoped that she would get a more positive response than she did and I am sorry about that.