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

I am not sure whether this is the way to do it. We disagree. I do not think that the Liberal Democrats have achieved it, but there we are. As the noble Baroness said, history will see who is right and who is wrong.

I am extremely pleased to see that the noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, has transferred her attention from the Welfare Reform Bill to this one. She is quite correct that it is impossible to stop the negative impact that has been observed in the studies that she referred to. She is completely right about that. This whole debate illustrates the problem: half of the Bill seems to be there to mitigate the damage that the other half does. What used to be, for example, a clear duty to co-operate-and it was a simple duty-is now dense and complex.

Turning to our Amendment 163B, I should like to say to the noble Baroness, Lady Murphy, that it does not rule out the economic regulator function. That amendment does not seek to do that, so I hope that the noble Baroness, with that reassurance, might support our amendment. We seek to clarify and put beyond doubt that Monitor should have that function. We seek to do it in the first part of the Bill. We want Monitor to keep its current role. We believe that there should be two bodies and that it is difficult for Monitor to do both jobs at once, but it is important at this point of this first part of the Bill that we make it completely clear. Where the Bill says that Monitor should be the,

"Independent Regulator of NHS Foundation Trusts", we need to make it completely clear that it will continue to do that job.

We are not trying to weaken the role of Monitor. We think that foundation trusts are facing huge risks and huge reorganisation. They need the support that Monitor will offer them. I suspect that the Francis report, as I said earlier, will indeed have something to say about the strength and importance of Monitor as a regulator of foundation trusts. We would like this to be in the Bill because it makes it completely clear that this is an important job that Monitor does and that it should keep doing that job for the foreseeable future. I wish to test the opinion of the House.