Report (5th Day)

Part of Health and Social Care Bill – in the House of Lords at 9:15 pm on 6th March 2012.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Baroness Thornton Baroness Thornton Shadow Spokesperson (Equalities and Women's Issues), Shadow Spokesperson (Health) 9:15 pm, 6th March 2012

My Lords, we now move on to pricing. We believe that setting the national tariff is a matter of policy and that it should be set by a Secretary of State, not Monitor. That is the main thrust of these amendments. Amendment 201A is about setting the national tariff as a matter of policy. Amendment 201B proposes that regulations to the national tariff must state how the prices and methods were determined, that any proposed change to the national tariff will be subject to proper evaluation and testing, and that there must be evidence of consultation between the Secretary of State and Monitor. Amendment 201C states that the national tariff should not be allowed to vary in relation to different descriptions of provider. Amendment 201D states that where a commissioner of a health service receives an offer from a service provider who is licensed by Monitor at a price below the national tariff-I am sorry; that is my noble friend's amendment. I beg his pardon. Then there are a whole set of amendments which seek to delete clauses-Amendments 211A, 214A, 214B and 214C-because if the Secretary of State is setting the national tariff, these clauses are unnecessary.

At present, the national tariff is set by the Department of Health, often in ways that are mysterious, probably less than optimal and without sufficient consideration of unintended consequences, and often without enough testing. Nevertheless, we remain firmly of the view that price setting is such a fundamental part of the system that it has to remain the responsibility of the Secretary of State and the Department of Health. We do not have an answer as to why you would give such a potentially potent policy lever to the regulator. I should be grateful if the noble Earl could explain that. Why keep price control with Monitor? I should be interested to hear what he has to say. I am sure that we would all agree that the key point is that we get tariffs right. We therefore seek to insert the need for proper consultation and transparency in the tariff-setting process. I beg to move.