Report (6th Day)

Part of Health and Social Care Bill – in the House of Lords at 11:45 am on 8th March 2012.

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Photo of Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames Liberal Democrat 11:45 am, 8th March 2012

My Lords, on these Benches we take the view that it was sensible to include this provision. The advice that we have is that the risk of the application of competition law is reduced by ensuring that the majority of income for NHS foundation trust hospitals will always be for the purpose of treating NHS patients. It is not an absolute guarantee but it is a sensible risk-reduction exercise and it was put in for that purpose. There is no point in taking a risk unnecessarily. The communication problem has frankly been the result of the efforts of opponents of the Bill, partly in the party of the noble Baroness, in stressing the 49 per cent and suggesting that it is the purpose of the Bill, which, as I say, it is not.

That is not to say that private income in NHS foundation trusts is bad. The Labour Government recognised that throughout. In her speech, the noble Baroness herself very properly recognised it. Private income represents an opportunity for foundation trusts to attract innovation, to buy new and expensive equipment and to develop world-class centres of excellence. We recognise and applaud those features of private income. However, when tabling Amendment 220B, we were concerned that there should also be an individual arrangement for foundation trusts by which individual limits would be subject to agreement with Monitor.