In a debate earlier this week, the hon. Member for North-East Hertfordshire said:
However, I hope that the amendments will enable the Under-Secretary to demonstrate that that is possible.
Amendment No. 158 relates to the consent of the Secretary of State to the appointment of the chief executive of the commission. It would take that power away from him and remove that requirement. Amendment No. 159 would do the same in respect of terms and conditions of employees of the commission. That would be a sensible thing to do.
Many of us have heard lots of interest expressed by local politicians and local people who have been involved in health campaigning for many years. We would be mad to assume that those people are going to walk away because there are new procedures in place and new ways of working. They will want to be engaged with what is going on. The amendments would help them to understand that the commission will be independent and able to do its job much better than ever the community health councils were able to do. I hope very much that my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary will accept the amendments.
In response to the hon. Member for Wyre Forest, that has already been done in the Bill.
I welcome the amendments. It is important that the commission is independent; that was one of the main things that was said in the listening exercise. I confirm that the Government are prepared to accept my hon. Friend's amendments. They will strengthen the proposals, and make the commission more independent and more vibrant.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment made: No. 159, in page 70, line 17, leave out sub-paragraphs (5) and (6).--[Laura Moffatt.]
It being Five o'clock, The Chairman proceeded, pursuant to Sessional Order D [20 November 2001] and the Order of the Committee [27 and 29 November 2001], to put forthwith the Questions necessary to dispose of the business to be concluded at that time.
Amendments made: No. 131, in page 72, line 16, leave out '45' and insert '45A'.
No. 132, in page 72, line 17, leave out '45A' and insert '45B'.--[Ms Blears.]
Motion made, and Question put, That this schedule, as amended, be the Sixth schedule to the Bill:--
The Committee divided: Ayes 9, Noes 3.
On a point of order, Mr. Hurst. We have been unable to discuss amendments Nos. 152, 190-197, new clause 1, clause 20, which abolishes community health councils, clause 21, which covers joint working with the Prison Service, and new clause 1, which was tabled by the hon. Member for Oxford, West and Abingdon who speaks for the Liberal Democrats. Can you confirm that it is in order for us to return to those matters on Report? As Chairman of the Programming Sub-Committee, can you indicate that more time will be required than the programme motion provides?
On the second point, I speak only as the Programming Sub-Committee tells me so to do. On the first point, however, it will be possible to table further amendments on Report if the hon. Gentleman so wishes.
Further consideration adjourned.--[Mr. Fitzpatrick.]
Adjourned accordingly at Five minutes past Five o'clock till Tuesday 11 December at half-past Ten o'clock.