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I am grateful to the Minister for directing me to section 7 of the guide. It has answered some of my questions but it also justifies our amendment. It makes it clear that the regulator plays only a peripheral role in the decision-making process and that right up to the point of the creation of a shadow NHS foundation trusts, he has no involvement and no say whatsoever. The regulator's only participation in this may be to take a proposal that has come apart in the late stages and say that it will not do.
The guide states:
''Success in the second stage will lead to shadow NHS Foundation Trust status. The Department of Health and the Independent Regulator will work with shadow NHS Foundation Trusts to prepare for formal establishment.''
It is clear from that that the regulator will not have a truly independent say about which trusts are suitable for foundation status and which are not. The balance of decision-making clearly lies with the Department of Health. The Minister can read that again, but the guide is quite clear. It states:
''Second stage applications will be assessed by a panel of experts drawn from inside and outside the Department of Health.''
Where is the regulator's role? According to the guide, the regulator cannot input into the process until the decision to create a shadow NHS foundation trust has been established. That is clearly a political decision. The Secretary of State is controlling the decision.
Mr. Hutton indicated dissent.