However, clause 44 seems to suggest that the commission has the discretion to publish if it wishes rather than be under an obligation to publish. Our amendment seeks to delete the words in clause 44(2) after ''publish'' to the end and to insert the words ''a report''. That would make it clear in the Bill that a report should be published.
Will the Minister clarify the Government's intention in the matter and say whether the amendment is acceptable or give us an assurance that a report will, in all normal circumstances, be published?
It is the Government's intention that CHAI should publish reports that deal with the needs of its audience, and that means that in a particular case a summary of its findings will be published. For example, were CHAI to perform a large-scale technical evaluation of a hospital trust's data set, a great deal of complicated material would be generated that may need to be summarised. Indeed, because of the long time over which the data are gathered they may be of little public relevance. In drafting the subsection in this manner, we are giving CHAI the flexibility to target its intended audience effectively in order that it can determine how best to disseminate its findings; we also wish to give it the discretion to make a determination on the audience for its report. The requirement is for CHAI to publish a
report, and the purpose of the subsection is to allow it to make that assessment.
My hon. Friend the Member for Oxford, West and Abingdon (Dr. Harris), gives his apologies for not being here this morning. Having read the summary, I am sure that he would wish to see the technical detail from which the summary was drawn in order to satisfy himself that it was an adequate representation of the full results. I share that desire. Will the Minister clarify whether the detail that led to the summary would also be available on request?
The hon. Gentleman will know that CHAI is an independent body and that clause 44 allows it the discretion to determine its audience. I hope the hon. Gentleman will agree that in the performance of the Commission for Health Improvement and the manner in which it disseminates its reports there have been no suggestions that it is not willing to provide those lengthy reports in detail to the hon. Gentleman or to his colleagues. We want CHAI to operate in a transparent way, and I am sure that I can give an undertaking today that it will supply information on request.
I acknowledge the good intentions behind the proposal, but I hope that the hon. Gentleman will understand our intention and will consent to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause 44 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Amendment made: No. 275,
That Clause 44 be transferred to the end of line 14 on page 20.—[Mr. Hutton.]