I understand that the decisions that are taken by the authority are those of the authority as a whole, therefore every member is equally responsible for them. However, although I would not expect it to be the subject of a change in the Bill, can the Under-Secretary assure us, for reasons of natural justice, that in practice the appeals committee would, whenever possible, be constructed of members who did not have a specific function in making the original decision that was to be the subject of an appeal? Within the obvious constraint of their all having been responsible for the decision, can we achieve that objective?
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for raising the setting up of appeals committees because it arose under the issue of appeals to professional regulatory bodies. I understand that the General Dental Council recently changed its regulations to ensure that they were compliant with the Human Rights Act 1998 and that members of the appeals committee are not members of the GDC. The appeals committee is therefore made up of people appointed for the purposes of appeals by the main authority—in this case, the GDC.
That has been set up as a model for other regulatory authorities. I know that that had to be done in response to questions about Human Rights Act compliance and fair trial. The suggestion made by the hon. Member for South Cambridgeshire may not go far enough. I should be grateful if the Under-Secretary
could reassure us that there is legal support for leaving the Bill as it stands or for taking on board the hon. Gentleman's suggestion.
I can give both hon. Gentlemen the assurances that they seek. We have tried to ensure that the Bill and the procedures to be followed are compliant with the Human Rights Act. I understand that the conditions set by the hon. Member for South Cambridgeshire would be a requirement of
compliance with that. There should not be a conflict of interests. We will reflect on the points that both hon. Gentlemen have made and, if necessary, we will discuss them further on Report.
Question put and agreed to.
Clause 17 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
It being twenty-five minutes past Eleven o'clock, The Chairman adjourned the Committee without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order.
Adjourned till this day at half-past Two o'clock.