Clause 50 - Offences relating to disclosure or use of information

Health Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 6:15 pm on 10th January 2006.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Andrew Lansley Andrew Lansley Shadow Secretary of State for Health

I did not have the opportunity to ask this earlier, but I am keen that we should, in each case, ask about the basis for decisions about the level of penalties associated with particular offences under the legislation. Will the Minister explain the choice of penalties used here and whether that decision relates directly to any previous precedent?

Photo of Jane Kennedy Jane Kennedy Minister of State (Quality and Patient Safety), Department of Health

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for asking that question, because I asked the same question. I know that the offences of and penalties for failing to produce documents and wrongful disclosure have been reviewed and approved by the Home Office. Comparable powers to require the production of documents are held by the Audit Commission, Healthcare Commission and Government Departments such as the Department for Work and Pensions, and the respective penalties are broadly comparable, so we think that we have got the balance about right. They are all appropriate for the circumstances to which they apply. The penalties for wrongful disclosure in Healthcare Commission and Audit Commission legislation are broadly similar, and the maximum penalty is the same. I am sure that that is the absolute response that the hon. Gentleman seeks.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 50 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 51 ordered to stand part of the Bill.