New Clause 8 - Amendments relating to Local Health Boards and abolition of Welsh health authorities

Health Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 6:45 pm on 10th January 2006.

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(a) in order to reflect the fact that (by virtue of relevant directions) transferred functions may be exercised by Local Health Boards, or

(b) otherwise in consequence of, or in connection with, the abolition of Welsh health authorities effected under section 27(5) of the Government of Wales Act 1998 (c.38).

(2) Where a transferred function which became exercisable by a Local Health Board by virtue of relevant directions ceases to be so exercisable, the Secretary of State or the Assembly may by order—

(a) substitute for any reference to a Local Health Board in any enactment relating to the function a reference to the Assembly, and

(b) make such amendments of any enactment as he or it considers appropriate in consequence of any such substitution.

(3) No order may be made under subsection (1)(a) in relation to a transferred function on or after the date on which subsection (4) applies to the function.

(4) This subsection applies to a transferred function on the date when either of the following comes into force in relation to the function—

(a) an order made under subsection (1)(b) which amends an enactment so as to provide for the function to be exercisable only by the Assembly, or  

(b) an order made under subsection (2).

(5) In this section—

''amendments'' includes repeals, revocations and modifications;

''the Assembly'' means the National Assembly for Wales;

''relevant directions'' means directions given in regulations made under section 16BB of the National Health Service Act 1977 (c.49);

''transferred function'' means a function transferred to the Assembly by the Health Authorities (Transfer of Functions, Staff, Property, Rights and Liabilities and Abolition) (Wales) Order 2003 (S.I. 2003/813 (W. 98));

''Welsh health authority'' means a Health Authority for an area in, or consisting of, Wales.'.—[Caroline Flint.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Photo of Caroline Flint Caroline Flint Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health)

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time formally.

Photo of Eric Illsley Eric Illsley Labour, Barnsley Central

With this it will be convenient to discuss Government amendments Nos. 138 to 140.

Photo of Andrew Murrison Andrew Murrison Shadow Minister (Health)

I am slightly surprised that the Minister did not speak to the new clause because these are Government changes and I thought that the Minister might like to explain why she is introducing them at this stage. I would have liked her to do so.

Photo of Caroline Flint Caroline Flint Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health)

New clause 8 and related minor amendments Nos. 138, 139 and 140 allow the Secretary of State or the National Assembly for Wales to make orders by statutory instrument to deal with out-of-date references to health authorities in legislation. Since the establishment of PCTs in England and local health boards in Wales, there are no longer any health service bodies called health authorities. The order-making power will enable statutory references to be updated. Such an order could be used to reflect the fact that, since the abolition of health authorities in Wales, most of their former functions have been delegated to local health boards. If the Assembly were to decide to withdraw that delegation in future, the order could substitute a reference to the Assembly in place of a reference to a local health board. These are technical changes to update the language used.

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

Did the Government consider using the Government of Wales Bill for that purpose, rather than this Bill? It seems slightly odd to bring the matter forward at this stage when there is another legislative vehicle available.

Photo of Caroline Flint Caroline Flint Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health)

Section 27 of the Government of Wales Act 1998, contained an order-making power that enabled the National Assembly for Wales to make consequential amendments to legislation when health authorities were abolished in Wales. The power was not used when that occurred, and I am advised that it can no longer be used: it is spent. I hope that that adequately answers the hon. Gentleman's question.

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

It only reinforces the question. Since there is a Government of Wales Bill being considered on the Floor of the House and Government of Wales legislation previously seems to have been appropriate for this purpose, it seems that it would have been more appropriate to use that legislative vehicle, thereby giving greater notice of the measure, rather than introducing it in the Committee on this Bill.

Photo of Caroline Flint Caroline Flint Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health)

The opportunity was taken to deal   with the matter in the Health Bill. As I say, it is technical matter and just refers to changing the terminology relating to health boards. We need to do that now in the context of the consolidation Bills currently being prepared.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.