Schedule 2

Part of Health and Social Care Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:00 pm on 15th January 2008.

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Photo of Stephen Crabb Stephen Crabb Conservative, Preseli Pembrokeshire 12:00 pm, 15th January 2008

It is a convention—and also heartfelt from me—to say what a pleasure it is to serve under your chairmanship, Mr. Conway.

As my hon. Friend said, the schedule provides for the transfer of the property, rights and liabilities of the various bodies affected by the Bill—in the case of Wales, the Mental Health Act Commission. I should like to ask the Minister a few brief questions about how the Bill applies to Wales, with a view to helping the scrutiny process. Those who follow closely the proceedings of the Select Committee on Welsh Affairs, as I am sure many do, will know that the quality of scrutiny given to legislation made here that affects Wales, particularly framework legislation and the new legislative competence orders, is a live question.

Although Members from all parties might feel comfortable devolving further functions and powers to Welsh Ministers as part of the ongoing devolution process, it is surely incumbent on us to ensure that there is the best possible scrutiny at an early stage. To that end, will the Minister update the Committee on the discussions that he and his officials have had with Welsh Assembly Ministers about how the Bill will apply to Wales? Specifically, what does he understand the property, rights and liabilities of MHAC in Wales to be? Did Welsh Ministers, during his discussions with them, identify any additional resources that they would need to be able properly to fulfil their new functions and powers under the Bill?

Given the benefit that the Minister anticipates the creation of the new independent and integrated Care Quality Commission will achieve in England, my main question and concern about the application of the Bill to Wales is how comfortable he is about investing Welsh Ministers with many of the relevant functions, and the extent to which he thinks that the spirit of independence that has been discussed in relation to the CQC in England will be observed in Wales. Perhaps he will update us on what Welsh Ministers have said and on how they intend to use the powers to ensure that people in the Principality benefit to the same extent as those in England from the new provisions in the Bill.