Clause 34

Health and Social Care Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:15 am on 17th January 2008.

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Provision of copies of registers

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

Photo of Stephen O'Brien Stephen O'Brien Shadow Minister (Health)

In what circumstances might the register not be made public? Which parts of the register might be hidden through regulations under subsection (3)? I note that the memorandum on delegated powers gives the example of a list of children’s homes. As I am sure we are all aware, the regulations here are under negative procedure, but it would be helpful if the Minister clarified what those circumstances are and gave examples, particularly those that might not be made public under subsection (3).

Photo of Sandra Gidley Sandra Gidley Shadow Minister, Health

I have couple of general concerns about the clause. Subsection (1) states that copies of registers must be kept

“available at its offices for inspection at all reasonable times by any person”,

and there is a charge if anybody wants any information from the register. However, in these days of the internet, should not the registers, in the greater public interest, be more publicly available, so that people can access the information when they want to? Doing that would remove a level of bureaucracy. Will the Minister give some thought to that?

Photo of Ben Bradshaw Ben Bradshaw Minister of State (Regional Affairs) (South West), The Minister of State, Department of Health

I entirely agree. We are leaving it up to the commission to determine how it should make the registers publicly available; it should consider the hon. Lady’s suggestion carefully.

On the question raised by the hon. Member for Eddisbury, we are talking about some particularly sensitive services for children and vulnerable adults that it would not be appropriate publicly to give details about. However, we will set out the circumstances where information should not be provided in the regulations. That will give us a chance to explore the matter in a little more detail.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 34 ordered to stand part of the Bill.