Clause 35

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

Alert me about debates like this

Bodies required to be notified of certain matters

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

I beg to move amendment No. 27, in clause 35, page 17, line 35, at end insert—

‘(aa) to the relevant Local Involvement Network and cooperative group of Local Involvement Networks,’.

In my desperate attempt to ensure that we kill the left-hand column of the selection list by the time we have to close, I should mention that amendment No. 27 would include LINks in the list of bodies to be notified of certain matters. Although that is no doubt possible under subsection (1)(d), it would be useful for it to be included in the Bill. I remind the Committee of the debate on LINks, but I will explicitly mention now CSCI, which in its submission at paragraph 43 stated:

“It would be useful if there were an explicit expectation that the new care provision had a relationship with local involvement networks.”

In the event that the Minister rejects this amendment—I sincerely hope that he will not feel that he needs to or should—I hope that he will add it to his great big box of issues to be reflected on, and come back to the Committee at a later stage with clearer thinking on it.

Photo of Greg Mulholland Greg Mulholland Shadow Minister (Health)

We have already expressed our concern at the lack of public involvement enshrined in the Bill. Although local involvement networks may or may not be the best way to achieve that, at the moment they are pretty much the only show in town, so we support the intention behind the Bill. I look forward to the Minister’s comments.

Photo of Brian Jenkins Brian Jenkins Labour, Tamworth

The Minister and I are both aware of the fact that circumstances change over time. Although I may have some sympathy with looking at local involvement, I would not want to prescribe which group is to be involved, in case it ceases to exist during the lifetime of the Bill.

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

They have only just been born, so give them a chance! As I said, I have sympathy with the motivation behind the amendment. However, I go back to the point that we have made on a number of occasions throughout our deliberations about how prescriptive we are regarding the actions of the new regulator. Although  I have stated that LINks will have a valid interest in the work that is done, I fully expect the Care Quality Commission to work closely with LINks—not for exactly the same reasons that Members have been mentioned, but for some of them.

It is not necessarily a good idea to prescribe in the Bill that a particular organisation should be involved in and pre-warned of all the actions that the commission is taking, particularly early on in proceedings before fault or guilt has been found. As I indicated in response to discussion on another clause, there certain issues that may have to be handled sensitively, in respect of which it would not be appropriate to inform LINks or anyone else of the commission’s activities.

Although I sympathise with the spirit of the amendment, the Bill as it stands strikes the right  balance between keeping the public and LINks informed, while allowing the commission to carry out its work fairly and appropriately.

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

In the light of the Minister’s expressing sympathy but not accepting the amendment, I take that as a “yes” to the matter going into the “I will reflect” box. On that basis, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Photo of Derek Conway Derek Conway Conservative, Old Bexley and Sidcup

I am afraid that we cannot deal with amendment No. 233 because it is 10.25 and I must suspend the sitting.

It being twenty-five minutes past Ten o’clock, The Chairman adjourned the Committee with Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order.

Adjourned till this day at One o’clock.