Schedule 5

Part of Health and Social Care Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:30 pm on 17th January 2008.

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Photo of Stephen O'Brien Stephen O'Brien Shadow Minister (Health) 4:30 pm, 17th January 2008

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. I am sure that we all noted what he said, and we certainly know his long-standing commitment in this area.

It may be unhelpful at this point to seek to divide the Committee. I am tempted to do so, because it would be an earnest expression of the Committee’s intent. The trouble is that it may put the matter into a more political sphere. If anyone outside is taking any notice of what we are doing, I think that this is the sort of issue which people would regard as being of such key interest that we need to rise above party politics or Government-bashing, or whatever it is.

I really do want to give the Government and this Minister the benefit of the doubt. I hope, however, that the earnest and sincere representations that have been made are now going to be taken away by him and his officials and thought through extremely carefully, because we have a right to expect something  constructive to appear on Report. It would be helpful if it were in the Government’s name, but we will also pursue this. To seek to divide the Committee would inevitably put those on the Government Benches in the embarrassing position of having to decide whether they support their sentiment or their party. Rather than forcing the issue in that way, I hope that I have set the context that makes my withdrawal of the amendment possible. I have very high expectations that the Minister will satisfy me and others at a later date. I beg leave to ask to withdraw the amendment.