Clause 41

Part of Health and Social Care Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 1:30 pm on 17th January 2008.

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Photo of Stephen O'Brien Stephen O'Brien Shadow Minister (Health) 1:30 pm, 17th January 2008

The Minister just said that he does not think that the core principles should be enshrined in legislation. It is helpful to repeat what the Prime Minister said in his widely reported personal new year message to the NHS on 1 January, which can be read by all at www.dh.gov.uk—I even have details of how to find the particular sentence. He said that

“we will also examine how all these changes can be enshrined in the new constitution of the NHS setting out for the first time the rights and responsibilities associated with an entitlement to NHS care.”

If that is not to enshrine the core principles in legislation, one has to ask, what is? I am conscious that I am not going to make progress with the Minister—he has obviously decided what his position is.

I think that everybody is clear about our position on this: that it is appropriate to seek to enshrine the NHS core principles in legislation. Most unusually, we shall find an opportunity this Session for our NHS (Autonomy and Accountability) Bill to be considered by the House. That would be a better, more consistent and principled vehicle to use, rather than pursuing an ad hoc approach in Committee with the Minister. I hope that the Government will support our Bill, because otherwise, we shall be the only ones offering the enshrining of the core principles in legislation, notwithstanding the Prime Minister’s well-reported remarks of 1 January. As we shall have plenty of chances to revisit the issue, I am happy to beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.