Clause 98

Health and Social Care Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:45 am on 22nd January 2008.

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Procedural rules

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

Photo of Sandra Gidley Sandra Gidley Shadow Minister, Health

This clause specifies when a hearing will be made in private. Concerns were raised by the British Medical Association about the new provisions because health cases are currently heard in private. Will the Minister clarify under which circumstances a hearing may be held in private and whether that would be for health cases only or whether there would be a trigger point? I assume that that has to be decided case by case by somebody: who would make that decision and what framework would be available for them following that decision? While we all believe that openness and clarity are important in such cases, there are occasions where that has to be balanced against sensitive information that may be relevant to the individual. I am not clear how that balance will be achieved.

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

We expect the future arrangements to replicate the current ones, which, as the hon. Lady is probably aware, provide for hearings to be held in private under particular circumstances, such as for witness evidence to be protected, or for special arrangements to be put into place due to age or vulnerability. In formulating those rules, the OHPA will, of course, be informed by the current position and  will to have to pay careful attention to human rights. It will also have to consult widely, including with the existing regulators on its proposals on that very important area.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 98 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 99 and 100 ordered to stand part of the Bill.