Clause 101

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

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Stephen O'Brien Stephen O'Brien Shadow Minister (Health) 11:45 am, 22nd January 2008

It would stray beyond the scope of the amendment to give even my extraordinarily limited understanding of the workings of the Privy Council, other than to recognise that, as I understand, “Privy” is not intended to signify that it should be withheld from scrutiny and accountability when done in the names of us all. It is a council whose first and primary loyalty is its adherence to the monarch. Because of our constitutional arrangements, the sovereign powers of law making are in Parliament rather than with the monarch, and it is effectively a form of delegated administrative implementation. Therefore, the Privy Council always acts upon constrained and tight legal advice. That is as far as I dare to take it, without getting into a debate.

The amendments were deliberately designed—and I think that this is the satisfaction that the hon. Lady seeks—to require the Privy Council to respond to any representations made by the two regulatory bodies, whose registrants are covered by the OHPA. If the Privy Council cannot give such a public statement, through this it would have the power to direct others to  make statements on its behalf, or indeed through the Department. The main point is that there is transparency and accountability through the publication of these matters.

The amendments will help to ensure confidence in the new body, by adding much greater transparency to its decision making process for patients, the public and indeed doctors. It will ensure that there is clarity about any rule changes and those reasons will, I think, be critical—I dare say that that is not a point of contention. It is also important for the OHPA to ensure that it fully considers the views of the regulatory bodies that have long-standing experience of dealing with adjudication in fitness to practise cases, and have the primary interest in the effective application of their own standards.