Clause 114

Part of Health and Social Care Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 6:15 pm on 22nd January 2008.

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Photo of Stephen O'Brien Stephen O'Brien Shadow Minister (Health) 6:15 pm, 22nd January 2008

I beg to move amendment No. 56, in clause 114, page 62, line 18, leave out subsection (4).

This is a probing amendment to ascertain the Government’s plans under subsection (4) for the regulation of social care workers who are not currently social care workers. The simple question is, what groups does the Minister have in mind? The Minister confirmed during the debate on clause 5 that it is not the Government’s intention

“that the domestic or private arrangements that they outlined should fall under the requirement for regulation”.——[Official Report, Health and Social Care Public Bill Committee, 15 January 2008; c. 226.]

Regulations under this provision are made by statutory instrument under the affirmative procedure, in recognition of the fact that in granting the Secretary of State the power to repeal or amend any provision other than section 55 of the Care Standards Act 2000,  this is a Henry VIII clause—our old friend whom we discussed earlier. I shall refrain from reading out the remarkably humorous contribution I made at the time.

Our memorandum of information notes:

“It has hitherto not proved possible to make amendments as promptly as would be desirable in that changes require an appropriate legislative vehicle and sufficient Parliamentary time.”

I felt quite irritated and irked by that. It is not a strong argument. For a Government it is a very weak argument, because not only is control of both elements wholly within their power, there has not been one parliamentary year since Labour came to office when an Act meddling with the NHS or social care sector has not gone through the House, any number of which might have contained the proposed provision. Committee members need only look at part 5 of the Bill for examples.

It remains a moot question, therefore, whether the Committee should vote away even more of Parliament’s democratic role solely because either the Government are not on top of their policy making in advance of their proposed legislative programme or they have some problem with their parliamentary timetabling, such that we need this extraordinary catch-all definition of social care workers who are not currently social care workers. I look forward to the Minister’s response.