Clause 150

Part of Health and Social Care Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:00 pm on 24th January 2008.

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Photo of Stephen O'Brien Stephen O'Brien Shadow Minister (Health) 3:00 pm, 24th January 2008

We have moved to the general part of the Bill, part 6. Our amendment No. 66 relates to this clause, and I believe that I said I may wish to press it to a Division. In my point of order in the Committee’s fourth sitting, I pointed out that we were made aware of the memorandum on delegated legislation only the day before our sittings began. The Minister kindly apologised, ascribing the error to a new Library rule. Officials have now succeeded in depositing the paper, and I am pleased to confirm that it is numbered DEP2008-0077. I am of course happy with that explanation, and I should be grateful if the Minister would continue to ensure that his Department and the Government give hon. Members plenty of time to study the Bills that they sponsor, particularly those involving complicated memoranda.

I am conscious that amendment No. 66 would mean that all regulations would need to be confirmed by the affirmative resolution. I am equally sure that I would press it to a Division only to hold the Government’s feet to the fire, as it were, as I have said on rare occasions before, so that they go away and think about the measure. Quite fairly, the Minister has just said that he promises to think about some of the issues that we have raised in amendments. Even if they were not made, they have spurred the possibility of some refinement of the Bill’s drafting, and we may well look forward to some changes on Report.

We will have to focus on that next week because, with the recess on the way, the timetable is such that we will have to table our amendments for Report in the next few days to ensure that we are ready to deal with that stage of the Bill on the first day following the recess. At least, that is what I have been informed. If that proves to be the case, we will have a busy time even in the recess.

I hope that the Minister will look carefully at our arguments. It is important, particularly with this Bill, given that we are dealing with so many entitlements and rights of people who are often in a vulnerable position, and because we are seeking positively to promote itemised and tailored individual public health issues, that we consider using the affirmative resolution procedure.

Amendment No. 260 is coming up on clause 158, so I am trying to work out in my own mind the best way to ensure that the earnestness of our intent is well recorded in the Committee proceedings.