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Lord Rea: My Lords, I speak from a lifetime of work in primary healthcare in which collaboration with the social services has been absolutely crucial. That does not only apply to primary care; socio-economic conditions are absolutely crucial in governing the health status of whole communities. Nevertheless, that said, the co-operation between social services and the health service has not been as good as it should have been. The frustrations of the JCCs that my noble friend mentioned are only one part of this. Even at a lower level things have not always been as good as they should be—although, as I said in a debate last week, I have the highest respect for the integrity, motivation and dedication to work of individual social workers.

Enabling the director of social services, or someone who is nominated in his or her place, to sit in on the meetings of the health authorities and to take part in the

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discussions that lead to decisions, and to be always there to give advice from a social services point of view, would be enormously helpful in boosting the morale of the social services. It would make them feel much more as if they are true partners in integrated care, which is surely part of the new primary care led National Health Service.

Baroness Miller of Hendon: My Lords, we have made clear on a number of occasions the Government's view that membership of health authorities should primarily be decided on the basis of an individual's personal skills and qualities and not the office that they hold or the group they represent. I should first explain, however, that neither the chairmen of local authority social services committees nor any other member of a local authority is currently excluded from membership of DHAs and FHSAs. They will continue to be eligible for appointment to the new health authorities.

It is true—as the noble Baroness, Lady Jay, said—that the experience of a social services committee chairman might be valuable in many circumstances. This does not mean, however, that social services committee chairmen will necessarily possess the range of skills, qualities and experience that are necessary to serve effectively on a health authority. The duties that will fall to health authorities will be wide-ranging; many will fall outside the scope of the responsibilities of a local authority social services committee.

One of the aims of the new guidelines on the appointments process, published by the Secretary of State for Health in February, is to ensure that appointment to NHS boards is open to as wide a range of people as possible. That will enable us to continue to achieve our objective of ensuring that the NHS continues to benefit from the appointment of the best people both to health authorities and trusts.

The allocation of a non-executive appointment on health authorities to the chairmen of social services committees is in direct contradiction to the key principle of making appointments based on the merit of the individual. This principle is key to the success of the appointments process and must not be undermined.

There are other mechanisms in place to help health authorities and local authorities comply with their statutory duty of necessary co-operation. In particular, joint consultative committees of local authorities and health authorities will continue under the new NHS structure and their work will be made easier by the reduction in the number of NHS authorities at local level.

I was very sorry to hear that the noble Baroness, Lady Jay, did not have a particularly good experience of JCCs; nor indeed did the noble Lord, Lord Rea. I can say from personal experience as a former chairman of the local FHSA that we had very good experiences on our JCC and much valuable work was done on that committee, notwithstanding that the chairman of the local social services committee was not a member of the FHSA. Although it was very early days, we produced a

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joint community care plan then as well. I hope that the noble Baroness may feel that she can withdraw the amendment.

Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, I am very grateful to the Minister for that reply. The whole issue of representative members of health authorities is one that we have discussed at length in relation to different amendments and at different stages of this Bill. My primary concern in introducing the amendment was to emphasise the concerns that have been expressed many times in the House about the most effective ways of developing community care, particularly in relation to the joint responsibilities for continuing care of the NHS and social services.

I suspect that, although we could no doubt dispute for several minutes or even hours about our relative experiences on joint consultative committees, some other form of mechanism will have to be developed if we are to be sure that effective working relationships between social services and health authorities can be dependent on something more formal than simply the good working relationships of individuals. However, the spirit of the amendment was, as I said, to explore my concerns about that particular relationship. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 11 not moved.]

Baroness Cumberlege moved Amendment No. 12:


Page 31, leave out lines 7 to 9.

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, your Lordships will recall that we debated this amendment, along with two others concerning the Local Government Finance Act, at Committee stage. As I explained during that debate, Section 28A of the Local Government Finance Act 1982 confers certain functions on the Audit Commission. The section should have been repealed by the 1990 Act. It is no longer needed because similar functions are conferred on the Audit Commission by the 1990 Act.

The set of three amendments clarified the situation by repealing Section 28A and removing a provision in the Bill which amended that section. Owing to my error, and despite the help and co-operation of the Benches opposite, the second of that group of three amendments was not moved at Committee stage. That is the amendment I have moved today. It is needed to make sense of the other two and to complete the clarification. I invite, indeed beg, your Lordships to agree this amendment. I beg to move.

Lord Carter: My Lords, this amendment gives me the chance to thank the Minister for the very helpful letter that she sent me after we discussed this amendment and the one that she failed to move. In her letter she states:


    "The Government amendments tabled during Committee Stage clarify the situation by repealing section 28A and removing all references to that section from the Bill".

But of course they did not, so she has had to move this amendment.

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The Minister will remember that I was rather puzzled on reading Chapter 32 of the Local Government Finance Act 1982, having obtained a copy from the Printed Paper Office, since there was no way of telling that the Act had been amended. I have checked this with authorities. There is a difficulty for us, without the resources that the Government have, in tracking down the way in which Acts have been amended. I am told that in 18 months' time, once the computer programme is right, a system might be available. It would be helpful in instances such as this—that Act was amended twice by the Local Government Act 1989 and the National Health Service and Community Care Act 1990—if there could be a footnote or an indication in some phrase such as "as amended by Clause so-and-so of the amending Act". As I say, when one goes back to the Act itself and the chapter referred to, it is not possible to find the amendments at all because the relevant section has been amended by later Acts of Parliament. It is a lacuna in our procedures, a gap which it is hard to fill.

As the noble Baroness said, this amendment puts right a slight omission at a previous stage of the Bill.

Baroness Cumberlege: My Lords, perhaps I may take up the point that the noble Lord made. Certainly it rests with a higher authority than myself. Perhaps we could discuss that. It is a very valid point.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 3 [Preparations for reorganisation of authorities]:

Baroness Cumberlege moved Amendment No. 13:


Page 2, line 32, leave out ("prescribed").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in moving this amendment I should also like to speak to Amendment No. 14. They are both technical amendments. They relate to Clause 3 of the Bill which contains provisions to enable regional health authorities, district health authorities and family health service authorities to prepare for the reorganisation on 1st April 1996. In particular, Clauses 3(2) and 3(3) enable us to make regulations allowing DHAs and FHSAs to exercise functions jointly or on each other's behalf.

We will make regulations under these provisions to come into force as soon as the boundaries of the new health authorities have been agreed. So, for example, DHAs and FHSAs which are to merge will be able to form joint committees to plan for the first year's work of the new health authorities. The powers in Clause 3, and the regulations, will of course lapse on 1st April 1996 when DHAs and FHSAs are abolished.

All DHA and FHSA functions are to be brought together in a single body from 1st April 1996. We consider that a smooth transition will best be achieved if all DHA functions and all FHSA functions except a specified few, are made exercisable by the other bodies. But we have recently been advised by our lawyers that Clauses 3(2) and 3(3) as they stand would make that difficult. They state that the regulations will apply to "prescribed" functions. We are advised that the word "prescribed" indicates that we are expected to specify particular functions. To list all DHA functions without

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any exceptions or omissions could be considered outside the powers of the clause. We therefore wish to remove the word "prescribed" from the two subsections. I should make it clear that the regulations under this clause will not affect the legal status of DHAs and FHSAs. They will remain separate entities, each accountable for its own decisions and actions until 1st April 1996. I invite your Lordships to accept this simple amendment. I beg to move.

6.30 p.m.

Lord Carter: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for her explanation, because we wondered about the purpose of these amendments when they were put down.

Although the word "prescribed" is to be removed from Clause 3(2) and 3(3), it remains in Clause 3(4), which states:


    "Regulations made under this section in respect of any function shall not, except in prescribed cases ..."

Is there some contradiction here? Perhaps the Minister will look at it to ensure that there is no overlapping.

It is interesting that the report of the Delegated Powers Scrutiny Committee draws attention, as has the Minister, to the provision in Clause 3(10) limiting the life of the power, which ceases to have effect on 1st April 1996. It is what the Australians call a "sunset clause". It is appropriate to have a sunset clause for a sunset government.


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