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Lord Elton: My Lords, further to the Minister's response to my noble friend Lord Jopling, can he say whether the falsification of the safety records of the items which were attempted to be exported represented a danger only to the importing countries or to the citizens of this country? Does the noble Lord
Lord Whitty: My Lords, I believe that the findings of the Nuclear Inspectorate are that the falsification did not of itself present a danger to safety. The problem is the credibility and robustness of the safety regime within Sellafield and the transport of nuclear fuel both here and, potentially, within the customer countries to which the fuel may be returned. Understandably, those customer countries are alarmed. We must reassure them that in future the safety regime will be robust and that there will be no further falsification.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): My Lords, all Members of Parliament are invited to nominate candidates for appointment to those NHS bodies which serve their constituents. The people they nominate are expected to complete application forms and, if considered suitable, are interviewed in the same way as all other applicants. In addition, for chair appointments local MPs are invited by NHS Executive regional chairs to comment on the candidates that they recommend to Ministers.
Lord Clement-Jones: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply. We all look forward to the report next week by Dame Rennie Fritchie on appointments to NHS trusts. From earlier reports it appears that that paints a rather different picture from that presented today by the Minister. If those reports are true they suggest massive hypocrisy on the part of this Government, particularly when they were so vociferous in their opposition to the previous government for doing exactly the same thing. Can the noble Lord categorically deny that Labour MPs have no influence over the appointment of those trust members? Furthermore, can he give a definitive answer as to whether it is political affiliation or skill and experience which determines a person's appointment to an NHS trust?
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I am unable to comment on the report of the Commissioner for Public Appointments before it has been published. However, I can tell the House that we have adopted a vigorous approach to the appointment of non-executive directors and chairs of NHS bodies. These are very
Baroness Hanham: My Lords, can the Minister inform the House what percentage of such appointments arises from applications in response to advertisements placed in newspapers and whether that approach brings in a sufficient number of suitable candidates?
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I do not believe that an exact breakdown of the numbers in the different categories is available, but I am happy to see whether I can provide that information. We believe that national advertisement is an important part of the process of receiving nominations. But all nominations, whether they come from MPs or through national advertisements, are dealt with in the same way; namely, through a sifting process and panel interview where an independent person is always present.
Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, is my noble friend aware that in Oldham the Government reappointed as chairman of the NHS trust a prominent member of the local Conservative Party who, in my experience, is one of the few people from the party opposite with any real commitment to or knowledge of the health service?
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, even I have appointed Conservatives to positions in health authorities and trusts, because at the end of the day we are concerned to appoint the best possible people. We appoint people who have affiliations to all political parties and to none. The key is to get high quality people.
Baroness Gardner of Parkes: My Lords, is the Minister aware that about six months after the present Government came to power I asked a Question and was informed that about 15 Conservative and well over 100 Labour councillors had been appointed? As to the appointments procedure, can the Minister say whether there is still an obligation to interview all those who certify themselves as disabled? Is he aware that I sat on an interviewing panel which came to the unanimous view that some of those who had certified themselves as disabled were not disabled? How does the Minister suggest that a more objective assessment can be made of those who are entitled to claim an interview as of right because of a supposed disability?
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, my understanding is that the procedure is as the noble Baroness describes. However, we need to be very cautious before we change it. Although I accept that there may be instances in which the system is abused, nevertheless it enables people, particularly those with disabilities, to be considered for appointment, which is very important. As to the appointment of councillors, I suspect the answer is that there are very few who belong to the Conservative Party.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I cannot agree with the noble Baroness. I have already said that we make the appointment on the basis of the quality of the applicant without regard to political affiliation. I pray in aid that in 1999, 76 per cent of the people we appointed declared no political activity.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, the noble Lord is certainly right about the previous government. One can only describe the approach of the previous government as the packing of boards with Conservative supporters and so-called independents who, none the less, could always be called upon to vote with the Conservatives.
Lord Hardy of Wath: My Lords, is the Minister aware that in my area the balance is reasonable and proper? However, a few years ago, I was so horrified by the multitude of Conservative appointments and scarcity of Labour appointments that when I discovered that the Wentworth constituency Conservative Party had not shared in that loot I offered a strong protest at its being disregarded by its own government.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, the Nolan Committee, which considered these matters early in the decade, received more complaints about the process of appointments to NHS bodies by the party opposite than on any other issue.
Schedule 1 deals with, among other things, the constitution of the Financial Services Authority. Paragraph 1(2) sets out for the purposes of Schedule 1 the authority's legislative functions. These include making rules, issuing statements of principle or policy, issuing codes and so on. These amendments rationalise and update the description of the legislative functions.
Amendment No. 1 deletes paragraph 1(2)(b) devoted to Section 63 on conduct, statements and codes. Amendments Nos. 2 and 4 reallocate the code element of Section 63 to paragraph 1(2)(c) and the statement element to paragraph 1(2)(d). A consequence of this last amendment is the need to broaden by Amendment No. 3 the description of the statements to capture Clauses 69 (on statement of policy with regard to imposition and amount of penalties for misconduct), Clause 114 (on statement of policy with respect to imposition and amount of penalties for market abuse), and Clause 204 (on statements of policy in respect to imposition and amount of penalties for contribution of a requirement imposed on an authorised person) which refer to a statement of policy, and Clause 63 which refers to statements of principle. The amendment also uses the language used elsewhere in the Bill; that is, that statements are "issued" and not "published".
Amendment No. 5 adds directions under Clause 319: directions in relation to the general prohibition in respect of members of the professions to paragraph 1(2)(e) which provides that directions are one of the FSA'S legislative functions.
Finally, Amendment No. 6 deletes Clause 69 and the reference to general guidance since that clause refers throughout to statements of policy and hence is captured in paragraph 1(2)(d) which refers to statements. I beg to move.
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