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Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, despite outward appearances, I was not born yesterday. The noble Lord is trying to get me to make a Statement on a topic on which I have said we are not making a Statement. The Foreign Secretary made a full Statement to the Commons last Thursday. The Prime Minister will make his Statement this coming Monday. We shall have a full day's debate next Wednesday. It cannot reasonably be said, although it might be said on a partisan basis, that this House does not fully and regularly discuss these matters.

Lord Strathclyde: My Lords, most Members of this House will be deeply disappointed by that answer from the noble and learned Lord the Leader of the House. Given the information we have just received from the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, that the Prime Minister had a one-and-a-half-hour press conference this morning, is it not right that he is treating this House with the contempt, of which we have so often accused him in the past?

The noble Baroness, Lady Symons of Vernham Dean, the Deputy Leader of this House, is widely respected in all parts of it and has shown again this afternoon her ability to come to the Chamber and make a Statement if that is the Government's policy.

How can people viewing the debate outside the House possibly be convinced of the case for going to war if this Government will not trust Parliament with the information?

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, this is completely unreal. The Prime Minister gave his monthly press conference this morning and he responds to questions put to him. Jack Straw made his Statement last Thursday. We shall have a full day's debate next Wednesday. To suggest that the Prime Minister is being derelict in his duties to Parliament is significantly unfair.

Baroness Williams of Crosby: My Lords, I very much appreciate the arrangements that the Leader of the House has made for further Statements and debates, which I am sure is appreciated throughout the House. Perhaps I may draw to his attention the fact that this is probably the most dangerous situation this country has faced since the Cuban missile crisis; that things are moving extremely quickly—literally from day to day everything changes; and that the outcome of the European summit is completely relevant to our discussions during the next few days and indeed it has a very important part to play in them. Further, can he

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say why this House is not regarded, when another place is in Recess, as an appropriate place to hold the executive to account?

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, no Minister from the Lords attended the relevant meeting. The Prime Minister was there with the Foreign Secretary. In our democracy, with an elected and a non-elected Chamber, it is not right, in due conscience and respecting the Commons, to expect a Prime Ministerial Statement to be pre-empted in this Chamber by a Minister who was not even there.

Lord Marlesford: My Lords, an important constitutional point has been raised. Is the Leader of the House saying that it is in principle never appropriate for the Government to make a Statement to this House of Parliament when the other House is not sitting? Or is he saying that in this particular case no Minister who sits in this Chamber is competent to make a Statement?

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I make neither proposition; nor could any rational mind come to the conclusion that I had, as the noble Lord will doubtless reflect. I have said that the Prime Minister will make a Statement next Monday. It is wrong for the Prime Minister's Statement to be pre-empted. Frequently I repeat his Statements, but neither I nor my noble friend Lady Symons had the benefit of being at the meeting. It is right that Parliament should be fully informed first by the Prime Minister.

Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, is not the noble and learned Lord—perhaps I may say, very uncharacteristically—slightly missing the point? Is he not aware that yesterday's meeting was of vital and immediate significance and that major issues were discussed which will affect us all? By next Monday—as the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Crosby, said—things will have changed radically. The Statement next Monday will probably be on completely different matters. Parliament is now sitting. Surely, it is entitled to hear some account of the vital decisions, difficulties and problems—particularly with our neighbour and partner France—that were developed and announced at yesterday's meeting. These are very important matters. Parliament should hear about them.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, that is precisely why I suggested to the working practices group, which I set up, that topical Questions should be asked. It turns out that I was right so to do, because tomorrow's topical Question of the noble Lord, Lord Howell of Guildford, is to ask Her Majesty's Government what is now their policy on relations between the European Union and NATO. It cannot be said with any hope of belief that this House is not regularly informed in Statements and that Answers to Questions are not given. That simply cannot be said.

Earl Russell: My Lords, "informed" is not really a sufficient word. Mr Peter Riddell is technically correct

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that war is a matter of royal prerogative and rulers may undertake it without consulting Parliament. But is the Minister aware that Ministers who have done that, have universally done so at their own peril? Will he give an undertaking that no British troops will be involved in action until both Houses have had an opportunity to debate and, if they wish, to vote on the proposal that they should be so involved?

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I am not giving such an undertaking. The Government's position has been made abundantly plain by the Prime Minister and by Jack Straw on several occasions. I return to my self-congratulatory theme; the very question put by the noble Earl is in fact the second topical Question for tomorrow. So the system seems to be working rather well.

Health (Wales) Bill

3.25 p.m.

Lord Evans of Temple Guiting: My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Moved, That it be an instruction to the Grand Committee to which the Health (Wales) Bill has been committed that they consider the Bill in the following order:

Clause 1,

Schedule 1,

Clause 2,

Schedule 2

Clauses 3 to 7,

Schedules 3 and 4,

Clauses 8 to 10.—(Lord Evans of Temple Guiting.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Crime (International Co-operation) Bill [HL]

Lord Grocott: My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in the name of my noble friend Lord Filkin on the Order Paper.

Moved, That the amendments for the Report stage be marshalled and considered in the following order:

Clauses 1 to 15,

Schedule 1,

Clauses 16 to 31,

Schedule 2,

Clauses 32 to 54,

Schedule 3,

Clauses 55 to 89,

Schedule 4,

Clause 90,

Schedules 5 and 6,

Clauses 91 to 95.—(Lord Grocott.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

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Community Care (Delayed Discharges etc.) Bill

3.26 p.m.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now again resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now again resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Hunt of Kings Heath.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES (Lord Boston of Faversham) in the Chair.]

Clause 3 [Duties arising where a notice under section 2 is given]:

Baroness Noakes moved Amendment No. 67:


    Page 3, line 45, at end insert—


"( ) The Secretary of State shall specify to the bodies charged with inspection of health and social services that they should monitor, at regular intervals, the impact of this Act on patients and their carers."

The noble Baroness said: I return to matters that kept us much engrossed yesterday in Committee. In moving Amendment No. 67, I shall also speak to Amendment No. 68. Both amendments concern reports as to how the Bill once enacted and implemented will work in practice.

Amendment No. 67 inserts a new subsection at the end of Clause 3, which would require the Secretary of State to specify to the bodies charged with inspection of health and social services to monitor the impact of the Bill on patients and their carers. Such monitoring should be carried out at regular intervals.

Under current arrangements the bodies would be the Audit Commission, the Commission for Health Improvement and the Social Services Inspectorate. The Secretary of State has a penchant for rearranging nameplates and he already has plans to turn the Commission for Health Improvement into the commission for health audit and inspection, taking over both the SSI and some of the Audit Commission's functions. We do not know what the Secretary of State will have renamed or reorganised by this time next year and so the amendment is deliberately drawn in broad terms without naming the bodies themselves.

Amendment No. 67 picks up the general theme of "what about patients and carers" in the Bill. That subject occupied us much yesterday. The patient is stuck in the middle between the NHS and local authorities. The worst outcome from the Bill would be that patients suffer. There are, as we discussed yesterday, many possibilities that lead in that direction. Patients could be discharged too early and have to suffer readmission. It is the patients who suffer readmission and not hospitals or local authorities. Patients could be placed in a care setting that is inappropriate for them or which goes against that which they themselves desire. Or they could be discharged home without adequate support services from the NHS, local authorities or both. Carers could

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also suffer, especially if the patient is discharged without a care package that sufficiently supports the patient, the carer or both.

Yesterday, we had useful debates about patients and carers. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Hereford, who is not in his place today, referred to the,


    "widespread feeling that patients are treated as commodities".—[Official Report, 17/2/02; col. 975.]

The noble Baroness, Lady Andrews, tried to convince us that the Bill was all about patients' and carers' rights but, in the same breath, was more concerned about amendments causing "operational difficulties" for the NHS. We were unconvinced that the Bill will be good for patients and carers.

Amendment No. 67 would result in external scrutiny of the impact on patients and carers. The inspection bodies would feed back problems discovered at a local level and, if they felt it appropriate, could make public reports about generic issues. Either way there would be some counterbalance to the thrust of the Bill, which tends to marginalise the individuals who are at the heart of the processes.

Amendment No. 68 deals with parliamentary accountability. It requires the Secretary of State to report annually to Parliament on outcomes for patients. That clearly complements any reports from the inspection bodies under Amendment No. 67. It would allow Parliament to keep the Bill's impact under review.

I remind the Minister that almost all of the organisations that have commented on the Bill are unconvinced that the outcome for patients and carers will be benign. The Government have proposed no external reporting or scrutiny mechanism to keep the practical impact of the Bill under review. If the Government are confident that the Bill will be a sure-fire hit, they have nothing to fear from the amendments. However, if they resist the amendments, we shall conclude that they, too, fear that for the sake of clearing a few more hospital beds, misery is in store for patients. I beg to move.


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