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Lord Warner moved Amendment No. 218A:


The noble Lord said: The amendments are technical by nature and have been proposed by parliamentary counsel. I will go through them as briefly as possible.

Amendment No. 218A will make it clear that one of the conditions of conduct, as opposed to all of them, may apply before the Assembly can remove the person from office. Amendment No. 222A changes Schedule 6 to make it clear that the Assembly must consult the Secretary of State before carrying out the appointment and removal of the CHAI member whom it appoints to represent the interests of Wales under paragraph 3(1)(b). The Committee will know that we have already made clear our intention that, in practice, the Secretary of State and the Welsh Assembly will delegate the power to a special health authority, namely the NHS Appointments Commission, which will appoint to the positions according to Nolan principles.

The amendments reciprocate the current provision for the Secretary of State to consult the Assembly before appointing other members to or removing them from CHAI, as specified in paragraph 3(7).

Lord Roberts of Conwy: Is the special health authority a joint England and Wales body?

Lord Warner: I believe it is, but I shall check that and confirm it for the noble Lord.

Amendments Nos. 232A and 253A correct a typographical error in sub-paragraph (3) to make it clear that the Assembly may in the prescribed manner remove from office the person appointed by it under sub-paragraph (1)(b) if, and only if, it is satisfied that one—rather than all—of the conditions specified in sub-paragraph (4) applies. The conditions are that the appointee is unable or unfit to carry out the duties of his office, has failed to carry out the duties of his office or has become disqualified from holding office.

Amendments Nos. 253B and 253C amend Schedule 8. The schedule states that property rights and liabilities can be transferred from the Crown to CSCI, for instance in relation to property and other assets currently used by the SSI as part of the Department of Health. It does not make the same provision for CHAI. Amendment No. 253B will mean that the scheme may also transfer property rights and liabilities from the Secretary of State to CHAI, should that prove necessary.

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Amendment No. 253C would allow transfer schemes under Schedule 8 to provide for compensation for any other person or body who is adversely affected by any such scheme. Such compensation might be paid, for example, where it was necessary for a contract with a service provider to be terminated early because it was no longer required by the new commission. We do not anticipate there being many instances where compensation would be paid, but it is important to have the provision to cover a situation where the rights of third parties are shown to be adversely affected.

Amendments Nos. 335C and 361A are technical government amendments in nature and were suggested by parliamentary counsel. Under Clauses 67, 73, 89 and 99, regulations may provide for CHAI, the Assembly or CSCI, as appropriate, to require prescribed persons to provide an explanation of any documents or information that the inspectorates obtain in exercising their relevant powers or of any matters which are the subject of the exercise of any functions of the inspectorates.

The Bill currently provides that those regulations may require explanations to be provided at times and places set out in the regulations. That is to ensure that it would be possible to require explanations to be provided in person, as opposed to in writing, which will sometimes be appropriate, particularly where the inspectorates come across conflicting data in the course of exercising their functions. We are using regulations in this matter to ensure that they compliment the intended methodologies, inspection processes and performance assessment regimes of inspectorates and the Assembly. The regulations will be subject to parliamentary scrutiny in the normal way before they come into effect.

Amendments Nos. 384B, 384C and 396A to 396E are technical drafting amendments to correct incorrect references to the Commission for Local Administration. As drafted, the clauses provide for complaints to be referred to the "Commission" for Local Administration, whereas, under Part 3 of the Local Government Act 1974, referrals need to be made to a,


    "local Commissioner who is a member of the Commission".

The amendments simply correct that in the text of Clauses 112 and 114.

Amendment No. 408A amends the Superannuation Act 1972 by adding CHAI and CSCI to the list of bodies that can admit members to the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme. We want to ensure that certain staff who transfer to CHAI and CSCI do not suffer any detrimental effect by having less favourable pension arrangements.

Members of the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme, such as those individuals who currently work in the Social Services Inspectorate, would be able to remain members of that scheme upon transfer. That will ensure that their terms and conditions of service are protected on transfer of employment to the new commission. Staff members who were previously members of the Audit Commission pension scheme

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will be able to join the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme because there is no comparable scheme to their current one.

You will be pleased to know that, finally, Amendment No. 408B corrects an omission from the minor and consequential amendments in Schedule 9. It amends Section 55 of the Care Standards Act to ensure that it now refers to CSCI instead of the National Care Standards Commission and to the Health and Social Care Act instead of the Care Standards Act.

While I am on my feet, perhaps I may correct what I said earlier. The NHS Appointments Commission is not an England and Wales body. I apologise for the slip. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 219 to 222 not moved.]

Lord Warner moved Amendment No. 222A:


    Page 131, line 20, at end insert—


"( ) The Assembly must consult the Secretary of State before exercising any of its functions under the preceding provisions of this paragraph."

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 223 to 231 not moved.]

4.15 p.m.

Baroness Barker moved Amendment No. 231A:


    Page 132, line 17, at end insert—

"Responses to recommendations

The CHAI must respond in writing to any recommendation which—
(a) is made by a Committee of either House of Parliament, or a Committee of both Houses, and
(b) relates to the exercise by CHAI of its functions."

The noble Baroness said: We continue on a related matter, which is about the way in which the independence of the new bodies is to be demonstrated and proven. Amendments Nos. 231A, 316 and 346 perhaps lead us away from the rather disappointing debate on the preceding group of amendments about individuals, on to the real basis upon which one can fairly determine the independence of the bodies. Amendment No. 231A requires CHAI to respond in writing to a committee of either House of Parliament about its functions and about carrying them out.

Amendment No. 316 requires CHAI to provide Parliament and the Assembly with material on the investigations and reviews which it conducts. Amendment No. 346 requires CSCI to provide reports of its investigations to the Comptroller and Auditor-General. I was struck by something said by the noble Lord, Lord Warner, in reply to the noble Earl, Lord Howe, in the previous debate; namely, that the Government do not want these bodies to be required to produce reports for all and sundry because that would distract them from their core jobs.

The core job of these bodies is to provide public information about the standards and quality of health and social care. I suggest to the Minister that the production of reports in writing is a key means by which they could do precisely that. More than that,

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they would build confidence in standards of health and social care. It would not be an imposition for Parliament or the Assembly to make such a requirement of a public body: indeed, it would be unusual were there not to be a requirement for them to do so. After all, these bodies are not only providing strategic reports on the overall level of service provision and the adequacies of it, but also, from time to time, they are investigating some of the most serious matters in public life as they affect individuals.

Those three small requirements on these bodies are not onerous, but they are important. In particular, Amendment No. 346 proposes copies of reports being sent to the Comptroller and Auditor-General about CSCI are an essential part of the data which not only politicians but also the public need in order to make correct and informed judgments about the most important public services in the country. I beg to move.

Lord Warner: Amendment No. 231A seeks to increase CHAI's accountability to Parliament by requiring it to respond in writing to any recommendation of the committees of the House that relates to the exercise of CHAI's functions. Similarly, Amendment No. 316 would place a general duty on CHAI to keep Parliament and the Assembly informed about the provision of healthcare.

I do not think that any of us disagrees with the principle that the work of CHAI should support Parliament's scrutiny of policy and public services. Clause 126 requires CHAI to produce an annual report about its findings during the year, which is to be provided directly to Parliament. It is already discharging, in writing, that widely drawn responsibility to report on its work.

Elsewhere in the Bill there is also provision for it to produce and make public reports as they undertake specific studies throughout the year. Therefore, it already provides for written reports to be made available to Parliament and to be put in the public arena. There may be occasions when CHAI might fall within the sights of Parliament or the Health Select Committee. It will therefore be expected to provide such information in such a form as may be requested. However, it would not be right for CHAI to be put under a duty to do so as a matter of course.

Ofsted has a direct reporting line to the Education and Skills Select Committee, but that is primarily because Ofsted is a non-ministerial department, unlike CHAI and CSCI, which are non-departmental public bodies. They are constitutionally different. It would be inconsistent with well-established precedent for a duty to be placed on the commissions, as non-departmental public bodies, to keep the Health Select Committee informed of matters relating to health and social care services. Of course they will co-operate in the normal way, as would any other body, with parliamentary Select Committees, but I suggest that the amendment would undermine the important principle that the Secretary of State is the person accountable to Parliament for the actions of these commissions.

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Amendment No. 346 has the effect that CSCI, where it conducts general reviews of local authorities or other persons providing English local authority social services under Clause 78, must always send a copy of such a report to the Comptroller and Auditor-General. I do not believe that this amendment is necessary. Clause 78 concerns the general function of review and investigation of social services that CSCI will have. There is no need for the NAO automatically to receive a copy of all reports following such a review or investigation under this clause.

Of course, when exercising its audit function, the NAO can already request from CSCI any information and reports it deems necessary. In our view, there is sufficient provision for this in the legislation.


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