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Lord Warner moved Amendments Nos. 396A to 396E:

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    Page 50, line 4, leave out "it" and insert "him"

    Page 50, line 33, leave out "the Commission for Local Administration" and insert "a Local Commissioner"

    Page 50, line 34, leave out "it" and insert "him"

    Page 50, line 38, at end insert—

"(5) In this section, "Local Commissioner in England" means a Local Commissioner under Part 3 of the Local Government Act 1974 (c. 7), who is a member of the Commission for Local Administration in England.""

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 114, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 115 to 118 agreed to.

11.45 p.m.

Clause 119 [Reviews and investigations]:

[Amendment No. 397 not moved.]

Clause 119 agreed to.

Clause 120 agreed to.

Clause 121 [Power to assist]:

Baroness Noakes moved Amendment No. 398:

    Page 54, line 2, leave out subsection (1).

The noble Baroness said: I shall be extremely brief with this probing amendment. Why would CHAI or CSCI want to assist other bodies rather than concentrate on their core functions? Subsection (1), which this amendment seeks to delete, gives them power to assist any other public body in the United Kingdom with the purposes of that body's functions—and they can charge fees for it. Surely CHAI and CSCI are not going to set up consultancy businesses. If they are going to help other people, whether or not for payment, will the Minister also explain why they are confined to helping United Kingdom public bodies? Are there no bodies outside the UK which, perhaps for a fee, might benefit from the advice of CHAI or CSCI? Why should bodies outside the public sector—for example, charities or voluntary bodies—be excluded from this beneficial interaction with CHAI or CSCI? I am puzzled by this clause, which is why we have tabled the amendment. I beg to move.

Lord Warner: I hope that all will be revealed. The power in Clause 121 builds on a tradition of co-operation between inspectorates that is necessary to ensure effective and joined up working between agencies. A recent example of such co-operation would be the street crimes initiative, which saw the Social Services Inspectorate working closely with a number of other public bodies, including Home Office inspectorates and Ofsted. The drafting of the Bill enables CHAI and CSCI to assist other public bodies where they believe that it is appropriate for them to do so. This will be a decision for the inspectorates based on whether they believe there is any social or healthcare implication for them in the work that is being carried out by another public body.

CSCI will be involved in the Local Services Inspectorates Forum, which brings together a range of government inspectorates to consider common issues and discuss their work programmes relating to local government issues. This includes the Audit

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Commission, Ofsted, the Benefit Fraud Inspectorate and the Prisons Inspectorate. Clearly we expect CSCI and CHAI to be sensitive to the burden of inspection placed on organisations that are the subject of work that they will do with other public bodies. CHAI will be under a duty to work jointly with CSCI and other public bodies and where it considers that would promote further efficiency and cost effectiveness. CHAI's vision document clearly indicates the commission's willingness to work in real partnership with others, particularly in the area of common data collection. It would be a significant constraint on the powers of CHAI and CSCI if they were not able to assist and co-operate with other agencies in this way and would undermine effective joint working.

We have drawn the powers reasonably widely to enable that area of co-operation to operate effectively, due to the wide range of public bodies that may carry out work that has health and social care implications, and to which CHAI and CSCI will therefore need to be able to provide assistance. They are not going into the consultancy business, but we do want them to work on a basis of co-operation with others when they think that that is necessary in order to discharge their primary functions. I hope that explains to the noble Baroness why we have set out the terms of the Bill in this way.

Baroness Noakes: I thank the Minister for that helpful response. I shall read it carefully, but it appears to answer the points that I raised. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 121 agreed to.

Clause 122 agreed to.

Clause 123 [Arrangements with Ministers etc: CSCI]:

[Amendment No. 399 not moved.]

Clause 123 agreed to.

Clauses 124 and 125 agreed to.

Clause 126 [Reports: CHAI]:

Earl Howe moved Amendment No. 400:

    Page 56, line 5, at end insert—

"( ) an updated regulatory impact statement showing the effect, including the estimated financial effect, of the CHAI's activities on those bodies which it covers."

The noble Earl said: In moving Amendment No. 400, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 401. These amendments relate to regulatory burdens. I suggest that both CHAI and CSCI should be required to publish at the end of each financial year a full regulatory impact assessment of all their activities.

I hope that the Government will consider the amendment seriously. The proposal is good discipline and good practice. None of us can assume that CHAI or CSCI will reduce the regulatory burden of their inspections, or hope that they will follow good practice spontaneously. We need to see on a regular basis whether this occurs.

Employers and staff alike across the public and private sectors are becoming more aware and more resentful of unnecessary and intrusive red tape and

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bureaucracy. In the health service, the amount of time that clinicians and managers spend filling in forms and justifying themselves to others is time taken from the care of patients. If we can achieve a reduction in the burden of data gathering and compliance on front-line NHS staff, and on those who work in the social care sector, we should do so.

The regulatory impact assessment for the Bill as it relates to CHAI and CSCI speaks in optimistic terms about the advantages of creating two new inspectorates and the reduction in burdens that this will bring to front-line staff. It speaks of,

    "less work for frontline staff following co-ordinated visits and requests for information".

It also speaks of,

    "co-ordination of work where the inspectorates might be looking at the same provider, e.g. care trusts".

We need to ensure that these are not just pious hopes. There may indeed be a net reduction in the number of bodies—although if one counts the Welsh inspectorate, I am not sure that that is literally true. Despite what the Minister may say, there are possibilities for duplicated inspection work in border areas between England and Wales. If that happens, burdens will increase, not decrease.

Quite apart from that, the regulatory burden can equally be influenced by the manner and style in which inspectorates work. There needs to be a formal requirement to enable us to ensure that good intentions are translated into practice.

I have one question relating to the regulatory impact on independent health and social care providers. The regulatory impact assessment states:

    "Independent health providers and registered social care providers are currently inspected by the NCSC against national minimum standards . . . to ensure national consistency of service provisions. This function is to be taken over by the new inspectorates . . . The inspection procedures may change when CHAI and CSCI become operational, but providers will not be subject to different standards as a result of the changes".

However, it also states:

    "In future, providers may be subject to new service standards".

I did not understand what the reference to "new service standards" means and the implications it carries for regulatory burdens on the private sector. I beg to move.

Lord Warner: On the last point, national standards will be set out by the Secretary of State in relation to health care. We have already discussed the issue of convergence between the independent sector and the NHS. I believe that the wording is related to that, but I will check and write to the noble Earl.

Before the Bill's introduction, the department led an assessment of the likely regulatory impact of its provisions. It consulted widely, including with key stakeholders, the devolved administrations, the regulatory impact unit of the Cabinet Office and the small business service at the Department for Trade and Industry. A full regulatory impact assessment of the Bill in its entirety was published on 14th March this year and a copy is available in the Library. I shall not

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quote from it, other than to point out that, overall, the inspectorate's clauses in particular are considered to have a limited impact, if any, on businesses and the voluntary organisations. I know that the noble Earl has looked at the document.

Both organisations are being established with duties to discharge their functions economically, efficiently and effectively. It is therefore our belief and expectation, in line with the recent Office of Public Sector Review report on inspection and external review, that CHAI and CSCI will bring about a reduction in the burdens of inspection placed upon frontline staff, freeing up time that could be better spent caring for patients and other service users.

In CHAI's Vision statement, Professor Sir Ian Kennedy notes that organisations which provide healthcare are currently assessed by different inspectorates without proper co-ordination. CHAI therefore already proposes to develop techniques of assessment which reduce the need for it routinely to visit each and every organisation. Clearly, there is still some way for CHAI to go in developing such methodologies, but we are confident that progress will be made in that area.

The Better Regulation Task Force report recommends that regulators should make available for public scrutiny a regulatory impact assessment on all new major policies and/or initiatives. It does not recommend an annual regulatory impact assessment. However, I shall study the amendment further in the light of the task force report to be sure and shall consider whether anything more needs to be done. But, at present, we do not believe that the amendment is necessary.

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