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Earl Howe: I thank all noble Lords who spoke in support of the amendment. To the right reverend Prelate, I say that one man's fine is another man's reimbursement. I suppose that that is the way of things throughout the Bill.
I remain unconvinced. I do not see why the arrangements must be quite so one-sided. Local government, as I said, might say that it had a legitimate cause for complaint against the NHS because of the length of in-patient waiting lists, which burden local government finances in ways that cannot be recouped from the Health Service. It is swings and roundabouts. The Bill is designed to lift some of the burden from the NHS. Sometimes, we should think of the burden incurred by local authorities.
The point about the flexibility allowed by paragraph 8 of the regulationwhat counts and does not count in the delayed discharge periodwas not really the one that I wished to highlight, although I accept what the Minister said about that. As the noble Lord will
Baroness Barker: I know that this is perhaps somewhat unusual, but I anticipate that the noble Earl, Lord Howe, is going to withdraw his amendment at this stage. Before he does so, during earlier discussions the Minister made a very significant statement: that this Bill applies to NHS services carried out in hospitals abroad. At the moment that means in France and in Germany. That was such a gobsmacking statement that we on this side of the House were somewhat taken aback.
When one considers the potential implications of the remarks made by the noble Earl, Lord Howe, whose amendment, I believe, was framed in relation to establishments in this country, it becomes a matter of a different degree. I am sure that the noble Earl will withdraw the amendment, but I sense that before the Bill completes its passage through this place, we perhaps need further illumination from the department as to exactly how the relationship and responsibilities between social services departments in this country and hospitals abroad will work. I apologise for interrupting, but I offer that to the noble Earl, Lord Howe, as an issue to consider alongside his other comments.
Earl Howe: I am extremely grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Barker. That is a point which we must not lose sight of. I, too, was extremely surprised by the Minister's answer as regards NHS patients being treated abroad. It would be of enormous help if between now and Report stage the Minister were able to enlighten us and give further details on that aspect of the Bill. We shall want to think through its implications.
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