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Mr. Tredinnick: I am most grateful to my hon. Friend.

The serious point is that osteopaths and chiropractors are no longer considered to be beyond the pale; they have been integrated into conventional medicine. It is now debatable whether osteopaths are complementary practitioners at all. Furthermore, some therapies that were not even included in the list being considered for regulation by the House of Lords Select Committee--for example, crystal therapy, which is believed by some people to be beneficial--will probably enter mainstream medicine in the future.

After those brief introductory remarks, I shall turn to the body of my speech--[Laughter.] That is an old line, but it always works--especially when it is late and the House is exhausted. I definitely support new clause 7. We have heard about joined-up government; I am trying to achieve some joined-up opposition, so I point out to my hon. Friend the Member for Meriden that the new clause may need some fine tuning.

Many alternative and complementary therapists provide their services not only through the NHS, but in prisons and other places free of charge. To classify such a therapist automatically as someone who is

is not wholly accurate. I hope that the new clause is accepted on the nod, but that point may need to be addressed in another place.

12 midnight

I strongly support the proposal for a register of alternative and complementary therapists. There are about 50,000 complementary medical practitioners in the United Kingdom and it would definitely be appropriate to have some form of register.

I now come to the points of my hon. Friend the Member for New Forest, West about the style of regulation. I do not think that we should have a register that merely says that certain people are complementary practitioners. That would be impractical, misleading, dangerous and counter-productive. We have to draw on the way in which regulation has come about. That generally means that groups have bound together and agreed some form of self-regulation. They have then gone on to NVQ status--

Mr. Bercow: National vocational qualification.

Mr. Tredinnick: I am grateful to my hon. Friend.

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The groups move from voluntary to statutory regulation and they can achieve that through the legislation that the Government, to their credit, introduced in the previous Session. They can achieve statutory regulation in a gradual way by binding together.

We will face major problems if we try to have one register. At the moment, there are 120 organisations representing alternative and complementary practitioners. The way forward is for the different groups in a particular discipline--for example, aromatherapy has four or five governing bodies--to work together progressively. That is what the chiropractors did. They were at loggerheads with each other and unfortunately they are at loggerheads again, but they at least came together to achieve regulation. The only practical way to proceed is to persuade organisations to work progressively towards statutory regulation. I want a register to be in place to denote the therapies in which the practitioners are qualified. It is not right to have just a general register.

Practitioners often face few formal obligations to meet a level of standards. It is possible for people to break away from one organisation to join another if they so wish. That is not good for public safety. We should move to 10 separate registers and perhaps then move to five separate registers, but the disciplines must be clearly delineated.

Self-regulation is the best and most appropriate form of regulation for complementary medical therapies. As I said, osteopathists and chiropractors have taken that approach, and I could have talked about the national occupational standards that homoeopathy, reflexology, hydrotherapy and aromatherapy have achieved. Each profession is developing at a different pace.

One of my colleagues touched on the issue of insurance, which is one of the ways in which practitioners become regulated. Insurance companies will not insure them unless they reach certain standards. More could be done to consider the way in which insurance companies are used.

I am slightly concerned at any proposal that will give the Secretary of State the power to decide the techniques that may or may not be employed in the delivery of services--although I was nearly called to order when I tried to develop that argument. Many services and disciplines overlap, which can create problems because it is a complex matter.

For example, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence does not have the machinery to assess homoeopathic medicines at, let us say, 1M. It has no chance because all its equipment will say that there is nothing in them. However, a homoeopathic medicine functioning at 1M is working at a level higher than the physical body. Bach flower remedies and Australian bushfire essences cannot be detected using conventional measures, so we need to think of new ways of assessing those medicines.

Mr. Swayne: Am I correct in my analysis that although he began by saying that he welcomed the new clause, my hon. Friend has, after detaining the House for half an hour, come around to opposing it, as I do?

Mr. Tredinnick: I would hate to be accused of having the two faces of Janus, the Greek god who faced in opposite directions. I welcome the new clause, and the fact that my hon. Friend the Member for Meriden has

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tabled it in the proceedings on this Bill is a great milestone. Maintaining a register of alternative and complementary therapists is a good idea. However, I am slightly nervous about the Stalinist imposition of these measures through statutory instruments subject to the negative procedure.

This is a complex matter, and my hon. Friend the Member for New Forest, West has, in a sense, helped me. On the continent, draconian sanctions are in place against some therapists. Such sanctions are unnecessary. We would be better sticking to statutory regulation, but there should be flexibility in that.

The Under-Secretary of State for Health said that a complementary practitioner had been found to have acted improperly. What about all the doctors who have acted improperly? That is not a valid argument at all. There are policemen who act improperly. Normal mathematical distribution means that there are such people in every walk of life.

I say to my hon. Friend the Member for Meriden that I welcome the tabling and consideration of the new clause, and I say to the Under-Secretary that it requires careful consideration and a measured reply. I commend the new clause to the House.

Mr. Bercow rose--

Mr. Tredinnick: I give way to my hon. Friend.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Alan Haselhurst): Order. I thought that the hon. Gentleman had concluded his speech.

Mr. Tredinnick: I had not sat down, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Will the hon. Gentleman advise the Chair what he is seeking to do? It seems that he has finished his speech but is trying to give way to the hon. Member for Buckingham (Mr. Bercow).

Mr. Tredinnick: Out of courtesy to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I was not on my feet when you were on yours. I must admit that I had been about to sit down, but my hon. Friend wanted to intervene, and I felt that it would be a discourtesy on my part not to let him do so.

Mr. Bercow: I am grateful to my hon. Friend, whose courtesy and generosity are unsurpassed in the House. As the new clause requires the Secretary of State to determine the regulations, how does my hon. Friend think the experience of the right hon. Member for Darlington (Mr. Milburn) at John Marlay school, Stokesley comprehensive school, Newcastle university and Lancaster university, and as a senior business development officer in north Tyneside, has equipped him to determine regulations on alternative medicine and complementary therapy?

Mr. Tredinnick: My hon. Friend is helpful and raises an important point. It has long been a contentious issue between those in complementary and alternative medicine and Ministers in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the Department of Health that the committees that adjudicate on such medicine are not staffed by those

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who understand the disciplines. In fairness to the Government, I acknowledge that the issue has been addressed, and new committees have been set up. My hon. Friend has made a valuable point, and I now intend to conclude my speech.

Dr. Brand: I am glad that the previous speech did not end prematurely.

I have absolutely no doubt that alternative and complementary therapies make an enormous contribution to people's feeling of health and well-being.

The definition set out in new clause 7(1) would catch almost any activity, because the national health service and all the other bodies set out in that subsection treat conditions such as feeling unhappy, feeling unwell, feeling unfit and not getting enough sleep, all of which are amenable to alternative and complementary therapies, just as they are amenable to food, wine, other drink--in moderation--and going to the hairdressers. There might be a need to ensure consumer protection in relation to the wide range of interventions to which we all submit ourselves--hairdressers should be just as much at risk of having their collars felt if they do something wrong as those who are in the business of tickling people's feet--but market forces could determine what is effective and what is not, and what is appreciated and what is not. The real problem is some of the claims made by some therapists.

Within my practice for the past 10 years--preceding fundholding--acupuncture, manipulative therapies, homoeopathy and hydrotherapy have been available to our patients. That has been achieved through clever arrangements with the private sector, whereby we sent them the odd patient who paid and they then saw our NHS patients. That arrangement worked extremely well.

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