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Mr. Hogg : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. You will know that because of the timetable imposed by the Government the second group of amendments—which has now been rejected and which comprised the Law Commission's proposals—has not been discussed at all. Would it be possible to ask those who are drafting the message to the other place to make it plain that we have rejected its views without even having had the courtesy of discussing them?

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Alan Haselhurst): The practice and tradition is that the message reflects simply the decisions of this House. That is not a matter for debate.

Government amendments (a) to (n) to the words restored, and consequential Government amendments (o) to (q) agreed to.

Question, That this House does not insist on its disagreement to Lords amendment No. 120, put and agreed to.

11.15 pm

Sitting suspended, pursuant to Order [10 November].

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1 am

On resuming—

Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Bill

Lords Reasons for insisting on certain of their amendments to which the Commons have disagreed, considered.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Alan Haselhurst): I must acquaint the House with the fact that a message has been received from the House of Lords. The Lords insist on certain of their amendments to the Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Bill to which the Commons have disagreed, for which insistence they assign their reasons. They do not insist on an amendment to which the Commons have disagreed and do agree with the amendment proposed by the Commons to the words so restored to the Bill. They agree to the Commons amendments to certain Lords amendments and they do not insist on their remaining amendments to which the Commons have disagreed.

Mr. Michael Fallon (Sevenoaks): On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Could you confirm that, as the House is now destined to sit tomorrow, the Sessional Orders will apply tomorrow and will continue to be applied tomorrow?

Mr. Deputy Speaker: To the best of my knowledge, that is undoubtedly the case. The Serjeant at Arms is aware of the difficulty that might arise if the House is sitting on Thursday. He is in contact with the Metropolitan Police Commissioner to ensure that hon. Members have access to the Palace in the normal way.

Mr. Douglas Hogg (Sleaford and North Hykeham): Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Obviously, it is essential that hon. Members have access to the House. Surely it would be inconceivable to enforce the Sessional Orders with total strictness so as to prevent the public demonstration. It would be wrong of the House to insist that they be so enforced. That would be an infringement of public rights. I hope that that is not what we have in mind.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: I hope that my remarks contained no such implication.

Clause 1

NHS Foundation Trusts

Lords Reason: 1B.

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Mr. John Hutton): I beg to move, That this House insists on its disagreement with the Lords in their amendment.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: With this it will be convenient to take Government amendment (a) to the Bill, Lords Reason 161CC, the Government motion to insist and Government amendments (a) to (bb) to the words restored.

Mr. Hutton: The House of Commons has now approved both the principle and the detail of the Government's proposals on NHS foundation trusts on

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five separate occasions. The will of this House is now clear, and it should always be the will of this House of Commons that must prevail.

We should all be clear about one other thing: the only point or purpose in the other place continuing to carry these wrecking amendments is to stop this part of the Bill reaching the statute book. No other reasonable interpretation can be placed on how Conservative and Liberal Democrat peers are behaving. They have nothing new to say on NHS foundation trusts. They have moved no new amendments for this Hosue to consider this evening. They have nothing new to offer. All they are doing is holding up the proverbial parliamentary finger to the decisions that we have made in this House.

That is not scrutiny. It is not revision of legislation. It is a naked attempt to thwart the democratic decisions of elected Members of Parliament.

Anne Picking (East Lothian): My right hon. Friend and his Front-Bench colleagues will know that earlier tonight I voted against the Government on the particular issue of foundation hospitals. However, that fight has been lost. We are the democratic power in the House. We must decide what happens and I will abide by the collective responsibility of the House. The Lords should have no input in what we do. Does my right hon. Friend agree?

Mr. Hutton: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for what she has said. It is obvious that we face a simple choice. As I said, the House of Commons has decided, on five occasions, to support the proposals. My hon. Friend did not support them but I understand and respect her genuine concerns about the issue. However, the House of Commons must now assert its predominance and its will in these matters.

Sir Patrick Cormack (South Staffordshire): There may be many more Tea Room conversions, but in case there are not, will the Minister remind the House of how many Labour Members of Parliament there are and how many of them voted for his proposal earlier this evening?

Mr. Hutton: That will be in Hansard and people can do the arithmetic. I think that about 80 per cent. of my right hon. and hon. Friends decided to support the Government tonight. Mathematics has never been my strong card and I am a simple soul, but that seems to be an overwhelming majority of my right hon. and hon. Friends.

Mr. Paul Tyler (North Cornwall): A few days ago the Secretary of State for Health said that the House of Lords was not entitled to amend the Bill because the Lords are unelected. Can the Minister of State explain how many Labour Members were elected on a manifesto commitment to introduce foundation hospitals?

Mr. Hutton: That is not what my right hon. Friend said—[Interruption.] No, it is not. The hon. Gentleman is quite wrong.

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There is a simple issue for us tonight: whether the will of the House of Commons should prevail. My view is that the decisions that we made in this House should stand.

Mr. Alex Salmond (Banff and Buchan): Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Hutton: No, I shall not give way.

We have looked in detail at every square inch of the measure. We have accepted 90 amendments to part 1. I am afraid that the debate that took place earlier this evening in the House of Lords completely failed to recognise that simple fact. As my noble Friend Lord Warner made clear in the other place earlier tonight, no Government can ever concede to the unelected House the right to tell this elected House what will or will not become the law of our country. There can be no question of the Bill proceeding unless clause 1 and the other provisions in part 1 are included. On that issue—

Mr. Salmond rose—

Mr. Hutton: I am not giving way.

There can be no negotiation with unelected Conservative—[Hon. Members: "Give way."] I am not giving way—[Interruption.]

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. I think it is clear to the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan that the Minister is not giving way—[Hon. Members: "Why not?"] It is entirely a matter for any Member whether to give way to another.

This is acknowledged to be contentious business and the hour is late; it would be better if it were discussed in a calm and moderate manner.

Mr. Hutton: I am grateful, Mr. Deputy Speaker. During our earlier proceedings, the right hon. Member for Charnwood (Mr. Dorrell)—usually an eloquent and respectful Member of the House—criticised my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for speaking too long. In fact my right hon. Friend gave way to the right hon. Gentleman and his right hon. and hon. Friends on a generous basis. I am trying to make progress in the debate. I have given way to others but I am not giving way to the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan (Mr. Salmond).

There can be no question of the Bill's proceeding unless clause 1 and the other provisions in part 1 are included. We shall not negotiate with Conservative and Liberal Democrat peers on that matter. We will not detach part 1 from the Bill.

Opposition Members should think very carefully about how they want to proceed, because there is a very great deal at stake: a delay in implementing the new GP contract agreed with the British Medical Association, the loss to the national health service of up to £150 million a year through the provisions relating to the injury cost recovery scheme, the new provisions on NHS dentistry, the reform of the welfare food scheme, and the independent inspectorates.

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