|Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Bill
Mr. Burns: I am grateful to the Minister for assuring us that he will look again at the issues thrown up by the amendments. I put on record that I fully understand that by having a look at the amendments, the Minister is making no commitments; he may change his intentions.
Mr. Hutton: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for making that clear. That is the case, and I have expressed my preference.
With your indulgence, Mr. Atkinson, I wish to deal with a point raised by the hon. Member for Westbury. He asked who would carry out this function. An important aspect of the Bill is that, for the first time, general dental service practitioners will be allowed to
Column Number: 872be involved in oral public health provision. I hope that that the hon. Gentleman, and other hon. Members, welcome that change.
Mr. Burns: In light of the Minister's comments, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill
Dr. Harris: In contrast to clause 158, subsections (5) and (6) of new section 16CA contained in clause 157 specifically provide for regulations, their purpose and scope. New section 16CB contained in clause 158 mentions prescribed functions in subsections (1), (2) and (3), but does not mention where the regulations that set out those functions are, or where the regulation-making power is. I assume that the Government are relying on a general regulation-making power somewhere in this part of the Bill, and perhaps there is a general provision in the Bill. I looked for it, but could not find it.
Given that the issues are similar—indeed, we have just debated what dental public services should provide—why does new section 16CB not include descriptive subsections about regulations equivalent to those subsections included in new section 16CA? New section 16CA(6) mentions ''the manner or circumstances'' in which some of the dental public health services might be provided. I hope that my question is clear, and that the Minister can answer it; if not now, then later.
Mr. Hutton: It is important to bear in mind that all those amendments are insertions into the 1977 legislation. In this case, I understand that the regulation-making power is contained in the 1977 Act. The Secretary of State—or, where appropriate, the National Assembly for Wales—has the power to make those regulations.
Dr. Harris: I know that there are general regulation-making powers in this Bill and in the 1977 Act. Why has specific provision been made for regulations in new section 16CA but not in new section 16CB? Presumably such provision was not felt necessary, or perhaps it is redundant in new section 16CA. When a subsection mentions functions that may be prescribed, I check whether there is anything specific about the regulation-making power. The Government are not generally reluctant to give themselves specific regulation-making powers and descriptions of how those regulations are provided for. Why the distinction in the treatment of the two areas?
Mr. Hutton: It relates to the specific circumstances of the two different duties. Subsection (6) of new section 16CA has been included because we want it to cover that ground. I gave an example of weekday services and the hours in which they are provided. Section 128 of the 1977 Act sets out a general regulation-making power, and I am confident that the powers to make regulations under the 1977 Act give us the necessary flexibility and reach. We included new section 16CA(6) because we did not have that power, and we feel that we were right to include it.
Column Number: 873
Dr. Harris: On that basis, will the Minister consider whether—if he did not feel that the general powers were sufficient to provide for those proposed in section 16CA(6)—there are similar issues relating to the manner and circumstances by which dental public health services are provided, such as those listed in the amendments we have just discussed? If he agrees that there are, will he consider including equivalent regulation-making powers or qualifications to section 16CA(6) in clause 158, so that we can be certain that there will be the ability to make regulations that will
That is even more important in the provision of some of these services than in terms of primary dental services.
Mr. Hutton: I am confident that we have sufficient flexibility under section 128 of the National Health Act 1977, but I assure the hon. Gentleman that we will have another look at it.
Question put and agreed to.
Clause 158 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
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