Health and Social Care Bill

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Clause 30

Offences relating to suspension or cancellation of registration
Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.
Mr. O'Brien: I am unclear from the drafting of the clause whether an individual, rather than a corporate person, could be held liable under it. Can the Minister clarify that point?
Mr. Bradshaw: Both.
Question put and agreed to.
Clause 30 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Clauses 31 to 33 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 34

Provision of copies of registers
Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.
Mr. O'Brien: In what circumstances might the register not be made public? Which parts of the register might be hidden through regulations under subsection (3)? I note that the memorandum on delegated powers gives the example of a list of children’s homes. As I am sure we are all aware, the regulations here are under negative procedure, but it would be helpful if the Minister clarified what those circumstances are and gave examples, particularly those that might not be made public under subsection (3).
Sandra Gidley: I have couple of general concerns about the clause. Subsection (1) states that copies of registers must be kept
“available at its offices for inspection at all reasonable times by any person”,
and there is a charge if anybody wants any information from the register. However, in these days of the internet, should not the registers, in the greater public interest, be more publicly available, so that people can access the information when they want to? Doing that would remove a level of bureaucracy. Will the Minister give some thought to that?
Mr. Bradshaw: I entirely agree. We are leaving it up to the commission to determine how it should make the registers publicly available; it should consider the hon. Lady’s suggestion carefully.
On the question raised by the hon. Member for Eddisbury, we are talking about some particularly sensitive services for children and vulnerable adults that it would not be appropriate publicly to give details about. However, we will set out the circumstances where information should not be provided in the regulations. That will give us a chance to explore the matter in a little more detail.
Question put and agreed to.
Clause 34 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 35

Bodies required to be notified of certain matters
Mr. O'Brien: I beg to move amendment No. 27, in clause 35, page 17, line 35, at end insert—
‘(aa) to the relevant Local Involvement Network and cooperative group of Local Involvement Networks,’.
In my desperate attempt to ensure that we kill the left-hand column of the selection list by the time we have to close, I should mention that amendment No. 27 would include LINks in the list of bodies to be notified of certain matters. Although that is no doubt possible under subsection (1)(d), it would be useful for it to be included in the Bill. I remind the Committee of the debate on LINks, but I will explicitly mention now CSCI, which in its submission at paragraph 43 stated:
“It would be useful if there were an explicit expectation that the new care provision had a relationship with local involvement networks.”
In the event that the Minister rejects this amendment—I sincerely hope that he will not feel that he needs to or should—I hope that he will add it to his great big box of issues to be reflected on, and come back to the Committee at a later stage with clearer thinking on it.
Greg Mulholland (Leeds, North-West) (LD): We have already expressed our concern at the lack of public involvement enshrined in the Bill. Although local involvement networks may or may not be the best way to achieve that, at the moment they are pretty much the only show in town, so we support the intention behind the Bill. I look forward to the Minister’s comments.
Mr. Brian Jenkins (Tamworth) (Lab): The Minister and I are both aware of the fact that circumstances change over time. Although I may have some sympathy with looking at local involvement, I would not want to prescribe which group is to be involved, in case it ceases to exist during the lifetime of the Bill.
Mr. Bradshaw: They have only just been born, so give them a chance! As I said, I have sympathy with the motivation behind the amendment. However, I go back to the point that we have made on a number of occasions throughout our deliberations about how prescriptive we are regarding the actions of the new regulator. Although I have stated that LINks will have a valid interest in the work that is done, I fully expect the Care Quality Commission to work closely with LINks—not for exactly the same reasons that Members have been mentioned, but for some of them.
It is not necessarily a good idea to prescribe in the Bill that a particular organisation should be involved in and pre-warned of all the actions that the commission is taking, particularly early on in proceedings before fault or guilt has been found. As I indicated in response to discussion on another clause, there certain issues that may have to be handled sensitively, in respect of which it would not be appropriate to inform LINks or anyone else of the commission’s activities.
Mr. O'Brien: In the light of the Minister’s expressing sympathy but not accepting the amendment, I take that as a “yes” to the matter going into the “I will reflect” box. On that basis, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
The Chairman: I am afraid that we cannot deal with amendment No. 233 because it is 10.25 and I must suspend the sitting.
It being twenty-five minutes past Ten o’clock, The Chairman adjourned the Committee with Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order.
Adjourned till this day at One o’clock.
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