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Andrew Gwynne: I apologise for the fact that I have only just come into the Chamber for this part of the debate. I have been on Front Bench duty in Westminster Hall.

I am interested in what the Minister is saying about the Secretary of State’s oversight of devolved health in Greater Manchester, which is clarifying one of the issues about which I know a number of Greater Manchester MPs are concerned. May I ask, however, whether any thought has been given to coterminosity? In the case of most of the functions that have been devolved to Greater Manchester, there are coterminous boundaries with the 10 metropolitan boroughs. The NHS is slightly different, in that one of the CCGs—one of my own CCGs, Tameside and Glossop—extends to Derbyshire as well, because Glossop is not part of Greater Manchester.

Alistair Burt: I know the area well, and I know exactly what the hon. Gentleman is referring to. Yes, that is part of the consideration, but it is essentially part of the consideration of the combined authority. Not only will it have to devise the working of its services within the confines of what is commonly known as Greater Manchester, but it will have to recognise that some of the provision of those services is carried out by those with cross-border responsibilities, and work something out with the adjoining areas. Nothing in the Bill speaks to that, because it does not relate to what I am discussing—the control of standards and the like—but the hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. That is part of the process that people will be going through.

Mr Kevan Jones: The Minister has said that the Secretary of State will retain overall control.

Alistair Burt: Not overall control.

Mr Jones: If something goes wrong in the delivery of care, where does the buck stop? Does it stop with the Secretary of State, or at local level?

Alistair Burt: I have read the report of the debates in the House of Lords on exactly this topic, because there was a lot of confusion. My understanding is that it depends on precisely what the breakdown is. Let us suppose that the breakdown, or failure, is in the way in which services have been put together by the combined authority. This is purely off the top of my head, and does not refer to anything of which I have any current knowledge. Let us suppose that there was a dispute between two constituent areas of Greater Manchester, one of which claimed that there was some inequity between the service that it was receiving and the service being received by the other. It might be claimed, for instance, that the combined authority’s decision was somehow disadvantaging Ramsbottom in favour of Bramhall. In the event of such a dispute, the buck would stop with those who were making the decisions locally, and that is the combined authority. The matter would not go anywhere near the Secretary of State. What the Secretary of State retains responsibility for is the standards and whether or not there has been a breach of NHS duties in relation to anything that falls within his own overall responsibility. So the buck still stops with the constituent authority that is delivering the service. In relation to a CCG that is not performing properly, the buck will stop with the CCG, not the combined authority. If there is a lapse of standards in

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anything connected with the NHS, ultimately the regulators govern that and the Secretary of State would be responsible. But if it is a decision being taken by those who are responsible for the new combined authority to do with where services go and it is within their remit, it will be a matter for them—the buck will stop with them. The short answer, therefore, is that where ultimately responsibility lies depends on where the breakdown is, but it is clear in relation to each of the services and it does not mean anyone can evade their responsibilities.

Andrew Gwynne: I think my right hon. Friend the Member for Leigh (Andy Burnham) had a better definition of what the Minister is trying to say. He said it is the Secretary of State’s responsibility to set out the “what”, and the “how it is delivered locally” is for local commissioners or the combined authority in the case of Greater Manchester. The “what” remains with the Secretary of State; the “how” is devolved to the local area.

Alistair Burt: I think between the hon. Gentleman’s right hon. Friend, me and the Secretary of State we have probably got where we need to get to in relation to this. I wanted to make clear that there will not be a confusion of who is responsible for what; someone is ultimately responsible for each bit, but who is responsible in each particular case depends on where the breach is.

Jon Trickett: I want to return to the question of coterminosity, which my hon. Friend the Member for Denton and Reddish (Andrew Gwynne) referred to. In west Yorkshire, which is where I am from, the local Pontefract hospital goes across from west Yorkshire as far as York, almost—into Selby. If a combined authority with an elected mayor emerges in west Yorkshire, some of the hospital services for which that person will be responsible will be provided to people who have not had the opportunity to vote for him or her as mayor or for the combined authority. Where does accountability lie? Here is a situation where somebody is responsible for services outwith the area that has elected him.

Alistair Burt: If the mayor was to have responsibility for the services—that is not the proposal for Greater Manchester—the mayor would only have responsibility for the services within the combined area. Anything beyond that would still fall within the remit of those who commissioned services in that area. The decision as to—[Interruption.] That is right: the hospital in that circumstance may well have two bosses because the CCG would be responsible for the whole lot and it would have to come, by agreement, to a decision as to what was being provided within the combined area as well as outside the combined area. So the CCG remains responsible for what it is delivering, but it decides as normal with those to whom it is answerable—in one area it has become a different authority and in another it remains the original one—what services they should provide. The overall security for the quality of what the CCG is providing is maintained by the national regulator, which supervises, and it is ultimately for the Secretary of State to make sure the NHS guidance and duties are not breached, but it is a matter for local decision how this coterminosity is dealt with, because it will occur in more than one area. Certainly, however, I cannot see that legally a CCG outside a combined authority could have any direct line of responsibility to somebody inside the combined authority who is making decisions not about their area. That is how that would work.

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Jon Trickett: If there are two adjacent mayoral operations, both taking responsibility for a hospital that is crossing the mayoral boundaries—which is now quite possible it seems to me—is not that a recipe for complex management for the people managing the hospital, and how would those contradictions be resolved?

Alistair Burt: In the first place, they could decide not to devolve at all. Part of the process will involve those in the combined authority and in those authorities next to each other deciding how to deliver the services. There is a choice. This is all voluntary, and if people want to do it they will work out a way. It is not very different from what has driven the authorities in Greater Manchester together in the first place. These are places that work across boundaries, and agreement will have to be reached on the delivery of the services. Constituents in one area could say, “Hold on a minute! Are we going to lose out over this?” They will make their decisions collectively on what they will pool and what they want. That is no different from what will happen in the areas that will be split. If people cannot agree, there will not be an order that could possibly be signed off. This will work only when there is a conviction that people have made the appropriate decisions. That is a matter for local agreement, and that is where all of us, as local politicians, get involved. So unless people are convinced that the processes are right, there will be no point in signing anything off.

6.15 pm

I want to complete my remarks on clause 19 stand part and to put the amendments in context. The clause, as amended by the Government amendments, will contain valuable safeguards that will apply to the local devolution of health functions. These make it clear beyond doubt that whatever devolutions might have been agreed with a particular area, the Secretary of State will remain bound by the key duties placed on him in respect of the health service. I shall outline those key duties to the House. The Secretary of State has duties to exercise his functions with a view to securing continuous improvement in the quality of services, to have regard to the need to reduce health inequalities, to promote autonomy in relation to those exercising NHS functions and to have regard to the NHS constitution.

The clause also requires that provision must be made for the standards and duties to be placed on the combined authority or local authority to which the functions are transferred. In deciding what provision, in terms of standards and duties, is to be imposed on the authority in question, Ministers must have regard to important NHS standards, such as those set out in the NHS constitution. The Government’s position is that the health service in areas in which a devolution deal is given effect must remain part of the NHS. That principle was firmly emphasised in a memorandum of understanding between NHS England and Greater Manchester that was signed earlier this year.

Clause 19 also provides that regulations under section 17 of this Act or an order under section 105A of the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009 must not transfer any of the Secretary of State’s core duties in relation to the health service as set out in the National Health Service Act or in relation to the NHS constitution. The Secretary of State’s duties include a duty to promote a comprehensive health

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service and a duty to exercise his functions with a view to securing continuous improvement in the quality of services, as I have just set out.

Clause 19 also sets out that regulatory functions vested in national bodies in respect of health services will not be available for transfer to a combined or local authority. As I have already said, that covers the Care Quality Commission and Monitor, among others. We want to be clear that local devolution settlements will not devolve the regulatory functions of Monitor or the CQC, for example, or change the way in which our national regulators operate to protect the interests and safety of patients.

Finally, clause 19 sets out that where any transfer or conferral of health functions is made to a combined or local authority, the Secretary of State must make provision about the standards and duties to be placed on that body, while having regard to the relevant national standards, information and accountability obligations. The elements to which the Secretary of State must have regard include the standing rules for NHS England and clinical commissioning groups, the recommendations on quality standards published by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, and the NHS constitution.

Devolution deals for health are designed to give local areas greater autonomy over how they can work together to improve health and care provision for their local populations. However, the safeguards set out in clause 19 will support the Secretary of State in ensuring, in a transfer order, that when a combined authority or local authority exercises health functions by virtue of the Bill’s provisions, that authority can be held to account over the exercise of its health service functions just as NHS commissioners are held to account now.

Clause 19 and the amendments I have described provide further clarity about the role of the Secretary of State for Health, and what will and will not be included in any future transfer order giving local organisations devolved responsibility for health services. This clear statement in legislation, making provision for the protection of the integrity of our national health service, is intended to provide further confidence for future devolution deals. I ask hon. Members to support the Government amendments and clause 19 standing part of the Bill.

Karin Smyth: I welcome the devolution of some health and care services to local areas. My hon. Friend the Member for Denton and Reddish (Andrew Gwynne) recalled our manifesto pledges for the “what” and the “how”, and I have a lot of concerns about the structural changes that might come as a result of all this. As has been mentioned, Bristol, an area of nearly half a million people surrounded by more rural areas, has two major acute hospitals, both of which offer a range of services, including highly specialised ones. I would like the Minister to say something on the issue of specialised commissioning. Patients are drawn from across the south-west; one hospital draws half its patients from Bristol and the other half from neighbouring South Gloucestershire. Two different clinical commissioning groups are involved, and a plethora of different organisations are involved in both the commissioning and the provision of services. In an earlier exchange on this type of devolution, the Minister sometimes talked about the provision of services and sometimes about the commissioning of services. It would be helpful to understand the devolution aspects:

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are we talking about provision in the new marketplace or about commissioning, and how will we bring those two things together? That is problematic for us in Bristol.

I am a former board member of a primary care trust and I spent many happy hours discussing the correct configuration of primary care and CCGs in Bristol—whether it should be a stand-alone Bristol or not. We started off with Bristol divided into two and we then talked about doughnuts. The Minister missed an earlier discussion involving the hon. Member for North East Somerset (Mr Rees-Mogg), who wanted to make sure that Bristol stayed Bristol and did not include other areas. [Interruption.] That was a shame, because it is always a joy. We never quite resolved that issue, and similar issues are applicable to many other cities and city regions. I fear that the approach being taken could make an already difficult situation for Bristol much more difficult.

The Minister and I were both at the King’s Fund discussion last week about devolution and health, and I think it was people from Manchester who talked about the fact that they had to bring 38 different organisations around the table to talk about some of these matters. My concerns relate to further structural reorganisation. Given the organisations involved and given the situation in Bristol, I wonder how I, as a patient on my pathway from prevention through primary care to community services, hospital care and possibly specialised services, would understand who is really accountable for that pathway. As we know, we can map a pathway but people do not always map closely to that. In general, I welcome this move, but of course we have concerns about financial stability, particularly of those hospitals and of wider community services. At last week’s King’s Fund event, as was quietly pointed out, we do not want a situation where money is moved from GP services into fixing potholes. We need to be very concerned about such things.

Dr Daniel Poulter (Central Suffolk and North Ipswich) (Con): It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mrs Main. I rise to make a few brief remarks in support of this clause and the Government amendments. Clearly, the direction of travel that is outlined is desirable in health and care terms. The amendments will put in place clear safeguards to deal with national regulatory structures, which are there to protect patients and to ensure that the quality of care is universally high throughout the whole country.

The importance of devolving health and care at a local level is something that we have often talked about in this place, but we have sometimes struggled to find the legislative mechanisms to make it happen. These powers will be a desirable step forward in encouraging a more integrated model of health and care. We often talk about how we can move the focus in many parts of our health service towards delivering more services in the community and a more preventative approach to healthcare. Clearly, this Bill is a big step in that direction.

By 2018, we know that there will be 3 million people with three or more long-term health conditions. Many of those people will require support not just from the health service, but from adult social care services, local voluntary and charitable organisations and, in the case of some people with special educational needs, education services. It is vital that we properly link and join up the

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services that are in place to support these people. Personalised care and mechanisms of support are often found at a local level, which is exactly what this devolution is about.

Other measures have been put in place to integrate better adult health and social care, including the better care fund, which was part of the Care Act 2104. The coalition Government also introduced some strong measures to improve the provision for children with special educational needs. But these measures go further and allow more bespoke and personalised local solutions to be put in place to support people with more complex care needs. Importantly, they also recognise that parts of the country are different in terms of not just their geography, but their cultural make up and their demographics. That is particularly important when we talk about devolving health and care. We know that some city areas have high black and minority ethnic populations with specific healthcare needs. These measures will put us in a much better place to help such areas support those communities, as well as more rural areas, in dealing with the challenges of an ageing population and increasing numbers of people with complex healthcare needs.

This Bill is an important step forward, which builds on many strong measures that have already been put in place over the past few years by both the coalition Government and the previous Labour Government. We all believe in integration and in the need to bring healthcare services closer to the individual and make them more personalised. We know that there is too much duplication in the health service and in adult social care, which costs money. That money should be going to the frontline, but duplication often gets in the way of front-line professionals helping patients. This is a big step forward in allowing local health economies and local areas to put in place the right mechanisms to support the people they look after.

Liz McInnes (Heywood and Middleton) (Lab): First, let me echo the words of the Minister and pay my own tribute to my colleague, Michael Meacher, who sadly died today. I was born and bred in his constituency, so he was my MP for a long number of years. He was greatly respected in the constituency and will be very, very sadly missed.

I wish to start by echoing the words of my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham North (Mr Allen) who said that we need to get this Bill right. The proposals for health devolution raise a great number of questions, which I hope we will deal with in a constructive manner, as we need positive outcomes. Labour Members are concerned about overlapping areas, coterminosity, and cross-border responsibilities, and they have been highlighted by my hon. Friends the Members for Bassetlaw (John Mann), for Denton and Reddish (Andrew Gwynne), for Hemsworth (Jon Trickett) and for Bristol South (Karin Smyth). We need some clarity about how the devolved responsibilities will work in practice.

6.30 pm

The implications of the Bill for the English NHS and the social care system are enormous. It includes important new powers to remove functions from NHS hospitals, from commissioners and from other bodies and to transfer them to the local or regional authorities. Depending on the implementation, the interpretation and the limits

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on these powers, such transfers of powers might fundamentally reshape our health service in years to come. We must ensure that we keep the “national” in our national health service. We do not want a postcode lottery of healthcare that is dependent on where one happens to live.

Accountability and scrutiny remain crucial for a well-run NHS, delivering the best care it can for everyone no matter where they live. The Bill could provide for the transfer of healthcare functions in England away from hospitals and NHS commissioners to local authorities. That would be a major historic shift and would create questions about how the system of NHS accountability and leadership could work with a complicated mixture of regional and national powers. Can national standards and duties for health and social care really be enforced centrally, as they are now, under a devolved regime? Or will central and regional government squabble over the responsibility for meeting population needs and making difficult decisions, such as closing hospitals or propping up overspending healthcare providers? What will happen to neighbouring areas?

It is not clear whether the deals that are possible mean that NHS funding could melt into wider regional authority budgets, making ring-fencing or protection impossible. Given the importance of healthcare spending to everyone, that needs clarity and scrutiny. Whether clause 19 is modified or removed will have an important impact on the extent to which NHS goals and standards can be allowed to vary under different authorities. However, that already occurs to some extent and could continue following devolution under the Bill.

There are good arguments on both sides about whether local or regional variation should be encouraged or opposed, but it is very important that we are clear about the limits of variation, who decides those limits and the justification for them. Devolution to combined authorities will have a centralising effect for many health and social care functions, as mentioned by the hon. Member for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich (Dr Poulter), and I thank him for his comments. However, devolution could take power away from councils representing smaller communities and clinical commissioning groups representing clinicians. Although that might be desirable in some cases, it is also important to consider how the positive elements those bodies bring to health and social care can be preserved.

Clause 19 creates an important limit on transfers of NHS functions. The Secretary of State responsible for the NHS must remain able to meet his duties under NHS legislation and must not transfer national regulatory or supervisory functions. That suggests that inspections and targets will still be national, but it does prompt questions. Will combined authorities be required to engage and consult on changes and closures of services, as NHS bodies do now under various legislation? Will NHS pricing rules and procedures apply to the new combined authorities? Or will areas such as London, currently reported to be applying for powers to set prices, be allowed to go their own way? If so, will that allow providers to compete to provide lower prices, which has been associated with the risk of lowering quality?

I shall say a little about scrutiny and control in the transfer process. Clause 18 states that the Secretary of State’s power to transfer the functions of public bodies to local authorities only applies as long as the local

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authority consents. Should there be a similar provision requiring the consent of NHS bodies where their functions are to be transferred? There is also a case for looking at a formal requirement for local authorities to specify in advance how they intend to use transferred powers, supporting more thorough scrutiny at the point of transfer. It seems likely that it would be advantageous for local relationships and co-operative leadership to ensure that both the NHS and local authorities give informed consent to the new arrangements prior to devolution.

The Bill was designed to encourage the devolution of powers held by Ministers to elected mayors as a single point of accountability. Clause 9 and schedule 3 set up overview and scrutiny and audit committees for combined authorities, providing some non-political oversight, but no such requirements appear to be attached to commissioning plans to ensure that the combined authorities have taken and acted on appropriate public health expertise, such as aligning commissioning to population needs, taking account of inequalities in commissioning decisions, using the best evidence to inform interventions and service delivery, and identifying health service and treatment priorities.

Section 26 of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 requires that CCGs have due regard for addressing inequalities in their decisions. Will the same apply to the new combined authorities, and how will they be held to account? As my hon. Friend the Member for North Durham (Mr Jones) said, where does the buck stop? What happens if things go wrong? So far the mechanisms by which standards and finances will be overseen are unclear. How will the Secretary of State ensure compliance with clause 19 when he does not have control over local authorities? How will NHS regulators enforce breaches? Will NHS debts and liabilities, including private finance initiatives and clinical negligence claims, be guaranteed by the Secretary of State for the Department for Communities and Local Government?

As the Bill stands, the capacity to transfer functions appears to go only in one direction. Whatever happens, there is no way that a power can be returned to the NHS without primary legislation, and it is not clear that this asymmetry is justified or wise.

Many of the transfers of functions from the NHS to local authorities enabled under the Bill appear to require a transfer of the related funding to the local authority budget. This raises a series of important questions. Would this allow local authorities to move spending originally allocated to the NHS to functions not related to health and care? That could lead to greatly increased variation in funding across local areas, influenced by the pressure on other local services and the scope for local taxation. It would also mean that there was no defined NHS budget which could be protected or increased by central Government decisions. The implications for the Government’s ability to commit to NHS spending pledges and for the concept of a national health service are potentially very wide.

The underlying question of whether the NHS should have one single national standard or a local variation presents us with a moral and political quandary. It seems right that local communities should have the right to decide democratically which services they put first. Communities, rural or urban, old or young, with different ethnic mixes, may have genuinely different needs, calling for different choices.

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On service closures and downgrades, decisions to move or close NHS services are often some of the most controversial in any local area. An important question will be whether combined authorities with strong local visibility and accountability will be able to give people more faith that these decisions are made fairly, and assure them that overall provision within the city or county will be maintained or improved.

My hon. Friend the Member for Bristol South also referred to specialised health services. Devolution of responsibility for specialised health services needs to be considered, as no region is entirely self-sufficient, and smaller patient populations—those with a spinal injury or a genetic disorder, for example—can easily be left behind at local level. The Bill must therefore be extremely clear that NHS England’s national standards for specialised services are maintained and that devolution takes place only to the extent that is appropriate for the region concerned.

Those are complex decisions for the NHS, and specialised commissioning was moved from local to national level in 2013 for a good reason. In that regard, NHS England has developed its own principles and decision-making criteria for devolution. Can the Minister provide an assurance that those will determine the extent to which devolution occurs in any given region? Can he also provide an assurance that there will continue to be clearly defined accountability for specialised services at whatever level they are commissioned?

Alistair Burt: I thank the hon. Member for Heywood and Middleton (Liz McInnes) for putting the Opposition’s case clearly and providing me with an opportunity to explain why these measures are so important and, I hope, give reassurance. I start by reminding the Committee that this is an enabling Bill, so nothing in it will force anybody to do anything. Ultimately, if local areas want to take the opportunity to apply for devolution, including the devolution of health services, they can do so, but they will not be forced to do so. Control and standards will be exercised by Parliament in securing the deals. Within that wide remit, I will come to the hon. Lady’s questions, but first let me answer a few specific points that have been raised.

The hon. Member for Bristol South (Karin Smyth) and my hon. Friend the Member for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich (Dr Poulter)—I thank him for the work he did in the Department, which I follow—in a way put both sides of the argument. In a sense, the Government cannot decide some of the issues that both my hon. Friend and the hon. Lady raised. My hon. Friend believes that where these opportunities are used for greater integration and for the best, services will be smoother and able to deliver more locally what people want. Of course, as the hon. Lady pointed out, there will be disputes within each individual area about what might be best for it. A devolution deal will make sense only if decisions have been taken locally and agreement has been reached on how to move forward. If not, I cannot imagine the hon. Lady or her area wanting to support them. Central Government cannot make all the decisions that will ultimately be taken by a group of authorities working together. Some of that will have to be decided locally, rather than at the centre. I will talk in a moment about the check that is made before anyone agrees to transfer anything.

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Let me make specific reference to specialised services, which are of particular interest to the hon. Member for Bristol South. NHS England may make arrangements with local partners for the commissioning of specialised services. Those arrangements will be subject to NHS England having regard to certain considerations on their appropriateness in the particular commissioning area. They might involve delegation to local partners, or NHS England might decide to work together with its local partners, who must include at least one clinical commissioning group and a combined authority, or at least one local authority. In all cases, the local partners in an arrangement must exercise the function jointly. That will allow local commissioners to shape services to best meet the needs of their local populations and make it easier to integrate specialist services with other health and social care services. However, NHS England will remain accountable for the delivery of specialised services. It will remain bound by its existing duties to promote the NHS constitution on reducing health inequalities and on effectiveness and efficiency, and to exercise its functions with a view to securing continuous improvement in the quality of services, along with its other overarching duties. NHS England has confirmed that it will be part of any arrangements concerning specialised standards, but national service standards that it sets for the provision of these services will continue to be required. Although there is provision in the Bill to devolve certain specialised services, the control, security and safeguards of the NHS remain. However, it will be possible if it is considered the right thing to do.

6.45 pm

Karin Smyth: I am grateful for that clarification. My concern then would be who the Minister sees as driving the development and improvement of, particularly, the specialised commissioners. We are talking in fairly transactional terms about who might be contracting or who might be accountable but, as he will appreciate, these services, as well as others, require a long lead-in time and a lot of consideration owing to their very technical and, by definition, specialised nature. Who is driving this forward—the local group, if they so choose, who may not have the expertise, or the Department?

Alistair Burt: NHS England and the Department must retain the overall control of the quality of the specialised services, and that will not be relinquished if there is no sense that they can be handled any better, because otherwise there is no point. The number of specialised services that are devolved might ultimately be very few. Of course, there is only any point in devolving them if they are going to improve, and that must be demonstrated before they are devolved and moved on.

Let me say a little about the wider concern of the hon. Member for Heywood and Middleton that by devolving these powers and running with the grain of greater devolution, we are losing the “national” in the national health service. We are absolutely determined that that will not be the case. The safeguards that are now in the Bill as a result of concerns expressed elsewhere were never going to be lost, but they are now made more explicit to demonstrate that what she worries about cannot happen. It is not the case that an authority will apply for these powers and they will be handed over without no further consideration, because there is the transfer order that Parliament will be involved in.

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What are the Government going to think about when people ask to do this? The Government have invited local areas to develop their own proposals. There is no blueprint for the devolution of health and social care. The substance of devolution deals will be determined on a case-by-case basis, with Government agreeing bespoke deals that correspond to the needs and specific context of each area. There are some important preconditions that we might expect to support the development of local devolution deals, including health and social care. These include a clear vision for the benefits to the local area; a history of successful collaboration and partnership working; support and input from local health and social care organisations for the proposals being put forward; a strong commitment to further engagement with local patients and communities as plans develop; upholding the standards set out in national guidance; and continuing to meet statutory requirements and duties, including the NHS constitution and the Government’s mandate to NHS England. Most importantly, the first overarching principle of any agreement is that all areas will remain part of the NHS. This requirement to adhere to the constitution of the NHS and the ultimate safeguard of the Secretary of State’s responsibilities answers the point about a local area getting hold of NHS money and then deciding to build a new leisure centre. It would not be able to do that because it would not be complying with its duties under the NHS. It would fail and the duties and responsibilities would soon be taken away. That is why the safeguard is there.

To deal with the hon. Lady’s concerns about potential confusion, let me say a little more about the role of NHS England under devolved arrangements. NHS England and CCGs would continue to be bound by their duties under the National Health Service Act 2006 even after devolution of functions. For example, NHS England will remain bound by duties to promote the NHS constitution, and to exercise its functions effectively, efficiently and economically and with a view to securing continuous improvement in the quality of services, including in terms of outcomes.

NHS England must exercise its functions having regard to the need to reduce inequalities in relation to both access to health services and outcomes achieved for patients. When NHS England exercises its functions, it must also promote the involvement of patients and their carers and representatives in decisions made about diagnosis, prevention and care and treatment. It must take appropriate advice and act with a view to enabling patients to make choices with respect to aspects of the health service provided to them.

Those safeguards show that the powers simply cannot be devolved to people who want them without any check or balance on how they would exercise them, even if they persuade people locally that signing a blank cheque for help is in any way acceptable. I cannot see local representatives agreeing to that. That is where the control comes in.

How will the Department of Health and NHS England be involved in agreeing the deals? We have been working closely with other Government Departments to respond to proposals. NHS England has developed its own set of assessment criteria, by which it will assess the potential of proposals from a particular local area. It is not an

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automatic process: if the deal will not work in terms of the quality of healthcare provided, the House will not pass a transfer order because the proposal will not pass the test set by NHS England and the Department of Health.

Will devolution mean that local areas can set their own strategy for NHS capital estates and management? No, we do not envisage any changes to capital financing and asset ownership.

Finally, I want to address a very important issue raised by the hon. Lady. Who will have the final say over the opening and closing of hospitals and other services? This is issue concerns every single one of us in the Chamber. Reconfiguration of NHS services will continue to be a matter for the local NHS. However, proposals for service change must meet the Government’s four tests: support from local GP commissioners; clarity on the clinical evidence base; robust patient and public engagement; and support for patient choice. The same elements of contest available when reconfiguration has been proposed will remain even after devolution, so nothing is taken away.

I hope that has been helpful. Working with the grain of what people want, we all think this is a better idea, but there are safeguards to make sure that people’s worries will not come to fruition.

Amendment 32 agreed to.

Clause 8, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 17

Power to transfer etc. public authority functions to certain local authorities

Amendment made: 33, page 17, line 32, at end insert—

‘( ) See also section 19 (devolving health service functions) which contains further limitations.”—(Alistair Burt.)

This amendment inserts a new subsection into clause 17 which alerts the reader to clause 19 which contains limitations on the power to make regulations under that



Clause 17, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 18

Section 17: procedure etc.

Amendment made: 15, page 18, line 6, after “make” insert “incidental, supplementary, consequential,”—(Alistair Burt.)

This amendment provides that the power to make regulations under clause 17 of the Bill includes a power to make incidental, supplementary and consequential



Clause 18, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 19

Devolving health service functions

Amendments made: 34, page 18, leave out lines 29 to 33 and insert—

‘(1) Regulations under section 17 of this Act or an order under section 105A of the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009 (transfer of public authority functions to combined authorities) (“the 2009 Act”)—

(a) must not transfer any of the Secretary of State’s core duties in relation to the health service;”

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This amendment confines the limitations contained in clause 19 to the exercise of the power to make regulations under clause 17 or an order under section 105A of Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009. Those powers concern the transfer of public authority functions to local or combined authorities. New clause 19(1)(a) prevents those powers being used to transfer any of the Secretary of State’s core duties in relation to the health service (as defined in clause 19(2) which is inserted by Amendment 38).

Amendment 35, page 18, line 34, leave out “or supervisory”

This amendment removes the prohibition in clause 19(b) on the transfer of health service supervisory functions of national bodies by regulations under clause 17 or an order under section 105A of the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009.

Amendment 36, page 18, line 36, leave out from “must” to first “the” in line 37 and insert

“, if transferring functions relating to the health service to a local authority or a combined authority, make provision about the standards and duties to be placed on that authority having regard to”

This amendment and Amendment 37 replace the limitation in clause 19(c) with a requirement that regulations under clause 17 or an order under section 105A of the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009 which transfer functions relating to the health service to a local or combined authority must make provision about the standards and duties to be placed on that authority having regard to certain standards and obligations placed on the authority responsible for the functions being transferred.

Amendment 37, page 18, line 38, leave out from “on” to “being” in line 39 and insert

“the authority responsible for the functions”

See the statement for Amendment 36.

Amendment 38, page 18, line 40, at end insert—

‘(2) For the purposes of subsection (1)(a), “the Secretary of State’s core duties in relation to the health service” means the duties of the Secretary of State under—

(a) sections 1 to 1G of the National Health Service Act 2006 (“the NHSA 2006”) (duty to promote comprehensive health service etc.),

(b) sections 6A to 6BB of that Act (duties regarding the reimbursement of costs of services provided in another EEA state),

(c) section 12E of that Act (duty as respects variation in provision of health services),

(d) sections 13A, 13B, 13U and 223B of that Act (duties regarding mandate to, and annual report and funding of, the NHS Commissioning Board),

(e) section 247C of that Act (duty to keep health service functions under review),

(f) section 247D of that Act (duty to publish annual report on performance of the health service in England),

(g) section 258 of that Act (duty regarding the availability of facilities for university clinical teaching and research), and

(h) sections 3 to 6 of the Health Act 2009 (duties in relation to the NHS Constitution and the Handbook to it),

in so far as those duties would (apart from subsection (1)(a)) be transferable by regulations under section17 or an order under section 105A of the 2009 Act.

(3) For the purposes of subsection (1)(b)—

(a) “health service regulatory function” means a function in relation to the health service which is a regulatory function within the meaning given by section 32 of the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006,

(b) the functions of the National Health Service Commissioning Board under sections 14Z16 to 14Z22 of the NHSA 2006 (assessment of clinical commissioning groups and intervention powers) are to be treated as

21 Oct 2015 : Column 1070

“health service regulatory functions” in so far as they do not fall within the definition in paragraph (a), and

(c) functions exercisable by a body by virtue of directions given under section 7 of the NHSA 2006 (functions of Special Health Authorities) are not “vested in” that body.

(4) But subsection (1)(b) does not prevent the transfer of functions of the National Health Service Commissioning Board which—

(a) arise from arrangements under section 1H(3)(a) of the NHSA 2006 (provision of services for the purpose of the health service), and

(b) relate to those providing services under those arrangements.

(5) For the purposes of subsection (1)(c), “national service standards” means the standards contained in any of the following—

(a) the NHS Constitution (within the meaning of Chapter 1 of Part 1 of the Health Act 2009);

(b) the standing rules under section 6E of the NHSA 2006 (regulations as to the exercise of functions by the NHS Commissioning Board or clinical commissioning groups);

(c) the terms as to service delivery required by regulations or directions under the NHSA 2006 for contracts or other arrangements for the provision of primary medical services, primary dental services, primary ophthalmic services or pharmaceutical services under Part 4, 5, 6 or 7 of that Act;

(d) the recommendations or guidance of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence made or given pursuant to regulations under section 237 of the Health and Social Care Act 2012;

(e) the quality standards prepared by that Institute under section 234 of that Act;

(f) the guidance published under section 14Z8 of the NHSA 2006 (guidance on commissioning by the NHS Commissioning Board);

and such standards are “placed on” a body if the body is required to have regard to or comply with them.

(6) For the purposes of subsection (1)(c)—

(a) “national information obligations” means duties regarding the obtaining, retention, use or disclosure of information, and

(b) “national accountability obligations” means duties (for example, those to keep accounts or records, or to provide or publish reports, plans or other information) which enable the management of a body, or the way in which functions are discharged, to be examined, inspected, reviewed or studied.

(7) For the purposes of this section, a function is transferred by regulations under section 17 or by an order under section 105A of the 2009 Act, if—

(a) provision is made under subsection (1)(a) of the section in question for the function to be the function of a local authority or a combined authority, or

(b) provision is made under subsection (1)(b) of that section for a function corresponding to the function to be conferred on a local authority or a combined authority.

(8) Nothing in this section prevents the conferral on a local authority or a combined authority of duties to have regard to, or to promote or secure, the matters mentioned in sections 1 to 1F of the NHSA 2006 when exercising a function transferred to it by regulations under section 17, or by an order under section 105A of the 2009 Act.

(9) In this section, “the health service” has the meaning given by section 275(1) of the NHSA 2006.”—(Alistair Burt.)

21 Oct 2015 : Column 1071

This amendment adds provision to clause 19 which defines terms used in, and clarifies the scope of, the limitations contained in paragraphs (a) to (c) of the



Clause 19, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 9 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 3 agreed to.

Clause 10

Funding of combined authorities

Amendment made: 9, page 11, line 26, at end insert—

‘( ) In section 105 of the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009 (constitution and functions of combined authorities: economic development and regeneration), omit subsection (4).”—(Alistair Burt.)

This amendment removes the restriction on orders under section 105 of the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009 only being able to make provision in relation to the costs of a combined authority that are reasonably attributable to the exercise of its functions relating to economic development and regeneration.

Amendment proposed: 58, page 11, line 26, at end insert—

‘(5) The Secretary of State may by order make provision for conferring powers on a combined authority to set multi-year finance settlements.” —(Jon Trickett.)

This amendment is intended to offer financial stability to city regions, allowing them long-term planning which is something not currently offered by the finance settlement or the funding of local enterprise partnership (LEPs).

The Committee divided:

Ayes 203, Noes 311.

Division No. 83]


6.54 pm


Abrahams, Debbie

Alexander, Heidi

Ali, Rushanara

Allen, Mr Graham

Ashworth, Jonathan

Austin, Ian

Bailey, Mr Adrian

Barron, rh Kevin

Beckett, rh Margaret

Benn, rh Hilary

Berger, Luciana

Betts, Mr Clive

Blackman-Woods, Dr Roberta

Blenkinsop, Tom

Blomfield, Paul

Bradshaw, rh Mr Ben

Brennan, Kevin

Brown, Lyn

Bryant, Chris

Buck, Ms Karen

Burden, Richard

Burgon, Richard

Cadbury, Ruth

Campbell, rh Mr Alan

Campbell, Mr Ronnie

Carmichael, rh Mr Alistair

Champion, Sarah

Coaker, Vernon

Coffey, Ann

Cooper, Julie

Corbyn, Jeremy

Coyle, Neil

Creagh, Mary

Creasy, Stella

Cruddas, Jon

Cryer, John

Cummins, Judith

Cunningham, Alex

Cunningham, Mr Jim

Dakin, Nic

Danczuk, Simon

David, Wayne

De Piero, Gloria

Doughty, Stephen

Dowd, Jim

Dowd, Peter

Dromey, Jack

Dugher, Michael

Durkan, Mark

Eagle, Ms Angela

Eagle, Maria

Edwards, Jonathan

Efford, Clive

Elliott, Julie

Ellman, Mrs Louise

Esterson, Bill

Evans, Chris

Farrelly, Paul

Field, rh Frank

Fitzpatrick, Jim

Flello, Robert

Fletcher, Colleen

Flint, rh Caroline

Flynn, Paul

Fovargue, Yvonne

Gardiner, Barry

Glass, Pat

Glindon, Mary

Godsiff, Mr Roger

Goodman, Helen

Green, Kate

Greenwood, Margaret

Griffith, Nia

Gwynne, Andrew

Haigh, Louise

Hanson, rh Mr David

Harman, rh Ms Harriet

Harris, Carolyn

Hayes, Helen

Healey, rh John

Hendrick, Mr Mark

Hepburn, Mr Stephen

Hermon, Lady

Hodge, rh Dame Margaret

Hodgson, Mrs Sharon

Hollern, Kate

Hopkins, Kelvin

Howarth, rh Mr George

Hunt, Tristram

Huq, Dr Rupa

Irranca-Davies, Huw

Jarvis, Dan

Johnson, rh Alan

Jones, Gerald

Jones, Graham

Jones, Helen

Jones, Mr Kevan

Jones, Susan Elan

Kane, Mike

Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald

Keeley, Barbara

Kendall, Liz

Khan, rh Sadiq

Kinnock, Stephen

Kyle, Peter

Lamb, rh Norman

Lammy, rh Mr David

Lavery, Ian

Leslie, Chris

Lewell-Buck, Mrs Emma

Lewis, Clive

Long Bailey, Rebecca

Lucas, Caroline

Lucas, Ian C.

Lynch, Holly

Mactaggart, rh Fiona

Madders, Justin

Mahmood, Mr Khalid

Mahmood, Shabana

Malhotra, Seema

Mann, John

Marris, Rob

Marsden, Mr Gordon

Maskell, Rachael

Matheson, Christian

McCabe, Steve

McCarthy, Kerry

McDonagh, Siobhain

McDonald, Andy

McDonnell, John

McFadden, rh Mr Pat

McGinn, Conor

McGovern, Alison

McInnes, Liz

McKinnell, Catherine

Meale, Sir Alan

Mearns, Ian

Morden, Jessica

Morris, Grahame M.

Murray, Ian

Onn, Melanie

Onwurah, Chi

Osamor, Kate

Owen, Albert

Pennycook, Matthew

Perkins, Toby

Phillips, Jess

Phillipson, Bridget

Pound, Stephen

Powell, Lucy

Qureshi, Yasmin

Rayner, Angela

Reed, Mr Jamie

Reed, Mr Steve

Rees, Christina

Reynolds, Emma

Reynolds, Jonathan

Rimmer, Marie

Ritchie, Ms Margaret

Robinson, Mr Geoffrey

Rotheram, Steve

Saville Roberts, Liz

Sharma, Mr Virendra

Sheerman, Mr Barry

Sherriff, Paula

Shuker, Mr Gavin

Siddiq, Tulip

Skinner, Mr Dennis

Slaughter, Andy

Smeeth, Ruth

Smith, rh Mr Andrew

Smith, Angela

Smith, Cat

Smith, Jeff

Smith, Nick

Smith, Owen

Smyth, Karin

Spellar, rh Mr John

Starmer, Keir

Stevens, Jo

Streeting, Wes

Stringer, Graham

Stuart, rh Ms Gisela

Tami, Mark

Thomas, Mr Gareth

Thornberry, Emily

Timms, rh Stephen

Trickett, Jon

Twigg, Derek

Twigg, Stephen

Umunna, Mr Chuka

Vaz, rh Keith

Vaz, Valerie

Watson, Mr Tom

Whitehead, Dr Alan

Williams, Hywel

Williams, Mr Mark

Wilson, Phil

Winnick, Mr David

Winterton, rh Ms Rosie

Woodcock, John

Wright, Mr Iain

Zeichner, Daniel

Tellers for the Ayes:

Vicky Foxcroft


Sue Hayman


Adams, Nigel

Afriyie, Adam

Aldous, Peter

Allan, Lucy

Allen, Heidi

Amess, Sir David

Andrew, Stuart

Ansell, Caroline

Argar, Edward

Atkins, Victoria

Bacon, Mr Richard

Baker, Mr Steve

Baldwin, Harriett

Barclay, Stephen

Baron, Mr John

Barwell, Gavin

Bebb, Guto

Bellingham, Mr Henry

Beresford, Sir Paul

Berry, Jake

Berry, James

Bingham, Andrew

Blackman, Bob

Blackwood, Nicola

Boles, Nick

Bone, Mr Peter

Borwick, Victoria

Bottomley, Sir Peter

Bradley, Karen

Brady, Mr Graham

Brazier, Mr Julian

Bridgen, Andrew

Brine, Steve

Brokenshire, rh James

Bruce, Fiona

Buckland, Robert

Burns, Conor

Burns, rh Sir Simon

Burrowes, Mr David

Burt, rh Alistair

Cairns, Alun

Carmichael, Neil

Cartlidge, James

Cash, Sir William

Caulfield, Maria

Chalk, Alex

Chishti, Rehman

Chope, Mr Christopher

Churchill, Jo

Clark, rh Greg

Cleverly, James

Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey

Coffey, Dr Thérèse

Collins, Damian

Colvile, Oliver

Costa, Alberto

Cox, Mr Geoffrey

Crabb, rh Stephen

Crouch, Tracey

Davies, Byron

Davies, Chris

Davies, David T. C.

Davies, Glyn

Davies, Dr James

Davies, Mims

Davies, Philip

Dinenage, Caroline

Djanogly, Mr Jonathan

Dodds, rh Mr Nigel

Donaldson, rh Mr Jeffrey M.

Donelan, Michelle

Dorries, Nadine

Double, Steve

Dowden, Oliver

Drax, Richard

Drummond, Mrs Flick

Duncan, rh Sir Alan

Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain

Dunne, Mr Philip

Ellis, Michael

Ellison, Jane

Ellwood, Mr Tobias

Elphicke, Charlie

Eustice, George

Evans, Graham

Evennett, rh Mr David

Fabricant, Michael

Fallon, rh Michael

Fernandes, Suella

Foster, Kevin

Fox, rh Dr Liam

Frazer, Lucy

Freeman, George

Freer, Mike

Fuller, Richard

Fysh, Marcus

Gale, Sir Roger

Garnier, rh Sir Edward

Garnier, Mark

Gauke, Mr David

Ghani, Nusrat

Gibb, Mr Nick

Gillan, rh Mrs Cheryl

Glen, John

Goodwill, Mr Robert

Gove, rh Michael

Graham, Richard

Grant, Mrs Helen

Gray, Mr James

Grayling, rh Chris

Green, Chris

Green, rh Damian

Greening, rh Justine

Grieve, rh Mr Dominic

Griffiths, Andrew

Gummer, Ben

Gyimah, Mr Sam

Halfon, rh Robert

Hall, Luke

Hammond, rh Mr Philip

Hammond, Stephen

Hancock, rh Matthew

Hands, rh Greg

Harper, rh Mr Mark

Harrington, Richard

Harris, Rebecca

Hart, Simon

Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan

Hayes, rh Mr John

Heald, Sir Oliver

Heappey, James

Heaton-Harris, Chris

Heaton-Jones, Peter

Henderson, Gordon

Herbert, rh Nick

Hinds, Damian

Hoare, Simon

Hollingbery, George

Hollinrake, Kevin

Hollobone, Mr Philip

Holloway, Mr Adam

Hopkins, Kris

Howarth, Sir Gerald

Howell, John

Howlett, Ben

Huddleston, Nigel

Hunt, rh Mr Jeremy

Hurd, Mr Nick

Jackson, Mr Stewart

James, Margot

Jayawardena, Mr Ranil

Jenkin, Mr Bernard

Jenkyns, Andrea

Jenrick, Robert

Johnson, Boris

Johnson, Gareth

Johnson, Joseph

Jones, Andrew

Jones, rh Mr David

Jones, Mr Marcus

Kawczynski, Daniel

Kennedy, Seema

Kirby, Simon

Knight, rh Sir Greg

Knight, Julian

Kwarteng, Kwasi

Lancaster, Mark

Latham, Pauline

Leadsom, Andrea

Lee, Dr Phillip

Lefroy, Jeremy

Leigh, Sir Edward

Leslie, Charlotte

Letwin, rh Mr Oliver

Lewis, Brandon

Lewis, rh Dr Julian

Lidington, rh Mr David

Lilley, rh Mr Peter

Lopresti, Jack

Lord, Jonathan

Loughton, Tim

Lumley, Karen

Mackinlay, Craig

Mackintosh, David

Mak, Mr Alan

Malthouse, Kit

Mann, Scott

Mathias, Dr Tania

May, rh Mrs Theresa

Maynard, Paul

McCartney, Jason

McCartney, Karl

McPartland, Stephen

Menzies, Mark

Mercer, Johnny

Merriman, Huw

Metcalfe, Stephen

Miller, rh Mrs Maria

Milling, Amanda

Mills, Nigel

Milton, rh Anne

Mitchell, rh Mr Andrew

Mordaunt, Penny

Morris, Anne Marie

Morris, David

Morris, James

Morton, Wendy

Mowat, David

Mundell, rh David

Murray, Mrs Sheryll

Murrison, Dr Andrew

Neill, Robert

Newton, Sarah

Nokes, Caroline

Norman, Jesse

Nuttall, Mr David

Offord, Dr Matthew

Parish, Neil

Patel, rh Priti

Paterson, rh Mr Owen

Pawsey, Mark

Penning, rh Mike

Penrose, John

Percy, Andrew

Perry, Claire

Phillips, Stephen

Pickles, rh Sir Eric

Pincher, Christopher

Poulter, Dr Daniel

Pow, Rebecca

Prentis, Victoria

Prisk, Mr Mark

Pursglove, Tom

Quin, Jeremy

Quince, Will

Raab, Mr Dominic

Redwood, rh John

Rees-Mogg, Mr Jacob

Robertson, Mr Laurence

Robinson, Gavin

Robinson, Mary

Rosindell, Andrew

Rutley, David

Sandbach, Antoinette

Scully, Paul

Selous, Andrew

Shapps, rh Grant

Sharma, Alok

Shelbrooke, Alec

Simpson, David

Simpson, rh Mr Keith

Skidmore, Chris

Smith, Chloe

Smith, Henry

Smith, Julian

Smith, Royston

Soames, rh Sir Nicholas

Solloway, Amanda

Soubry, rh Anna

Spelman, rh Mrs Caroline

Spencer, Mark

Stephenson, Andrew

Stevenson, John

Stewart, Bob

Stewart, Iain

Stewart, Rory

Streeter, Mr Gary

Stride, Mel

Stuart, Graham

Sturdy, Julian

Sunak, Rishi

Swayne, rh Mr Desmond

Swire, rh Mr Hugo

Syms, Mr Robert

Thomas, Derek

Throup, Maggie

Timpson, Edward

Tolhurst, Kelly

Tomlinson, Justin

Tomlinson, Michael

Tracey, Craig

Tredinnick, David

Trevelyan, Mrs Anne-Marie

Truss, rh Elizabeth

Tugendhat, Tom

Turner, Mr Andrew

Tyrie, rh Mr Andrew

Vaizey, Mr Edward

Vara, Mr Shailesh

Vickers, Martin

Walker, Mr Charles

Walker, Mr Robin

Wallace, Mr Ben

Warburton, David

Warman, Matt

Watkinson, Dame Angela

Wharton, James

Whately, Helen

Wheeler, Heather

White, Chris

Whittaker, Craig

Whittingdale, rh Mr John

Wiggin, Bill

Williams, Craig

Williamson, rh Gavin

Wilson, Mr Rob

Wilson, Sammy

Wollaston, Dr Sarah

Wood, Mike

Wragg, William

Zahawi, Nadhim

Tellers for the Noes:

Jackie Doyle-Price


Guy Opperman

Question accordingly negatived.

21 Oct 2015 : Column 1072

21 Oct 2015 : Column 1073

21 Oct 2015 : Column 1074

21 Oct 2015 : Column 1075

7.9 pm

Proceedings interrupted (Programme Order, 14 October).

The Chair put forthwith the Questions necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded at that time (Standing Order No. 83D).

Clause 10, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 11 to 15 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 16

Governance arrangements etc of local authorities in England

Amendments made: 10, page 16, line 4, leave out from ‘arrangements’ to end of line 6 and insert—

‘, or electoral arrangements, in relation to local authorities under Part 1 of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 or under Part 3 of the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009.’

This amendment clarifies that provision in regulations made under clause 16(1)(c) may include provision regarding any of the specified matters listed in Part 1 of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 and Part 3 of the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009.

Amendment 11,  page 16, line 9, at end insert—

‘( ) Regulations under this section may in particular make provision—

(a) about how the enactments mentioned in subsection (1) or in subsection (2) are to apply in relation to particular cases (including by disapplying the application of any such enactment to a particular case or applying it subject to any variations that are specified in the regulations);

(b) about any of the matters listed in section 11(3) or (4) of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 (including provision in relation to such matters of a kind mentioned in section 12 of that Act).

Nothing in paragraph (a) limits the power to make provision under subsection (4)(c).’

This amendment provides that regulations made under clause 16(1) of the Bill may make provision about the application to particular cases of the Local Government Act 1972, Local Government Act 2000, Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 and Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009.

Amendment 12, page 16, line 13, at end insert—

‘() includes power to make different provision for different purposes;’

This amendment provides that the power to make regulations under clause 16 of the Bill includes the power to make different provision for different purposes.

Amendment 14, page 16, line 14, after ‘make’ insert ‘incidental, supplementary, consequential,’

21 Oct 2015 : Column 1076

This amendment provides that the power to make regulations under clause 16 of the Bill includes a power to make incidental, supplementary and consequential provision.

Amendment 13, page 16, line 17, at end insert—

‘( ) Section 15 of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 (power to transfer functions, property etc as part of incidental etc provision) applies in relation to subsection (4)(b) above as it applies in relation to sections 13 and 14 of that Act.’—(Alistair Burt.)

This amendment enables incidental etc. provision under clause 16(4)(b) to include provision of a kind provided for in section 15 of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 (transfer of functions, property etc).

Clause 16, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

New Clause 8

Amendments of the National Health Service Act 2006

Schedule (Amendments of the National Health Service Act 2006) contains amendments of the National Health Service Act 2006 in connection with the exercise of health service functions of combined or local authorities and the control of information about local authority social care.”

This amendment inserts a clause to introduce Schedule 3A. That Schedule sets out provisions amending the National Health Service Act 2006.

(Alistair Burt.)

Brought up, and added to the Bill.

New Schedule 1

Schedule 3A

Amendments of the National Health Service Act 2006

1 The National Health Service Act 2006 is amended as follows.2 (1) Section 7A (exercise of Secretary of State’s public health functions) is amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (2), after paragraph (c) insert—

‘(d) a combined authority.’

(3) In subsection (4), after ‘group’ insert ‘or a combined authority’.

3 In section 13Z (exercise of functions), after subsection (6) insert—

‘(7) This section is subject to sections 13ZA and 13ZB in the case of arrangements that are devolved arrangements (within the meaning of section 13ZA).’

4 After section 13Z insert—

‘13ZA Section 13Z: further provision in relation to devolved arrangements

(1) This section applies to arrangements under section 13Z(2) for a function of the Board to be exercised in relation to a particular area by or jointly with a relevant prescribed body (“devolved arrangements”).

(2) ‘Relevant prescribed body’ means a body prescribed under section 13Z(2)(c) that is either—

(a) a combined authority whose area includes the whole or part of the area to which the arrangements relate, or

(b) a local authority (within the meaning of section 2B) whose area includes the whole or part of that area.

(3) The power of the Board under section 13Z(2) to enter into devolved arrangements includes power to arrange for the function to be exercised in relation to the area to which the arrangements relate—

(a) by the relevant prescribed body jointly with one or more other eligible bodies;

(b) jointly with the Board, the relevant prescribed body and one or more other eligible bodies.

21 Oct 2015 : Column 1077

(4) A body is an ‘eligible body’ if it—

(a) falls within paragraph (a), (b) or (c) of section 13Z(2), and

(b) exercises functions in relation to the area to which the arrangements relate.

(5) Where, by virtue of subsection (3), the Board enters into devolved arrangements with a relevant prescribed body and one or more eligible bodies, at least one of those eligible bodies must be a clinical commissioning group.

(6) Where, by virtue of subsection (3), one or more eligible bodies are a party to devolved arrangements, the power under section 13Z(4) to establish a joint committee includes a power to establish a joint committee of which one or more of the eligible bodies are members.

(7) But the members of a joint committee established under section 13Z(4) by virtue of subsection (6) must include—

(a) the relevant prescribed body;

(b) each eligible body with whom a function is exercised jointly under the devolved arrangements;

(c) if under the devolved arrangements a function is exercisable jointly with the Board, the Board.

(8) The terms and conditions on which devolved arrangements are made may include terms authorising a joint committee established by virtue of subsection (6) to establish and maintain a pooled fund.

(9) A pooled fund is a fund—

(a) which is made up of payments received from the Board under the devolved arrangements in accordance with terms of payment agreed under section 13Z(5), and

(b) out of which payments may be made towards expenditure incurred in the discharge of any of the functions in relation to which the devolved arrangements are made.

13ZB Section 13Z: arrangements in relation to the function under section 3B(1)(d)

(1) This section applies to arrangements under section 13Z(2) that are or include arrangements in relation to the exercise of a relevant commissioning function.

(2) “Relevant commissioning function” means a function of the Board under section 3B(1)(d) of arranging for the provision of services or facilities in respect of a particular area (“the commissioning area”).

(3) The power to enter into the arrangements under section 13Z is subject to the following provisions of this section.

(4) The arrangements must provide for the relevant commissioning function to be exercisable by at least one relevant prescribed body jointly with—

(a) one or more eligible bodies, or

(b) the Board and one or more eligible bodies,

(and the arrangements are, accordingly, devolved arrangements to which section 13ZA applies).

(5) At least one of the eligible bodies mentioned in subsection (4) must be a clinical commissioning group.

(6) The Board may enter into the arrangements in relation to the provision of a service or facility in the commissioning area only if it considers it appropriate to do so having regard to—

(a) the impact on the provision of the service or facility in the commissioning area;

(b) the impact on the provision of the service or facility in other areas;

(c) the number of persons in the commissioning area to whom the service or facility is provided;

(d) the number of persons who are able to provide the service or facility;

(e) the cost of providing the service or facility;

(f) the financial implications for the relevant prescribed body, and for other bodies, with whom the arrangements are made.

21 Oct 2015 : Column 1078

(7) Regulations may provide for this section not to apply to arrangements so far as relating to a relevant commissioning function of a prescribed description.

(8) In this section, ‘eligible body’ and ‘relevant prescribed body’ have the same meaning as in section 13ZA.”

5 After section 14Z3 insert—

‘14Z3Z3A Joint exercise of functions with combined authorities

(1) A clinical commissioning group may arrange for—

(a) any commissioning function of the group to be exercised jointly with a combined authority;

(b) any commissioning function that the group exercises on behalf of another clinical commissioning group under section 14Z3(2)(a) to be exercised jointly with a combined authority.

(2) Two or more clinical commissioning groups may arrange for any commissioning functions of those groups that are exercised jointly with each other under section 14Z3(2)(b) to be exercised jointly also with a combined authority.

(3) Regulations may provide that the powers in subsections (1) and (2) do not apply in relation to a commissioning function of a prescribed description.

(4) Where any commissioning functions of a clinical commissioning group (or groups) are exercised jointly with a combined authority under subsection (1) or (2), they may be exercised by a joint committee of the group (or groups) and the authority.

(5) Arrangements under subsection (1) or (2) may be on such terms and conditions (including terms as to payment) as may be agreed between the clinical commissioning group (or groups) and the combined authority.

(6) Where two or more clinical commissioning groups enter into arrangements with the same combined authority under subsection (1) or (2), the terms as to payment mentioned in subsection (5) may include terms authorising a joint committee established under subsection (4) to establish and maintain a pooled fund.

(7) A pooled fund is a fund—

(a) which is made up of payments received under the arrangements from all the groups that are parties to the arrangements, and

(b) out of which payments may be made towards expenditure incurred in the exercise of any of the commissioning functions in respect of which the arrangements are made.

(8) Arrangements under subsection (1) or (2) do not affect the liability of a clinical commissioning group for the exercise of any of its functions.

(9) In this section ‘commissioning functions’ means the functions of clinical commissioning groups in arranging for the provision of services as part of the health service (but does not include the function of making a request to the Board for the purposes of section 14Z9).”

6 In section 75 (arrangements between NHS bodies and local authorities), after subsection (7) insert—

(7A) For the purposes of this section, a combined authority that exercises a prescribed function within subsection (1)(a) of an NHS body under voluntary arrangements is to be treated as an NHS body.

(7B) ‘Voluntary arrangements’ means arrangements made with the combined authority under—

(a) section 7A (exercise of Secretary of State’s public health functions),

(b) section 13Z (exercise of the Board’s functions), or

(c) section 14Z3A (joint exercise of functions with clinical commissioning groups).

(7C) Regulations under this section, so far as made before or in the same Session as that in which the Cities and Local Government Devolution Act 2015 is passed, apply to a combined

21 Oct 2015 : Column 1079

authority that is treated as an NHS body by virtue of subsection (7A) as if it were a prescribed NHS body for the purposes of those regulations.

(7D) But a combined authority to which regulations under this section apply by virtue of subsection (7C) may enter into prescribed arrangements in relation to the exercise only of functions within subsection (1)(a) that are exercisable by the authority under voluntary arrangements.

(7E) Regulations under this section may provide for the regulations to apply in relation to a combined authority subject to any prescribed limitations or conditions.

(7F) Nothing in subsection (7D) prevents a combined authority from being a party to arrangements made by virtue of this section in relation to any prescribed functions of an NHS body that are exercisable by the authority as a result of an order under section 105A of the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009 (public authority functions exercisable by combined authorities).”

7 (1) Section 251 (control of patient information) is amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (2)(a), after ‘health service bodies’ insert ‘or relevant social care bodies’.

(3) After subsection (12) insert—

(12A) In this section—

‘care’ includes local authority social care,

‘local authority social care’ means—

(a) social care provided or arranged for by a local authority, and(b) any other social care all or part of the cost of which is paid for with funds provided by a local authority,

‘patient’ includes an individual who needs or receives local authority social care or whose need for such care is being assessed by a local authority,

‘social care’ includes all forms of personal care and other practical assistance provided for individuals who are in need of such care or assistance by reason of age, illness, disability, pregnancy, childbirth, dependence on alcohol or drugs or other similar circumstances.”

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(4) In subsection (13), at the end insert—

“‘relevant social care body’ means—

(a) a local authority, or(b) any other body or person engaged in the provision of local authority social care.”8 In section 275(1) (interpretation), after the definition of ‘clinical commissioning group’ insert—

“‘combined authority’ means a combined authority established under section 103 of the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009,’.

9 In section 276 (index of defined expressions), at the appropriate place insert—

“‘combined authority

section 275(1)’”

This amendment inserts Schedule 3A into the Bill, which provides for amendments to the National Health Service Act 2006. The amendments concern the making of arrangements with combined authorities or local authorities for the exercise of functions under the 2006 Act; and provision which may be made in regulations concerning local authority social care information.

(Alistair Burt.)

Brought up, and added to the Bill.

The occupant of the Chair left the Chair (Programme Order, 14 October).

The Deputy Speaker resumed the Chair.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again tomorrow.

Business without Debate

delegated legislation

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 118(6)),


That the draft Renewables Obligation Order 2015, a copy of which was laid before this House on 21 July, be approved.—(Margot James.)

Question agreed to.

21 Oct 2015 : Column 1081

Human Rights (Joint Committee)

Motion made, and Question proposed,

That Fiona Bruce, Ms Karen Buck, Ms Harriet Harman, Jeremy Lefroy, Mark Pritchard and Amanda Solloway be members of the Joint Committee on Human Rights.—(Bill Wiggin, on behalf of the Committee of Selection.)

7.12 pm

The Deputy Leader of the House of Commons (Dr Thérèse Coffey): I welcome the hon. Member for Great Grimsby (Melanie Onn) to her place.

The motion seeks to approve the House of Commons members of the Joint Committee on Human Rights. As I have said, these names have been agreed by the Committee of Selection, and they would join the Members of the House of Lords who were appointed by that House on 16 July 2015. The motion is being considered tonight, under Standing Order No. 15(1)(c), having been objected to when it was first put to the House on Monday 14 September.

This is an important Committee that in the previous Parliament considered issues such as UK compliance with the UN convention on the rights of the child, human rights judgments and violence against women and girls, as well as undertaking pre and post-legislative scrutiny of many Bills. I therefore encourage all right hon. and hon. Members to support this motion. I commend it to the House.

7.13 pm

Pete Wishart (Perth and North Perthshire) (SNP): I take this opportunity to pay tribute to Michael Meacher, who died today. We seem to be in the business just now of losing a number of people who were giants of this House in the 1970s and 1980s. We wish to make sure he will be remembered as an assiduous and hard-working Member of Parliament.

Let me say at the outset that we have no issue at all with the establishment of a Committee on human rights: this House should of course have a Committee on human rights. It will have a lot of important work to do, some of which has been mentioned by the Minister. We want a Committee on human rights to be established as soon as possible. It has important business to take care of, and we support its establishment. I do not have a problem with the proposed members on the Order Paper. I am sure they will be assiduous members and work to the best of their abilities to ensure that the Committee carries out its functions. I do not even have a problem with this being a Joint Committee, although I am perplexed as to why the unelected House down the road is being given parity with elected Members—those of us who bother to go to our constituents to seek a mandate to serve in the House. Why are the unelected Members, who represent absolutely nobody, being given equal membership with the elected Members who represent real constituents the length and breadth of the United Kingdom?

No, my objection to the motion is the fact that the third party of the United Kingdom has no place on the Committee. That has never happened before. In the last Parliament, how many people from the third party were on the Committee? Two. There were two Liberals on it, one from this House and one from the unelected place down the road. We have made great progress, as the third party, in this House. We are on practically every institution in the House. I have just come from the

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Speaker’s Commission on the Electoral Commission. We have served on all these Committees assiduously as hard-working Members. We are on practically every single Committee of the House. We even get to chair some of them—I chair one.

Mr Stewart Jackson (Peterborough) (Con): I do not recollect the hon. Gentleman’s party opposing the Committee’s being a Joint Committee in the last Parliament. None the less, in the last Parliament the Liberal Democrats polled 23% of the popular vote, whereas his party polled 4% across the whole UK. Is that not the difference?

Pete Wishart: This is astounding. My party supports proportional representation. I am pretty certain the hon. Gentleman does not. We operate under the electoral system designed for this place, and it is called first past the post. We won 56 of 59 seats in Scotland, and we are the third party of the UK, in terms of membership of the House and party membership across the UK.

Mike Weir (Angus) (SNP): Is this not a preposterous argument, given that all Divisions in the House are based on membership of the House, not the vote in the country? Otherwise, Committee membership could be very different. The Conservative party got a lot less than 50% of the vote in the UK, yet has the majority of members on the Committee.

Pete Wishart: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. We cannot understand it. We are allowed on practically every institution and Committee of the House, and we are prepared to serve assiduously on them. We want to be part of this Committee. We have something to contribute. Why are we being excluded? Why is the House happy with our exclusion?

Dr Coffey rose

Pete Wishart: Will the hon. Lady explain?

Dr Coffey: I gently remind the hon. Gentleman that the second Opposition party in the last Parliament was the Democratic Unionist party, because the Liberal Democrats were part of the Government. As for the Committee, this House gets six members and the other place has six. He will be aware that when Committees get to seven or above, that is when the second Opposition party gains a seat.

Pete Wishart: I am most grateful to the hon. Lady, but here is an obvious solution: why not change the rules? Why are we bound to having parity with the unelected, absurd House down there, which represents absolutely nobody? She represents a constituency, and I represent a constituency. We represent real people and have an interest in a Committee of this place; they represent absolutely nobody. It is an absurd and ridiculous institution that should have no parity with this House.

There are 12 places on this Committee. There are six Conservative Members and four Labour Members. Who is next? There is one Liberal Democrat and one Cross Bencher. Now, we have just had an election, and the Liberal Democrats, roundly thrashed and rejected by the vast majority of the country, were left with a rump of eight MPs. Yet the Liberal Democrats have been given a place on this Committee, ahead of the third party of the United Kingdom—the Scottish National party with a 56-seat victory in the last election. How can that possibly be right?

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There is even a Cross Bencher on the Joint Committee. I do not even know what Cross Benchers do. I think they are somehow supposed to be neutral or arbitrary, and are appointed on the basis of the greatness and goodness they bring, but why is a Cross Bencher ahead of directly elected Members from the third party of this House? I ask again, how can this possibly be right?

What really gets me about this affair is that this Committee is vitally important. Mr Speaker, I know that you take a keen interest in the working of the Joint Committee. It exists to scrutinise Government Bills for compatibility with human rights, to scrutinise the Government’s response to judgments on human rights and, importantly, it looks for opportunities to enhance human rights across the United Kingdom. Surely this House wants the third party of the UK to play a part in that process. I simply cannot understand why it would not want that to happen.

Tommy Sheppard (Edinburgh East) (SNP): My hon. Friend makes a good case regarding the democratic outrage that the people of Scotland will feel at being excluded from discussion of a matter about which they feel extremely strongly. Is it not also the case that the proposal takes no account of a new situation—namely, that for first time in our history, the third party in this House does not, as a matter of political principle, seek representation in the other place? That puts us at a double disadvantage when it comes to Joint Committees of both Houses.

Pete Wishart: That is such a good point, and I am coming on to it. I am very grateful to my hon. Friend for reminding me that we do not take places in the House of Lords. If it is necessary to be an elected Lord to get on an important Committee of this House, where does that leave democracy in this country? How can people who have no democratic mandate—they have been elected by absolutely nobody—take precedence over elected Members of this House? We are being placed in a ridiculous and absurd situation. If the only way to get on the Committee is to take places in an unelected House of Lords, most people would regard that as an absurd situation.

Mike Weir: Does my hon. Friend not agree that it is actually worse than that? Only this week, it appears that the Government have been threatening to suspend the House of Lords because it did not want to accept what the Government wanted to do with tax credits. Now, however, the other place is more important than us when it comes to membership of this important Committee.

Dr Coffey: On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I recognise that SNP Members are having a debate, but we are supposed to be discussing Members from the House of Commons who are going to sit on this Committee. Membership of the House of Lords is a different matter and one for the other end of the corridor.

Mr Speaker: In establishing the background to, and context of, the present debate, it is perfectly legitimate for the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart) to say something about factors that he thinks might be informing—rightly or wrongly, in his judgment—the composition of the Committee. However, there is a difference between establishing the context and

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a tendency to dilate. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will not wish to dilate on the matter of the Lords make-up of this Committee, or to theorise about the possible injurious effect on SNP chances of being on that Committee as a consequence of not taking up seats in the House of Lords. The matter with which the hon. Gentleman should be concerned is the Commons contribution to, and Commons Members of, this Joint Committee, which I think is quite sufficient for his eloquent dilation.

Pete Wishart: I am grateful to you, Mr Speaker. All we want is to sit on this Committee. We want to play a meaningful role in the assessing and scrutinising of human rights. Apparently, the only way we can get on it is to take up places in the House of Lords.

Owen Thompson (Midlothian) (SNP): Talking about Members of this House sitting on the Committee, it is interesting to note that there is no representation for the House of Commons’ third party. Given that the Human Rights Bill covers the whole of the United Kingdom, I would argue that it is critical for our party, elected en masse by the people of Scotland, to have a voice on this Committee.

Pete Wishart: My hon. Friend is quite right: the Committee will have a huge amount of work to do. The Conservative Government are threatening to do away with the European convention on human rights—they are threatening to take us out of it—and now we shall not have an opportunity to scrutinise the issue in the Joint Committee.

Moreover—I am sure that my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Edinburgh South West (Joanna Cherry) will mention this in her speech—the human rights settlement is profoundly important to the devolution settlement in Scotland. It is built into the very mechanics of the Scottish Parliament. No Bill can be passed in the Scottish Parliament without reference to human rights, but no Scottish Member of the House of Commons is a member of the Joint Committee on Human Rights. Indeed, it has no members from north of Derby.

Mr Jackson: I think that one would have to have a heart of stone not to feel for the hon. Gentleman. His selflessness on this occasion is quite touching. However, I am trying to follow his logic. Is he suggesting, notwithstanding what the Deputy Leader of the House has said, that we should suspend the Standing Orders specifically to ameliorate the effects of a policy decision by the Scottish National party not to play any part in representation in the House of Lords?

Pete Wishart: Let us look at the House of Commons membership of the Joint Committee. We have no representation as the third party in the House of Commons, although we are represented on practically every other Committee in the House. We have 56 of the 59 Scottish seats in Parliament, but no attempt has been made to reflect a geographical spread in securing membership of the Joint Committee.

Let me suggest a couple of ways in which we might be able to rectify the situation. I hope that the Deputy Leader of the House will listen carefully. She, or someone, will have to tell me why there must be parity with the House of Lords. The House of Lords has never been held in such contempt as it is now among the British

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people, who see it as nothing other than an affront to democracy and a repository for donors and cronies in the United Kingdom parties.

I need to know this, Mr Speaker. Why does the Joint Committee have to have six members from this House and six from that House? Surely we could come up with an arithmetical formulation that would allow an input from the Lords? I want to hear from them, because I think that they have a contribution to make. Why can we not have eight members from this House and nine members from that House, and cut the number from the House of Lords correspondingly? Is there anyone in the Chamber now—and I look to the Deputy Leader of the House—who can tell me why that cannot happen? Surely it is up to this House, as the predominant and the elected House, to set the rules and parameters for the Joint Committee.

Mr Christopher Chope (Christchurch) (Con): The answer to the hon. Gentleman’s question is that that is what is provided for by the Standing Orders currently in place. If we wish to change the Standing Orders, why do we not seek to refer this matter to the Procedure Committee? The Standing Orders are under our control, but we cannot change them tonight.

Pete Wishart: That is actually quite a reasonable suggestion from the hon. Gentleman, who, I know, studies these issues very closely and carefully. Why do we not change the Standing Orders? Will someone tell me why we cannot do that? Why is the third party in the United Kingdom excluded because of a binding commitment to the Standing Orders of the House? Let us change them. I am with the hon. Gentleman on that. If he tables a motion, he will have the support of members of the Scottish National party.

Mike Weir: May I point out that we shall debate a proposal to change the Standing Orders tomorrow—because of another thing that the Government wish to do—and that that was proposed even before it was referred to the Procedure Committee? It can be done: we can change Standing Orders.

Pete Wishart: My hon. Friend is, of course, right. We could change the Standing Orders at any time, and we shall be changing them tomorrow in order to diminish the rights of Scottish Members of Parliament. Within 24 hours, we shall find that our rights in the House have been diminished to second class—and we are being denied a place on the Joint Committee on Human Rights.

I am sure that the people of Scotland are observing what is happening down here, and the way in which Scottish Members of Parliament are being treated in this House. I am sure that they are reaching their own conclusions about what is being done to Scottish Members in this place. Just because we are the third party in the House and it is not the Liberals this time, it is apparently all right to exclude us—but it is not on, and I am pretty certain that the Scottish people are observing, very darkly, the way in which Scottish Members are being treated in this House.

Sir Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) (Con): I am a member of the Procedure Committee, and, if it would be helpful, I will take this matter up with the Committee. I will suggest to the Chairman that we produce a report, and that the SNP is represented on the Joint Committee.

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Pete Wishart: I thank the hon. Gentleman. We are starting to make progress—we are starting to get there now. What we are seeing from the hon. Gentleman is agreement that an injustice has been done. Would that be a fair characterisation? I am looking at hon. Members on the Treasury Bench, and they are thinking about that, and I think most of them are tentatively agreeing with that premise. What we have here is something that is unsuitable, unfair and inappropriate and which now needs to be resolved. We have already had a couple of suggestions for tackling this—and I am grateful to the hon. Member for Christchurch (Mr Chope) for his suggestion and ask him to just tell his Front Benchers to start supporting this, too.

I have no idea what Labour Front Benchers think about this, and I am certain one of them will make a contribution, but surely Labour would want us as colleagues on that Committee? Why do they want the Liberals on it, for goodness’ sake? Surely they are better with the third party in this House having a place on it.

Hywel Williams (Arfon) (PC): When I served on a Joint Committee considering a mental health Bill covering Wales, the representation from this House was 24—not 12—including me, and it was considered appropriate for someone from Wales to be on the Committee. That same principle should apply as far as Scotland is concerned in this case.

Pete Wishart: That is another helpful suggestion. I sense I am getting a bit of support. Would that be fair? I am looking at my Labour colleagues. No, we are not; well, what do we expect from Labour? At least the Conservatives are beginning to see there is something profoundly wrong with what is being proposed. I think the Labour Front Bench would rather have unelected Liberals on this Joint Committee than the third party of the United Kingdom.

Mr Chope: It is unfortunate that the SNP did not table an amendment to include one of its Members instead of one of the Labour representatives—that might have made for an interesting debate and vote afterwards. At the moment, however, the SNP proposal is to vote down this Committee proposal completely, which is surely absurd because it means the Joint Committee on Human Rights will not be established in good time.

Pete Wishart rose—

Mr Speaker: Order. Before the hon. Gentleman responds to the intervention, it may benefit the House to know the factual position as I understand it, which is that it would have been perfectly possible for anybody to table an amendment to the list of names proposed, but an amendment beyond that would not have been in order, because other than in respect of the names it is not an amendable motion.

Pete Wishart: I am grateful for that ruling, Mr Speaker, and clarification. It was also my understanding of the position.

Sensing a degree of support for what we are trying to do, I appeal to the Government not to put this to the House tonight, but to take it away and then come back. Let us have a look at this properly. They should come and speak to the SNP. We will propose a membership change. If necessary, the Government can get them in

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from down the road—get the unelected ones up, have a conversation with them, get an arrangement and agreement whereby the unelected donors and cronies could still have their places on the Joint Committee. We want to hear from them as some of them are very eminent—some of them are very good donors—and we want to hear their views, but should they have parity with this House? No, they should not. The public observe what goes on in this place with ever deeper cynicism. When they see unelected donors and cronies having parity with elected Members, they see something fundamentally rotten with our democracy.

Of course the third party should be on this Committee. Let us make sure that that happens. We must do whatever it takes. I ask the Deputy Leader of the House to take this motion away, and come back and speak to us. We will provide a name. Let us get this resolved and fixed. For the sake of democracy, let us get this sorted.

7.33 pm

Mr Christopher Chope (Christchurch) (Con): Following the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart), may I also pay tribute to Michael Meacher? The work he did, particularly in my experience with Parliament First, is a lasting legacy and demonstrated his great commitment to this place. One of the great things about the proposals before us tonight is that many of those being chosen to serve on this Joint Committee are people like Michael Meacher, who have independent minds. That is what this House needs on such Committees.

I suggest that we pass this motion tonight, because if we do not we will be unable to set up the Joint Committee. It is a matter of regret, given that their lordships’ House named its people back in July, that we are only now naming ours. Once the Committee is set up, the Procedure Committee could look into the issues and I am sure that it could produce a report in due course. It would be unfortunate if this situation were to be used as a stick with which to beat the rest of the United Kingdom. I say that as a member of the Scottish Affairs Committee; I have the privilege of serving under the chairmanship of the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart), and we had a successful visit to Dundee earlier this week.

I want to thank the Scottish National party for ensuring that we have had a debate on this important issue. We debate human rights, and the parliamentary scrutiny of human rights, all too rarely. I have had the privilege of serving in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe for some 10 years, during which I spent two years as chairman of the Legal Affairs and Human Rights Committee. During that time, the United Kingdom had the chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers and a lot of work was done jointly with the Joint Committee on Human Rights to spread the good word across the other 47 member states of the Council of Europe on how Parliaments can scrutinise work of their Governments in relation to human rights. It is fair to say that this Parliament is an exemplar for the Parliaments in those other member countries. I have spoken about this at seminars. It is important that, when the Joint Committee on Human Rights looks at the convention, it should do so in an independent way.

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One consequence of that happening can be a significant reduction in the number of cases that end up in the European Court of Human Rights. I suggest that that is really important.

Sir Edward Leigh: My hon. Friend does himself a disservice. Not only has he served as a distinguished chairman of the migration and legal affairs committees of the Council of Europe but he is also the chairman of the European Conservatives group. He has done sterling work on keeping that group together. He mentioned that some time has passed since this Committee was set up in July. I presume that he has now heard that he has been reappointed, in the light of his great and distinguished work in the Council of Europe.

Mr Chope: The House is anticipating that this matter will be decided soon. I hope that it will be, because six months after a general election, the right of this Parliament to be represented in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe will expire. I hope that our new members of the Parliamentary Assembly will be chosen soon and presented to the House. I understand that that is normally done through a written statement from the Prime Minister. I also hope that that statement will include the names of some Scottish National party Members, because even if they cannot at present participate in the work of the Joint Committee, they could play an important role in the Parliamentary Assembly—

Mr Speaker: Order. I have indulged the hon. Gentleman a tad. He is indeed a distinguished member of the Council of Europe, a fact that has been commented on not only in the House but in many European capitals that I have visited. That said, it is not a matter for the motion tonight. I hope that the matter to which he refers will shortly be resolved in a satisfactory way, but it does not touch upon the question of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, a fact of which I think the hon. Gentleman is intimately conscious.

Mr Chope: Absolutely, Mr Speaker, and I am sorry that I was led down the wrong route by my hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Sir Edward Leigh), who has also been a distinguished member of the Parliamentary Assembly. I have made my point briefly: I hope that this matter can be resolved amicably and that the Joint Committee is able to function with all parts of the United Kingdom being properly represented on it.

The first purpose of the Joint Committee is

“to examine matters relating to human rights within the United Kingdom.”

I hope that that will be borne in mind by the Deputy Leader of the House and that she will respond with a big heart to the suggestion that this matter be referred to the Procedure Committee—but after the motion has been passed tonight.

7.40 pm

Melanie Onn (Great Grimsby) (Lab): I wish to state how important this Committee is. At a time when this Government are thinking of reviewing the Human Rights Act 1998 as early as November, with no Green Paper or White Paper, the imperative must be to set up this Committee to examine the matter of human rights and the most fundamental Act protecting humans and their

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rights in this country and in Europe. This is a crucial time for the House to have a Select Committee on a major constitutional issue. If there are changes to be made to its make-up further down the line, so be it, but there should be no delay in establishing this very important Select Committee.

Patrick Grady (Glasgow North) (SNP) rose

Joanna Cherry (Edinburgh South West) (SNP) rose—

Mr Speaker: I thought we were going to hear from the hon. Member for Midlothian (Owen Thompson), but it appears not. He was on the list, but he does not wish to orate. Very well, I call Mr Grady.

7.41 pm

Patrick Grady (Glasgow North) (SNP): I hope that when the Joint Committee on Human Rights does finally meet it will consider the European convention on human rights, protocol 1, article 3, which states:

“The High Contracting Parties undertake to hold free elections at reasonable intervals by secret ballot, under conditions which will ensure the free expression of the opinion of the people in the choice of the legislature.”

Of course, the vast majority of legislators in this country—in this Parliament—are unelected; they are up the corridor in the House of Lords. It is therefore a complete disgrace and a total irony that the third largest party in this House is not to be represented on the Joint Committee on Human Rights. One day, a Government of this country are going to find themselves in the High Court or the Supreme Court across the road with democratic citizens rightly challenging the fact that they are not allowed to vote for the largest number of legislators in this Parliament. It is a total and utter democratic outrage.

Mike Weir: Does my hon. Friend not agree that it is even worse than that because, again, this Government have suggested that they will appoint a huge number of new peers to make sure they get their legislation through?

Patrick Grady: I totally agree with my hon. Friend. We heard the hon. Member for Gainsborough (Sir Edward Leigh) making a point of order earlier in the day about precisely that matter: that the House of Lords might choose to undermine or vote against the current Government’s policy. I do not know whether it was him or someone else, but it was suggested that the solution to that, rather than abolishing the House of Lords or electing Members of the House of Lords and giving it a mandate, was simply to create yet more peers to outnumber us even more. I am sure the irony was not lost on those of us who were sitting in the Royal Gallery yesterday: the question of where elected mandates come from.

As my colleagues have stated, the human rights framework is at the core of the Scotland Act 1998 and it is fundamental to the new democracy that exists north of the border. Given that the Government seem determined to undermine the Human Rights Act here in this Parliament, it is even more concerning that we are not being given a voice on the Joint Committee—they are refusing to give a voice to the third party. We have a democratic right, as democratically elected Members of this House, and a duty to look out for the human rights of our constituents. Tomorrow, the Government are going to force through Standing Orders that will further undermine our rights, and it raises the question: where

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is this respect agenda? Where is the respect for the decision that the people of Scotland made last year when they said to stay in the UK, for now.

Tommy Sheppard: Does my hon. Friend agree that another context to this debate is the recent discussion in Scotland? Scottish people who voted to remain part of the United Kingdom were given every assurance that Scotland would play a full role within that Union, but they now see not only no SNP representation, but no Scottish representation on this Joint Committee.

Patrick Grady: Absolutely. I completely agree with my hon. Friend. The Labour party could nominate its Member from Scotland for the Committee—perhaps even the Liberal Democrats could do so as well. The reality is that this matter is not simply about the third party, but about a complete lack of geographical representation, and the point that my hon. Friend makes is very well made.

If the Government are serious about the respect agenda and about respecting the decisions that have been made by the people in Scotland both in the referendum last year and in the election this year, I strongly encourage them to reconsider the decision that they are making tonight, to listen to the constructive suggestions that have been made and to bring this matter back when there is a decent proposal that represents and respects the views of the people of Scotland.

7.45 pm

Sir Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) (Con): This is a very important debate and it is good that we are having it. Human rights are incredibly important and this country led the world in 1950 in drawing up the European convention on human rights, which created the Council of Europe, and the Joint Committee on Human Rights is a direct child of that.

I hope the Government are listening, as some good points have been made. Those of us who take the Union very seriously want to ensure that the Scottish National party, as the properly elected representatives of the Scottish people—no one can deny that they are that—are given an absolute, complete and full role in our Parliament.

As I said earlier, I will take this matter back to the Procedure Committee. We should resolve it as quickly as possible. It has been a good debate and my personal view is that the SNP should be on this Committee. It would be very easy to resolve the issue. I do not want to repeat attacks on cronies and donors in the other place. I have never been a donor—I have no money—or a crony.

Patrick Grady: You will get there one day.

Sir Edward Leigh: I wish I was a donor and a crony, because it sounds like a rather nice place to be.

Seriously, it would very easy to increase the Committee’s membership. I do not think for one moment that anyone would mind that. Without reducing the excellent contribution of highly skilled lawyers in the other place—people who have tremendous knowledge of human rights legislation— it would be perfectly possible to increase the size of this Committee and have a full role for the SNP.

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Finally, this whole human rights thing is so important that the Government must take it very seriously, particularly in the light of what they want to do with the Human Rights Act, which I fully support. They have to show that they take this matter seriously and that they want to get the Committee set up quickly, and, if I may crave your indulgence for one second, Mr Speaker, they must establish the delegation on the Council of Europe as quickly as possible, because otherwise we are in danger of losing the plot there as well. I am sure that the Government are listening—they are, after all, a listening Government—and that this debate has had some effect, and in that sense, it is all to the positive.

7.47 pm

Joanna Cherry (Edinburgh South West) (SNP): Mr Speaker, you will recall that I devoted my maiden speech to the subject of human rights. In it, I spoke of the importance with which the Scottish Government and the people of Scotland regard human rights.

Human rights are universal and they should concern us all in the United Kingdom. As has been said already, this Committee is supposed to be considering human rights in the United Kingdom, yet there is not one single Scottish MP on it. How can that be right? It is not just an issue of disrespecting the SNP as a third party in the House, but an issue of disrespect to the Scottish electorate. [Interruption.] I see Labour Members shaking their heads, and saying that they will not support us on this. I say to them: do not forget the consequences of their previous disrespect for the Scottish electorate. They heard them loud and clear on 7 May this year. The Labour party wants to make a comeback in Scotland. Not arguing for the Scottish electorate’s representatives in this House to be represented on a Committee that considers UK-wide matters is not the way to go about it.

The hon. Member for Great Grimsby (Melanie Onn) mentioned that we are shortly to be looking at the repeal of the Human Rights Act. In Scotland, the Human Rights Act is part of a larger picture, because the rights in the European convention on human rights are written into the devolution settlement by virtue of the Scotland Act 1998.

In Scotland, we have a national action plan for human rights and a UN-accredited human rights commission. There is a commitment to human rights extending beyond civil and political rights to economic, social and cultural human rights. We really do have something that we could bring to this Committee.

The potential withdrawal from the European convention on human rights is still a live issue. The Justice Secretary, when he gave evidence to the Select Committee on Justice earlier in the summer, said that he could not guarantee that we would remain within the convention. The Joint Committee will debate whether or not the United Kingdom will remain within a convention that underpins the devolution system settlement in Scotland, yet Members seem content not to have a single Scottish MP on it. That is frankly unacceptable.

During our independence referendum last year, there was great debate about human rights and a concern at that stage that if the Conservatives were to win an election in this country they intended to repeal the Human Rights Act. Those of us who voted yes wanted

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to write human rights into the constitution of an independent Scotland, and I know that one day that will happen, but for now we are part of the UK. Last year, during the referendum, the Prime Minister invited Scots not to leave the UK but to stay and lead the UK. How can we possibly even contribute to the UK’s debate about human rights in this House if there is not a single Scottish Member of Parliament on the Committee?

The Prime Minister has also spoken regularly of a respect agenda, but 58 out of the 59 Scottish MPs elected in May are from parties that oppose the repeal of the Human Rights Act and wish to remain in the ECHR; 56 were elected as SNP MPs. We are the third party in this House and it is unthinkable that the Liberal Democrats, when they were the third party, would have been excluded from a Committee such as this. Tomorrow, we will debate changes to Standing Orders to exclude Scottish MPs from votes in this House. Why can we not debate changing Standing Orders to include Scottish MPs on this Committee, which considers UK-wide matters?

Others have spoken of the House of Lords and there might well be Members of that House on the Committee who are Scots or who live in Scotland. They might even own an estate in Scotland that they visit for the hunting and fishing. Either way, I do not care what their background is and where they live. The point is that they are not democratically elected by the people who live in Scotland, and are therefore not accountable to the people of Scotland and they cannot speak for them. I and my SNP colleagues—and, indeed, the Labour MP, the Liberal Democrat MP, and the Tory MP who represent Scottish constituencies—speak for the people of Scotland. There is no doubt who the people of Scotland wanted to win the general election in May, however. It is almost unprecedented for a party to get 50% of the vote in our system. It is frankly an insult to the people of Scotland not to include a single Scottish MP on the Committee.

Tommy Sheppard: My hon. and learned Friend makes a very good point. Does she not also agree that the debate about whether this place and this Government respect the views of the people of Scotland is very much a live one? With the vow and everything else, and with good will being tested, is it not the case that the Government would be better placed trying to include the people of Scotland’s representatives in the Committee rather than excluding them if they want to reassure the Scots of their bona fides towards them?

Joanna Cherry: I could not agree more. As I said earlier, the Prime Minister has spoken often of a respect agenda and we were told during the referendum campaign that we are an equal partner in this Union. Where is the evidence of that when not a single Scottish MP is on a Committee that considers one of the most important issues before Parliament this Session?

Gavin Robinson (Belfast East) (DUP): Does the hon. and learned Lady accept that her incredulity would be more credible if she recognised that not just Scotland but other regions of the United Kingdom are excluded from the Committee? More importantly, a Public Bill Committee will be set up following last week’s Second Reading of the Immigration Bill, yet the SNP is taking all the seats on that Committee, excluding regions such as Northern Ireland and the democratic mandate that I and my colleagues have.

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Joanna Cherry: If the hon. Gentleman is concerned about such matters, he knows the route through which he can raise them. He knows that he can come and speak to us at any time to seek our view.

Pete Wishart: The hon. Member for Belfast East (Gavin Robinson) has a point. I am looking at the membership of the Joint Committee and most of the members from this House are MPs from London and the south-east. Nobody from north of Derby is on it. The hon. Gentleman has a very good point; not only does it not include Scottish Members of Parliament, but it does not include anybody from Northern Ireland, Wales or the north of England. I ask my hon. and learned Friend how that could possibly be right.

Joanna Cherry: Indeed. One might almost think that we had rolled the clock back to 1745-46 and were not looking at anybody in the United Kingdom from north of Derby.

The hon. Member for Belfast East (Gavin Robinson) makes a good point. It is disrespectful to have nobody representing the north of Ireland or, indeed, Wales on the Committee, but I am here as an elected representative of Scotland and I will speak for my constituents and the people of Scotland, and he can speak for his constituents and the people of Northern Ireland.

In every single debate on human rights that has taken place in this House and in Westminster Hall since the election, the Scottish National party has made a major contribution. Our First Minister has been outspoken in her determinedness to preserve human rights and the Human Rights Act not just for Scotland, but for everybody in the UK. She is on the record as saying that the Scottish Government would not do a deal with the UK Government to preserve the Human Rights Act for Scotland only. So let us have a little reciprocal good will from the remaining Labour Members.

It is a travesty of democracy and of this so-called equal Union for there to be no Scottish MP on the Committee. But it is an insult not just to those of us here. The most important point is that it is an insult to the Scottish electorate. If this is not put right, Members in this House should think very seriously about the message that they will be sending out the people who live in Scotland: “We don’t care what your elected representatives think about human rights. Our think-tank, our engine room on human rights, will exclude all representatives of the Scottish electorate.” Respect? I think not.

Question put.

The Speaker’s opinion as to the decision of the Question being challenged, the Division was deferred until Wednesday 28 October (Standing Order No. 41A).

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Road and Rail Infrastructure (North Wales)

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—(Margot James.)

7.57 pm

Dr James Davies (Vale of Clwyd) (Con): I am grateful for the opportunity to raise an issue that I believe is critical to the future economic development of north Wales and the wider region.

Better road and rail infrastructure can offer better access to training and employment opportunities further afield and better access to markets for businesses. It has the ability to attract development to the area and improve the success of companies located in the vicinity. In addition to general increased economic productivity and competitiveness, there are specific advantages that it might bring to the region: more tourism; better access for the public to local and regional services; reduced congestion and therefore safer roads and quicker response times for emergency vehicles; improved recruitment where there are current job shortages; better access to international gateways; increased access to future planned nuclear and green energy developments in the region which could help the area to gain national or even international recognition and expertise in these fields; and social benefits and a better quality of life.

The key railway line in north Wales is the Crewe to Holyhead branch of the west coast main line. We still have Victorian signalling systems, the line caters only for diesel trains, and there are speed restrictions. Parts of the line are the slowest in the UK. It offers relatively limited direct services to airports and major cities. One can travel from my constituency to London in two and a half hours, and I am aware of businesses that are located in the constituency partly because of the existing services. Rail is managed by Network Rail and as such is not devolved.

On road infrastructure, the A55 or north Wales expressway, which is less well known as the Euroroute E22, is our main trunk road. This runs east to west from the M53 at Chester through to Holyhead. Much of the A55 is on what is thought to have been the route of a Roman road, but the road we know today was developed from the 1930s onwards, the majority of it during the 1980s. The Bodelwyddan bypass completed its course across my constituency in 1986. From my constituency there is a half-hour journey along the A55 to the motorway network, and roughly a one-hour journey to the airports of Liverpool and Manchester, but congestion and accidents on the road have increased, as the Daily Post, the region’s newspaper, highlighted on Monday.

Guto Bebb (Aberconwy) (Con): I congratulate my hon. Friend on securing this important debate. He mentioned the A55, which is part of a Euroroute. Is he aware that the only two roundabouts on any Euroroute are to be found in my constituency? Only the other day I received an email from a constituent who had taken an hour to get from Llandudno to Llanfairfechan, a journey of only 14 miles. It is not so much an expressway as a barrier to growth in my constituency and the rest of north-west Wales.

Dr Davies: My hon. Friend makes a good point.

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There are also poor links from the A55 to the north of my constituency, parts of which have some unemployment hotspots. The existing infrastructure supports numerous businesses, including those at St Asaph business park, but they are often under pressure to move east, closer to the UK’s motorway network. Road infrastructure is devolved in Wales, so joint working is critical when seeking to enhance key east-west routes.

There is a fundamental interdependence between north Wales and the north-west of England. In fact, the economies are inextricably linked, and I suggest that the north Wales economy complements that of the north-west, rather than competing against it. There are 50,000 cross-border commutes every day, which equates to around l million per month. One million people of working age live on either side of the border, and 8 million live across the wider area. To illustrate the size of this combined economy, there is a £31 billion economy along the M56 and A55 corridor, expanding to £77 billion if we include Liverpool, Cheshire and Warrington, and £140 billion with the Manchester city region. In fact, the overall region contributes 17% of UK manufacturing output and provides 30% of jobs locally.

North Wales clearly has a key opportunity to be part of the northern powerhouse and to link to HS2. Doing so would be an important way to address deprivation and unemployment in my part of the world. Parts of north Wales have an untapped workforce availability, and therefore an associated cost to the taxpayer of out-of-work benefits. I believe that better transport links would help the strategic and united growth of the north Wales and north-west region, despite political barriers that have developed post-devolution, and help regenerate the whole area. I reiterate that the transport routes in north Wales also form key trans-European links to Ireland, which is an important factor for economic growth.

Craig Williams (Cardiff North) (Con): I commend my hon. Friend for leading on this important north Wales issue. The trans-European route E22, which has been in place since 2002, has enabled the Welsh Government to apply for European moneys to put into infrastructure. Does he agree that they have not grasped the opportunity that that provides to invest in north Wales?

Dr Davies: It certainly seems so, based on what we all know in north Wales.

Some 85% of cross-border commutes are currently by road, probably because rail is under-utilised, but despite that there has been a 46% increase in rail passenger numbers over the past decade, and evidence suggested that there could be a 21% transfer to rail if services were improved further. The roads in north Wales, which are already congested, are predicted to be subject to increased traffic. It is clear that the current transport infrastructure, whether road or rail, is inhibiting further growth in the area.

There is a strong perception in north Wales that the region’s needs are not fully recognised by a Cardiff-based governmental culture. Major infrastructure has been earmarked for south Wales in recent times—I need only mention the £1 billion “black route” for the M4 in south Wales and news that at least £12 million has potentially been wasted in buying up land that might not be used—but sadly we are yet to see the same commitment for north Wales.

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Let me focus on rail. Improvements in speed, frequency and reliability are needed. Electrification brings the prospect of faster, greener and quieter trains, with more capacity and greater reliability. Purchase costs, track wear and tear and running costs are lower than for diesel. Unbelievably, only 10 miles of track were electrified in the whole of the UK during the previous Labour Government, and under 50% of lines are currently electrified, so we compare quite poorly with other developed nations. The aim must be that from my constituency one could, for example, reach London in two hours and key employment sites in the north-west in 45 minutes. Electrification of the north Wales line would allow the whole west coast franchise to operate on electrified lines for increased efficiency and flexibility.

Mr David Jones (Clwyd West) (Con): I too commend my hon. Friend for securing this important debate. Does he agree that a very effective piece of electrification would be the line between Bidston and Shotton, which would link two industrial zones, one on Wirral Waters and the other on Deeside?

Dr Davies: I do. I will mention that briefly, although it does not impact on my constituency as directly as on others.

There are opportunities for freight and for construction jobs. We need fast, direct connections to other key market destinations such as the Manchester and Liverpool enterprise zones and our airports and ports. Improvements would reduce pressure on an increasingly congested and polluted A55.

Greengauge 21, a not-for-profit company that exists to promote the benefits of a high-speed rail network, has already estimated that a relatively modest investment in electrification and track upgrade from Crewe and Warrington through to Holyhead in the next five-year funding settlement—control period 6, running from 2019 to 2024—would result in upwards of £500 million of benefits over the standard appraisal period of 60 years. I believe that an increasingly favourable benefit-cost ratio could be achieved as more benefits are quantified or if additional financial contributions can be secured. Savings could be delivered through upgrading the line alongside planned signalling improvements or electrification of other routes in the north-west.

The benefits of a railway line upgrade would be gained not only by north Wales and west Cheshire but further afield in the UK. In fact, £100 million of these benefits would be obtained by regional businesses being better able to work and trade with one another. Such benefits are key in an area with poor gross value added statistics. In terms of the northern powerhouse, the upgrade of the north Wales rail line could bring an additional £14 million benefit to Manchester, as well as enhancing the value of HS2. Of course, we hope that the Crewe hub will be in place there by 2027. Looking further into the future, an upgraded north Wales line could link with HS3, providing a fast link between the ports of Holyhead and Hull. In fact, should services to the European continent be operated on the new high-speed lines, we may even one day see services from Prestatyn to Paris or Rhyl to Rome.

When making the case for investment in the north Wales main line, we need to consider that the economic benefits might exceed what has already been outlined. That could partly be explained by current figures showing

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that passenger demand is being suppressed. There will be construction jobs that have not been taken into account. I am not convinced that the increased attractiveness of the region for investment that would be brought about has been fully quantified. We must also take into account reduced welfare bills and increased tax revenues through tackling the situation of those out of work and assisting areas of deep-seated deprivation. It is important to note that Greengauge 21 demonstrates that there would be a £1 billion disbenefit to the UK economy as a whole were electrification to take place only between Crewe and Chester. The reasoning is the cost to the economy that would arise from the need for a change of rolling stock at Chester for trains running to and from north Wales unless expensive dual electric-diesel trains are purchased.

Decisions for control period 6 are likely to be made over the next year. I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Minister and to the Under-Secretary of State for Transport, my hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Claire Perry), for their meetings with me. I know that they are keen for cross-party support to make the case for the kind of investment that I have outlined. I also know that all will have been pleased by the interest shown by the Chancellor and the Secretary of State for Wales in the potential for upgrading the north Wales railway.

Last month, the North Wales Business Council held a rail modernisation business round table event and confirmed that direct access for businesses and the tourism sector to and from Manchester airport is the second priority behind electrification. This could happen at short notice through the use of existing lines. It would be a significant boost for north Wales and Chester, but it needs allocation of platform capacity at Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester airport.

There are also calls for direct services from north Wales to Liverpool and its airports as a result of the reopening of the Halton curve, to which the Chancellor pledged his support last year thanks to the lobbying efforts of my hon. Friend the Member for Weaver Vale (Graham Evans). It is due for delivery in 2018.

Further ambitions for rail include a new station at Deeside industrial park; better services to Manchester and Birmingham, which will be helped by electrification; more rolling stock for the west coast main line, to allow Euston services to continue on to north Wales at certain times of the day and not to terminate at Chester; further dualling for the Chester to Wrexham line; more frequent and faster services on the Wrexham to Bidston line; extension of the platforms at Flint; rolling stock that is clean and comfortable, with adequate seats and luggage space, good catering, wi-fi and power sockets; good car parking and park-and-ride facilities at stations; and easy access to stations by other modes of transport.

In 2010, the then Secretary of State for Transport said:

“good transport connectivity is essential for cities and regions to build and maintain their economic competitiveness, and regions served by rapid rail services prosper at the expense of those with inferior connections.”