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Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, patients at Broadmoor Hospital are not permitted to have access to mobile telephones.

Lord Skelmersdale: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for that Answer. Can he explain, if patients are banned from having mobile telephones and, I assume, tape recorders, cameras and the like, why those items were found among patients' belongings in Broadmoor? Also, why have two nurses been suspended? That may or may not have anything to do with those banned pieces of equipment. But what on earth is going on in Broadmoor?

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I believe the noble Lord refers to an incident that occurred in May when a patient alleged that other patients were arranging to produce photographs and tape material about high profile Broadmoor Hospital patients which, it was stated, were to be sold to journalists. As a result of that allegation a ward was searched and a number of prohibited items were found, including a mobile phone and camera. I agree that that is an extremely serious matter. As a result, the hospital is undertaking an inquiry, chaired by a member of the hospital's board. That will be completed, I hope, by early September and will be considered in open session by the full hospital board.

Lord Laming: My Lords, at a time when there is concern over the incident referred to, will the Minister take this opportunity to acknowledge that in

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Broadmoor there are some remarkable members of staff who are doing outstanding work with some extremely dangerous patients?

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I am happy to reiterate that sentiment. All too often we hear about the problems in special hospitals. Indeed, the series of inquiries that have taken place over the past 10 to 15 years indicated many difficulties. But we should not underestimate the dedication of the staff in dealing with incredibly difficult situations.

Lord Clement-Jones: My Lords, I associate myself with the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Laming, and the Minister in relation to the staff at Broadmoor. The Minister did not mention the review of security procedures in Broadmoor recently carried out by Sir Richard Tilt. He made a number of recommendations, one of which was that almost one-third of patients currently in Broadmoor did not actually need to be there and that if more secure regional units existed they could be housed there. That would mean that those who need top security in Broadmoor could have it. Can the Minister comment on that?

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I agree with those comments. Sir Richard's report was extremely helpful. It made over 80 recommendations in relation to security issues, all of which the Government accepted. We are speeding on to implementation over the next couple of years. There is no doubt that we need to move patients on from high security hospitals when they no longer need to be there. We have changed the funding system so that there is no longer a perverse incentive for the health service not to take patients from Broadmoor and similar hospitals. We are also ensuring that, through the expenditure of an additional £25 million over a three-year period recurrent, the movement of patients no longer needing high security will be facilitated. We need to press on with that.

The Earl of Listowel: My Lords, can the Minister say how extensive the support is for staff in Broadmoor? How much money a year is spent on the training of staff? Also, what is the ratio of staff to prisoners?

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I do not have details of the training budget, but I shall make inquiries in that regard. The latest information is that there are 422 patients in Broadmoor; a whole-time equivalent staff of 1,276 and a budget of £49.2 million. Training is extremely important. It is also important to integrate the special hospitals with the rest of the health service. We will then see a better flow of staff moving from mental health services in general into the special hospitals and vice versa. Approval has been given to create a new mental health trust in West London which will incorporate Broadmoor Hospital and which I am sure will help the support for staff in their training and development.

Lord Astor of Hever: My Lords a recent report, Finding and Keeping by the Sainsbury Centre for

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Mental Health, reveals serious mental health understaffing and staff demoralised by increased bureaucracy and the risk of violence. What plans do the Government have to remedy that?

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I am glad to pay tribute to the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health. Clearly, as part of the general improvement that we wish to make to mental health services, including the publication of a national service framework of mental health and the additional allocation of £700 million to enable work to start in improving mental health services, we need to incorporate developments in the workforce. As part of our general approach to workforce planning, we are increasing training places and I fully expect mental health services to benefit from that.

Human Rights: Joint Committee

3.35 p.m.

The Attorney-General (Lord Williams of Mostyn): My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lady Jay of Paddington, I beg to move the Motion standing in her name on the Order Paper.

Moved, That it is expedient that a Joint Committee of Lords and Commons be appointed to consider and report on:

    (a) matters relating to human rights in the United Kingdom (but excluding consideration of individual cases);

    (b) proposals for remedial orders, draft remedial orders and remedial orders made under Section 10 of and laid under Schedule 2 to the Human Rights Act 1998; and

    (c) in respect of draft remedial orders and remedial orders, whether the special attention of the House should be drawn to them on any of the grounds specified in Standing Order 73 (Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments);

    to report to the House:

    (a) in relation to any document containing proposals laid before the House under paragraph 3 of the said Schedule 2, its recommendation whether a draft order in the same terms as the proposals should be laid before the House; or

    (b) in relation to any draft order laid under paragraph 2 of the said Schedule 2, its recommendation whether the draft order should be approved;

    and to have power to report to the House on any matter arising from its consideration of the said proposals or draft orders; and

    to report to the House in respect of any original order laid under paragraph 4 of the said Schedule 2, its recommendation whether:

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    (a) the order should be approved in the form in which it was originally laid before Parliament; or

    (b) that the order should be replaced by a new order modifying the provisions of the original order; or

    (c) that the order should not be approved,

and to have power to report to the House on any matter arising from its consideration of the said order or any replacement order.--(Lord Williams of Mostyn.)

On Question, Motion agreed to, and a message was ordered to be sent to the Commons to acquaint them therewith and to seek their concurrence.

Government Resources and Accounts Bill

3.36 p.m.

Read a third time.

Lord Higgins moved Amendment No. 1:

    After Clause 7, insert the following new clause--


(" .--(1) Subject to subsection (7), this section applies to any non-departmental public body, unless otherwise provided by any order made under subsection (8).
(2) On the prescribed date for each non-departmental public body to which this section applies, subsections (3) to (6) shall have effect in relation to that body.
(3) Every non-departmental public body shall prepare accounts in respect of each financial year and shall send them to the Comptroller and Auditor General.
(4) The Comptroller and Auditor General shall examine accounts sent to him under this section with a view to satisfying himself--
(a) that the accounts present a true and fair view, and
(b) that any public money provided to the body has been expended for the purposes for which the money was paid.
(5) Where the Comptroller and Auditor General has conducted an examination of accounts under subsection (4) he shall--
(a) certify them and issue a report,
(b) send the certified accounts and the report to the department which is responsible for the non-departmental public body, and
(c) if he is not satisfied of the matters set out in subsection (4)(a) and (b), report to the House of Commons.
(6) The Comptroller and Auditor General shall lay a copy of the accounts and reports referred to in subsection (5)(b) before the House of Commons.
(7) Subsections (3) to (6) do not apply to any body to the extent (but only to the extent) that any of its accounts are or become subject to audit--
(a) by the Auditor General for Scotland, or
(b) by the Auditor General for Wales.
(8) The appropriate Minister may by order designate a non-departmental public body as one in relation to which this section does not apply for so long as the designation remains in force.
(9) An order under subsection (8) shall be made by statutory instrument, and shall not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before and approved by resolution of both Houses of Parliament.

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(10) In this section--
"the appropriate Minister" means, as regards any non-departmental public body, a minister in the department which is responsible for that body;
"non-departmental public body" means a body--
(a) which is not a government department or comprised within a government department,
(b) which exercises public functions of a governmental nature which might otherwise fall to be exercised by central government, and
(c) an officer of which has been designated by a government department as its accounting officer in respect of the preparation of its accounts,
but does not include any such body which is a company registered under the Companies Act 1985; and
"prescribed date" means, as regards each non-departmental public body, the first day of the first full financial year of that body commencing after the expiry of the term of appointment of the person who is the auditor of the body when this section comes into force.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving this amendment I shall say a brief word about the previous proceedings. We have made it clear throughout discussion on this Bill, both in Committee in the Moses Room and on Report, that we are strongly in favour of the Government's proposal to introduce resource accounting. But we have some reservations in relation to the scope of the Bill as it now stands, and Amendment No. 1 seeks to improve it, as does the second set of amendments.

It is important to remember that control of money has always been the basis of parliamentary authority in relation to the executive. That is certainly so in relation to auditing arrangements. They are matters which should have the attention of all Members of Parliament. It is a question of the relationship between the executive and Parliament, both in the other place which normally has primary responsibility for financial matters, and your Lordships' House. As has already been pointed out, this Bill is one of the few Bills--only the third since 1866 or so--which gives an opportunity to put right a number of matters which are cause for concern, and it is important that we do not miss that opportunity.

Perhaps I can say a few words in relation to previous comments made by the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh. We are considering these amendments against the proposal to have a so-called "Sharman Committee" and a steering group. I welcome the strong membership of the steering group. But we are still unclear about the relationship between the committee and the steering group. On the last occasion the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, said that the task of the steering group was to steer. That did not really get us very much further forward. It would be helpful if we had some idea as to what the relationship is between the steering group and the Sharman committee.

At all events, although we look forward to studying the results from those inquiries, it is important for us to take this opportunity to improve matters with regard to the proposals now before us. Again, on a previous occasion the Minister questioned why we wanted to change something that has been the same since 1866. But, of course, that is precisely what the

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Government propose to do and we certainly welcome that move. We see no reason why we should not go further as far as concerns these amendments.

The amendments and the following group have received strong support not only from the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee but also from the all-party membership of that committee. We are seeking to ensure that the Comptroller and Auditor General audits all non-departmental public bodies, as he does at present in respect of all departments and executive agencies. This has been recognised by the present Government because all the new NDPBs they have established have been audited, or scheduled to be to be audited, by the Comptroller and Auditor General. It is, I believe, common ground in all parts of the House that the present arrangement is a hotchpotch. The amendment seeks to clear up the situation and ensure that in future, once the contracts of the existing auditors with some of the NDPBs expire, the process should be taken over by the NAO.

Having listened most carefully to the arguments put by the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, I have to say that we on this side of the House--and I believe that this applies to other parts too--do not find them convincing. We believe that we should ensure that all the NDPBs are audited by the NAO and, in turn, referred to the PAC. The evidence in favour of this is very strong. As I said, the chairman of the PAC and his committee members are strongly in favour of such a move.

In evidence to the PAC, the Chief Secretary said that there was a presumption that the audit should be carried out by the NAO. Moreover, when speaking on the gas and electricity Bill, the Minister said that to have such matters audited by the NAO would improve transparency, openness, certainty, clarity, and so on. Indeed, I believe that that applies to previous statements of Lord Chancellors on other legislation. Therefore, we do not see why we should not take this opportunity to sort out the matter and thereby ensure that future arrangements are more satisfactory.

However, I should stress that that does not mean that in very exceptional circumstances a non-departmental public body should not be audited by outside auditors rather than the NAO. Indeed, our amendment makes provision for such an eventuality. If the Government feel so strongly that that should be so, they can appoint a different auditor, subject to approval by statutory instrument. The present arrangements are not satisfactory. Although it is true, as the Minister said during previous debates, that all NDPBs are accountable through Ministers, there is a difference between the situation where the auditor reports to the Minister and he, in turn, reports to Parliament and one where the NAO carries out the investigation, reports to the PAC and directly to Parliament. If you like, there is no ministerial filter in that respect.

The Minister argued previously that the situation where one size fits all is not satisfactory. However, except in the most exceptional circumstances--

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provision for which is made in the amendment--we see no reason why it should not all be done by the NAO and the Comptroller and Auditor General.

There are three amendments in this group. Amendments Nos. 2 and 3 seek to cover some of the points made by the Minister during earlier debates. I should stress strongly that Amendment No. 1 takes into account the comments that he made; namely, that the previous amendment was defective because it was the Treasury and not the sponsoring department that would become accountable. We have revised our amendments to ensure that the Comptroller and Auditor General will send the certified accounts and report to the sponsoring department and then, in turn, to the PAC. That is in line with present practice. I hope that the Minister will accept that we have met that particular point.

The other problem that concerned the Minister was the question of definition; in other words, how does one determine the situation with regard to a NDPB? While, on balance, I believe that Amendment No. 1 is entirely satisfactory, we have put forward two alternative forms for doing this by reference to the Executive NDPB annual report--I have with me a copy of this year's report CM 4657--which clearly would provide a possible set of definitions. Subject to what the Minister may say in that regard, my personal feeling at this stage is that Amendment No. 1 is satisfactory. I hope that the Minister will accept it. However, if he does not, it is a matter of some concern to Parliament and, as such, I believe that we ought to take a decision on it. I beg to move.

3.45 p.m.

Baroness Sharp of Guildford: My Lords, I wish, first, to reiterate from these Benches our general support for this Bill and for its main purpose; namely, to shift from cash accounting to accrual accounting. We believe this to be an extremely important shift and we are very pleased to see it.

I recognise that this amendment is about the issue of audit and that the prime purpose of the Bill is not. As I said, it is about shifting from cash accounting to accrual accounting. Nevertheless, in putting forward this amendment about auditing, it is important for us to recognise that Bills on the subject of the way in which accounts are made to Parliament come very rarely before Parliament. Indeed, this is the first such Bill we have had since 1926. Moreover, the Government have already diluted its purity by adding a considerable element to the end of the Bill about partnerships in the UK which, again, has nothing to do with accounting and accrual accounting.

As I said on Report last week, we on these Benches do not find the question of who should audit NDPBs an easy one. Indeed, as I made clear, it is the central issue to be considered in the review of public sector audit arrangements chaired by my noble friend Lord Sharman. I sought assurances from the Minister last week that the Government would take seriously the findings of that committee and act on its

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recommendations. As far as he could, the Minister gave me such assurances. However, as he acknowledged, no government can give unconditional assurances on such issues when recommendations have still not been made. Inevitably, also, action would lie with the Treasury.

Since our debate last week, I have had discussions with a large number of people about these issues. As time has gone by, I have become the more convinced that at the end of the day we need to go back to first principles. As the noble Lord, Lord Higgins, said, the root of this amendment, and of the subsequent amendments regarding access, is about the powers of Parliament vis-a-vis the executive. If Parliament is to maintain its sovereignty it is essential that it has the power not only to make appropriations but also to ensure that its will is done--that those appropriations are allocated, as Parliament has willed, and that people obtain the best value for money from them.

From these Benches we have long taken the view that under successive governments, both Conservative and Labour, the power of the executive has increased, is still increasing and ought to be diminished. Although I recognise that the Sharman review will go over the same ground--that is, the area of audit--there is nothing in this amendment that would prejudice that review. As I argued at Report, it provides an insurance policy that the present most unsatisfactory hotchpotch of arrangements will be tidied up. That being so, we have decided that the underlying issue--the reinforcement of the role of Parliament and parliamentary scrutiny vis-a-vis the executive--should be the deciding factor. On those grounds we on these Benches add our voice of support to the amendment.

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