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Lord Peyton of Yeovil: My Lords, I am most grateful to the Minister. He has just mentioned a "backstop power". That is one of those phrases which always leaves behind frayed nerve endings. Obviously it is very difficult for the occupants of the Government Front Bench to envisage the possibility of someone other than themselves—someone not as wise, not as patient, not as perceptive, not as sensitive—doing rough and stupid things. That is what worries noble Lords on this side of the House.

However, I have to tell the Minister that my confidence in him is far greater than any confidence I may have in his Secretary of State.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I shall pass on that.

A backstop power is surely the evidence of public accountability. If we were to take the arguments raised by noble Lords in relation to a number of national bodies—non-departmental public bodies—where they seek simply to make them independent, beyond parliamentary scrutiny and without any proper accountability to the Secretary of State, then I do not believe that we would be serving the interests of the nation. It is not right simply to park such bodies offshore and let them get on with it. There needs to be in place a proper framework of accountability and one needs to have some reserve powers.

However, of course these are reserve powers and it is our intention to ensure that the commission, alongside the other national bodies we have discussed, is very well able to discharge its responsibilities in an independent way. But we also need to have in place the proper forms of parliamentary accountability. I think that we have the balance right.

30 Apr 2002 : Column 630

I hope that my announcement today that the appointment of the chair of the commission will not be made by the Secretary of State but by the NHS Appointments Commission will go a long way towards allaying the concerns that have been expressed.

Lord Clement-Jones: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply, which fell into two parts. He gave an extremely unconvincing response to Amendment No. 53; and evoked growing interest in his response to the other amendments. Certainly the Minister's undertaking in regard to Amendment No. 86—that the chair will be appointed by the NHS appointments commission—is very helpful, as also is his clarification in regard to Amendment No. 85. Pending further clarification, we shall not press Amendments Nos. 85 to 90 as the Minister has gone some way towards satisfying those of us who do not wish to see the commission as a tame poodle.

I should say to the noble Earl that my speeches in Committee are far better than they are on Report; they contain more colourful phrases. His "command and control" phrase was far superior to mine.

The Minister has gone some way but he continues to wriggle about the powers of the national commission. We do not wish to throw away the benefits that we have had from the ability of the Association of Community Health Councils to campaign on matters affecting patients. I read out a short list of matters on which ACHCEW currently is able to work—research and policy; conducting casualty watch type exercises; running or engaging in national campaigns or making donations to them; campaigning about national changes of policy affecting the health service; and commenting on guidance issued by bodies such as the GMC beyond those concerns. The Minister did not give me an ounce of satisfaction in that regard.

Many of us fear that the circumscribed role of the commission is entirely designed to ensure that ACHCEW is not reborn in another form. As we value its work, we believe that would be a retrograde step—hence the reason for wishing to insert these powers for the new commission in the Bill. I therefore wish not to withdraw the amendment but to test the opinion of the House on Amendment No. 53.

6.22 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 53) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 119; Not-Contents, 122.

Division No. 2


Addington, L.
Astor of Hever, L.
Attlee, E.
Avebury, L.
Baker of Dorking, L.
Bowness, L.
Bridgeman, V.
Burnham, L.
Buscombe, B.
Butterworth, L.
Byford, B.
Carlisle of Bucklow, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Cavendish of Furness, L.
Clement-Jones, L. [Teller]
Colwyn, L.
Cope of Berkeley, L. [Teller]
Cox, B.
Craig of Radley, L.
Craigavon, V.
Crickhowell, L.
Cumberlege, B.
Darcy de Knayth, B.
Dean of Harptree, L.
Denham, L.
Elles, B.
Elton, L.
Falkland, V.
Fearn, L.
Ferrers, E.
Finlay of Llandaff, B.
Flather, B.
Geraint, L.
Glenarthur, L.
Goodhart, L.
Goschen, V.
Greenway, L.
Griffiths of Fforestfach, L.
Hamwee, B.
Henley, L.
Hogg, B.
Holderness, L.
Howe, E.
Howell of Guildford, L.
Hurd of Westwell, L.
Hylton, L.
Jacobs, L.
James of Holland Park, B.
Jenkin of Roding, L.
Jenkins of Hillhead, L.
Jopling, L.
Kimball, L.
Knight of Collingtree, B.
Laird, L.
Linklater of Butterstone, B.
Livsey of Talgarth, L.
Lucas, L.
Lyell, L.
McColl of Dulwich, L.
McNally, L.
Maddock, B.
Mancroft, L.
Mar and Kellie, E.
Methuen, L.
Michie of Gallanach, B.
Miller of Chilthorne Domer, B.
Monson, L.
Montrose, D.
Moynihan, L.
Naseby, L.
Newby, L.
Noakes, B.
Northbrook, L.
Northesk, E.
Northover, B.
Norton of Louth, L.
O'Cathain, B.
Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay, L.
Onslow, E.
Palmer, L.
Park of Monmouth, B.
Patten, L.
Pearson of Rannoch, L.
Peel, E.
Perry of Walton, L.
Peyton of Yeovil, L.
Pilkington of Oxenford, L.
Razzall, L.
Rees, L.
Rennard, L.
Roberts of Conwy, L.
Roper, L.
Rotherwick, L.
Sandberg, L.
Scott of Needham Market, B.
Seccombe, B.
Selsdon, L.
Sharman, L.
Sharp of Guildford, B.
Sharples, B.
Shrewsbury, E.
Shutt of Greetland, L.
Smith of Clifton, L.
Soulsby of Swaffham Prior, L.
Stevens of Ludgate, L.
Stodart of Leaston, L.
Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Taylor of Warwick, L.
Tebbit, L.
Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Tugendhat, L.
Waddington, L.
Wade of Chorlton, L.
Wallace of Saltaire, L.
Walmsley, B.
Walpole, L.
Wilcox, B.
Williams of Crosby, B.


Acton, L.
Ahmed, L.
Alli, L.
Andrews, B.
Ashton of Upholland, B.
Bach, L.
Barnett, L.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Berkeley, L.
Bernstein of Craigweil, L.
Bhatia, L.
Blackstone, B.
Blease, L.
Brennan, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Brookman, L.
Burlison, L.
Campbell-Savours, L.
Carter, L. [Teller]
Chandos, V.
Clarke of Hampstead, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Corbett of Castle Vale, L.
Crawley, B.
David, B.
Davies of Coity, L.
Davies of Oldham, L.
Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B.
Desai, L.
Dixon, L.
Donoughue, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Dubs, L.
Elder, L.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Evans of Temple Guiting, L.
Evans of Watford, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Filkin, L.
Gale, B.
Gibson of Market Rasen, B.
Gilbert, L.
Gladwin of Clee, L.
Golding, B.
Gordon of Strathblane, L.
Goudie, B.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Greengross, B.
Grocott, L.
Hardy of Wath, L.
Harrison, L.
Haskel, L.
Haskins, L.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hogg of Cumbernauld, L.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Howells of St. Davids, B.
Howie of Troon, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Chesterton, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L. (Lord Chancellor)
Jay of Paddington, B.
Jones, L.
Judd, L.
King of West Bromwich, L.
Kirkhill, L.
Layard, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Levy, L.
Lipsey, L.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller]
McIntosh of Hudnall, B.
MacKenzie of Culkein, L.
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
Marsh, L.
Mason of Barnsley, L.
Massey of Darwen, B.
Merlyn-Rees, L.
Milner of Leeds, L.
Mitchell, L.
Morris of Aberavon, L.
Nicol, B.
Parekh, L.
Patel of Blackburn, L.
Pendry, L.
Pitkeathley, B.
Plant of Highfield, L.
Prys-Davies, L.
Puttnam, L.
Radice, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Richard, L.
Rooker, L.
Sainsbury of Turville, L.
Sawyer, L.
Scotland of Asthal, B.
Sheldon, L.
Simon, V.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Temple-Morris, L.
Thornton, B.
Tomlinson, L.
Turnberg, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Walker of Doncaster, L.
Warwick of Undercliffe, B.
Wedderburn of Charlton, L.
Whitaker, B.
Whitty, L.
Wilkins, B.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Williams of Mostyn, L. (Lord Privy Seal)
Williamson of Horton, L.
Wilson of Tillyorn, L.
Woolmer of Leeds, L.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

30 Apr 2002 : Column 632

6.32 p.m.

Lord Clement-Jones moved Amendment No. 54:

    Page 24, line 34, after "Forums" insert "and Patients' Councils"

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 55 not moved.]

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