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Lord Walton of Detchant: My Lords, I have not seen the advertisement to which the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin, referred, but I agree with him that the list of professional individuals seems somewhat curious and rather selective. However, in Grand Committee I pointed out that following the reorganisation of many of the regulatory authorities in the healthcare field, these now have in general approximately half lay and half professional members. I believe that what the noble Lord said supports that view. I agree entirely with his opinion that the kind of specification set out in this amendment would ensure that there was a proper representation of the professional interest alongside the lay members of the authority. I therefore support the amendment.
Lord Warner: My Lords, I shall not be drawn on the subject of the subsequent amendment on the inspectorates which we shall discuss other than gently to remind the noble Lord that he and the Front Bench of the Conservative Party supported the removal of the inspectorates in Grand Committee. However, we shall come to that in a moment.
We have given assurances, and I am happy to repeat them, that members of the authority will be chosen from those with relevant professional experience of the activities that lie within the remit of, and are to be regulated by, the Human Tissue Authority. It is difficult to specify on the face of the Bill particular areas that should be covered as we would inevitably seem to favour those above others. The amendment refers to research and clinical and professional expertise, but what about patient and family representation as part of the lay group of members? We certainly would expect to see those elements as well as, for example, ethical and legal expertise, tissue banking, archaeology, anatomy and coroners.
I can not only assure noble Lords that the authority will contain members with relevant professional experience of regulated activitieswhich is the term used in the Billbut I can also demonstrate that this is already in hand. The noble Lord tried to use the advertisement against us. However, the department has set up a working group to assist in drawing together the relevant information and guidance that will inform the codes of practice to be published by the Human Tissue Authority. This group already includes members from research backgrounds, including the private sector, together with clinical and professional groups as well as others. But more specifically,
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advertisements for the chair and members of the authority were published last week, as the noble Lord said. I note that he has read them. These called for applications from lay and professional people with many areas of expertise including, as the noble Lord said, ethics, law, family and patient interests, finance, pathology, anatomy, research and pharmacology. There are also others such as archaeology, media, coroner and surgeon, but it is important to note that this is not an exhaustive or exclusive list. Applicants may come from many varied areas and sometimes individuals from less obvious areas of interest may have much to contribute. Therefore, while we wish to secure input from the areas set out in this amendment, it is itself somewhat restrictive. We have made clear our determination to have people from a wide range of backgrounds and expertise on the authority.
I still do not consider that such a limited set of areas as the amendment proposes should be specified on the face of the Bill. Members of all medical colleges and the private sector pharmaceutical industry have been alerted to the advertisements for membership of the Human Tissue Authority and we expect applications from a wide range of professions. I hope that that reassures the noble Lord and that he feels able to withdraw his amendment.
Lord Jenkin of Roding: My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, I listened with care to what he said, but does he consider that the wording of the advertisement might with advantage be amended to make it clear that the list is not exclusive? It could refer to,
"The Authority may delegate any of its functions (to such extent as it may determine)
(a) to any member of the Authority,
(b) to any member of the staff of the Authority, or
(c) to a committee consisting of persons each of whom is
(i) a member of the Authority, or
(ii) a member of the staff of the Authority."
The noble Lord said: My Lords, the structure of the Human Tissue Authority was drawn up so as to allow expertise in the different areas which fall within its remit to be brought in to inform the two inspectorates in their different tasks. One inspectorate was to inspect and license anatomy and pathology activities, and the other was to inspect and license activities related to tissues and organs for human transplantation.
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That structure was devised for good reasons before the Government instituted their review of health arm's length bodies. As a result of that review I announced in July that the Human Tissue Authority would merge its activities with those of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority when the current review of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 is complete. The merger is likely to be in a few years, however.
At that time, both the HTA and the HFEA will be subsumed into a new organisation called the Regulatory Authority for Fertility and Tissue. Noble Lords may recall that the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, with support from those on the Conservative Benches, proposed amendments in Grand Committee that would have reduced the number of inspectorates in the structure of the Human Tissue Authority from two to one. We have reconsidered the position since then, and have concluded that it would be helpful to the Human Tissue Authority to have maximum flexibility as it organises its activities alongside those of the HFEA and prepares for eventual merger.
I want to put on record that I am grateful to the noble Lord for provoking us a little on the issue. He has gone out in a blaze of glory in the area. We therefore propose this large group of amendments, which removes the inspectorate of anatomy and pathology and the inspectorate of organ and tissue for human use from the structure of the Human Tissue Authority altogether. The amendments also allow the HTA to delegate its inspection and licensing functions to any of its members and staff, or to a committee composed of members and staff.
The authority will still be able to call on the advice of experts in the various areas that it regulates, but it will be able to operate in as streamlined a way as possible. It will remain possible for the HTA to hear appeals against decisions taken by those to whom it delegates certain functions, such as committees formed to deal with licensing decisions. I beg to move.
Lord Roper: My Lords, in the absence of my noble friend Lord Clement-Joneshe is on his way to China at the moment and much regrets that he cannot be with us for this stage of the Bill, but will certainly be back for Third ReadingI place on record our gratitude to the Government for having listened to the important debate in Grand Committee and tabled this group of amendments.
Lord Jenkin of Roding: My Lords, I want to make a brief point. In Grand Committee, I questioned the wisdom of the proposed merger of two very different regulators, the HTA and the HFEA. As I pointed out then, they have two widely differing functions, and I was not at all sure that it made sense for the two bodies to be merged into RAFT. I was struck by the fact that almost every other Member of the Committee present nodded in assent to what I said.
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I want, first, to express the hope that the Government will have second thoughts about the proposed merger, and, secondly, to ask whether there will be any opportunity for Parliament to debate it and some of the other mergers that have been put forward in the cull of arm's-length bodies that the Minister described to us on an earlier occasion. To have such a major change in the regulatory structure with no debate in Parliament at all would be absurd. The Minister may not be able to commit himself firmly, but it would be good to know that the department recognised that there may be considerable demand for a debate on what seems to many of us to be a very rum mésalliance indeed.
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