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Lord Skelmersdale: My Lords, this is a very simple order. It updates, as the Minister has just said, miscellaneous references in a wide range of legislation to take account of the existence of the Commission for Healthcare Audit and Inspectionknown by the acronym CHAIand CSCI, whose full name is the Commission for Social Care Inspection. Both bodies came into existence by virtue of the Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Act 2003.
That Act also amends the law relating to the recovery of NHS charges, makes changes to primary dental and medical services, and provides for a replacement of the Welfare Food Scheme, none of which applies to this order. But there is a third issue about which I would like to ask the Minister. It also provided for the establishment of NHS foundation trusts, which we said then and believe now were neither fish nor fowl nor fine red herring. So complicated was the procedure for applying that my own local hospital, Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton, applied and then withdrew its application when it found out exactly what was involved. I should therefore like to know how many others were in that position.
Since the Act came into force the Government have announced that they plan to reduce the number of health quangos. How will that affect CHI in particular? As far as CSCI goes, I wish it well. I spent a year of my life in Northern Ireland trying to get social security staff to publish results of their research and practical achievements, which they were very reluctant to do,
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mainly because it was a time when anonymity brought personal security. CSCI would have helped dramatically to counter that particular attitude.
Going back to the Bill, the House will recall that my noble friend Lord Howe fought a successful rearguard action to have the chairmen of these bodies independent of government. As a result, both they and their staff are appointed by the National Health Service Appointments Commission, making the organisations they chair just that little bit more devolved from government, which in my view had leaned rather too much on their predecessor authorities.
I was delighted to hear the Minister talk of Article 2(1)(e) and the Race Relations Act and its relationship to Article 2(2)(a) and (b). That was one of the questions I was going to ask and now do not need to.
However, I should like to ask something about Article 2(f). Section 144(2) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 is about exemptions from the requirement of third-party insurance or security. Are the vehicles, which will clearly have to be used by staff of both these bodies, insured at all? If not, why not?
That said, I have absolutely no complaint about the order, except to say that your Lordships' Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform was absolutely right to suggest during the course of the Bill that this should be an affirmative order because of course it amends primary legislation.
Baroness Barker: My Lords, having spent many happy hours going through the Act from which these regulations are derived, I have no intention of going over them in detail. I echo the sentiments expressed by the Government and the Opposition in another place, which welcomed CSCI in the early months of its operation. Given that I work in the field of social care, I welcome the regulations with a slightly more tempered view than others, only because I listen to practitioners who have been subject to inspections. Some have had much more mixed experiences than was implied in last night's debate.
I wish to raise two points. The first relates to Article 2(1)(a), under which CHAI takes on some of the Audit Commission's functions. The relevant section in the Audit Commission Act 1998 is entitled "studies for improving economy etc. in services". Throughout our debates on the Health and Social Care Bill we had many discussions about how the emphasis was on evaluating the economy rather than the effectiveness of health services. To what extent will the role that CHAI assumes from its predecessor be driven by economic considerations rather than those of clinical effectiveness? My second question is simple. I can understand that the bodies may need to be given powers under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1998 but will the noble Lord explain what they would do with them?
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Lord Warner: My Lords, I am grateful for the helpful remarks from noble Lords opposite. The noble Lord, Lord Skelmersdale, asked about the Government's policies on foundation trusts. The straight answer is that I do not have the numbers in my head. It is a little outside the scope of the order but I shall write to the noble Lord with the details. I am sorry that his local hospital appears to have been disappointed in the progression of its application.
The noble Lord asked about the insurance of vehicles operated or owned by the Healthcare Commission and the Commission for Social Care Inspection. I am reliably informed that they are all currently taxed and have insurance cover for third-party risk.
The noble Baroness, Lady Barker, asked about the role of the Healthcare Commission in carrying out its inspections. The 2003 legislation provided for the Secretary of State to set out standards for the NHS against which the Healthcare Commission would develop its own assessment criteria and inspect whether trusts adhered to and met the standards set by the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State has published the national standards. I will certainly be happy to send the noble Baroness, Lady Barker, those standards if she has not seen them. We await the assessment criteria, being developed by the Healthcare Commission, which I expect to receive before too long. It will then be for the Secretary of State to sign off those criteria. They will be the criteria against which the Healthcare Commission will inspect and assess performance against the national standards for NHS trusts. That is how the system is provided for in the 2003 Act.
Article 2(1)(b) in the draft order replaces the reference to Section 48 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1998. I shall have to look into the precise details of the Act. Generalist though I am, I do not carry the full details of the legislation with me. But I shall look into the matter and answer the noble Baroness's question by letter.
Lord Skelmersdale: My Lords, before the Question on the Motion is put, with which we will agree, perhaps he could answer my earlier question. Given the Government's intention to reduce the number of health service quangos, what effect will that have, particularly on CHI?
Lord Warner: My Lords, as I thought I had said in my opening remarks, the Commission for Health Improvement (CHI) disappeared on 31 March 2004. The new Healthcare Commission came into operation in April and will continue to operate. We made clear in the arm's-length body review, published on 22 July this year, that there would be no changes in the position of the Healthcare Commission.
The noble Lord said: My Lords, I shall speak also to the Scotland Act 1998 (Modifications of Schedule 5) Order 2004 and the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (Consequential Modifications) Order 2004.
Noble Lords will be aware that the orders are made under three different Scotland Act powers: Sections 30(2), 30(3) and 104. Many of us are, by now, familiar with those sections of the Scotland Act, but I hope that it will be helpful if I briefly outline what the powers allow us to do and the background to each order.
Section 30(2) orders have the purpose and effect of altering the legislative boundaries of Scotland's devolution settlement. They do so by either increasing or reducing the list of matters reserved by Schedule 5 to the Scotland Act. The order makes full use of the power by adding one reservation, removing aspects of another and making a small technical amendment to an existing reservation. Orders made under Section 30(3) allow functionsfor example, in an Actto be classed as "in or as regards" Scotland so they can be exercised by the Scottish Ministers. The Scotland Act requires that orders made under Sections 30(2) and 30(3) are subject to affirmative procedure in both the UK and Scottish Parliaments.
Section 104 orders are used when changes are required to the law of England and Wales and, in some cases, Northern Ireland, or when modifications of reserved law are needed, all as a consequence of legislation in the Scottish Parliament. Such changes would be outside the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament, which is why Section 104 orders are considered only by the UK Parliament.
The subjects of the three orders that we are considering today are quite different. However, it is normal practice for orders under the Scotland Act to be considered by Parliament at the same time. This House and the other place have done that on numerous occasions. It simply means that we can ensure the optimum use of parliamentary time.
I shall deal first with the Section 30(2) order, which is the draft Scotland Act 1998 (Modifications of Schedule 5) Order 2004. Article 2, which concerns elections, is entirely technical. It is a tidying-up provision that is consequential on a defect in the European Parliamentary Elections Act 2002. Briefly, the 2002 Act consolidated the legislation on European parliamentary elections and in doing so amended Section B3 of Schedule 5 to the Scotland Act. Unfortunately, it neglected to make a necessary consequential to disapply the interpretation provision in paragraph 5 of Part 3 of Schedule 5 to the Scotland Act. This was an oversight and, while it has no practical effect, the Government believe that it makes sense to take this opportunity to reinforce the coherence of the statute book by making this change.
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The second element to this order concerns the reservation of the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the AHRC, and its funding. The purpose of this modification is to add the AHRC to the current reservation in Section C12 of Schedule 5 to the Scotland Act relating to "research councils". I have no formal interest to declare on this matter, but noble Lords will wish to be aware that I was one of the original board members of the Arts and Humanities Research Board, which is being replaced by the AHRC.
This part of the order will complete a package of legislation that was agreed by Ministers in all the UK administrations in January 2003. This was to create a UK-wide, statutory AHRC which will take over the role of the existing UK-wide Arts and Humanities Research Board, the AHRB. It places the AHRC and its funding on a similar basis to the seven existing UK science research councils, recognising the increasing opportunities for interdisciplinary and collaborative working within the research sector and acknowledging the contribution of arts and humanities to the economy.
The proposed conversion has received widespread support among the academic community across the UK. It was also welcomed throughout the passage of the Higher Education Bill through both Houses of Parliament to Royal Assent this summer.
The final element of this order amends the reservation in Section E2 of Schedule 5 to the Scotland Act. In doing so, it extends the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament. Section E2 has previously been amended by two other orders. They are SI2000/3252 and SI2002/1629. Parliament agreed the need for both statutory instruments during the passage of the Scotland Act.
Among other things, SI2000/3252 enables the Scottish Parliament to legislate to transfer to certain Scottish public authorities the same rail responsibilities exercised by a passenger transport authority or executive. It also enables the allocation of functions among such new public authorities. This exception to the reservation cannot include a transfer of rail functions directly to the Scottish Ministers. This is because the Scottish Ministers do not fall within the definition of a body set up wholly or mainly to exercise functions in relation to transport.
Article 4 of the Section 30(2) order before us today amends the exception to the reservation introduced by SI2000/3252. This will allow the Scottish Parliament to legislate in forthcoming Scottish transport legislation proposed by the Scottish Executive to transfer the rail functions presently exercised by Strathclyde Passenger Transport (SPT) to the Scottish Ministers.
Noble Lords will be aware that there have been a series of Parliamentary Questions in this and the other place on this part of the order. They have asked what consultation has taken place with SPT, whether the economic costs of transferring functions from SPT have been assessed and why no regulatory impact assessment has been prepared for this order. We believe that the first two questions put the cart before the horse. If agreed, the order before us, which has
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been agreed by the Local Government and Transport Committee of the Scottish Parliament, will simply extend the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament on these issues. It will then be for the Scottish Parliament to decide, should such a measure be put before it, whether and how to exercise its new power to transfer the rail responsibilities of SPT to the Scottish Ministers.
I hope noble Lords will find it helpful to note, however, that the Scottish Executive have advised that they are enjoying constructive discussions with SPT on this issue and they have signalled their wish and desire to build on the strengths of SPT in delivering better transport services, not only in the West of Scotland, but across the whole of Scotland.
The order before us makes no change to the status or functions of SPT. The decision not to provide a regulatory impact assessment, then, is in accordance with the guidance Better Policy Making: A Guide to Regulatory Impact Assessment issued by the Cabinet Office. The draft order varies the competence of the Scottish Parliament. It does not in itself have a direct or indirect impact, whether benefit or cost, on business, charities or the voluntary sector. It would not therefore have any regulatory impact.
I turn to the Section 30(3) order, which is the draft Scotland Act 1998 (Functions Exercisable in or as Regards Scotland) Order 2004. As the explanatory material notes, the order will make a technical provision in relation to a new CAP reform council regulation, which comes into effect on 1 January 2005.
There are farmers who come within the ambit of the CAP reforms who farm both in Scotland and in other parts of the United Kingdom. This order will make clear that the powers of the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Ministers, in relation to those farmers, are exercisable "in or as regards" Scotland. Noble Lords may wish to note that there is a long-standing protocol in place between the agricultural departments as to who administers a claim in a cross-border situation. The administration in charge is usually the one where the majority of the holding lies. All administrations turn-around previous land declarations to their producers so that for existing claimants there is a well established relationship.
The final point to make about this order is that it will be complemented by a further order made under Section 106 of the Scotland Act. This is another technical measure and concerns functions that provide for quantitative obligations in relation to such holdings to be exercisable in or as regards Scotland. The Section 106 order is subject to negative procedure in the UK Parliament. It is our intention to make it later this Session.
The last order before us today is the draft Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (Consequential Modifications) Order 2004. The order, which is again technical in nature, is being brought forward in time for the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act coming into force on 1 January 2005. It covers three areas, making amendments to or extending UK Acts
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in relation to the Scottish FoI regime. These amendments are being made in this order as they are outside the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament.
The first amendment is an extension to data held by Scottish public authorities, which are subject to the FoI Scotland Act 2002, of provisions in the Data Protection Act 1998. This amendment will simply ensure that we continue to have a single data protection regime in the United Kingdom and that the same rights of access enjoyed by individuals will apply to personal information held by UK and Scottish public authorities.
The second amendment relates to information sharing and facilitates the work of the Scottish Information Commissioner. The order inserts a new Section 76A in the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to provide for the passing of information by the UK Information Commissioner to the Scottish Information Commissioner. Section 63 of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 allows the Scottish Information Commissioner to pass certain information to the UK Information Commissioner. The new Section 76A makes reciprocal provision for the disclosure of information by the UK Information Commissioner to the Scottish Information Commissioner. This ensures a consistent regime across the UK. It could not have been achieved on the face of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 since, at that time, the office of Scottish Information Commissioner did not exist.
The final element of the instrument concerns copyright, which is a reserved matter. The order extends the protection of provisions of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 and the Copyright and Rights in Database Regulations 1997 to allow disclosure of materials supplied under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002. That will ensure that copyright and database protection rules will not hamper disclosure of information by Scottish public authorities, which is otherwise permitted under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002. Again, that will ensure a regime which is consistent with that in the rest of the UK.
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