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"( ) paragraph 21(2),
( ) in paragraph 25(2)(b), the word "(c)," and
( ) paragraph 26(2)."

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendment No. 179 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List]

Baroness Crawley moved Amendments Nos. 180 to 185:

"( ) paragraph 1,"

"( ) paragraph 23(2) to (4) and (7),
( ) paragraph 24(3),"

"In section 195(3), the words "is exercised".

"Road Traffic Act 1991 (c. 40)In Schedule 4, paragraph 73(5)."

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Schedule 5, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 45 to 48 agreed to.

House resumed: Bill reported with amendments.

Wednesday, 26 October 2005.

Grand Committee

The Committee met at half-past three of the clock.

[The Deputy Chairman of Committees (BARONESS TURNER OF CAMDEN) in the Chair.]

Commissioner for Older People (Wales) Bill [HL]

(Second Day)

Clause 3 [Review of discharge of functions]:

Lord Roberts of Llandudno moved Amendment No. 34:

"( ) The results of the Commissioner's work shall be the subject of an annual report.
( ) The Assembly or another appropriate body investigated by the Commissioner shall publish a response within six months."

The noble Lord said: The amendment would ensure that the commissioner's work becomes the subject of an annual report. The Children's Commissioner for Wales produces an annual report that can then be responded to by the Assembly. We wish to see a similar report produced by the commissioner for the older folk in Wales. As the Minister knows, the ombudsman also publishes an annual report, a point we agreed when the three ombudsmen positions were amalgamated into one. So I propose that we accept the proposal set out in Amendment No. 34. I beg to move.

Lord Evans of Temple Guiting: Before we begin, I draw the attention of the Committee to a report in a Welsh newspaper that appeared after the first day of our Committee proceedings. It was headlined:

I am sure that noble Lords will agree that that is rather tactless in the circumstances.

The amendment would place on the commissioner an obligation to produce an annual report on the results of his work and on the Assembly or other appropriate person to publish a response to that report within six months. I am happy to reassure noble Lords that the Assembly intends to make regulations to that effect under the power set out in paragraph 8 of Schedule 1. We take the point that other commissioners have to do it and, along with the Assembly, we agree that it should also happen here.

Lord Roberts of Conwy: Would the noble Lord comment on the second leg of the amendment? It asks that,

Does he accept that, and what is the extent of the subsection?

Lord Evans of Temple Guiting: The Government share the view of the Assembly that it is not appropriate to place a requirement on the Assembly or
26 Oct 2005 : Column GC324
any other person to respond to the commissioner's annual report. Of course we agree that, if we want to oblige the commissioner to produce a report each year, it should follow that there is a mechanism for considering the observations and recommendations contained in it. I understand that it is the practice of the Assembly to hold a debate on the annual report of the Children's Commissioner for Wales, which performs that function. That is also the Assembly's intention in respect of the annual report produced by the Commissioner for Older People.

Lord Prys-Davies: I strongly support the principle behind the amendment and merely want to add that unless there is a duty to lay an annual report before the Assembly, there is no form of public accountability. Moreover, this is possibly the only means by which the work of the commissioner can be assessed by the general public. So far as the elderly are concerned, it would be a useful source of information and would indicate what the priorities ought to be. I am sure that my noble friend will go along with that, but he may say in response that it is a matter that will be taken care of in regulations. Nevertheless, is it a matter of such importance that it would be desirable to have the duty spelt out in the Bill?

Lord Evans of Temple Guiting: It is the Government's view, one shared by the Welsh Assembly, that if we follow exactly the legislation for the Children's Commissioner for Wales, which states that this has to be dealt with by regulations, that is what will happen. We do not see the need to write that into the Bill. We have said that the commissioner will produce an annual report for the Assembly, and that is what will happen. That obligation cannot be avoided.

Lord Roberts of Llandudno: We are grateful to the Minister for that assurance—we look forward to the regulation being incorporated—and for everyone else's support. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 35 not moved.]

Clause 3 agreed to.

Schedule 2 [Persons whose functions are subject to review under section 3]:

Lord Evans of Temple Guiting moved Amendment No. 36:

"National Leadership and Innovations Agency for Healthcare."

The noble Lord said: Government Amendment No. 36 responds positively to the public consultation on the Bill. It will enable the commissioner to review the discharge of functions of the National Leadership and Innovations Agency for Healthcare, a body that, in April 2006, will subsume Health Professions Wales, which is already listed in Schedule 2. I feel especially sure of the Committee's support for the amendment, as the same body features in Amendment No. 37, standing in the names of the noble Lords, Lord Livsey of Talgarth and Lord Roberts of Llandudno.
26 Oct 2005 : Column GC325

While I am on my feet and with the permission of the Committee, I shall deal with Amendments Nos. 39, 40, 61 and 63, also standing in the names of the noble Lords, Lord Livsey of Talgarth and Lord Roberts of Llandudno. They deal with reviews of Schedules 2 and 3 and add bodies to those schedules. Amendments Nos. 40 and 63 place a duty on the commissioner to review the lists of persons in Schedules 2 and 3 annually and to report those findings to the Assembly. The Bill already makes provision for the Assembly by order to amend Schedules 2 and 3 by adding, omitting or changing the description of a person. It would therefore appear to be more appropriate for any review of the list of persons on those schedules to be undertaken by the Assembly, in consultation with the commissioner.

Amendments Nos. 37 and 39 would add several new bodies to the list of persons in Schedule 2 who are subject to the commissioner's power to review the discharge of their functions. The air ambulance service and the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust are already included in Schedule 2 via the listing of,

Therefore, there is no need to add them by name to the list.

To add the words "voluntary organisations" in general to Schedule 2 and Schedule 3, as proposed in Amendment No. 61, would not only alter the scope of the Bill but would be at odds with the models of other commissioners and ombudsman, which focus on the accountability of bodies and persons who provide statutory services.

Amendment No. 38, in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay of Llandaff, and Amendment No. 39, in the names of the noble Lords, Lord Livsey of Talgarth and Lord Roberts of Conwy, would give the commissioner a specific locus in non-devolved matters by listing in Schedule 2 bodies that operate on a UK-wide basis. The functions of those bodies have not been devolved to the Assembly. Here we find ourselves back in the territory that we visited last week in our first day in Committee. I explained then that the establishment of the commissioner and the functions of that office must, for obvious reasons, be consistent with the existing constitutional settlement. I hope that I made the Government's policy clear. The Assembly Government understand and accept that position.

I have to say at the outset of this second day that the Government's position is simply not going to change. We shall, of course, have other opportunities to pursue the matter when the Bill returns to the Floor of the House. I hope that I shall not have to bore the Committee by rehearsing those points when we reach other amendments addressing similar matters and that, given what I have said, noble Lords will be able to withdraw their amendments. I beg to move.

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