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Even with a lay majority, there will be ample professional members on the councils bringing a crucial professional perspective to council discussions. When we talk about a lay majority, it is likely to be simply one more lay member than professional members on the council, as a symbolic acknowledgement that the purpose of the regulatory body is to protect patient safety.
With regard to the second aspect of this amendment, which would prevent councils from being fully appointed, the noble Baroness, Lady Gardner, said in a recent debate on dentistry that appointed members are wrong because,
However, it is for precisely that reason that the Government felt it was crucial to move away from elected members. Professional members on a regulatory body should not be representatives of the practitioners who have elected them. That creates a potential conflict of interest and a situation where patients and the public would be entitled to wonder whether the professional member, elected by his peers, saw his first duty to those who elected him or to the patients that the regulatory body exists to protect.
The appointment of all professional members is about resolving very valid concerns that being elected places on professional members a responsibility to the interests of their electorate and their specific concerns. It is also about creating a new transparency within regulatory bodies so that it is clear all members on the council are impartial and independent. Professional members of the regulatory councils are there to provide a professional perspective, but absolutely not to represent a specific group that elects them.
Baroness Gardner of Parkes: I thank the Minister for those remarks, but I do not agree at all. She said that she wanted parity between lay and professional members. My amendment does not say there should not be parity; all it is saying is that there should be some elected members. I do not go along with the
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The Minister talked about helping the public. That is why it is important to have people in particular who are involved in NHS practice: they are confronting issues that are quite different from other issues. It is in the interests of the public and patients to have what I am suggestinga very small number of representative people.
The Minister talked about moving away because of conflicts of interest. I do not think any of that is accurate. As regards a new transparencywhat is transparent about these appointments? We have seen all the appointments to the House of Lords done by one of these special appointments commissions. We were told we were going to have peoples Peers; we expected a hairdresser and a postman, and yet the only postman we have ever had here, as far as I know, is that hereditary man from Tasmania who came over to take his seat. The people who arrived from the Peers list were the people we would have expected to see anyhowthe great and the good, or at least the good. I think that the panels, no matter how transparent, are lacking in this respect. Ordinary dentists in general practice, who have a pretty rotten job and work very hard, will be rather upset that they will have no say at all in the people who are sitting on their governing body.
As far as I am concerned, over the years the governing body has always been as obstructive as possible,
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