Lord Owen calls for withdrawal of Statutory Instruments relating to Health and Social Care Act

Letter from Lord Owen to The Clerk of the Lords Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee, 22 February 2013

“Dear Clerk

I gather that the Statutory Instrument related to the Health & Social Care Act will be going to the Lords Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee on 5th March and you need to be told about the significance of this legislation.  In my view the most important aspect of the Regulations relates to the commitment given in the House of Lords by Earl Howe during the passage of the Bill  when he said “Clinicians will be free to commission services in the way they consider best.
(ref: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201212/ldhansrd/text/120306-0001.htm)
We intend to make it clear that commissioners will have a full range of options and that they will be be under no legal obligation to create new markets, particularly where competition would not be effective in driving high standards and value for patients. This will be made absolutely clear through secondary legislation and supporting guidance as a result of this Bill.”

When I heard him make this statement I assumed, as I think everyone else in the Lords at the time must have assumed, that this pledge would be incorporated within the Regulations. I was extremely disturbed to find that it was not. The mood of the House over competition policy and particularly the commissioning process was that more should have been included on the face of the Bill but with the commitment to include what was seen as concessions in the Regulation I was ready, somewhat reluctantly, for the matter to be dealt with in secondary legislation. It is my view that this legislation should be withdrawn until this pledge by Earl Howe and the pledge by the then Secretary of State Andrew Lansley given in February 2012 to the CCGs is specifically included.

I note that a petition to this effect has been set in motion by 38 Degrees and I have signed it.