HC Deb 28 October 1949 vol 468 cc1724-6

Amendments made: In page 15, line 44, after "payments," insert "as may be specified in the order."

In page 16, line 6, leave out front first "be," to end of line 7.—[Mr. Blenkinsop.]

Mr. Diamond

I beg to move, in page 16, line 14, at the end, to insert: Provided that no person shall be qualified to audit the accounts referred to in sub-paragraph (d) of this paragraph unless he is a member of one or more of the following bodies:

  • The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales;
  • The Society of Incorporated Accountants and Auditors;
  • The Society of Accountants in Edinburgh;
  • The Institute of Accountants and Actuaries in Glasgow;
  • The Society of Accountants in Aberdeen;
  • The Association of Certified and Corporate Accountants;
  • The Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland."
Might I in this connection divulge my interest in bringing this matter forward? It is that I am a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants. This is brought forward because it is felt that the Minister would wish that the audit of these accounts should be carried out by proper professionally qualified persons, and it is with the support of all the socities named in the Amendment that I put this forward. I hope, therefore, that my hon. Friend will be able to say either that this Amendment is acceptable to him, or that, instead of dealing with the matter in the Bill, it can be dealt with under the rules, when he will have regard to the societies mentioned in order to see that the one thing which all sides of the Committee desire is achieved, namely, that these accounts are audited by properly qualified people.

Mr. Blenkinsop

It would be difficult for me either to include these words in the Bill or to give a complete assurance that we will accept this Amendment and include it in the rules to be issued, for the reason that the most convenient and economical way of carrying out the audit would obviously be to use the auditors appointed by the Minister to audit the accounts of the regional hospital boards and boards of governors. Obviously, the two accounts would be so closely allied that there is every reason why, economically and administratively, the audit should be done by the same people. For that reason, while we will certainly have regard to the points made by my hon. Friend, I am afraid I cannot give a guarantee specifically in the terms he asks.

Mr. Diamond

In view of the fact that my hon. Friend has not been able to give a greater assurance than he has given, and as this matter requires careful consideration, I regret that I am not able to seek the approval of the Committee for the withdrawal of this Amendment, although perhaps I had some idea of what would happen to it.

Amendment negatived.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Schedule, as amended, be the Second Schedule to the Bill."

2.30 p.m.

Mr. Howard

There are three points which I wish to make very briefly. The first is to remind the Parliamentary Secretary of the very clear assurance he has given that the majority of the members of each of these committees shall be members of the nursing profession. I still hope that between now and the Report stage it will be possible to find some words which, when inserted in the Bill, will give added power to the assurance. I realise the difficulty, but I still hope.

My second point is that I fully appreciate that the size of these committees will probably have to vary as between area and area to suit their particular conditions, but I hope that the proportions of the various interests will be constant so far as is possible throughout these committees. There are three categories—if I may use that rather unpleasant word—principally concerned. The first is the General Nursing Council, the body which has to look after the general maintenance of nursing standards; the second category is the hospital management committee where the training has got to be carried out, and the third category concerns the consumer interests in particular—the people who are going to benefit from the service of the nurses when trained.

I should like to see these paragraphs (a) to (g) as set out in the Schedule compartmented into three categories, to ensure that the proportions of those three interests should be preserved throughout each committee wherever it is situated.

Mr. Blenkinsop

As to the first point that the hon. Gentleman has raised, I am very glad to repeat the assurance which I gave on the Second Reading, that we intend to ensure that there shall be a majority of members of the nursing profession on these regional committees. I assure the hon. Gentleman that we have given a great deal of consideration to ways of wording this provision to ensure that it will be understood generally, but so far we have found it impossible to devise a suitable form of words.

With regard to the second point, I think the hon. Gentleman will agree that, as I said on the Second Reading, the conditions from area to area vary considerably, and I am not at the moment certain that they will not also vary in the need and weight of representation of one interest as against another from one region to another. I do not at the moment feel able to give the assurance for which the hon. Gentleman asks, although it is a matter which I shall bear in mind.

Mr. Howard

I would agree with the Minister if he were referring to a particular interest within the three general categories that I was mentioning. I agree that there must be variations. But does the hon. Gentleman think that there must be differentiations between those three general categories themselves?

Mr. Blenkinsop

I am thinking of the example of the position in London as compared with other areas. It seems to me that it is quite possible—I will not put it higher than that—that there may be special features which may require special consideration. However, I will bear the hon. Gentleman's point in mind.

Question put, and agreed to.