HC Deb 24 July 1959 vol 609 cc1703-4

Lords Amendment: In page 40, line 13, leave out paragraph (d) and insert: (d) for requiring local health authorities to consult such bodies or persons as may be prescribed by or determined under the regulations in connection with the approval of medical practitioners for the purposes of section twenty-eight of this Act, and for confining approval to such practitioners as may be agreed upon between these authorities and any bodies or persons required to be consulted by them respectively.

Mr. Walker-Smith

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment.

Subsection (2, d) of Clause 56 was inserted on the Report stage on 5th May to allow the Minister to provide by regulation for the constitution of committees to advise local health authorities on the approval of doctors, for the purpose of giving medical recommendations under Part IV of the Bill. Hon. Members will recall that this was my method of giving effect to an undertaking which I had given in Committee to achieve a purpose on which we were all agreed.

The intention was to require the local health authorities to appoint a small committee consisting entirely of doctors, some of whom would be nominated by the regional hospital boards or boards of governors of teaching hospitals, and some by the local authority itself. We had in mind that local authority representatives would usually include at least one of their own medical officers. This was the method which I evolved for ensuring that there was the degree of consultation which, in Committee, we decided was necessary.

12 noon

The intention was, and remains, good, and the object is one to be achieved, but I did not get the mechanism quite right at the time. The County Councils' Association has pointed out the practical difficulties which would arise if such a body were constituted as a committee of the local authority. We were envisaging a doctors' committee—a professional committee—but if it were constituted in this way it would have to have on it a proportion of members who were themselves members of the local authority—almost inevitably lay members. As a further complication, it would be contrary to the normal practice for the committee to include members of the local authority's own staff, so that we should be in difficulties in regard to the medical officer of health. Also, we should make the whole procedure rather more formalised than we had in mind.

I accept the force of all those considerations which the Association was good enough to bring to my notice, and we have, therefore, made this improvement in the Bill. The Amendment rewords paragraph (d) so as to allow nominees of the hospital authorities to meet informally with the medical officer of health to present agreed advice to the local health authority. In this way we shall achieve our object, the desirability of which both sides of the Committee shared, without introducing the unnecessary constitutional and procedural difficulties which appeared to flow from the original mechanism I had in mind.

Question put and agreed to.—[Special Entry.]

Subsequent Lords Amendments agreed to.