HL Deb 16 March 1993 vol 543 c1327

Lord Dean of Beswick asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will guarantee that there will be no reduction in the level of parliamentary scrutiny of the NHS if and when regional health authorities are dispensed with.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Cumberlege)

My Lords, we have no plans to seek to reduce the level of parliamentary scrutiny of the NHS.

Lord Dean of Beswick

My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply. Is she aware that only three or four weeks ago there were strong rumours in the press that it was a hairline decision that the Government took to keep the regional health authorities? Can she give an undertaking that, if and when the regional authorities are dispensed with, whoever succeeds them, in whatever form, will be subjected to the same parliamentary scrutiny as now, and that Members of this House will be able to put Questions regarding them to which Answers will be given by a Minister across the Dispatch Box and not by somebody who is chairman of a quango which is literally answerable to nobody?

Baroness Cumberlege

My Lords, I give that undertaking.

Lord Molloy

My Lords, can the noble Baroness give the House an assurance that, whatever changes take place, both the trusts and the directly managed units will remain responsible to Parliament, and that every endeavour will be made to fulfil the Government's obligations with particular regard to MIND and other mental health organisations?

Baroness Cumberlege

My Lords, the National Health Service is publicly funded. It is quite right that it should have direct accountability to Parliament.

Lord Dean of Beswick

My Lords, is the Minister aware that I am extremely grateful for her reply to my supplementary question and only wish that Ministers in another place who cover the same subject treated Members there with the same candour as she treats Members of this House?

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