Lord Duncan of Springbank debates involving the Department of Health and Social Care during the 2019 Parliament

Tue 5th Apr 2022
Health and Care Bill
Lords Chamber

Consideration of Commons amendments & Consideration of Commons amendments
Wed 16th Mar 2022
Health and Care Bill
Lords Chamber

Lords Hansard - Part 2 & Report stage: Part 2
Thu 3rd Mar 2022
Health and Care Bill
Lords Chamber

Lords Hansard - Part 2 & Report stage: Part 2
Wed 26th Jan 2022
Health and Care Bill
Lords Chamber

Lords Hansard - Part 1 & Committee stage: Part 1
Tue 20th Apr 2021
Tue 9th Mar 2021

Healthcare (International Arrangements) (EU Exit) Regulations 2023

Lord Duncan of Springbank Excerpts
Wednesday 5th July 2023

(9 months, 1 week ago)

Grand Committee
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Lord Duncan of Springbank Portrait The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Duncan of Springbank) (Con)
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My Lords, I understand that another vote is coming, so I do not think there is any point in having another few minutes of the Minister—fun though that may be. Shall we twiddle our thumbs until the next vote?

Lord Markham Portrait Lord Markham (Con)
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Unless I can finish before then.

Lord Duncan of Springbank Portrait The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Duncan of Springbank) (Con)
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Unless the Minister can finish in the next two minutes.

Lord Markham Portrait Lord Markham (Con)
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I am happy to try. We will see. I will write a detailed letter after all this, so noble Lords can decide, when the bell rings, whether they want me back for more. That was a nice break in terms of being able to get some—

Draft Mental Health Bill

Lord Duncan of Springbank Excerpts
Tuesday 28th June 2022

(1 year, 9 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Merron Portrait Baroness Merron (Lab)
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My Lords, I start by thanking Professor Simon Wessely for his independent review of the Mental Health Act 1983, an outdated piece of legislation that far too often has facilitated the inexcusable treatment of those with mental health problems.

Yesterday, the Secretary of State for Health said that the report made “uncomfortable but essential reading”, and indeed it did. When it is at its best, legislation supports the saving and improvement of people’s lives, and I am sure that all sides of your Lordships’ House intend that this Bill will get us to this point.

In supporting this overhaul of the legislation, pre-legislative scrutiny will be crucial, not least because it gives an opportunity to build consensus. Can the Minister provide details of timescales and arrangements for this scrutiny? While the Government have adopted most of the recommendations of the review, can the Minister comment on the ones that have not been accepted and the reasons for doing so?

It is welcome that this Bill contains a number of improvements. It gives people more say over how they are treated. It prevents the use of Section 3 of the Act on those who are autistic or have a learning disability but do not have a mental health condition. There is the new duty on clinicians to consider a person’s wishes and feelings and involve them in decision-making before deciding whether to treat them. There is access to advocacy and statutory care and treatment plans, which will give more transparency and accountability to clinical decision-making and put people’s choices first. All of these and others are welcome.

However, there is a need for the Government to go further. In the debate in the other place, the Secretary of State replied to many of the concerns raised by saying that the new, cross-government Building the Right Support plan would answer a lot of them. Can the Minister confirm when we can expect the plan and what it is likely to cover? When will we see the proposed new 10-year mental health plan and 10-year suicide prevention plan?

Black people are over four times more likely to be detained under the Mental Health Act. Can the Minister confirm whether the Government have any intention to review community treatment orders, which are evidenced as coercive, as not reducing readmissions, and being disproportionately applied to black people? Will the guiding principles suggested by the independent mental health review be included, as these would strengthen people’s rights and help focus decision-makers on eliminating racism? How will the mental health equality framework be advanced so that there are culturally appropriate services and the freedom for local areas to respond to the needs of their specific populations?

On young people, will the Minister look to see the Bill strengthened in making reforms for those young people? Will he address the failure to give under-18s the right to make advance decisions to refuse treatment? Without this, they will be unable to access enhanced treatment safeguards in the same way as adults. Will he also look at the lack of a statutory decision-making test for those who are under 16 which could also render many of these reforms ineffective for the youngest and often most vulnerable people in the system? It is of note that Anne Longfield, the former Children’s Commissioner for England, said that the profit-driven care system was failing vulnerable children. Following reports in today’s media and the MacAlister social care review, what action will the Minister take to put this right?

On the new criteria for detention, will the Minister review this too? Ensuring that fewer people are inappropriately detained is a crucial intention of the reforms, and changes are very much needed to significantly reduce this practice.

Staffing levels are crucial to ensuring quality mental health services. These Benches have been calling for the recruitment of 8,500 mental health staff to treat 1 million additional patients a year, so can the Minister confirm when we will get the Government’s vision for their workforce strategy?

I look forward to the Minister’s response, and if he is unable to answer all my questions today, I would be grateful if he would write to me. Modernising the Mental Health Act will undoubtedly help make mental health services more equitable, compassionate and effective. I am sure that these are aspirations we all agree we must work towards.

Lord Duncan of Springbank Portrait The Deputy Speaker (Lord Duncan of Springbank) (Con)
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My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, is taking part remotely.

Baroness Brinton Portrait Baroness Brinton (LD) [V]
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My Lords, from these Benches we would also like to thank Sir Simon Wessely for his report. We welcome reform to the outdated Mental Health Act and we are pleased to see that the Wessely review is finally being implemented by the Government, even if they are not accepting all the recommendations. The Liberal Democrats pledged in 2019 to implement all the recommendations of Sir Simon’s review, including bringing forward the necessary investment to modernise and improve patient settings and ambulances. We will apply the principle of “care, not containment” to mental health, while ensuring an emergency bed is always available if needed. Sadly, that has not been the case in recent years.

The Statement talks of the Mental Health Act 1983 and how it was designed to protect those who presented a risk to themselves or to others, but it has long been unfit for purpose, with some practices adding more distress to those already struggling with mental health conditions. I am sure most of us have seen that with our families and friends, because everybody knows somebody who has had mental health problems. For too long, people from ethnic minority groups, as well as autistic people and those with learning disabilities, have been unfairly detained under this Act and it has caused huge distress and damage, not only to the individuals themselves but to their families too.

Shockingly, black people are more than four times more likely to be detained under the Act and more than 10 times more likely to be subject to a community treatment order. The noble Baroness, Lady Merron, said it is important to eliminate racism in mental health and criminal justice system interventions for those with mental health problems. This is long overdue. It is or has been, frankly, institutional racism, and it is time that it is dealt with very quickly.

That people with learning disabilities and those who are autistic are being detained under the Act even when they do not suffer from any mental health conditions is appalling. The Statement says that the Bill will change this, but can the Minister assure us that the Government are serious about tackling these issues and will have no cause to delay this Bill again? While pre-legislative scrutiny is important, it should not lead to further delays in getting the Bill on the statute book next year.

It is good that the Statement announces £150 million over the next three years to bolster mental health services, especially to support people in crisis and avoid their having to attend A&E, which is not good for them and not good for A&E either, but I ask the Minister, since it is not clear from the Statement: is this entirely new money, or is it coming out of the mental health budget that was announced?

It is good that patient safety will be enhanced, but what is being proposed to bring much of the elderly and decrepit mental health building stock up to date and suitable for the 21st century? Some of the buildings are not just unsafe; they are actually not very pleasant places to be either.

The cost of living crisis continues to have a significant impact on families and the demand for mental health services for parents with young families is increasing, but the support to deliver these services is simply not keeping pace with demand, with nurses reporting cuts to funding and staff shortages. What plans does the Minister have in place to improve access to mental health services for new parents?

The Statement mentions the important proposals to give patients more control over their care and treatment. This is vital. We in the disabled community say that there should be nothing about us without us, and that is true too for those with mental health issues. The proposal for the nominated person to be chosen by the patient is a great step forward too, but that may well be hard for family members not selected as the nominated person, who may be excluded from any information about their family member’s mental health or progress, or as my honourable friend Daisy Cooper MP said yesterday, may not even know which part of the country their family member is staying in. This is part of the navigation of a future which is important to get right for the patient, while making sure that close family members who are worried about their loved ones are not cut out of the information loop entirely. Perhaps the Minister can give us some indication of how this trickly situation could be navigated.

The Government have said that they are accepting most of the recommendations of the Wessely review, but I add my concern to that expressed by the noble Baroness, Lady Merron: why have some not been accepted? Having said that, we accept the Wessely review and look forward to the pre-legislative scrutiny and the opportunity to discuss this Bill in detail when it comes into Parliament.

Health and Care Bill

Lord Duncan of Springbank Excerpts
I remain grateful for all the work and consideration this House has given to the Bill and I hope that noble Lords will feel able to accept the Motions standing in my name.
Lord Duncan of Springbank Portrait The Deputy Speaker (Lord Duncan of Springbank) (Con)
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I remind the House that we have three noble Baronesses beaming in. The first is the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton.

Baroness Brinton Portrait Baroness Brinton (LD) [V]
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My Lords, I declare my interests as a vice-president of the Local Government Association and vice-chair of the APPG on Adult Social Care.

I thank the Government for their Motion E relating to carers and safe discharge, which goes a considerable way to providing the reassurance that patients and their unpaid carers will be included in discharge planning. I am pleased to hear that Carers UK is working closely with the department on the guidance, and it is good to see that the guidance will be further updated when the Bill is passed and will include more mentions of carers and young carers—that is also welcome.

The guidance links to a number of background documents, such as action cards and the Home First documents, which are short, summary versions to help discharge from hospital but seem to be slightly out of step with the new provisions. So, while I am grateful for the Government’s amendment, will the Minister clarify whether these will also be updated?

I turn to Motions G, G1 and G2 on the social care cap. The Government’s changes to the care cap announced, late in the passage of the Bill in the Commons, that the amounts accrued towards the £86,000 cap are now based solely on the individual’s out-of-pocket expenses. Although individuals will still qualify for means-tested financial support if their assets fall below £100,000, in practice this will no longer act to protect people with more modest means and will simply see them contributing over a longer period. This is much more regressive and would leave poorer, older people and working-age adults with less protection from the catastrophic care costs than others who are wealthier.

I have been happy to sign previous amendments to remove the social care cap, and these Benches support Motion G1. The measures in Motion G1, especially in Amendment 80P, ensure that the original principles of the Dilnot commission recommendations are fully implemented. It is also important that the results of the trailblazer pilot schemes can be fully evaluated with an impact assessment and that Parliament has a proper opportunity to debate that review. The changes proposed by the Government just before the Bill came to your Lordships’ House are very different from those that Parliament understood right at the start of the Bill’s passage.

This is not just a problem for older people. Mencap has reminded us that the Government’s impact assessment shows that their proposals will benefit only around 10% of working-age care users and that there will be a limited impact on improving the funding spent on working-age disabled adults. It is still a disgrace that the arrangements for older people, which assume decades of working and earning, are also used for younger adults with disabilities, who we know are much more likely to be assets and savings poor and to need care and support for much longer, and who will therefore accrue much higher levels of cost than older people. These proposals from the Government are just not fit for purpose and need to be reviewed for this group of younger adults. That is why we support Motions G1 and G2.

Finally, on Motions L and L1 on the dispute resolution for children’s palliative care, I thank the Government for their amendment, which goes a considerable way towards achieving what the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, sought. As one of the signatories to her previous amendments, I ask the Minister to give firm assurances to your Lordships’ House that the review will definitely take written and oral evidence from parents. In his speech he mentioned clinicians, other stakeholders and professionals, but it is important that parents are involved as well at an early stage, particularly making sure that what they are seeking with disputes achieves mediation rather than ending up in court.
Lord Duncan of Springbank Portrait The Deputy Speaker (Lord Duncan of Springbank) (Con)
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My Lords, the second beaming Baroness is the noble Baroness, Lady Campbell of Surbiton.

Baroness Campbell of Surbiton Portrait Baroness Campbell of Surbiton (CB) [V]
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My Lords, I wish to speak to and strongly support Motion G1 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Wheeler. These amendments will ease the catastrophic effects of the Government’s proposed charging cap reforms on the lives of those dependent on social care.

Disabled people who rely on social care just to survive, let alone thrive, are deeply disappointed that the Government’s charging proposals have been overturned by the other place and are now returning to this House. Amendment 80P would help to alleviate these detrimental effects by addressing the worst affected, particularly those under the age of 40. The trailblazer pilots are also very welcome, but evaluation is key. Crucially, it must assess the impact of charging reform on a variety of social care users, including younger adults, where there is so little current data, and should cover every aspect of their rights. These people are not statistics.

A further impact assessment is also vital. The current one is totally illogical. It needs to focus on the impact on younger adults and encourage proper mechanisms for data analysis: for example, the significant impact on the under-40s of having their contributions paid from benefits. The chronic financial hardship that long-term disabled people endure, with additional costs averaging £583 a month, remains a very worrying issue.

This is a bleak time to endorse charging for social care, capped at an extortionate £86,000. Hundreds of thousands of disabled people in Britain are in crisis because of the ever-increasing cost of living. Local authorities in England are imposing stricter charging policies for care because they are basically running out of money. Disabled people are already being referred to debt collection agencies because they cannot pay their care charges.

The Government talk about levelling up for disabled people, but really they are doing the opposite. These charging reforms force them to contribute to their care and stop local authority care costs counting towards the cap. They deny disabled people the life opportunities that others take for granted.

If Motion G1 is not supported, the Government will be defying the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The UK is signed up to the convention. Article 19 recognises the equal right of all disabled people to live in the community, with the same choices as others; it requires parties to the convention to ensure that they can enjoy full inclusion and participation in the community. Yet this Bill does not respect it.

Far from ensuring the rights enshrined by the convention, I fear the Bill will lead to increased poverty, ill health and poorer life outcomes for disabled people. Some will undoubtedly die. What does that say about our moral compass, especially when disabled people have already endured two years of disproportionate suffering and death during the pandemic?

This Bill provided a small opportunity to take action before it was too late, but it was squandered by the other place. I hope the Government will think again when the White Paper on social care integration is finally published, and address this deep injustice. For now, I urge noble Lords to support Motion G1.

Lord Duncan of Springbank Portrait The Deputy Speaker (Lord Duncan of Springbank) (Con)
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My Lords, the final remote participant is the noble Baroness, Lady Masham of Ilton.

Baroness Masham of Ilton Portrait Baroness Masham of Ilton (CB) [V]
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My Lords, I will speak about disputes in the critical care of children.

First, I thank and congratulate the Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Kamall, on his hard work in trying to understand the enormity of the Health and Care Bill. I also thank my noble friend Lady Finlay of Llandaff for her persistence in including the importance of palliative care in this Bill, especially dealing with the heart-rending problems when there are disputes between parents or legal guardians responsible for critically ill children and their doctors and care staff.

To understand the anxiety and fear parents have, and their wanting to do the very best for their child, they need a sympathetic doctor in charge. Some treatments are available abroad, and desperate parents sometimes know better than the doctors if they are not experienced in the very rare conditions. There is a vital need now, in this difficult time of staff shortages, to listen and help solve the problems if there are disputes.

I will understand if my noble friend thinks that today, unfortunately, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. I also support many of the other amendments.

Health and Care Bill

Lord Duncan of Springbank Excerpts
We have been through this very difficult period. I am not so sure that measures that were appropriate during that time are appropriate now and should simply be rolled over. We need a fuller debate and it cannot come at the end of this stage. It was not there at the beginning, when there would have been a lot of debate. I would find it difficult if the Minister accepted the amendment, because the Government announced that this measure would come to an end, like all the other measures brought in because of extreme circumstances.
Lord Duncan of Springbank Portrait Lord Duncan of Springbank (Con)
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My Lords, I have listened to many remarks this evening. There are three things we must remember. First, this approach was brought in during a time of necessity and it has worked. Not only has it worked but it has worked well. It has worked well for vulnerable groups; it has worked well for the wider community, and we should not lose sight of that fact.

Secondly, as we consider what we must do next, we must recognise that it has worked and, on that basis, we should move towards the next step, which is recognising how we can move this forward. It is not an easy issue; it is late at night, but at the same time, we are building on what has already been done. In so doing, we must recognise what can be done further.

Finally and importantly, there is a much wider issue. Many noble Lords have touched on it this evening. That needs to be addressed in the appropriate place, but it is not tonight. Tonight, we have a very simple amendment. It is a very careful amendment and a very simple extension of what we expect to deliver. On that basis, I hope the House will support the amendment. It is simple, it is straightforward, it is right and it is timely.

Lord McCrea of Magherafelt and Cookstown Portrait Lord McCrea of Magherafelt and Cookstown (DUP)
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My Lords, I appreciate the lateness of the hour and, therefore, I want to make just a very few comments.

Without apology, I believe in the sanctity of human life. I believe that it is important to preserve the life of a mother. It is also right to preserve the life of the unborn child. When this measure was originally presented, it was clearly stated that it was an emergency policy introduced because of the unprecedented circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic. The policy was said to be time-limited but many, like me, feared that this was another way of extending abortion on demand. However, many noble Lords accepted that the at-home abortion powers would be exercised only temporarily and be used only for the purpose for which they were granted and in a manner proportionate to the situation. I commend the Government for the actions they took to turn the coronavirus crisis around to the situation we have today. Therefore, continuing the policy is not proportionate, although I did not think it ever was.

At-home abortion endangers the health of the woman and the girl. Consultation revealed that among a number of concerns raised about safety the most common was the risk of women being coerced. I do not think that is an unimportant issue for this House to consider. Therefore, I shall oppose Amendment 183.

Health and Care Bill

Lord Duncan of Springbank Excerpts
Amendments 101 to 104 agreed.
Lord Duncan of Springbank Portrait The Deputy Speaker (Lord Duncan of Springbank) (Con)
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I shall not call Amendment 105, as it has been pre-empted by Amendment 103.

Amendment 105 not moved.
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108: After Clause 71, insert the following new Clause—
“Health service procurement and supply chains: genocide convention obligations
(1) The Secretary of State must by regulations make provision for the purposes of ensuring that procurement of all goods and services for the purposes of the health service in England is consistent with the United Kingdom's obligations under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.(2) For the purposes of subsection (1), procurement is not consistent if a Minister of the Crown has assessed that there is a serious risk of genocide in the sourcing region.(3) A Minister of the Crown must make an assessment as to whether there is serious risk if the chair of a relevant select committee of either House of Parliament requests one, and must complete such assessment within two months.”
Lord Duncan of Springbank Portrait The Deputy Speaker (Lord Duncan of Springbank) (Con)
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I should note, for the convenience of the House, that the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, will be taking part in this debate remotely.

Lord Alton of Liverpool Portrait Lord Alton of Liverpool (CB)
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My Lords, as we move to Amendment 108, I should declare my interests as set out in the register: my involvement in a number of all-party parliamentary groups, and the fact that I am patron of the Coalition for Genocide Response. I should also declare my support for the other two amendments in the group, Amendments 162 and 173, which will be spoken to by the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, who has trenchantly and consistently pursued the arguments around forced organ harvesting and the public exhibition of anonymous cadavers from Chinese jails. I have spoken in favour of those amendments previously and will not repeat my arguments today.

Like those two amendments, Amendment 108 is an all-party amendment, which was tabled in Committee by the noble Lord, Lord Blencathra, by the noble Baronesses, Lady Hodgson of Abinger and Lady Kennedy of The Shaws, and by myself, and supported by the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, who is a sponsor today. It would have been moved by the noble Lord, Lord Blencathra, but he has had to self-isolate in Cumbria with Covid, and we all wish him a speedy return to his place.

Yesterday the noble Lord, Lord Blencathra, was able to attend an online meeting with the noble Earl, Lord Howe, and the noble Lord, Lord Kamall, and he asked me to move the amendment in his place. I thank both Ministers for their constructive engagement, and perhaps I might pursue further with them some of the arguments and issues raised yesterday. During our discussion the department told me that it had found no evidence of child labour, forced labour or unethical behaviour. Indeed, that was a repeat of a statement made to me in a parliamentary reply by the noble Lord, Lord Bethell, when he was a Minister.

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I end by simply citing public support: two-thirds of those polled, some 65%, say they would support preventing the Government from procuring health equipment for the National Health Service from regions where they believe there is a serious risk of genocide. So there is widespread public support for what the promoters of this all-party amendment are asking the House to do. The House should seize this opportunity to ensure that our National Health Service is free from slave labour and, on behalf of the noble Lord, Lord Blencathra, I beg to move.
Lord Duncan of Springbank Portrait The Deputy Speaker (Lord Duncan of Springbank) (Con)
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I now call the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton.

Baroness Brinton Portrait Baroness Brinton (LD) [V]
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My Lords, I am sorry to hear that the noble Lord, Lord Blencathra, is unwell, and I thank the noble Lord, Lord Alton, for his excellent introduction to Amendment 108, to which I have added my name. I also support the other two amendments in this group, which are in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, who I commend for his consistent campaign on these issues over the years. His Amendment 162 would ensure that there must be informed consent, with no coercion or financial gain, when organs are donated or when UK citizens go abroad for transplants. Amendment 173 would ensure that cadavers would no longer be used for public display unless it is the body of a person which is at least 100 years old, because, as with Amendments 108 and 162, there is real concern that people have been forced to have organs removed, or their bodies have been used after their death—sometimes murder, sometimes execution—but without their consent.

Returning to Amendment 108, it has two clear objectives: the first is to prevent the Government procuring health service goods produced in regions where there is a serious risk of genocide. While the Government say there is no evidence, a New York Times investigation found that PPE made through the Xinjiang labour transfer programme was present in US and international healthcare systems. As we have heard from the noble Lord, Lord Alton, there is increasing evidence that the NHS has procured such items already.

The second objective is to create a process through which the UK Government can be required to assess regions for serious risk of genocide and publish their assessment. This is necessary because the UK Government have given out PPE contracts worth almost £150 million to Chinese firms with links to forced labour abuses in the Uyghur region.

The Government have said that genocide amendments are not appropriate in the Bill and that the Modern Slavery Act 2015 offers protection, but the reality is that the UK is not leading the world here. The US Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act creates a “rebuttable presumption” banning all goods sourced in whole or in part from the Xinjiang region of China, unless clear and persuasive evidence can be provided to the contrary; and the European Union is now considering bringing forward new legislation to ban products made with forced labour from entering the European market. The UK’s Modern Slavery Act does not go nearly as far as either of these proposals, merely requiring that companies publish—but not that they act upon—modern slavery statements. People’s lives and human rights are at stake here. Frankly, it is time the UK followed suit with stronger legislation. This amendment would be a strong and careful start that means government and Parliament cannot look away. I look forward to the Minister’s response.

Health and Care Bill

Lord Duncan of Springbank Excerpts
I tabled these amendments and have put this on the record because they are about the detail and practicality. The opportunity is there for transformation, but the worry out in our communities is: will this Government, like others before them, be serious about transformation or will it be about old men in new clothes?
Lord Duncan of Springbank Portrait The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Duncan of Springbank) (Con)
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I now call the noble Lord, Lord Howarth of Newport, who will be taking part remotely.

Lord Howarth of Newport Portrait Lord Howarth of Newport (Lab) [V]
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My Lords, I support the spirit of these amendments. The noble Lord, Lord Mawson, in his working life at Bromley-by-Bow and more recently in north-west Surrey, and in his very full speech, has demonstrated the significance to healthcare of the principle of subsidiarity, the freedom to innovate and the mobilisation of community resources. If ICSs are to mobilise the full power of place this must indeed be a governing principle.

Although there might be definitional issues to clarify, I particularly applaud the ambition expressed in Amendment 159A that resources should be used at local discretion to promote collaboration by local groups, and that the procurement processes should take account of the benefits of stable partnerships. How could anyone dissent from that? Yet, the experience of so many non-clinical and VCSE organisations is of chronic financial instability and of promising work being aborted because of policy discontinuity.

I will give one instance of damaging discontinuity of funding. The Alchemy Project used dance as a form of early intervention in psychosis. The project was developed jointly by Dance United, South London and Maudsley, and King’s College London. Two cohorts of participants were drawn from young people in south London boroughs where the rate of psychosis is very high. With no previous experience of dance, after four weeks they performed a specially commissioned piece at the Shaw Theatre and Sadler’s Wells. Academic evaluation demonstrated clinically significant improvements in well-being, communication, concentration and focus, trust in others and team working. The project helped participants to develop relationships with their peers and restore relationships with their families. The Alchemy Project had to be abandoned, however, when a fragile consortium of funders did not renew its funding. ICBs and ICPs will need to be less fickle and less prodigal, bolder in supporting innovation, and more consistent and farsighted in their relationships with their providers and communities.

Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) (No. 2) Regulations 2021

Lord Duncan of Springbank Excerpts
Tuesday 14th December 2021

(2 years, 4 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle Portrait Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle (GP)
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My Lords, a great deal of concern about procedure has been expressed from all sides of your Lordships’ House. I have nothing to add on that, except to say that I share those concerns.

I have two specific questions for the Minister. The first builds on the comments of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of St Albans, who talked about how we have to win the argument on vaccination and the concern about unintended consequences and potentially discriminatory outcomes. When I look at the impact assessment, it is focused entirely on the care and health sectors. For example, paragraph 126 refers to

“the possibility of negative behaviour change resulting from the policy. For example, a German experiment found that vaccination requirements increased anger among individuals with existing negative vaccination attitudes and led to a decrease in uptake”.

As far as I can see, there does not appear to be in this impact assessment any consideration of impacts outside the health and care sectors. If we are creating this process, it will have impacts right across society, not just in the health and care sectors. We are talking about systems thinking here: not just what making a decision in the health and care sectors means for the health and care sectors, but what it means across the whole of society. What are the negative impacts of people in general deciding not to get vaccinated because of this?

The second point I draw from a very useful briefing from the Homecare Association. I do not think anyone else has asked this question, and I feel I should ask it for the Homecare Association. It said that it is extremely concerned about the intention to legislate rather than persuade. It is asking about a contingency plan if, indeed, the results are towards the worst end of the impact assessment. What are the Government doing to plan for this situation, when we have already had 1.5 million hours of commissioned care not delivered between August and October because of lack of availability? If this gets much worse, what plans do the Government have to fill the gaps?

Lord Duncan of Springbank Portrait The Deputy Speaker (Lord Duncan of Springbank) (Con)
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My Lords, there will be one winder taking part remotely, the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton. I hope we can go to her now.

Baroness Brinton Portrait Baroness Brinton (LD) [V]
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My Lords, I declare my interest as vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus and a vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Adult Social Care. The Minister started and ended his contribution to the House by saying this was a statement. I suspect the Minister is in no doubt now that this is actually a statutory instrument. I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, and also the noble Baroness, Lady Noakes, for her Motion, given the clear failings of the presentation of this statutory instrument. The Minister needs to hear the concern from every part of your Lordships’ House this afternoon, and it very gracious of the noble Baroness, Lady Noakes, to say that she will not press her fatal Motion, for all the reasons cited by the noble Lord, Lord Hunt.

The 21st report of the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee states at paragraph 10:

“An EM … should be a freestanding, comprehensive explanation, and it should not be necessary to conduct extensive research into other documents in order to achieve an understanding of what an instrument does: we regard this EM as an example of poor practice.”


From these Benches we thank the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee, including the noble Lord, Lord Cunningham, whose presence will be missed when he leaves it, for going further and collating as much other information as it could for your Lordships’ House. The committee is excoriating about the failures of the legislation, the Explanatory Memorandum and the guidance, including unclear definitions in law.

For example, what does “vaccinated to a complete course” mean? At what point does the booster jab become compulsory? Will whoever is checking check that the severely clinically extremely vulnerable have had their four doses instead of three? That would require access to very personal staff health information. There is no definition and there are no practical suggestions. The use of the term “registered person” is set out in the Health and Social Care Act 2008, but there is no explanation of who, in reality, in a hospital, has responsibility for checking that staff have had their vaccines.

This SI speaks of people with face-to-face clinical and non-clinical ancillary contact with patients and those who are directly involved in patient care having to have the vaccination. The guidance, however, is still not published to define what is and is not in scope. Does it include clerks on the wards? What about catering staff bringing meals? Does “not being vaccinated” mean that you have to stay a certain number of feet away from patients?

The Secondary Legislation Committee report also points out that non-face-to-face staff are exempt—but they can still mix with front-line staff at other times. Does the Minister think that Covid can tell the difference and that the virus will not transmit from an exempted co-worker to a front-line member of staff in the cafeteria? We know that omicron is bypassing the vaccinated, even if it is bringing possibly less serious disease—although we are waiting to see the evidence.

The government consultation document published on 10 December on vaccination says that more than 1.2 million social care workers in England have now taken up the vaccination. As of 19 August, vaccination take-up was around 87% of staff in younger-adult care homes; 81% of domiciliary care staff; and 75% of staff in other settings. In London, obviously, this is lower, as we all know. This data, however, directly contradicts the Explanatory Memorandum, which says that only 65% of care homes are meeting the 80% staff rate; so they are not even co-ordinating on their own data. The Government’s own data has shown that there has been a 3% reduction in social care staff since March. Some—not all—will have left because of compulsory vaccines. They are not just leaving the care home; they are leaving the profession. They are going into retail or hospitality, and we know that people, having left, often do not return.

I entirely agree with my noble friends Lady Tyler and Lady Walmsley that targeted help and support has worked with a large number of social care staff, as the Government’s own figures in the 10 December document demonstrate. The evidence is that the most effective way of changing the minds of vaccine-hesitant people is to give them a chance to sit down with a local doctor and their own community leaders, ask questions in their own time and listen to people that they trust. The problem with compulsion, especially short-notice compulsion, is that it removes the opportunity to take that time to listen, think, discuss and be reassured. Worse, as we are moving into another wave of the pandemic, doctors will not have the time to do this, whether it is with other NHS workers or with more social care staff.

Even more than that, the Government undermine their own arguments for urgency. At paragraphs 25 and 26, the Secondary Legislation Committee report points out that, in discussing making the flu vaccine compulsory, the department said that

“the government has considered the concerns raised in relation to introducing flu vaccination requirements. The flu programme runs between October and March, with most flu vaccinations happening October through January. Due to the need to balance this with the time necessary for health and social care to implement the regulations, the government has decided not to introduce vaccination requirements for flu at this time. The government will keep this under review following this winter and ahead of winter 2022-23.”

It seems extraordinary that, while this precedent has been set to delay one type of compulsory vaccination due to the time of year and the extreme pressures on the healthcare and social systems, the Government are insisting on doing it for another. The left hand does not know what the right hand is doing.

Covid-19: Update

Lord Duncan of Springbank Excerpts
Tuesday 20th April 2021

(2 years, 11 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Bethell Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health and Social Care (Lord Bethell) (Con)
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My Lords, I am enormously grateful to both the noble Baronesses, Lady Brinton and Lady Thornton, for such thoughtful questions. I totally and utterly endorse both with regard to their massive thanks to NHS staff, to the vaccinators and, in particular, I echo the words of the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, who thanked the invisible workers. I am acutely and particularly aware of the lab technicians, many of whom have worked unbelievably hard in difficult circumstances, often located far from their homes, supporting our laboratories up and down the country. There are many other categories of invisible workers in our healthcare system and they deserve our huge thanks.

I am as concerned as the noble Baronesses about the threat of variants of concern. It is an absolutely frustrating and anxiety-making fact, that we simply do not know a huge amount about what the impact of these variants will be on transmissibility, severity and escapology. We are throwing absolutely everything we have got at this to try to understand the features of this disease. However, it is true that while we can study them in a mathematical or computer-generated model, we get only so far with that. We can study them on the workbench and get a little bit further, we can stick them in a tube with some serum from someone who has had a vaccine, and maybe figure out a bit more, but it is only when we have the real-world data of how the vaccines have worked in real life when put up against the virus that we can accurately conclude what the impact will be. Therefore, only the passage of time will give us the critical data we need to go forward.

In the meantime, we are standing up a huge international effort to try to understand the variants that are emerging around the world. The noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, asked me about global co-ordination. Britain is absolutely playing its role; it is using its chairmanship of the G7 to full effect. As noble Lords are, I am sure, fully aware, we have a world-leading facility in genomic sequencing. We have made a massive, open-hearted offer to the world to sequence the genomes of any variants of concern, from any country in the world, through the newly launched New Variant Assessment Platform. We are working to set up hubs to develop expertise in that capacity around the world. We are working extremely closely with multi-laterals such as the WHO, with the relevant major trusts such as the Gates and Rockefeller foundations and the Wellcome Trust, and with individual countries, to provide the insight, the fast-turnaround analysis and the assessment of new variants as they turn up.

Within our own country, it is concerning that variants have made landfall, but I reassure noble Lords that we have put in place remarkably diligent efforts to close down any spread of variants of concern when they have occurred, whether they are from India, Brazil or South Africa. It is a fact that the Operation Eagle process, which is supported by local authorities, DPHs, test and trace and by the JBC, has so far—touch wood—proved to be extremely effective at closing down community spread. We have numbers of the variants in the UK but a very large proportion of them are known to be related to travel and they have not yet created clusters of infection of the kind that might cause concern. The MQS—Managed Quarantine Service—has played an absolutely critical role. I pay tribute to the MQS team, who are at this very moment putting in place arrangements for managed quarantine for flights with travellers from India. They have put in place the necessary pre-testing, the hotels and the assessment.

While I hear, loud and clear, the concerns raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, about that process, I reassure her that her list of concerns is quite different from the operational notes that I am given every day. The truth is that it has kept a lid on any spread of VOCs in the UK to date. On Wandsworth, I pay tribute to the enormous civic response to our concerns around the cluster there. I recognise the concerns of the relative of the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, in that area, but there has been an absolutely massive news and community-marketing promotion of the home testing, pharmacy testing, MTUs and ATSs in Wandsworth. Very few people indeed cannot have heard of the arrangements that are in place.

With regard to the OCTAVE clinical trials, that is of grave concern to all those who have immunosuppressed circumstances. We are working extremely hard with Birmingham University, with Professor Paul Moss, to understand more about the response of those with immunity issues. It is a frustrating fact that those with pre-existing immunity issues are likely to be the ones who have the lowest and least response to the vaccine. We are trying to understand as best we can how that can be supplemented. As noble Lords may know, we have already invested considerably in new arrangements for therapeutics and antivirals that we believe will support those with immunosuppressed conditions. I would be glad to write to the noble Baroness about our arrangement for vaccines for the under-12s.

If there are any other questions that I have not had time to answer, I would be glad to write to the noble Baronesses with full answers.

Lord Duncan of Springbank Portrait The Deputy Speaker (Lord Duncan of Springbank) (Con)
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My Lords, we now come to the 30 minutes for Back-Bench questions. I ask that noble Lords keep their questions as short as they can.

NHS: Pay

Lord Duncan of Springbank Excerpts
Tuesday 9th March 2021

(3 years, 1 month ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Duncan of Springbank Portrait The Deputy Speaker (Lord Duncan of Springbank) (Con)
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With apologies to the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, I am afraid the time allowed for this Question has now elapsed. I am going to take a moment or two to allow people who want to escape from the Chamber to do so, and we will resume in a moment or two.

Women’s Health Strategy

Lord Duncan of Springbank Excerpts
Tuesday 9th March 2021

(3 years, 1 month ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Duncan of Springbank Portrait The Deputy Speaker (Lord Duncan of Springbank) (Con)
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My Lords, we now come to the 20 minutes allocated for Back-Bench questions. There are 13 questioners and only 20 minutes, so pith is the order of the day.

Lord Farmer Portrait Lord Farmer (Con)
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My Lords, I have constantly argued against the lack of emphasis on prevention in the Domestic Abuse Bill and have been assured that the domestic abuse strategy and guidance will fill that gap. Domestic abuse disproportionately affects women’s mental and physical ill health, so will the new women’s health strategy prioritise its primary prevention, rather than, as usual, simply addressing its terrible harms?

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Lord Duncan of Springbank Portrait The Deputy Speaker (Lord Duncan of Springbank) (Con)
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Noble Lords have taken my call for pith to heart so, now that all questions have been asked, we will take a brief pause to allow the Room to reassemble itself ready for the next business.