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Law Commission: Government Response

Volume 591: debated on Thursday 29 January 2015

The Government are today publishing, on behalf of all four countries, “Regulation of Health Care Professionals: Regulation of Social Care Professionals in England—the Government’s response to Law Commission report 345, Scottish Law Commission report 237 and Northern Ireland Law Commission report 18 (2014) Cm 8839.” The response has been laid before Parliament and is available in the Library of the House.

In accordance with the protocol between the Lord Chancellor and the Law Commission I am providing a full response to the Commissions.

I would like to thank the Law Commission, the Scottish Law Commission and the Northern Ireland Law Commission for their report, published in April 2014, and for their hugely helpful work reviewing complex professional regulation legislation.

The Government are grateful for this thorough and considered review of complex legislative framework governing regulation of health care professionals and in England, social care professionals. We have accepted the large majority of the Law Commissions’ recommendations in full, and others in part.

There are a small number of areas where we disagree with the Law Commissions’ recommendations—where we wish to take a different approach, or where further work needs to be done. However, we overwhelmingly support the Commissions’ ambition for improvements and where appropriate, greater consistency across the regulation of health professionals including robust governance structures for regulatory bodies, enabling innovation in education and leaner processes to enable the regulatory bodies to take swifter action to ensure public protection.

We are now taking the opportunity to consider the Law Commissions’ report and draft Bill, and to work closely with the regulatory bodies to build on the good work the Law Commissions have done. The Government remain committed to legislative change and we are seeking to make changes to enhance public protection through secondary legislation to address a number of priority areas that we have identified in discussion with the regulatory bodies.

In addition, the Health and Social Care (Safety and Quality) Bill, presented by my hon. Friend, the Member for Stafford (Jeremy Lefroy) is also seeking, with Government support, to introduce consistent objectives for the PSA and for some of the regulatory bodies, and a requirement for those regulators’ panels and committees to have regard to the objectives when determining whether a practitioner is fit to practise and when determining what sanctions might be appropriate. This builds on the Law Commissions’ recommendations 13 and 85.

We consider the Law Commissions’ report and draft Bill are a significant advance towards making sure that our professional regulation system is fit for the future, and the Government are committed to legislate further on this matter in due course. As the Government move forward on professional regulation legislation, we will make sure it is right, not only for the regulatory bodies, but also for the public, patients, and registrants. The Government’s response can be viewed online at: