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25th February 2001 text

Psychotherapy Bill 'Bombshell'

In this extract from Hansard January 19th 2001 Lord Wedderburn of Charlton concludes his supporting remarks on the Psychotherapy Bill with news of the government's position on the regulation of psychotherapy and related trades.

see also longer government statement from the debate

back to Psychotherapy Bill screen

......I have omitted many points that I wished to address. However, none of them affects my warm support for the Bill. What was the bombshell for me last night? It was this. On an open fax I received a communication from my noble friend Lord Hunt, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the department. It is an issue on which we have had several general discussions. The Minister said:

"The Government is currently considering proposals for consultation on an Order under Section 60 of the Health Act 1999
... This would create a new federal and multi-disciplinary Health Professions Council with the power to extend its remit to other groups not currently registered".

He continued that, "that statutory registration using the powers of the Health Act is the most appropriate way to deal with the regulation of psychotherapists, counsellors and other related groups. We will also assess other important factors such as their readiness for registration and the availability of Parliamentary time with a view to positive and early moves to secure their regulation". I believe--my belief is shared by others--that an Order in Council under the Health Act 1999, which the Government have lawful authority to produce, would wreck the progress with the Bill that the noble Lord, Lord Alderdice, has made. It is not right for Whitehall simply to grab a convenient area to apply to psychotherapists, counsellors and goodness knows who else. It needs patient work, not an Order in Council, with those who treat patients and want to know--I named earlier such a foundation--where to send their patients and what advice they can obtain. There are two informal registers. Is there a register
where they can look up the training of different modalities with regard to particular people?

I do not believe that that objective can be best achieved by an Order in Council. I am sorry to throw in this dissenting note but we would fail the objectives of the Bill and fail the person who drew up the Bill with such hard and patient work if we accepted that the right way forward is by regulation by Order in Council. I am sorry to end on a note of asperity. However, I can avoid that by repeating my congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Alderdice, on the Bill to which we shall now give a Second Reading.
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