COMMONS

Health and Social Care Committee invites Secretary of State to justify refusal of information

05 June 2019

The Health and Social Care Committee has called the Secretary of State for Health (Matt Hancock MP) to appear before it to explain his refusal to provide it with information on the Government’s review of NHS overseas visitor charging.

On 12 December 2018, the Minister of State for Health made a written Ministerial statement on the Government's review of amendments made to the NHS Overseas Visitor Charging Regulations in 2017.

Committee's request for information

In January, the Committee wrote to the Secretary of State asking to see a copy of the review, and of the evidence provided to it. The Committee noted that the Ministerial statement said that the review of the impact of amendments made to the NHS charging regulations in 2017 shows "no significant evidence that the 2017 Amendment Regulations have led to overseas visitors being deterred from treatment or that the changes have had an impact on public health". The Committee requested sight of the review and the evidence so that it could judge the accuracy of that conclusion for itself.

Secretary of State's reply

The Secretary of State replied saying that he was unable to publish the review or the evidence because they contained confidential information from interested stakeholders which was submitted on the basis it would not be published. The Committee accepted the need for confidentiality, and therefore requested sight of the evidence in confidence. At the same time, it renewed its request for sight of the Government’s review, and said that it was prepared to discuss with the Secretary of State what redactions might need to be made to the review should the Committee decide to publish it.

The Committee has now received a further reply from the Secretary of State saying that he would not be releasing any further material relating to the review or the evidence submitted. His reply gives no further justification for the refusal to supply the information requested by the Committee.

Committees response

The Committee considers this refusal to be contrary to the Government's commitment to being "as open and transparent as possible" with select committees, and to the presumption that requests for information from Select Committees will be agreed to, as recorded in paragraph 40 of the Government's guidance for civil servants on giving evidence to select committees.

It has consequently invited the Secretary of State to give evidence in person on Tuesday 25 June, to account for the refusal to provide the information. Further details of the session will be published in due course. 

Further information

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