Lords discussing the Health Research Authority this afternoon

Posted on November 15, 2011 by


The statutory instrument aiming to set up the Health Research Authority (HRA) – the planned single regulator of health research in the UK – as a special health authority is being discussed in the Lords this afternoon. Peers are likely to use this debate to push the government for more information on the timescale for establishing the HRA and what powers it will have to help coordinate and oversee all the different regulatory steps.


The government committed to establishing the Health Research Authority in their Plan for Growth published alongside the 2011 budget in March. This will eventually be established through primary legislation but initially is getting up and running as a special health authority, housing the National Research Ethics Service. To do this, the government needs to introduce a statutory instrument. This was not automatically going to be debated but peers decided to pray against this and call for a debate so they could have more discussion of what the HRA is going to look like and how it will work.

Today’s debate

In last Wednesday’s debate of the Health & Social Care Bill, Earl Howe mentioned the government’s plans to establish the HRA as a special health authority first off and introduce primary legislation to establish this an an independent non-departmental government body in future.

He confirmed that the government plan to publish draft clauses outlining what this primary legislation will look like for pre-legislative scrutiny in the next session of parliament – basically more opportunity for it to be discussed before the government makes a final legislative proposal in the form of a new bill.  He didn’t confirm when the government plan to introduce the final bill – from previous discussion we understood they would aim to do this in the next session of parliament but introducing a stage of pre-legislative scrutiny may slow this process down.

But peers are likely to take today’s opportunity to push the government for more information on what the HRA will look like, the timescale for establishing it and which research regulating functions the government envisages it having.

There will be more debate of this in the coming weeks – a new clause is tabled for discussion during debate of the Health & Social Care Bill which will allow these issues to be returned to again – see my summary of these here. This new clause will come up for debate just after clause 57. The last session on the health bill ended on clause 7, the next debate is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon (Wednesday 16).

Posted in: Policy