From The Guardian:
Labour has called on the attorney general to clear up the mounting confusion over whether the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has the power to impose a new contract on junior doctors. Heidi Alexander, the shadow health secretary, has written to Jeremy Wright asking him to clarify whether Hunt has the legal right to force 45,000 NHS trainee medics in England to accept new terms and conditions, which have already prompted four strikes.
Hunt deepened the uncertainty over his legal powers in the Commons on Monday when he again said that he was “imposing” the contract, even though both the government’s own lawyers and his department of health insist that he is merely playing a key role in its “introduction”.
“We are imposing a contract with the greatest of regrets,” Hunt told MPs when answering an urgent question from Labour. He is facing a high court challenge from five junior doctors who claim he does not have the power to impose the contract.
In her letter to Wright, Alexander writes that government lawyers’ “failure to point to any specific power relied upon by the secretary of state appeared to suggest that a new contract was not being imposed, but merely approved”.