Ms Sandra Gidley (Romsey, Liberal Democrat)
The Minister is merely reinforcing the inverse snobbery that is so prevalent in the Government. Seven out of 10 people may receive some help, but the other three out of 10 are not necessarily wealthy. We shall shortly have the same debate on tuition fees.
What is the point of setting up a royal commission if its advice is to be so roundly ignored? The Government will probably claim that they accepted the bulk of its recommendations, and that it would be wrong to place too much emphasis on this particular one. It might therefore be useful to turn to the statement made by the royal commission on long-term care, which was published in September 2003 and whose purpose was to review the extent to which the long-standing problems in long-term care and its funding had been resolved since the commission reported. The statement points out that the debate about long-term care and its funding is very much alive, that little has been resolved, that Governments in most of the UK still decline to act, and that there is widespread concern. That is the view of the commissioners. The statement also reminds us that this is an important issue not only for older people and their families but for the wider public.
The statement was damning, and highlighted other areas in which the Government's response had been disappointing. The first related to the setting up of a national care commission. The Government will point out that they have set up the National Care Standards Commission, but the remit of that body is much narrower than that envisaged by the royal commission, as its role is merely regulatory and falls far short of the wide-ranging role proposed by the royal commission. The reality is that the establishment of the new Commission for Social Care Inspection will result in a further erosion of the principles originally envisaged by the royal commission.