My right hon.. Friend wants the services for old people to be as comprehensive as possible, and his Department is constantly in touch with local authorities about means of improving them. But I am not sure that these services would operate more effectively if they were separated from the similar services provided for the rest of the community.
Is the hon.. Member aware that at a very well attended conference in Scotland of local authorities recently One of the prominent doctors there insisted that these services could be better looked after if an initiative were to come from the Department? Will the hon. Member reconsider this matter?
I am aware of the statement to which the hon.. Member refers. It was an important and interesting statement. None the less, my right hon.. Friend is conscious of the many different services which are required by elderly people, and he still feels that this is best done by the Departments concerned with similar services provided for the rest of the community.
The hon.. Member must be aware that where there is overlapping and duplication there tend also to be gaps, with some institutions thinking that the service has been covered by other people. Will he look into this again, because what is required is a unified service in respect of the welfare of the old.
I agree with the hon.. Member that we do not want duplication or gaps, but my right hon.. Friend thinks that under the system which he prefers it is most unlikely that these will occur.