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Elderly Persons (Nottingham)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:37 pm on 25th March 1988.

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Photo of Mr Michael Portillo Mr Michael Portillo , Enfield, Southgate 2:37 pm, 25th March 1988

I am content to address myself to that, because the pensioners who are most in need are those who currently receive supplementary pension on top of the state pension. There are about 1·8 million such pensioners. They will receive full housing benefit, which is 100 per cent. of rent and 80 per cent. of rates because they receive supplementary benefit at the moment, which means that they have capital of less than £3,000. More pensioners will qualify for income support because the capital rule for income support is more generous than that for supplementary benefit. That is why I said earlier that about 10,000 more pensioners will qualify for income support. This means that 10,000 more people coming on to income support will qualify for full housing benefit, whether or not they qualify at the moment for partial housing benefit.

The hon. Gentleman made some remarks about residential care. I shall not spend long replying to that. I have watched with interest the line of questioning that he has been pursuing in the Public Accounts Committee. He was extremely unfair in his remarks about the private sector. I ask him to recognise that there are many excellent private homes, doing a very good job, although there are some homes in which the standards are poor, and which have caused a great deal of concern, but those homes are in both the private and local authority sectors. We have had some bad instances in the local authority sector.

The hon. Gentleman also asked me about the Griffiths report, which is now out for consultation. The Wagner report is also out for consultation, and the Firth report has been out for quite some time. We look forward to comments on those. Obviously I cannot in any way prejudge what the Government will say about that. We will bring forward our proposals in the light of the Griffiths, Wagner and Firth reports, and the reactions that we receive to them, in due course. I am afraid that I cannot yet give the hon. Gentleman any sort of timescale on that.

The hon. Gentleman referred to health care in Nottingham. I shall not pursue him far down that road, not least because it is not my area. Nottingham has the City hospital, which is all new except for one ward, the University hospital, which is new and the General and Highbury hospitals, both of which have recently been refurbished. Only the Basford is an old hospital, and I understand that it is satisfactory.