Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:30 pm on 8th February 1999.

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Photo of Mr Paul Boateng Mr Paul Boateng Minister of State, Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) 3:30 pm, 8th February 1999

The new partnership grant does not represent the confiscation that the right hon. Lady suggests. That, if I may say so, is a travesty of the truth and does her little credit.

Of course I recognise the right hon. Lady's commitment and contribution, over many years, to this particular subject. I will certainly write to her. I have had the opportunity of visiting carers in Surrey and have formed a clear view of the considerable contribution that the voluntary sector makes.

I have good news for the right hon. Lady. The programme of work that we are initiating in this area has the support of those engaged in care in Surrey and elsewhere. There is no crisis of confidence in the Government's determination to put social services on a secure foundation—which they singularly lacked under the right hon. Lady's stewardship—and to take forward this initiative and agenda for carers. This important step must not be undertaken in an atmosphere of party political acrimony, so I am only too happy to write to the right hon. Lady.