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Disability Benefits for the Elderly

Part of Opposition Day — [1st allotted day] – in the House of Commons at 5:00 pm on 8th December 2009.

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Photo of Anne McGuire Anne McGuire Labour, Stirling 5:00 pm, 8th December 2009

I think that colleagues sign early-day motions for all sorts of reasons and I do not wish to second-guess the motives of any of my colleagues. The purpose of signing early-day motions is to put on the agenda matters about which Members feel strongly. I do not intend to fall into any trap set by the hon. Gentleman.

As I have said, I believe that genuine discussions must take place with the organisations that represent the needs and ambitions of disabled people. Let me say this to the Government, and I say it with the utmost respect to my colleagues. I welcomed the Secretary of State's comments about cash support, but the Government know that disability benefits, including attendance allowance, are valued and that any proposed changes should be seen in the context of improving the lives of disabled and older people in the future-I recognise that we are talking about the future.

Unusually, I agree with John Mason. Obviously, any discussions must take account of the impact in other parts of the United Kingdom. We must recognise that devolved Administrations will be involved if changes are made to what is currently a United Kingdom-wide benefit. The discussions must be meaningful and robust, and I hope that some of them have already begun.

This is probably the next great social agenda development, and I do not think any of us can run away from it. We cannot change the demography, certainly in the short term. The social care Green Paper sets out the questions, highlights some of the options, and gives people an opportunity to engage in the debate. What we cannot do is run away from that debate. We cannot simply pretend that it is not happening, or we shall have abrogated our responsibility to future generations whose social care needs will have to be met.

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