Report (5th Day)

Part of Health and Social Care Bill – in the House of Lords at 3:15 pm on 6th March 2012.

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Photo of Baroness Barker Baroness Barker Liberal Democrat 3:15 pm, 6th March 2012

The noble Lord, Lord Warner, asked what was to disagree with-what was not to like-and the answer is nothing at all. However, that is not to say that this is not deficient and there are not an awful lot of questions that it begs.

The noble Lord is right that my party, along with others, has agreed with the Law Commission review and supported the efforts to see the Dilnot commission brought into law. However, he will know as well as I do that the history of social care law reform is littered with failed attempts to deal with one of the biggest issues that our society faces-the Royal Commission on long-term care. The Wanless report was largely about the NHS, but a significant chunk of it was about the need to reform social care to drive down future demands on the health service. Noble Lords have been critical of this Bill, and many of their criticisms are justified, but they overstate the extent to which the latter parts of the Bill, with the placing of public health into local government and the creation of health and well-being boards, is a very good attempt to deal with that agenda, decrease health inequalities and raise levels of preventive health promotion. I, too, think that this is an inadequate response, particularly to the Law Commission report, which was a good and detailed piece of work. It deserves extensive scrutiny and to be brought forward in law in a way that is far more comprehensive than this.

I will not have a go at the noble Lord, Lord Warner, for keeping the issue on the agenda, but I say to him that the Care Services Minister, Paul Burstow, has made it clear throughout his tenure that he is doing all in his power to keep social care to the fore. I come back to the £2 billion that was invested in social care at the beginning of the Government's term. The Government are mindful of the need to deal with this, not least because the noble Baroness, Lady Murphy, is right to say that, as she often reminds this House, no one has a social care need unless they have a healthcare need-the two things are indivisible-and if the Bill is about anything, it is about tackling the health needs of the population as a whole over time.

I do not disagree with the noble Lord, Lord Warner, but I do not think that this is quite the way to go forward. I hope that all Members of this House will continue to uphold the consensus that there has been over the past two years behind the work of the Law Commission and the Dilnot report to bring this issue forward in a way that means that it can be determined successfully once and for all.