Report (5th Day)

Part of Health and Social Care Bill – in the House of Lords at 3:30 pm on 6th March 2012.

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Photo of Lord Warner Lord Warner Labour 3:30 pm, 6th March 2012

My Lords, this is an interesting debate. Let me say to the noble Baroness, Lady Murphy, that I am not having the House on. I am deadly serious about this because when the Dilnot commission was set up we were asked to do a job extremely rapidly, and we did so well within the 12 months we were set. We were asked to do that so that the Government could crack on with change, which is absolutely vital. This service-adult social care-is in a parlous state that will also do enormous damage to the NHS. Unless you do something quickly about adult social care, you will cause the most terrible financial crisis in the NHS. That is what the demography tells us. That is the reality for urgent admissions to acute hospitals and people staying there much longer than they need to.

If you are interested in improving and safeguarding the NHS, you should be interested in rapidly moving on with the reform of adult social care. The Government are already behind time on this reform. I do not blame the noble Earl, but we were expecting faster action, as was the Dilnot commission. Spring could come quite late this year in terms of the White Paper appearing, and we have no guarantee that there will be legislation in the next Session. The noble Earl has stuck to the normal line, for which I do not criticise him, that one can give no assurances about the next Session's legislation, but one has to be an extreme optimist to believe that a collective Government will want to have another go at this territory in the next parliamentary Session. I do not doubt his good will-I am grateful for the kind words he said about me-nor his real confidence that the Government will press on with that, but there are a lot of people out there, not just in front of Parliament today, who think that the Government need to go faster on this issue.

I have listened very carefully. The amendment does not prevent the Government from bringing forward new legislation in the next Session. If they want to do that, I shall be deeply delighted and they will have my support. I see nothing in the amendment that prevents the Government from making a start on making changes and protects them to go further if they want to include such provision in the next legislative programme.

I think we should make sure that adult social care is properly represented and recognised in the Bill. Therefore, I wish to test the opinion of the House.