Clause 5

Part of Health and Social Care Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:30 pm on 15th January 2008.

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Photo of Sandra Gidley Sandra Gidley Shadow Minister, Health 12:30 pm, 15th January 2008

We on the Liberal Democrat Benches support the amendment; in fact, we feel so strongly about it that we added our names to it. I hope that the  hon. Member for Luton, North does not do the usual thing, beloved of some of his colleagues, and withdraw the amendment, because it would be useful to put it to a vote. I hope that this will not be yet another missed opportunity. Similar amendments were tabled during the passing of the Equality Act 2006, at which time the subject was kicked into the long grass of forthcoming reviews, which have now taken place.

As has been highlighted, another opportunity was missed during the consideration of the private Member’s Bill that the hon. Member for Eddisbury mentioned. That Bill was not enthusiastically or even lukewarmly taken up by the Government. I am disappointed that, although we have an opportunity to do something positive, yet again the subject of human rights—this time of people in care homes—is being kicked into the long grass with the mention of a forthcoming Green Paper.

All the time that we wait, there is a lack of clarity around the issue, despite the well-meaning attempts to incorporate the theme of human rights in some parts of the Bill. The consequence is that, in the meantime, it will be very difficult to tackle some of the problems that have already been highlighted by the hon. Member for Luton, North, who made a number of important points, which I will not waste the Committee’s time by repeating.

The recent report of the Joint Committee on Human Rights highlighted that residents in care homes were among the people most vulnerable to human rights abuses. That report outlined many of the concerns raised by the hon. Gentleman earlier. Although I took issue with one of the examples that he mentioned, it seems to me that every day there are examples of practices that are regarded as routine, such as the over-medication that was mentioned earlier, or making continent patients sit around wearing incontinence pads because staff cannot be bothered to take them to the toilet at the appropriate time. Tackling that type of practice will not be a priority when the new commission is being set up and it really beholden on us to try to tackle it.