Free Personal Care

– in the Scottish Parliament at 12:00 pm on 25th October 2007.

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Photo of Mary Scanlon Mary Scanlon Conservative 12:00 pm, 25th October 2007

To ask the First Minister what action will be taken following the ruling by Lord Macphail on the provision of free personal care. (S3F-225)

Photo of Alex Salmond Alex Salmond First Minister of Scotland, Leader, Scottish National Party

There has been widespread misreporting of the case. We will continue to reassure older people and their families that Lord Macphail's ruling reflects the Scottish Government's current guidance and does not impact on their entitlement to free personal and nursing care support. Before the ruling, we had already committed to taking positive action to maintain and strengthen the free personal care policy. Next April, we will uprate payments in line with inflation for the first time for five years; we have commissioned Lord Sutherland to review the funding that is provided to implement the policy; and we are taking forward dialogue with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities to ensure the effective implementation of the existing policy and to address fundamental issues such as charges for food preparation and waiting lists.

Photo of Mary Scanlon Mary Scanlon Conservative

Given that Lord Macphail expressed his disappointment that he was not afforded assistance by the SNP Government to interpret the legislation in the public interest, will the First Minister give an assurance that if a similar circumstance arises in future his Government will assist and co-operate with the Court of Session?

Photo of Alex Salmond Alex Salmond First Minister of Scotland, Leader, Scottish National Party

We did not join the case for—I presume—the same reasons that the previous Administration decided not to become a party to it in February and March.

We intend to discharge our obligation and duty on free personal care by uprating benefits and, in particular, by looking to Lord Sutherland to give us guidance that I hope every member will support so that we ensure that the Parliament lives up to its promise to older people in Scotland to deliver genuine free personal care.

Photo of Margaret Curran Margaret Curran Labour

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. The First Minister may not have listened to this morning's debate on free personal care, but he should do so so that he is not in danger of misleading the chamber. He should be clear that the previous Executive was not asked to go to court or to see the ombudsman. He should withdraw his remark.

Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson None

I am sure that the member is aware that that is not a point of order.

Meeting suspended until 14:15.

On resuming—