HC Deb 27 April 1988 vol 132 cc347-50
18. Dr. Moonie

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what consideration he has given to the recommendations of the Griffiths report on community care; and if he will make a statement on his future policy.

Mr. Michael Forsyth

The Government are considering Sir Roy Griffiths' proposals and reactions to his report. My right hon. and learned Friend will bring foward proposals for the development of community care policies in Scotland in due course.

Dr. Moonie

Will the Minister let us know when he will publish his answer to the SHARPEN report?

Mr. Forsyth

As the hon. Gentleman knows, the SHARPEN report was produced by a working party of the planning council. The council has now had an opportunity to consider it, and I believe that it has been forwarded to the Department. We shall consider the report and the foreword provided by the full planning council, and issue a response in due course.

Mr. Worthington

The Government's response to the Griffiths report was very depressing, given that the failure to produce a coherent policy on community care is causing widespread suffering among the mentally ill, the mentally handicapped and the elderly. Will the Minister give an assurance that the Government's response will come within the next couple of months, and no later?

Mr. Forsyth

This Government have done more than any of their predecessors for the mentally ill and mentally handicapped and when the party that the hon. Gentleman supports was in power it did nothing to improve facilities in units such as Lennox Castle and the Royal Scottish national hospital. Far from the Government's response being depressing, it was entirely responsible. The Griffiths report raises far-reaching proposals which require assessment, and local authorities and health boards need to be given an opportunity to respond to that report. We have given them that opportunity, and as a responsible Government we shall give the report considered thought before reaching any conclusions.

Mr. McLeish

The Minister has made an extravagant statement about the Government's commitment to care in the community. Is he aware of the tremendous work being done by Scottish local authorities in difficult financial circumstances? Will he accept that the Disabled Persons Services, Consultation and Representation Act, introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke), has still not captured the imagination of the Government? When will they make a commitment to fund the Act before the Griffiths report is implemented?

Mr. Forsyth

The hon. Gentleman said that I had made some extravagant statements. We have made substantial commitments in expenditure on the Health Service and in transferring resources towards the mentally handicapped, the mentally ill and the elderly, which have been a success for our policies. As to his point about local authorities being hard-pressed for funds, the resources that have been made available to them for social work have gone up by more than one third. It is a pity that they have not devoted more of these resources to providing facilities and devoting themselves to joint planning. We are making progress on that, but not fast enough. The hon. Gentleman should address his remarks to his friends in local government.

Dr. Reid

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is it in order for hon. Members to use Scottish Question Time as a dressing room? It is bad enough when Members such as the hon. Member for Amber Valley (Mr. Oppenheim) turn up as imported token Scots in Scottish Questions, but it is even worse when they decide to sport tartan ties for which any normal Scotsman would demand a volume control. When they decide to take them off and pass them round at the end of Scottish Question Time, it is not only an act of provocation but an act of contempt towards the people of Scotland.

Mr. Speaker

I repeat what I said earlier, that this is a United Kingdom Parliament. The hon. Member for Amber Valley (Mr. Oppenheim) had a question on the Order Paper, and many Scottish Members have questions on the Order Paper on other days.

Mr. McKelvey

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker

Not further to it.

Mr. McKelvey

On a point of order regarding the changing of dress in the Chamber. At Scottish Question Time some hon. Members come in wearing a kilt. Would it be in order for them to change from their kilt into trousers at the end of Scottish questions?

Mr. Speaker

Certainly I hope not!