HC Deb 13 December 1988 vol 143 cc763-4
10. Mr. Patchett

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what representations he has received on the implementation of the recommendations of Sir Roy Griffiths' report on community care.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

We have received over 250 representations from hon. Members, organisations and members of the public about Sir Roy's recommendations. We are studying all of them carefully, as we frame our own proposals.

Mr. Patchett

Does the Secretary of State agree that the weight of opinion is with Sir Roy Griffiths in maintaining that the local authorities are best placed to assess local needs, set priorities and monitor performance? Will he make a categorical statement to that effect?

Mr. Clarke

I have just told the House that we are still considering our own proposals. We have had a variety of responses from all the representations I have described. Everyone agrees that there is a serious problem. We have to look at how best to provide care in the community and how best to arrange responsibility for it. We have to look at all the various models put before us before we can come to a definite conclusion.

Sir George Young

My right hon. and learned Friend will know how anxiously his decision on the Griffiths' report is awaited, not just by statutory bodies but by voluntary organisations. Can he tell the House when he hopes to reach a decision?

Mr. Clarke

I realise that it is essential that we reach conclusions as soon as we can. It is an important matter, and I believe that few people think that the status quo is highly satisfactory. It will be some time next year—I hope, early next year—before we can reach any final conclusions,because the reactions we have received are so varied and there are a number of options before us.

Mr. Tom Clarke

The Government have dilly-dallied over the Griffiths report, which was published the day after the Budget. Is not the Secretary of State worried that the growth of uncontrolled expenditure by the taxpayer on private residential homes that Sir Roy identified has now reached the £1 billion mark? Is it fair that the chaos in community care that so worried Sir Roy should continue, particularly in view of the Government's clear opposition to a democratic role for local government, which Sir Roy himself accepted?

Mr. Clarke

There has been a huge increase in public expenditure of all kinds on care in the community, most of which reflects the increased priority that the Government have been giving it. I accept that we must look at the situation again, to ensure that there are clear responsibilities for delivering the care and that the right relationship exists between all the various agencies involved. We shall announce our conclusions as quickly as we can.