HC Deb 21 April 1999 vol 329 cc891-2
4. Dr. Vincent Cable (Twickenham)

What steps he has taken to co-ordinate the work of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Deputy Prime Minister and Secretaries of State for Social Security and for Health in relation to services for the elderly. [80295]

The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office (Mr. Peter Kilfoyle)

Co-ordinating mechanisms are provided through the Home and Social Affairs Cabinet Committee and the inter-ministerial group on older people. Our "Listening to Older People" events, which begin next month, will provide us with feedback on whether older people think that we have got our priorities right.

Dr. Cable

I express some appreciation that an effort is being made to achieve joined-up government in those matters. Will the inter-ministerial group take account of the evidence that has been accumulated by the Royal College of Nursing, Age Concern and others that, as a result of resource constraints and rationing, particularly in the national health service and associated services, elderly people are increasingly facing discrimination purely on grounds of their age?

Mr. Kilfoyle

We take into account all the information that is disseminated during each of our meetings. That is a fine example of how the Government are partnering all sectors—including the voluntary sector and the private sector—in our deliberations and in the pilot schemes.

Sir George Young (North-West Hampshire)

As the Minister for the Cabinet Office co-ordinates the work of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Secretary of State for Health in the interests of the elderly, can he shed some light on the extra £500 million a year that the NHS has been told to find to fund extra pension costs? When the Secretary of State got the extra money from the Treasury last July, did he know that he would have to find that sum? If he did, why has it come as a shock to the NHS? The chief executive of the NHS Confederation was reported in Monday's edition of The Guardian as saying: I have simply never heard of it before. Is that not another stealth tax on the NHS, reducing the sum available for patient care?

Mr. Kilfoyle

There are two simple answers to the right hon. Gentleman. First, my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Cabinet Office does an excellent co-ordinating job wherever he is called upon to take that role. Secondly, I remind the right hon. Gentleman that £21 billion extra has gone into the NHS this year.