§ Lord Pearson of Rannoch
asked Her Majesty's Government:
Further to the question asked on 15 January 1996 (H.L. Deb., col. 421), whether they arc confident that the 16,000 more severely mentally handicapped people can be properly cared for in the wider community, under the Government's "Community 3WA Care" policy, after their enforced discharge before 31 December 1996 from long-stay institutions; and if so, why; and
In view of the attractions of rural life, appreciated by both urban and county dwellers, why they consider it is desirable for mentally handicapped people to be forced to live in "a normal house, in a normal street; going to the pub; going to the shops;" (H.L. Deb., 13 December 1995, col. 1271).
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State Department of Health (Baroness Cumberlege):
No deadline has been set centrally for the closure of the old long stay mental handicap hospitals. The pace at which alternative community based services are developed will depend on local circumstances and resources. It is for health and local authorities to ensure that residents arc offered appropriate care which reflects their individual need and preferences.
If this principle is followed, we are confident that our community care policy offers people with learning disabilities a better quality of life, whether in rural or urban areas, than was hitherto possible in the old long stay mental handicap hospitals.