§ Miss McIntosh
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to ensure that local authorities abide by the requirements of the Competition Act 1998 as it affects their purchasing role in relation to private nursing and residential homes. 
§ Mr. Hutton
Until there is a body of case law, it is not clear whether, or to what extent, the Competition Act applies to local authorities.
In the White Paper "Modernising Social Services", we made clear that decisions about the provision of care services should be based entirely on judgments about best value and optimum outcomes for individual users. We have a number of measures in place to ensure that the commissioning of services is undertaken in this way. These include best value service reviews and joint reviews by the Audit Commission and the Department's social services inspectorate.