HC Deb 01 March 1999 vol 326 cc553-4W
Mr. Russell Brown

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when he expects to respond to the report of the Royal Commission on Long Term Care of the Elderly. [74394]

Mr. Dewar

As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health has indicated today, we have just received the Royal Commission's very full and detailed report. I join my right hon. Friend in his tribute to the work of the Commission, under the chairmanship of Sir Stewart Sutherland. We are grateful to all the Commission members, including the other Scottish-based member, Professor Mary Marshall of the Dementia Services Development Centre at the University of Stirling.

The report's recommendations are important and wide ranging. They will require very careful consideration. Some relate to matters such as social security and pensions which are to be reserved to Westminster. Scottish Ministers and officials will play a full part in inter-departmental discussions on these matters, both now and, I am sure, after devolution. Other recommendations relate to matters such as social work, health and housing, which will be devolved. From 1 July 1999 these will be a matter for the Scottish Parliament and the response to the recommendations will be for the Scottish Executive and Parliament to take forward in the light of the informed debate which the Commission hopes to see, and our proposals for modernising social work services which will be set out in a White Paper later this month.

The Commission has made two key recommendations. The first is that personal care as defined by the Commission (that is, not including the costs of board and lodging) should be free in all settings. This recommendation will clearly have to be addressed in the light of the spending priorities of the Scottish Parliament. The second is that there should be a National Care Commission to look at the whole system in a strategic way, represent the interests of older people receiving services and produce national benchmarks. Again this will have to be considered carefully.

I congratulate the Royal Commission and Sir Stewart on the production of this report. I am confident that the Scottish Executive and Parliament will give it the full consideration it deserves and requires.

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