HL Deb 18 November 1999 vol 607 cc3-4WA
Lord Plant of Highfield

asked Her Majesty's Government:

When the Quinquennial Review of the Public Trust Office will be published. [HL1]

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg)

I have today published the Quinquennial Review of the Public Trust Office, an executive agency of my department established in 1994.

The review found strong support for the Government offering protection for the financial affairs of people who are mentally incapable of managing them for themselves.

The review recommends that the delivery of the Public Trust Office's key services should be carried out by organisations operating in the voluntary and public sectors, and private sector suppliers. I would remain ultimately responsible for the services provided. The Public Trust Office would focus on monitoring the provision of such services and ensuring that the needs of vulnerable people were met. The review recommends that the Public Trust Office's refinanced and refocused operations should be performed by other parts of the Lord Chancellor's Department: the Court Service and the Official Solicitor's Office. The current Public Trust Office would then be phased out as a separate executive agency.

I welcome the review's clear diagnosis of the challenges faced by the Public Trust Office. I agree that radical change is required and I, together with my colleagues, will wish to explore the review's recommendations in a programme of change for the Public Trust Office. In doing so, I will want to be satisfied that reform does not entail placing a greater financial burden on some of the poorest and most vulnerable members of society. I will announce, in February 2000, how I will take forward reform.

The Government's overriding objective will be to ensure that the interests of the Public Trust Office's clients are fully protected. To this end the recently established Consultative Forum representing the users of Public Trust Office services will be closely involved in considering how practical improvements to client services can be effected in working up the proposals for change that I consider necessary.

Copies of the review have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.