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Mr. Burns: On the question of national consistency and a level playing field, can the Minister answer the questions about how local authorities will be able to fund the upgrading of their residential homes?

Mr. Hutton: I want to say something about resources in a minute. Labour Members still have to be persuaded that the hon. Gentleman and his friends are the right people to hand out any lectures about the level of public funding and public support for some of these important social services. His party, I understand, has something of a widening gap, or black hole, in its public sector finance policies after some of the recent announcements and U-turns by his right hon. and hon. Friends.

Of course, the hon. Gentleman will be aware--again, because of his interest in the subject--that the Government are making record resources available to finance social services. The present comprehensive spending review provided nearly £3 billion-worth of additional expenditure during this period. There will be more to come. He will have to wait for those announcements, like everyone else, but the general financial situation is a positive one for local authorities and social services, with record resources going into those sectors.

I was referring to two controversial areas that have caused legitimate concern. On staffing, I have already stated our intention to base trained nurse staffing levels on assessment of need rather than fixed ratios. That should be of considerable help to many small nursing home providers.

On room sizes, it is important to state that 10 sq m is a reasonable norm, long established and widely observed. However, to balance consistency with discretion and to try to respond to some of the concerns that many hon. Members have expressed, I am considering criteria within which some flexibility can be exercised on that standard, to allow rooms smaller than 10 sq m to remain in use. I hope shortly to be in a position to provide the House, especially hon. Members who have an interest in the matter, with a fuller explanation of what the minimum

12 Jul 2000 : Column 944

required standards will specify. However, let me make it clear that there is no intention to prevent good quality homes from continuing to operate. We want to preserve the stability of provision for residents.

Turning to the specific provisions of the amendment, the commission will have access to important information about the state of the care sector and will be able to advise the Secretary of State accordingly, but I personally do not believe that it is the commission's role to advise on standards in terms of their effect generally, or on the costs of their implementation. I believe strongly that that responsibility rests squarely with the Government. That is ultimately where it should remain.

The issue of consulting on standards was well aired in Committee. We have given clear undertakings to consult on standards and on regulations, and the latter will be laid clearly before Parliament. Draft standards will also be made available to hon. Members for consultation.

In Standing Committee last week, I extended to the hon. Member for Runnymede and Weybridge, who speaks for the Opposition on these matters, an opportunity to participate in some of the consultations on the Children (Leaving Care) Bill. I am more than happy to extend such an invitation in relation to the national minimum required standards to all the right hon. and hon. Members who speak for their parties on social services issues.

It is self-evident that no establishment or agency will be registered unless it complies with the standards, and of course the regulations; otherwise there is no point in having them. That is one other reason why the hon. Gentleman's amendment adds nothing of value or substance.

I have tried to address some of the concerns that have been raised in the debate. I do not want to go into all the nooks and crannies of the hon. Gentleman's description of proceedings in Standing Committee, but I do not think that he gave a completely accurate description of the exchange that we had on those issues.

The hon. Gentleman referred in particular to a letter that I had written him, which he said indicated that we were not going to include en suite bathrooms in the standard. There was not, and is not, any such letter. The letter dated 6 July that he mentioned referred to the door-sweep implications. I have in front of me a copy of the letter that I signed dated 6 July--I remember it clearly--and it does not refer to en suite bathrooms. My recollection is that we had an exchange on the subject in Committee. Although I do not remember the exact wording that we used, I certainly did not write to the hon. Gentleman as he has implied.

This has been a full debate. I have tried to share with the House a very important piece of information--although I am not sure that the hon. Member for Buckingham was even paying attention when I told him that we were providing for discretion on the 10 sq m standard. Perhaps he acknowledged that discretion; certainly some other Opposition Members did. Nevertheless, I hope that that discretion will send a reassuring signal for decent, good quality care home providers--whom we have no intention whatever of hounding out of the business. We need them, and we rely on them. We also want to encourage them to invest in their businesses so that they can be successful.

Mr. Hilton Dawson (Lancaster and Wyre): Does my hon. Friend accept that what he has just said is

12 Jul 2000 : Column 945

tremendously good news for providers of good-quality residential care who want to remain in business and give excellent care, particularly for older people but also for people with all types of disabilities and difficulties? Do those comments not show that the Government are listening and taking on board the views of people throughout the sector?

9 pm

Mr. Hutton: I am pretty well bound to agree with my hon. Friend on all those points, and I am glad that he feels that way.

We are trying not only to respond to the concerns quite reasonably expressed by the industry, but to meet the legitimate needs of our constituents. It is important that their voices are heard and their interests considered in addressing all the issues. That is the balance that the Government are trying to strike, and I strongly urge my right hon. and hon. Friends to reject this group of amendments, except Government amendment No. 61.

Mr. Hammond: This has been a useful and wide-ranging debate. I am certainly glad that the Minister said that he himself had found it useful.

When I said that I had received a letter from the Minister about door-sweeps and en suite bathrooms, I was working from memory. I do not have the letter with me, and I apologise to him if I misquoted it. However, I am rather more alarmed than I was if he has not ruled out the inclusion of en suite bathrooms, as that once again raises the prospect of home owners who have installed them having to rip them out to meet a future standard.

Mr. Hutton: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way on this important point. We are certainly looking to find ways of incorporating en suite bathrooms in the room size standard that we intend to develop.

Mr. Hammond: I take that to mean that the Minister has not written to me to say that he is excluding en suite bathrooms, but that that is what he plans to do.

I was disappointed that the Minister could not accept our amendments Nos. 38 and 39. He read out a great list of titles that could not be used under the Medical Act 1983. However, I did not hear him read out the title "consultant", which is the one causing particular concern. On amendment No. 39, the Minister said that financial viability was an essential attribute for a care home or an establishment, but he did not explain how it would be possible for an establishment in receivership to meet that criterion.

The debate has focused mainly on new clause 4--or rather, it has focused primarily on the standards that will be promulgated, rather than on the new clause itself. The Minister has told us that he is now investigating ways of offering us a flexible response that will allow homes with rooms smaller than 10 sq m to remain in operation. I am grateful to him for sharing that information with the House. He also said that he hoped to be able to give us more detail soon. We shall, of course, wait with bated breath.

New clause 4 itself is about the methodology for preparing and approving the statements of minimum standards, rather than the detail of the standards

12 Jul 2000 : Column 946

themselves. It is clear from this debate that our new clause 4 is an improvement on clause 23, which it would replace, and that it would allow proper parliamentary scrutiny of this very important sphere of legislation. I commend the new clause to my right. hon. and hon. Friends.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:--

The House divided: Ayes 159, Noes 299.

Division No. 265
[9.3 pm


Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)
Allan, Richard
Amess, David
Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E)
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Baker, Norman
Baldry, Tony
Ballard, Jackie
Beggs, Roy
Beith, Rt Hon A J
Bell, Martin (Tatton)
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Blunt, Crispin
Body, Sir Richard
Boswell, Tim
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Bottomley, Rt Hon Mrs Virginia
Brady, Graham
Brake, Tom
Brand, Dr Peter
Brazier, Julian
Browning, Mrs Angela
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)
Burnett, John
Burns, Simon
Burstow, Paul
Butterfill, John
Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies
(NE Fife)
Chapman, Sir Sydney
(Chipping Barnet)
Chope, Christopher
Clappison, James
Clark, Dr Michael (Rayleigh)
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Collins, Tim
Cotter, Brian
Cran, James
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davies, Quentin (Grantham)
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice)
Day, Stephen
Dorrell, Rt Hon Stephen
Duncan Smith, Iain
Evans, Nigel
Faber, David
Fabricant, Michael
Flight, Howard
Forth, Rt Hon Eric
Foster, Don (Bath)
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Fox, Dr Liam
Fraser, Christopher
Garnier, Edward
George, Andrew (St Ives)
Gibb, Nick
Gidley, Sandra
Gill, Christopher
Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Gorrie, Donald
Gray, James
Green, Damian
Greenway, John
Grieve, Dominic
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie
Hammond, Philip
Hancock, Mike
Hawkins, Nick
Hayes, John
Heald, Oliver
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas
Horam, John
Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Jack, Rt Hon Michael
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Jenkin, Bernard
Key, Robert
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Lansley, Andrew
Leigh, Edward
Letwin, Oliver
Lidington, David
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Livsey, Richard
Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)
Llwyd, Elfyn
Loughton, Tim
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
McIntosh, Miss Anne
Maclean, Rt Hon David
Maclennan, Rt Hon Robert
McLoughlin, Patrick
Major, Rt Hon John
Malins, Humfrey
Maples, John
Maude, Rt Hon Francis
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian
May, Mrs Theresa
Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)
Moore, Michael
Moss, Malcolm
Nicholls, Patrick
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Öpik, Lembit
Ottaway, Richard
Paice, James
Paterson, Owen
Pickles, Eric
Prior, David
Randall, John
Redwood, Rt Hon John
Rendel, David
Robathan, Andrew
Robertson, Laurence
Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)
Rowe, Andrew (Faversham)
Ruffley, David
Sanders, Adrian
Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian
Shepherd, Richard
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spring, Richard
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Streeter, Gary
Swayne, Desmond
Syms, Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Townend, John
Tredinnick, David
Trend, Michael
Tyrie, Andrew
Viggers, Peter
Walter, Robert
Waterson, Nigel
Webb, Steve
Wells, Bowen
Whitney, Sir Raymond
Whittingdale, John
Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Wilkinson, John
Willetts, David
Willis, Phil
Wilshire, David
Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Yeo, Tim
Young, Rt Hon Sir George

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Keith Simpson and
Mr. Peter Luff.


Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N)
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)
Alexander, Douglas
Allen, Graham
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary
Ashton, Joe
Atherton, Ms Candy
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Banks, Tony
Barnes, Harry
Barron, Kevin
Bayley, Hugh
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Bell, Stuart (Middlesbrough)
Benn, Hilary (Leeds C)
Bennett, Andrew F
Berry, Roger
Best, Harold
Betts, Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob
Borrow, David
Bradley, Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brinton, Mrs Helen
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Browne, Desmond
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Butler, Mrs Christine
Caborn, Rt Hon Richard
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Campbell-Savours, Dale
Cann, Jamie
Caplin, Ivor
Casale, Roger
Caton, Martin
Cawsey, Ian
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chisholm, Malcolm
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)
Clark, Dr Lynda
(Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)
Clwyd, Ann
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Coleman, Iain
Colman, Tony
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Cooper, Yvette
Corbett, Robin
Corston, Jean
Cousins, Jim
Cox, Tom
Cranston, Ross
Crausby, David
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr Jack
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Curtis-Thomas, Mrs Claire
Dalyell, Tam
Darvill, Keith
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Davidson, Ian
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Davis, Rt Hon Terry
(B'ham Hodge H)
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Denham, John
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, Rt Hon Frank
Donohoe, Brian H
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, David
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Efford, Clive
Ennis, Jeff
Etherington, Bill
Field, Rt Hon Frank
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Foster, Michael J (Worcester)
Foulkes, George
George, Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Godsiff, Roger
Goggins, Paul
Golding, Mrs Llin
Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grocott, Bruce
Gunnell, John
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Hanson, David
Harman, Rt Hon Ms Harriet
Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Healey, John
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, Ms Patricia
Hill, Keith
Hodge, Ms Margaret
Hood, Jimmy
Hoon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
Hopkins, Kelvin
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Hurst, Alan
Hutton, John
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)
Johnson, Miss Melanie
(Welwyn Hatfield)
Jones, Rt Hon Barry (Alyn)
Jones, Ms Jenny
(Wolverh'ton SW)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)
Kemp, Fraser
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Khabra, Piara S
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
Kumar, Dr Ashok
Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Lammy, David
Lawrence, Mrs Jackie
Laxton, Bob
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Liddell, Rt Hon Mrs Helen
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Lock, David
Love, Andrew
McAvoy, Thomas
McCafferty, Ms Chris
Macdonald, Calum
McDonnell, John
McFall, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKenna, Mrs Rosemary
Mackinlay, Andrew
McNamara, Kevin
MacShane, Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
Mallaber, Judy
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)
Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Martlew, Eric
Meacher, Rt Hon Michael
Meale, Alan
Merron, Gillian
Michael, Rt Hon Alun
Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Milburn, Rt Hon Alan
Miller, Andrew
Moffatt, Laura
Moonie, Dr Lewis
Moran, Ms Margaret
Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Morgan, Rhodri (Cardiff W)
Morley, Elliot
Morris, Rt Hon Ms Estelle
(B'ham Yardley)
Mountford, Kali
Mowlam, Rt Hon Marjorie
Mudie, George
Mullin, Chris
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Murphy, Rt Hon Paul (Torfaen)
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Hara, Eddie
Olner, Bill
O'Neill, Martin
Osborne, Ms Sandra
Pearson, Ian
Pendry, Tom
Perham, Ms Linda
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter L
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Pond, Chris
Powell, Sir Raymond
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Prescott, Rt Hon John
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Quinn, Lawrie
Rapson, Syd
Raynsford, Nick
Reid, Rt Hon Dr John (Hamilton N)
Rogers, Allan
Rooker, Rt Hon Jeff
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Rowlands, Ted
Roy, Frank
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Salter, Martin
Sarwar, Mohammad
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Barry
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Shipley, Ms Debra
Short, Rt Hon Clare
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, Miss Geraldine
(Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Soley, Clive
Southworth, Ms Helen
Spellar, John
Squire, Ms Rachel
Steinberg, Gerry
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stoate, Dr Howard
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann
Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Temple-Morris, Peter
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Timms, Stephen
Touhig, Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Tynan, Bill
Vis, Dr Rudi
Ward, Ms Claire
Wareing, Robert N
Watts, David
White, Brian
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, Rt Hon Alan
(Swansea W)
Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Woodward, Shaun
Woolas, Phil
Worthington, Tony
Wray, James
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, Tony (Cannock)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Greg Pope and
Mr. Tony McNulty.

Question accordingly negatived.

12 Jul 2000 : Column 949

New Clause 6

National Adoption Register

'(1) There shall be established and maintained by the Commission in accordance with this section a list (referred to in this Act as "the National Adoption Register") recording all those persons suitable and willing to undertake the adoption of children in England and Wales.

(2) The Secretary of State shall by regulations make provision for persons to apply to be entered in the National Adoption Register.
(3) The Secretary of State shall by regulations make provisions for criteria to be set by which applications pursuant to the regulations mentioned in (2) above shall be assessed by the Commission.
(4) The regulations in subsection (3) shall provide that any person who a local authority had determined within the period of five years prior to this section coming into force to be fit and proper to undertake adoption of children in England and Wales shall be entered in the National Adoption Register.
(5) The regulations mentioned in (2) shall make provision for a person applying to be listed in the National Adoption Register to appeal against any decision to refuse to so list him.'.--[Mrs. Spelman.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

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