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Mr. Waterson: Before the hon. Lady hands out brickbats, she should bear in mind that a few short months ago, the Conservatives took over a social services budget in chaos, brought about by the Liberal Democrats. I hope that she will also address the point that I made—that the Government changed the SSA calculation for East Sussex to disadvantage central Government funding for older people.

Ms Blears: If the hon. Gentleman wants to argue with the Liberal Democrats, I shall not intrude.

The agreement last year, "Building Capacity and Partnership in Care", set out a new way of providing long-term care for older people. It envisages long-term partnership, joint commissioning, new forms of service and the development of new models. It will give us the sustainable system that we need. The hon. Member for Cheadle (Mrs. Calton) spoke of the need for long-term planning. That is the aim of the agreement.

Several hon. Members mentioned free nursing care. On 1 Oct 2001 we delivered on our commitment to provide free nursing care for everyone in England. Some 42,000 people will save money on their nursing home costs. We are moving away from a means-tested system of nursing care to one based on clinical need.

We have been much maligned for failing to follow the Scottish Executive and offer free personal care to all, but to implement free personal care for everyone in England would cost approximately £1.5 billion a year. I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield takes a different view, but we decided in the NHS plan to make £1.4 billion available per annum to improve services and standards for older people. Spending a vast amount of public money on free personal care would not guarantee improvements for older people. We firmly believe that we have targeted resources so that those most in need will receive high-quality care at no cost. It is important to decide the right priorities. It is right for a Labour Government to target funds on those in most need.

Dr. Harris: The Minister defended her refusal to follow up the recommendations of the majority of the long-term care commission by saying that the funding required would have to come from other vulnerable groups. What about the proposal to raise the funding from the better-off in society through fair, progressive, open taxation?

Ms Blears: As usual, the Liberal Democrats want to face both ways at once. One could say that they want to

16 Jan 2002 : Column 395

have their cake and eat it. They want to ask the better-off to pay and to implement free personal care that will, in many cases, benefit those who are better off rather than those who are in most need. There is a fundamental contradiction in their policies.

It is all too easy to spread a mood of doom, gloom and crisis. I challenge Opposition Members to do some hard thinking. I know that that is not easy for them. It is much easier merely to complain and sit on the outside carping and criticising than to come up with constructive new ideas. I am asking them to propose new models to put people at the centre of the service and to design facilities around their needs, rather than to force them into ideas and traditional care that can sometimes rob them of their dignity and independence.

This debate has highlighted some very real differences between the Labour Government and the Liberal Democrats. We put patients and the public first; they put providers first. We want creative and imaginative solutions; they want more places in nursing homes. We want to promote people's independence; they want them to be passive. We want a partnership between the national health service, local government, the voluntary sector and the private sector; they simply want to concentrate on care home numbers. We are forward looking; they are stuck in the past. We are creative and positive; they are negative. We are committed to reform; they have the same old ideas.

There is a lot more for us to do, but we are putting in the investment and reforming the services. The two must go hand in hand if we are to deliver the top-quality care to which people are entitled in this day and age. As ever, the Liberal Democrats are guilty of political opportunism of the worst kind. They just want more money, as usual—the same old record—but they do not want any reform; they just want the same old system.

The Tories are just as bad, but they are not even prepared to put the money in. The only thing that the hon. Member for West Chelmsford (Mr. Burns) could find to talk about was age discrimination. I am delighted to tell him that the Government's national service framework addresses for the very first time the rooting out of age discrimination throughout the national health service.

The hon. Member for North Norfolk (Norman Lamb) again raised the very sad case of Lauren Wright. I spoke in the Adjournment debate on the case and, as I recall it, the director of social services in the area was honest and open, and recognised that his problems stemmed not from a lack of funding, but from the systems that were in place and the difficulties of joining up the different parts of the care system. The hon. Gentleman needs to be very careful about putting the blame on that individual.

The hon. Member for Wyre Forest (Dr. Taylor) said that he had not yet made up his mind about how he was going to vote at the end of the debate. He now has precisely two minutes in which to do so, so I hope that he can make the decision fairly soon. It is right that his local council will set its priorities. I am afraid that political decisions are made about priorities—that is what we are all here to do and that is what will happen.

The hon. Member for Guildford (Sue Doughty) said that we were in crisis, but then recognised that lots of improvements were being made because of the cash for change money. I do not know whether she thinks that we are in crisis or not. She seemed very confused about that,

16 Jan 2002 : Column 396

but I am pleased that she has welcomed the improvements in her area that have resulted from the Government's action.

It is this Labour Government who have the courage to invest in better services and to challenge all our partners in local government, the national health service and the independent sector to work together in new ways to deliver for the people whom we represent. The Liberal Democrats said in their manifesto for last year's general election:


We have certainly seen tonight just what they stand for. Three simple words sum them up: cynicism, confusion and opportunism. I ask the House to reject the motion.

Question put, That the original words stand part of the Question:—

The House divided: Ayes 60, Noes 314.

Division No. 135
[9.59 pm


AYES


Allan, Richard
Baker, Norman
Barrett, John
Beggs, Roy
Beith, Rt Hon A J
Brake, Tom
Breed, Colin
Bruce, Malcolm
Burnett, John
Burstow, Paul
Cable, Dr Vincent
Calton, Mrs Patsy
Campbell, Gregory (E Lond'y)
Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies
(NE Fife)
Carmichael, Alistair
Chidgey, David
Cotter, Brian
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Dodds, Nigel
Doughty, Sue
Ewing, Annabelle
Foster, Don (Bath)
George, Andrew (St Ives)
Gidley, Sandra
Green, Matthew (Ludlow)
Hancock, Mike
Harris, Dr Evan (Oxford W)
Harvey, Nick
Heath, David
Holmes, Paul
Keetch, Paul
Kirkwood, Archy
Lamb, Norman
Laws, David
Llwyd, Elfyn
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)
Moore, Michael
Oaten, Mark
Öpik, Lembit
Pugh, Dr John
Reid, Alan (Argyll & Bute)
Rendel, David
Robertson, Angus (Moray)
Robinson, Mrs Iris (Strangford)
Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Sanders, Adrian
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Stunell, Andrew
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Taylor, Dr Richard (Wyre F)
Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Tonge, Dr Jenny
Tyler, Paul
Webb, Steve
Williams, Hywel (Caernarfon)
Williams, Roger (Brecon)
Willis, Phil
Younger–Ross, Richard

Tellers for the Ayes:


John Thurso and
Mrs. Annette L. Brooke.


NOES


Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Bob (Cov'try NE)
Alexander, Douglas
Allen, Graham
Anderson, Rt Hon Donald
(Swansea E)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary
Atherton, Ms Candy
Atkins, Charlotte
Bailey, Adrian
Baird, Vera
Barnes, Harry
Battle, John
Bayley, Hugh
Beard, Nigel
Beckett, Rt Hon Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Bell, Stuart
Bennett, Andrew
Benton, Joe
Berry, Roger
Best, Harold
Betts, Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob
Blunkett, Rt Hon David
Boateng, Rt Hon Paul
Bradley, Rt Hon Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Brennan, Kevin
Browne, Desmond
Bryant, Chris
Burgon, Colin
Byers, Rt Hon Stephen
Cairns, David
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Casale, Roger
Cawsey, Ian
Challen, Colin
Chaytor, David
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Mrs Helen (Peterborough)
Clark, Dr Lynda
(Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clelland, David
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Cohen, Harry
Colman, Tony
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Rt Hon Robin (Livingston)
Cooper, Yvette
Cousins, Jim
Cranston, Ross
Crausby, David
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Cunningham, Tony (Workington)
Curtis–Thomas, Mrs Claire
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
David, Wayne
Davidson, Ian
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Davis, Rt Hon Terry
(B'ham Hodge H)
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Dhanda, Parmjit
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, Rt Hon Frank
Donohoe, Brian H
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, David
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff
Etherington, Bill
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Foster, Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Foulkes, George
Francis, Dr Hywel
Gardiner, Barry
George, Rt Hon Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gilroy, Linda
Godsiff, Roger
Goggins, Paul
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grogan, John
Hain, Rt Hon Peter
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hanson, David
Harris, Tom (Glasgow Cathcart)
Havard, Dai
Healey, John
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hendrick, Mark
Hepburn, Stephen
Hermon, Lady
Hesford, Stephen
Heyes, David
Hill, Keith
Hinchliffe, David
Hoey, Kate
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, Rt Hon Alan (Newport E)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Howells, Dr Kim
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Beverley (Stretford)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hurst, Alan
Hutton, Rt Hon John
Iddon, Dr Brian
Illsley, Eric
Ingram, Rt Hon Adam
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Kevan (N Durham)
Jones, Lynne (Selly Oak)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Joyce, Eric
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)
Kemp, Fraser
Khabra, Piara S
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
Knight, Jim (S Dorset)
Kumar, Dr Ashok
Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Lammy, David
Lawrence, Mrs Jackie
Laxton, Bob
Lazarowicz, Mark
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Liddell, Rt Hon Mrs Helen
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony
Love, Andrew
Lucas, Ian
Luke, Iain
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Stephen
McCafferty, Chris
McCartney, Rt Hon Ian
McDonagh, Siobhain
MacDonald, Calum
McFall, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
Mackinlay, Andrew
McNamara, Kevin
MacShane, Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWilliam, John
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Marshall–Andrews, Robert
Martlew, Eric
Meacher, Rt Hon Michael
Meale, Alan
Merron, Gillian
Michael, Rt Hon Alun
Miliband, David
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moonie, Dr Lewis
Moran, Margaret
Morgan, Julie
Morris, Rt Hon Estelle
Mullin, Chris
Munn, Ms Meg
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Murphy, Rt Hon Paul (Torfaen)
Naysmith, Dr Doug
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
O'Hara, Edward
Organ, Diana
Osborne, Sandra (Ayr)
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr Nick
Pearson, Ian
Picking, Anne
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Pond, Chris
Pope, Greg
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Prescott, Rt Hon John
Primarolo, Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Purnell, James
Quin, Rt Hon Joyce
Rammell, Bill
Rapson, Syd
Raynsford, Rt Hon Nick
Reed, Andy (Loughborough)
Robertson, John
(Glasgow Anniesland)
Robinson, Geoffrey (Cov'try NW)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie
Roy, Frank
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Salter, Martin
Sarwar, Mohammad
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Sheridan, Jim
Simon, Siôn
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, Geraldine (Morecambe)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Soley, Clive
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, Rt Hon John
Squire, Rachel
Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stevenson, George
Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stoate, Dr Howard
Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Tami, Mark
Taylor, Rt Hon Ann (Dewsbury)
Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Timms, Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mark
Touhig, Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Tynan, Bill
Vaz, Keith
Vis, Dr Rudi
Walley, Ms Joan
Ward, Ms Claire
Wareing, Robert N
Watson, Tom
Watts, David
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Wood, Mike
Woodward, Shaun
Woolas, Phil
Worthington, Tony
Wray, James
Wright, David (Telford)
Wright, Tony (Cannock)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Noes:


Mr. Tony McNulty and
Mr. John Heppell.

Question accordingly negatived.

16 Jan 2002 : Column 398

Question, That the proposed words be there added, put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 31 (Questions on amendments):

16 Jan 2002 : Column 399

The House divided: Ayes 301, Noes 60.


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