People value their independence, and most older people want to stay in their own home. With the right support, many can. To a large extent, the White Paper proposals will provide the support that is needed to enable more people to stay at home. Carers are a vital source of people’s ability to maintain their independence at home, and the 5 million carers who do an incredibly important job in our country do not get enough support at the moment. I welcome the extra money that is being put towards enabling them to have respite, because carers tell me that a break is what they need first and foremost. I am sure that no amount of money would

16 July 2012 : Column 775

ever be enough to give them the breaks and support that they need, but at least the White Paper proposals will provide some support.

Many people do not realise that social care is means-tested until they get to the point in their lives at which they need it. That means that we need more information to be available. We need to be honest with people about what is possible, what is available and what is not. All Governments are guilty of putting the best picture forward, which is sometimes misleading. I applaud the Government’s decision to commit £32.5 million to improving information, but perhaps I can make a plea on behalf of some of my older constituents: that investment should not all be online. Many older people do not communicate in that way, so we must allow for some leaflets in GPs’ surgeries, libraries and day centres, and for other traditional forms of communication. Otherwise, we will make older people who do not engage with new media even more dependent on other people to get information for them.

Fiona Bruce: Will my hon. Friend give way?

Margot James: No, I promised not to take any more interventions, because I know other Members want to speak.

Then there is the dreaded assessment. Older people often try hard at their assessment to suggest that they can do more than they really can, especially when their carers are present. At the moment, assessments are conducted inconsistently not just around the country but within communities—it depends on who conducts them. I applaud the initiative to make them far more universal and consistent. The Dilnot proposal of making them portable around the country is certainly a huge step in the right direction.

As Members of all parties have indicated, the quality of care needs to improve. I welcome the emphasis on dignity and respect that runs through the White Paper. It is important that we have better training for care workers and an end, if possible, to the terrible business of contracting by the minute, which flies in the face of dignity. I quite agree with other hon. Members that it is impossible to get an elderly person out of bed and dressed in the amount of time that is allocated these days.

Dignity and respect are at the heart of a good-quality care system, and I am pleased that that has been given the prominence that it deserves in the White Paper. Of course we would like to do more, but I applaud the Government for making a very good start and, if I may say so to Opposition Members, they have done so within two and a half years of coming to office, which is a great improvement on the previous Government, who took 12 years before they got round to the same point.

9.5 pm

Nic Dakin (Scunthorpe) (Lab): Adult social care is probably one of the biggest, if not the biggest, challenges that we as politicians and policy makers face. We have heard thoughtful contributions from Members on both sides of the House explaining why it is so difficult. If people are fortunate, they never need to access adult care. If they are unfortunate, they do need to do so, or members of their family do. As we heard from the hon. Member for Southport (John Pugh), it can be a cruel

16 July 2012 : Column 776

lottery. One of our purposes should be to minimise the extent of that lottery and maximise entitlement and support for all individuals.

One of the most humbling experiences I have had since becoming Member of Parliament for Scunthorpe was going to visit a constituent in his home last week on this very issue of care and support. He is a similar age to me. When he was younger, near the end of his training in the medical profession, he went out into the sea and suffered a terrible accident. As a result, he was paralysed from the neck down. Since then, he contributed to society in a number of different ways. He retrained in higher education until he was advised by his GP to retire because if he did not, in the GP’s words, “the wheels would come off” and he would no longer be able to contribute to society.

After going to see my constituent, he wrote to me—this is about individuals and real people’s lives—about the publication of the draft social care bill:

“I have just been reading the latest on social care funding on the BBC website—it would seem that meaningful cross-party dialogue re Andrew Dilnot’s recommendations has broken down and that the government wants to put decisions off until the spending review late next year.

My suspicions about kicking into the long grass appear justified!...I have already contributed over £60000 towards my care package and seem to be paying more and more each year—despite the fact that North Lincolnshire council reduce the value of my care package every time there is a review.

My condition has not improved. I am, in fact, starting to suffer more and more of the long term complications that inevitably hit ageing tetraplegics.”

The worry and concern are there. When visiting my constituent in his home, I observed that the people who were providing the care were brought in at his expense. Resources were not adequate, because that cost was being taken out of his small pension from working in higher education, which went up by 5% a couple of weeks ago, although the contribution to North Lincolnshire council went up by 25%. What is the incentive to do the right thing in difficult circumstances when those sort of things happen?

What I have described was additional care. The core care was provided by my constituent’s mother, who was in her mid 80s, and his sister, who travelled for two and a half hours to spend half the week helping to care for him. As politicians, we need to step up to the plate. It is about leadership—cross-party leadership—and being able to do the right thing for people, such as my constituent, who suffer misfortune. Had that misfortune occurred, as he said to me, in a car crash, he would have received insurance compensation, which would have paid for his care package. Because it took place in a situation of utmost tragedy—nobody was responsible for it, but it was a total misfortune—there is no underpinning support from the state, which should properly protect him and his family from having to pay more and more money. My plea is for us to show the leadership across the parties—

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Nigel Evans): Order.

9.10 pm

Sarah Newton (Truro and Falmouth) (Con): I am delighted to follow the hon. Member for Scunthorpe (Nic Dakin), as I completely agree that this issue is

16 July 2012 : Column 777

about leadership. Some of my hon. Friends alluded to a better-tempered debate, such as the Back-Bench business debate, to which all parties made thoughtful contributions, based on a great deal of expertise from different walks of life—whether from people in the medical profession, those who had spent their life in social services or those who had a personal point of view from being a carer. We heard some heartfelt contributions in that debate, so I think we are united in the desire to do something about this issue.

What I have found deeply disappointing about today is the fact that this debate was called in the first place. There was significant and genuine desire by this coalition Government to solve once and for all this problem that everyone agrees needs to be solved. Everyone agrees that it needs cross-party support—for reasons that are obvious to anyone sitting in the Gallery or watching this evening’s debate and to all the various voluntary organisations that have been very substantially misquoted or very selectively quoted this evening. There is a unity of purpose, but it is not being served by the Opposition who are tabling Opposition day debates, falsely dividing the House.

If the Opposition were to put their efforts into working closely with the two parties that form this coalition to come to a sensible solution, I believe that measures would be in the White Paper, but we are still seeing sledging and negative comments from Opposition Front-Bench Members as we have seen all day. It is deeply disappointing that the Opposition are so thoroughly letting down the people whom they claim they represent. I do not believe it is too late, and I really urge them to get back to the table and to be more positive about the steps that the Government are taking—[Interruption.] Here we go again; I cannot even finish a sentence without Opposition Members chuntering.

The fact is that I worked very closely with a number of Opposition colleagues. Various Members have talked about the very good work we did in the inquiry led by the all-party group on local government that looked at this issue. There was an all-party agreed proposal that identified many measures—which the Government have picked up in the draft White Paper—that we can achieve together. The effort should be focused on what we agree on, so that we can offer the reassurance that is needed by the desperately worried people all around the country that have been quietly identified this evening. People are worried not only about the social care system now, but the social care system in the future. We should be reassuring these people and giving them hope that this House has the necessary combined will and determination. I do not think any of us want to face the electorate at the next general election saying that this problem has not been solved.

As to the timetable, yes, I would love to be able to stand here today and congratulate the Government on finding every penny to fund a long-term solution. If we can get the cross-party talks into gear in September, we should be able to put in place the mechanism that, as confirmed by the Secretary of State, could be built into a Bill and put before Parliament. When all parties have agreed on how this is to be funded—as many people have rightly said, it will cost billions of pounds every year and we are in a very difficult financial situation, so

16 July 2012 : Column 778

all parties must agree on how those billions can be found—there is every possibility that such a Bill will get through Parliament and, when next year’s comprehensive spending review is developed, the money will be found.

Yes, it is frustrating if we have to wait another year or 18 months. Before I entered the House, I spent the best part of my adult life working for Age Concern England and for the International Longevity Centre in the UK, coming up with solutions that previous Governments certainly kicked into the long grass, so this is our best hope in a generation.

Heidi Alexander: I respect the hon. Lady’s work on this issue, but does she recognise that there is almost universal agreement outside the House that the big disappointment is that there were no proposals last week on how, in the longer term, we provide the funds that we all want for care for the elderly and those with disabilities?

Sarah Newton: I accept that there is genuine disappointment, but people equally understand that all parties in the House must be committed on where the billions of pounds each year will come from, so that the proposals are sustainable for the long term, and so that people can save and invest without fear of the rug being pulled from beneath them.

The proposals are a sticking plaster—there is no doubt about that—but if only people could hear the facts, they would appreciate that more money is being put into the system while the problem is being resolved for the long term. It is not true that all councils are cutting back. Cornwall council has not cut its adult social care. It is working in extremely innovative ways with the NHS and the voluntary sector to ensure that services are improved. I do not accept the shroud waving from Opposition Members, who say that every part of the country is in crisis.

Richard Graham (Gloucester) (Con): My hon. Friend has a high interest in, and knowledge of, these matters. Does she agree that counties such as hers and mine—Cornwall and Gloucestershire—that prioritise adult social services precisely because of their ageing populations, are helping to find a solution to the problem, which is so badly needed by constituents all round the country?

Sarah Newton: I agree. I encourage people to read the good report published today by the all-party parliamentary group on local government, because it contains good examples from all over the country of how proper integration of social services with housing and the NHS is beginning. There is every possibility, as a result of HealthWatch and the health and wellbeing boards, that such integration innovation will deliver the joined-up services for families and carers that will lead to an agenda focused on public health and the prevention of the problems that lead people into acute settings such as A and E and hospitals. People currently end up in such settings far more than they need to.

I am confident that, in a years’ time, hon. Members on both sides of the House will come here to share best practice from those parts of the country that grasp the opportunities of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 and make the most of the changes. We can then encourage other parts of the country that do not prioritise those

16 July 2012 : Column 779

matters to do the best they can for older people and carers in their societies. All hon. Members want them to have higher-quality and better care so that they can live in dignity for the rest of their lives.

9.17 pm

Kelvin Hopkins (Luton North) (Lab): The hon. Member for Southport (John Pugh) was kind enough to say that people of a pensionable age can sometimes make useful contributions. He is very kind to me—I am the only Member of a pensionable age to speak in the debate. I am 37 in my mind, but with a son of 42, that is rather unlikely.

The Government have failed at the core of the White Paper on the question of funding. This is about money, not leadership or consensus or saying nice words in the Chamber. I am very pleased that Labour Front Benchers have accepted Dilnot. His proposals are not perfect, but he goes a long way to proposing a free national care service, which my hon. Friend the Member for Blaydon (Mr Anderson) and I want.

I know Andrew Dilnot well—he is a fine, highly intelligent and compassionate man. He went to great lengths to tailor a precise scheme that could be accepted by the Government, but at the last minute, they have buckled and not committed to it. The problem is the Treasury—the worst Government Department of all. It has failed the country over and over again with terrible mistakes. The European exchange rate mechanism destroyed the credibility of the Conservatives, but the Treasury has done lots of other bad things. It is a dreadful Department. I hope that Ministers now tell me how wonderful it is.

There has been almost no mention of the royal commission on long-term care from some 14 years ago—I think my hon. Friend the Member for Blaydon mentioned it—which recommended free long-term care, which is precisely what he and I want. However, the Government at the time—they happened to be a Government I supported—could see that the report was going to be unanimous, so they slotted in two people at the last minute to ensure that it was not unanimous, and from that point onwards they hung on to the minority report of those two members. It was a bit of a disgrace, and I made that point strongly. I tabled an early-day motion in the 1997 to 2001 Parliament calling for implementation of the royal commission’s recommendations, which was signed by more than 100 Members of the House at that time, and in the 2001 to 2005 Parliament I tabled another early-day motion saying the same thing, again with the same sort of support. I also have the support of the National Pensioners Convention—a body with which I am closely associated—which also wants free long-care on the same basis as in the NHS.

In Scandinavia they do it. Indeed, what I have always wanted my party to do—as well as the others, but particularly mine—is to move in the direction of Scandinavia, not the United States of America. If Members read the book “The Spirit Level”, they can see that the civilised societies—where people are happier and all sorts of social problems are lesser—are in the Scandinavian- style countries. The worst end of the spectrum is in America, and we have been steadily moving towards the American end, not the Scandinavian end.

In the end it is about cost and this word “affordability”. We choose what is affordable. It is not written in stone: we can choose to make things affordable, and we can

16 July 2012 : Column 780

choose to pay for them by progressive taxation—if we wish. It is a political choice. People say, “Oh, well it’s not affordable.” However—I have told this story many times—I remember that when my children were young, if they asked for a second ice cream, my wife would say to them, “Mummy can’t afford it,” when what she was really saying was: “You can’t have another ice cream.” Of course she could afford it. We can afford to pay for free long-term care too, but we choose not to—so far. I hope to persuade my side at least to commit to it in time.

The extra costs of Dilnot would initially be £2 billion a year. That is the equivalent of 0.5p on the standard rate of income tax. I have put this to many people in meetings and asked them, “What would you choose: the threat that your home would be taken away, with no equity to hand on to your grandchildren, or an extra 0.5p on the standard rate?” Without exception, they say 0.5p on the standard rate. Of course, we do not have to do it that way, because there is plenty of cash in the tax gap, which is estimated to be as much as £120 billion a year, or even more. If we collected a tiny fraction of that—one sixtieth—we could cover Dilnot’s proposals; and, if we have to have a bit more, let us squeeze the tax gap a bit further. However, since Margaret Thatcher’s time as Prime Minister, we have seen the standard rate cut by 5p, which is 10 times more than the cost of Dilnot, so do not let us pretend that it not affordable. We choose not pay for it, because we think—or some people think—that low taxes are better or that letting tax evaders and tax avoiders get away with it is better than looking after elderly people in great need.

We are also committed, apparently—I understand that this goes for both sides of the House—to the idea of owner occupation, but we are actually seeing the gradual erosion of owner occupation, particularly by poorer people having their houses taken away when—

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Nigel Evans): Order.

9.23 pm

Dr Daniel Poulter (Central Suffolk and North Ipswich) (Con): It is a great pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Luton North (Kelvin Hopkins). I commend him for his ability to get Europe into almost every debate we have in this House. I am not sure whether his sums quite added up at the end of his speech, but it is commendable that we have seen a commitment across the House this evening to improving the dignity and quality of elderly care, which is something I am sure we would all like to see.

All previous Governments have taken steps in that direction, but I believe that the White Paper and the draft Bill that this Government have brought forward represent the most significant steps towards improving dignity in elderly care for a generation. The “in-principle” support for Dilnot and the Dilnot proposals is a good recommendation, and it needs to be considered in the context of whole-government spending at the next spending review. However, for the first time there has been an in-principle agreement by a Government that social care is one of the most important issues and challenges facing our country. How we are going to provide dignity in elderly care—high-quality care in the community—is a clear priority for this Government, and that should be commended.

16 July 2012 : Column 781

I want to outline some of the real challenges that face people who are in receipt of social care, particularly the frail elderly. The hon. Member for Blaydon (Mr Anderson) pointed out that it can be difficult to distinguish between NHS care and social care, because they often involve exactly the same things. They include supporting the activities of daily life that we all take for granted, such as washing, dressing, getting in and out of bed or the bath and going up and down stairs. Those are the kinds of things that we mean when we talk about providing high-quality social care, and this Government have put forward strong measures that will make it much easier to provide such care for the people who most need it.

The White Paper and the draft Bill provide for support for carers, and for improving the personalisation of care, which is particularly important for younger people in receipt of social care, as the hon. Member for Scunthorpe (Nic Dakin) said. Respite care is also recognised as an important means of better supporting carers, giving them a break from the hard work of looking after people and ensuring that the role of carers is properly supported. The proposals also include a commitment to portability of care, and to a universal care assessment.

Glyn Davies (Montgomeryshire) (Con): I raised the issue of portability with the Secretary of State last week. It is crucial that a debate should take place about what we are doing here and what is happening in Wales, as this is a devolved matter. There must be close liaison between us. I understand that the initiative must come from the Welsh Government but, without that liaison, people will fall between the two countries.

Dr Poulter: My hon. Friend makes an important point. Social care and NHS care do not recognise county borders, which is why portability is so important. They certainly do not recognise the boundaries between England and Wales or between any other parts of the United Kingdom. We have devolved responsibility for the NHS, and the fact that there are different funding priorities in the different parts of the UK, with the Government in England supporting investment in the NHS and the Labour Administration in Wales cutting NHS spending, highlights the importance of my hon. Friend’s point. I am sure that the Minister will be able to reassure us that the coalition Government are taking steps to ensure that portability can take place across those borders wherever possible.

The White Paper also contains a commendable commitment to improving integrated care and ensuring that more joined-up working takes place between the NHS and social care.

Sarah Newton: Would my hon. Friend like to comment on some of the Opposition’s assertions that the efficiency savings from reductions in management levels in NHS are not being put back into front-line services to enable integration, and that they are somehow being siphoned off to the Treasury? I do not believe that—

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Nigel Evans): Order. I must ask the hon. Lady to turn round so that the microphone can pick up what she is saying. I know that she is finding that difficult, but she should be heard by everyone in the Chamber.

16 July 2012 : Column 782

Dr Poulter: I thank my hon. Friend for her intervention, and I agree with her. The Government are making a clear commitment to encouraging integrated care and to putting savings made in the back office back into the front line of NHS care. Many billions of pounds have already been committed, and there is more money in the draft Bill to encourage better integration between the NHS and social care services.

As the Minister of State said, it is important to shift the emphasis away from crisis management and towards preventive care. The focus on housing as part of the integrated care system is important. My hon. Friend the Member for Congleton (Fiona Bruce) made the point that, far too often, older people fall over and injure themselves as a result of poor lighting or a lack of handrails in their homes, ending up in the accident and emergency department, when better lighting and preventive care in the home would have provided a much more effective way of looking after them properly, as well as saving the NHS and social care a lot of money. That key commitment to more integration between the NHS, providers of housing and social services providers is a fundamental ingredient of the way in which we can improve the day-to-day quality of adult social care, while also saving a great deal of money, which can be spent on improving care for everyone else.

Finally, let me talk a little about funding. The Dilnot proposals have been agreed to in principle, and I hope that the Opposition will at least give the Government some credit for the fact that there has been a once-in-a-generation attempt to deal with this issue. It is not good enough to say, 13 years into an Administration, “Three weeks before the general election, we will publish a White Paper.” No one could consider that a serious commitment to tackling the challenges that we face.

The way forward now must be the cross-party working that we all believe is desirable. That means that all parties must work together and support the Government’s White Paper, support day-to-day improvements in care for older people, and support the agreement in principle to the Dilnot proposals that the Government have presented.

9.31 pm

Julie Hilling (Bolton West) (Lab): While we sit here discussing this issue, families will be sitting in their living rooms or around hospital beds trying to decide what to do for their loved ones. Can they stay in their own homes? Will someone be able to deliver 24-hour care? How long will the situation continue? What will happen when the money runs out? What should they do for the best? While we sit here listening to the Minister telling us that we will sort things out in the future, families—now—are making the most difficult decisions of their lives.

I want to talk about the reality for my constituents, and to plead with the Minister to work with all the political parties in this place to find a long-term solution to the growing crisis of adult social care. It has to be a long-term solution: it has to be a solution that will last for many years, whoever is in government, and we have to find it now, not after the next general election. Old age happens only once to each individual. It is not something that we can return to and do better next time.

16 July 2012 : Column 783

We cannot just look at residential care; we must also look at the systems that keep people in their own homes, and allow them to lead fulfilling lives and live in dignity. The present situation is dire. Bolton council has had to cut £15 million from its budget for adult social care, which means that it can no longer give support to the 536 people aged between 18 and 64 and to the 1,312 people aged over 65 who have moderate needs.

Roberta Blackman-Woods: Does my hon. Friend agree that we have heard nothing from the Government this evening that demonstrates that they have any idea of the funding crisis that is hitting a number of local authorities throughout the country? There is no urgency at all in the Government’s actions.

Julie Hilling: Yes. The cuts faced by northern local authorities in particular are dire. Bolton will have to find £100 million worth of cuts during the current Parliament.

Sheila Gilmore: Does my hon. Friend agree that it simply is not good enough to express—as the White Paper does—concerns about matters such as short periods of care time, or the fact that some carers are not even earning the minimum wage, if there is no way of making things work financially? I do not believe that councils have chosen 15-minute slots deliberately; I believe that they have done it in order to save costs and make efficiencies. Similarly, there are carers who have to pay for their own travel.

Julie Hilling: We have to realise that we are facing a crisis now, not a crisis in the future. People in our constituencies are suffering daily. A young man in my constituency who has learning difficulties and has relied on carers to help him with his everyday life will now see his carer only once a week. Contact with a carer is the only contact that many such people ever have with another human being, and that contact is now going. It is truly a false economy. This low level of care for people with moderate needs is what keeps them in their homes, keeps them healthy, and stops them ending up in residential care prematurely. Bolton is managing to maintain substantial and critical care, but it will have to find £34 million in cuts over the next two years, and it is worried that it will have to join other councils in only providing critical care.

Paying for home care is a huge worry. The average cost is £13.61 an hour, but it can be a great deal more; in Brighton and Hove, carers cost £21.50. It is not unusual for people paying for care to have to find more than £10,000 a year to cover that cost. That spending needs to be taken into account if we are to have caps over the whole amount. Many Members will know that my mother has been in and out of care over the past 12 months. We have spent £20,000 since October on her care.

The cuts to local authority budgets are affecting other support services, and the consequent cuts to the voluntary sector are having dire consequences. The voluntary sector provides luncheon clubs, social activities and carers groups, all of which are under pressure or at risk.

Horwich visiting service in my constituency has lost funding and can no longer employ its part-time co-ordinator. That was the person who recruited volunteers,

16 July 2012 : Column 784

sorted out the police clearance, provided training, ascertained the needs of clients and supported the volunteers. The volunteers will continue to visit the elderly and disabled people with whom they are currently in contact, but it will not be possible to recruit new volunteers or take on new clients.

The fees local authorities pay to care homes is also an issue. There has been a significant real-terms cut over the last two years. That inevitably impacts on care. It also means self-funders are charged more in order to subsidise the costs of council-funded residents.

The choice of home is another huge concern. The other day, I was speaking to one of the police officers on the parliamentary estate. He told me his mother was in a care home. He and the family had chosen a home that suited her needs and they had sold her house to pay for the care, but now the money is running out and he does not know whether the local authority will pay the care home fees, whether his mum will have to move or whether the family will somehow have to pay the additional costs. If the cap is ever introduced, that will be too late for him, but he still needs to know that the care costs will be met in future.

The needs of the elderly and disabled do not move in a straight line. Some people may need to go into care for a period of time, such as when recovering from an illness or an accident, but, with support, they may be able to return home. However, we were told that after six months my mum would have to sell her flat to pay for her care. In fact, after eight months in a care home, she has returned to her own flat. That shows that people do not move in a straight line through the system. Decisions should not be taken on the basis of cost alone; they should be taken on the basis of needs, too.

Let me conclude by reading out a comment from a constituent of mine called Amy:

“Alongside the funding crisis there is also a huge injustice in the way we pay for care. This includes the dementia tax, where tens of thousands of families are left to pay all their care costs whilst other terminal conditions are paid for by the NHS.

The significant cost of care means many carers face financial hardship and are often forced to give up work.

We need reform to build a fair and sustainable care system which delivers dignity, independence and peace of mind.”

Amy is right. We need to get on with this. We need to find a solution where people’s needs are taken into account, and where people do not live in fear for both themselves and their families. We need to find a solution to this problem that all of us can live with, and that cares for people who are in need in our society.

Several hon. Members rose

Mr Speaker: Order. The Opposition Front-Bench speech must start at 9.40 pm, so the hon. Member for Blackpool North and Cleveleys (Paul Maynard) has a tiny window of time in which to make his contribution.

9.38 pm

Paul Maynard (Blackpool North and Cleveleys) (Con): I shall be very brief then, Mr Speaker. I have just two minutes.

When we talk about social care, we tend to spend most of our time discussing the elderly. I want to say a few words about young disabled people, however, who

16 July 2012 : Column 785

benefit from social care, and who need to have a voice in this debate. I chair the all-party group on young disabled people, and we have been discussing many of the key issues. Last week, we discussed housing, for example. I welcome the money proposed in the White Paper for improving housing for the disabled, but may I sound a note of caution? At present, too many wheelchair-adapted houses are not going to those who need them—people in wheelchairs. It is all very well constructing these houses, but we must get the allocation policy right, too.

I welcome the transition funding, but I have a plea to make on that. There is a concern that there is a cliff-edge at the age of 18. For many families it is, as it were, a gradual cliff-edge. Things start to decline at 14, so the care package they get at 18 might not be the appropriate one they need as an adult. May I ask the Minister to look at that issue closely?

I welcome the introduction of portability, as that is crucial. I know that the Opposition brought similar measures in when in government, but we are taking this further. It is far more important for younger disabled people than it is for those who are elderly. We talk a lot in this Chamber about social mobility. One of the main hurdles for young disabled people who wish to go to university is the great fear that when they get there they will not have the same social care package as they had when they were at home with their parents. That is the main fear they face; it is what keeps them at home and means that they do not take full advantage of the educational opportunities on offer. I will stop there.

9.40 pm

Ms Diane Abbott (Hackney North and Stoke Newington) (Lab): No family in the land is untouched by the challenges of social care. Families up and down the land who will watch this debate or read about it know that if social care is not an issue for them today, it may be an issue for them later. Labour Members therefore think it is important that it is spoken about not in policy wonk or accountancy terminology, but in terms of people. That is because it is an issue about people, be they the elderly, the disabled, the young disabled, about whom we heard eloquently just now, the carers within the family or the tens of thousands of men and women who work as professional care workers, about whom my hon. Friend the Member for Blaydon (Mr Anderson) talked so eloquently earlier.

Let me say from the outset that the Opposition accept that this is an issue about which we could have done more. Social care and the challenges it poses in the 21st century are unfinished business for Labour. However, it is not true to say, as some Government Members have unfortunately done, that Labour was wholly inactive on the issue of social care. We heard from my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester West (Liz Kendall) about all the steps we took and the innovations we made on issues associated with social care. To say that we were totally inactive is quite wrong and is merely party political point scoring, but it is true that we did not grasp sufficiently early the political nettle of how social care is to be paid for. That is why, from the very beginning, we offered talks and entered willingly into them, and why we remain willing to resume talks, so long as Ministers are acting in good faith.

16 July 2012 : Column 786

Social care is an issue for families up and down the land. Government Members have said that people have to understand that they are going to sell off their homes, but the point about that is that homes are not mere bricks and mortar. These may be the homes that people came to as a young married couple and where they brought up their children; these are homes freighted with memory, emotion and family life. It is too easy to say that people have to be ready to sell off their homes. This is about people; it is not just about figures on a piece of paper.

Social care is also quintessentially an issue for the squeezed middle, to use the phrase of my right hon. Friend the Member for Doncaster North (Edward Miliband). The very poor will not have to meet their own costs, although there are still issues to address about standards of care, and the cost of care is not a problem for the extremely wealthy. This is an issue for the squeezed middle; it is an issue for people who, perhaps through years of struggle, have a home and assets and now see the frightening possibility—this is particularly the case for the elderly—of those assets being drained away because of a system that is not yet under control.

Glyn Davies rose—

Ms Abbott: I am afraid that I will not be able to give way, because I want to leave sufficient time for the Minister to make her remarks.

We also have to address the issues of dementia and Alzheimer’s. They are largely dealt with as social care issues but in fact they are an increasing challenge for people as they grow older.

The Minister called social care Bevan’s orphan and I think that that is a little unfair. The world we face today is very different from the world of William Beveridge and the framers of the first national health service. People live much longer and do so with all sorts of long-term conditions, whereas changes in the role of women mean that there is no longer a vast, mute and hidden army of carers. There are also issues with dementia and Alzheimer’s.

The Opposition want to be collaborative rather than party political, but I would be failing in my responsibilities if I did not draw to the attention of Ministers the one message given to my colleagues and I as we have gone up and down the country talking to local authorities about the new public health arrangements and social care. Those in town halls, whether they are Labour or Conservative-led, have said that local authorities are under unprecedented financial pressure. Some of the things we heard from Ministers seemed to suggest a certain carelessness about or unwillingness to face up to the financial pressures that mean that local authorities are making real decisions that are affecting real people and real families. Ministers heard what local authorities are trying to do to make the money stretch. On the one hand, there are more stringent criteria, so people need to be in greater need to get social care at all, but on the other hand, they are squeezing the money and the standards. That is the only way it can happen.

If I could say only one thing to Ministers, it would be that they should listen not to the Opposition spokespeople or to Labour councillors but to their own Conservative councillors, who are trying to make them address the

16 July 2012 : Column 787

scale of the crisis that they face. They are very alarmed—we know that they are—that Ministers appear to be poised to place additional responsibilities on them without any ideas of how to provide funding.

I remember what the Prime Minister told this House in February 2010, speaking about social care. He said:

“What we want to know is: where is the money coming from?”—[Official Report, 10 February 2010; Vol. 505, c. 904.]

I have to say that councillors and families up and down the country, as well as Members of this House, want to know what is behind the fine words and what Ministers will do to fund the proposals outlined in their White Paper.

Precisely because I do not want to be party political, I will refrain from talking about the Conservative party’s party political broadcast on the death tax and the posters that said:

“Now Gordon wants £20,000 when you die. Don’t vote for Labour’s new death tax.”

I am not a party political person, so I shall leave that. I shall put it to one side.

We support Dilnot in principle, but we are a little concerned about the Secretary of State’s pick-and-mix approach to the recommendations. We are worried that although the White Paper reads well, it makes too many vague commitments. I would be grateful if the Minister could give me an answer on the question of loans, in particular. On that question, as she will be aware, the 1999 royal commission—sadly, we did not address the issues of funding that it raised—said that

“there would need to be an initial outlay of potentially between £1bn and £2.8bn…the scheme would be complex to establish, and to administer, probably very expensive initially and would leave the state with an uncertain liability. If Local Authorities administered it, they might be left with a complex burden of assets which would differ greatly from one part of the country to another. The Commission consider there little overall benefit to be gained from such a scheme.”

I would be grateful if the Minister could tell me —[Interruption.] It is a deferred payment scheme at the discretion of local authorities—[Interruption.] We want to know how the Government will fund the upfront costs and about the levels of interest. Members will appreciate that elderly people, in particular, are very concerned about issues of debt. On that and on a range of other issues, we are waiting for a little more detail from Ministers. They can sit on the Front Bench and make party political remarks, but that is no help to families throughout the country who are worried about how they can fund social care in the future. It is no help to local authorities, which say that in a very few years the cost of social care will have inflated so much that they will not be able to meet other needs from their budget.

There are many things in the White Paper that we welcome, not least because many of them were in the White Paper introduced by my right hon. Friend the Member for Leigh (Andy Burnham) on building a national care service. We say to Ministers that it is easy to score points. It is easy to talk about what could have been done in the past, but we need to meet the challenge of how we care for our elderly, our disabled and our young disabled. That is the challenge that the nation is facing now. The White Paper reads well, but Age Concern and all the stakeholders are asking how Ministers will

16 July 2012 : Column 788

fund it. We stand ready to enter talks. We stand ready to work with Ministers. All we ask from Ministers is that they act in good faith.

9.51 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Anne Milton): I was heartened by some of what I read in the motion tabled by the Opposition. Welcoming the measures laid out in the care and support White Paper was a good start to a process that will be immensely easier with genuine co-operation and communication. However, the speeches from the Opposition Front Bench were partisan and contained no acknowledgement that for 13 years they did nothing. The hon. Member for Leicester West (Liz Kendall) seems to have amnesia. Cheap party political squabbling is not attractive. I remind the hon. Member for Hackney North and Stoke Newington (Ms Abbott) that she was very political by trying not to be political. I remind her also that 40,000 people a year had to sell their homes to pay for their care. It reflects badly on her and on the House and does nothing to improve the lives of service users, carers and staff. A White Paper seven days before the general election announcement counts for little.

Care has to be funded in a way that is fair on service users and fair on the taxpayer. We agree with Dilnot that financial protection through capped costs and an extended means test are the right basis for any new funding system. Given the extra public spending that will be involved, we need to consider that alongside other priorities. An issue that has been raised throughout the debate is the funding for the means-tested system. The right place—the responsible place—to consider that is in the course of the spending review and I do not intend to pre-empt that tonight. I draw hon. Members’ attention to the progress report. Many of the answers to the questions that they raise are included in that. The hon. Member for Hackney North and Stoke Newington would do well to refer to figure 4 in the report.

We have allocated an extra £7.2 billion to improve care and support as part of the spending review. That comes as part of what we know is a tough settlement for local government. If spent well, it will go far and will help local authorities maintain people’s access to care and support. The recent report from Demos and Scope shows that this can be done, and that reduced funding does not have to mean a reduced service. By putting more into reablement services that help people regain their independence, for example, or by supporting people to live in the community instead of in expensive residential care, local authorities can provide the best standards of care while saving money.

My hon. Friend the Minister of State mentioned the £32.5 million for better online services and traditional communication methods to help people see what services are available, whether their care is paid for by them or by the state. Likewise, there is an additional £200 million for specialised housing. That additional money more than pays for the White Paper proposals leading up to the comprehensive spending review. As my hon. Friend the Member for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich (Dr Poulter) said, the issue was ducked repeatedly by the previous Government in far more favourable economic times. He also drew attention to the absurd distinctions between health and social care and the need for integration.

16 July 2012 : Column 789

My hon. Friend the Member for Congleton (Fiona Bruce) spoke from the heart about the needs of carers, the £400 million we have provided for carers’ breaks and the end of permanent billing. My hon. Friend the Member for Southport (John Pugh) spoke of the contribution older people make and how to stop the fit becoming frail. My hon. Friend the Member for Stourbridge (Margot James) reiterated the ADASS figures and the desire for people to stay in their own homes. My hon. Friend the Member for Truro and Falmouth (Sarah Newton) spoke with passion and knowledge of the unity and commonality of purpose we need and the divisive nature of the Opposition’s motion. My hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool North and Cleveleys (Paul Maynard) pointed out the huge need to address the needs of people with disabilities.

These are ambitious plans. As well as setting out a comprehensive package of reform for the longer term, the White Paper announces changes that will make a difference immediately: a national eligibility threshold; proper and meaningful portability; duties to share information to ensure that people can move without losing their care; a focus on housing; provider quality profiles so that people can finally have clear information on the quality of care providers; mandatory adult safeguarding boards; and a requirement to assess carers’ needs and actually meet them—much neglected help and support. It also announces a code of conduct and minimum training standards for care workers so that people know that their care is underpinned by high standards of training and ethics. We will train more care workers, with 50,000 more apprenticeships by 2017, double the current number.

Mr Anderson rose

Anne Milton: The hon. Gentleman should welcome that.

The White Paper opens for business the new national information website so that people can find out more about all parts of the care and support system. It sets out legal entitlements to personal budgets so that care users, their families and their carers can choose what services they get. There are improvements to the transition from children’s services to adult services. These are big changes, egalitarian changes and, most of all, they will be effective changes. We are also reforming the existing social care legislation through the draft Care and Support Bill. The White Paper is about keeping people well and helping them to take control, get independent and live the lives they deserve with the certainty and security they need to do so with dignity.

There are times when we, as politicians, need not only to open our eyes and ears to the world outside this House, but to stand in the shoes of those we represent. They do not want to see us argue, squabble and bicker over their lives. On this issue, perhaps more than any other, we need to work together. If we do that, we can improve the system for millions of people, whether they use the services or care for someone who uses them. The system is funded until the next spending review.

I urge Opposition Members and Front Benchers to put aside party political differences and work alongside us to ensure that we have a system that is sustainable

16 July 2012 : Column 790

not only for this year and next, until the next general election, but for the years ahead. Older people in this country, the carers who support them and people with disabilities deserve that. The White Paper gives us a foundation on which to work, a foundation that has been missing for far too long. In 13 years in government, in favourable economic times, those now on the Opposition Benches did nothing that was sustainable in the long term. We need a foundation that gives us a chance to build a care and support system that future generations will be proud of. I urge the House to reject the motion.

Question put,

The House divided:

Ayes 225, Noes 292.

Division No. 55]

[9.59 pm


Abbott, Ms Diane

Abrahams, Debbie

Ainsworth, rh Mr Bob

Alexander, Heidi

Ali, Rushanara

Anderson, Mr David

Ashworth, Jonathan

Bailey, Mr Adrian

Bain, Mr William

Balls, rh Ed

Barron, rh Mr Kevin

Bayley, Hugh

Beckett, rh Margaret

Bell, Sir Stuart

Benn, rh Hilary

Benton, Mr Joe

Betts, Mr Clive

Blackman-Woods, Roberta

Blears, rh Hazel

Blenkinsop, Tom

Blomfield, Paul

Blunkett, rh Mr David

Bradshaw, rh Mr Ben

Brennan, Kevin

Brown, rh Mr Nicholas

Brown, Mr Russell

Bryant, Chris

Buck, Ms Karen

Burden, Richard

Burnham, rh Andy

Byrne, rh Mr Liam

Campbell, Mr Alan

Campbell, Mr Ronnie

Caton, Martin

Chapman, Jenny

Clark, Katy

Clarke, rh Mr Tom

Clwyd, rh Ann

Coaker, Vernon

Coffey, Ann

Connarty, Michael

Cooper, Rosie

Corbyn, Jeremy

Crausby, Mr David

Creagh, Mary

Creasy, Stella

Cruddas, Jon

Cryer, John

Cunningham, Alex

Cunningham, Mr Jim

Cunningham, Sir Tony

Curran, Margaret

Dakin, Nic

Danczuk, Simon

David, Wayne

Davidson, Mr Ian

Davies, Geraint

Denham, rh Mr John

Dobbin, Jim

Dobson, rh Frank

Docherty, Thomas

Donohoe, Mr Brian H.

Doran, Mr Frank

Dowd, Jim

Doyle, Gemma

Dromey, Jack

Durkan, Mark

Eagle, Ms Angela

Eagle, Maria

Edwards, Jonathan

Efford, Clive

Elliott, Julie

Ellman, Mrs Louise

Engel, Natascha

Esterson, Bill

Evans, Chris

Farrelly, Paul

Fitzpatrick, Jim

Flello, Robert

Flint, rh Caroline

Flynn, Paul

Fovargue, Yvonne

Gapes, Mike

Gardiner, Barry

Gilmore, Sheila

Glass, Pat

Glindon, Mrs Mary

Godsiff, Mr Roger

Goggins, rh Paul

Goodman, Helen

Greatrex, Tom

Green, Kate

Greenwood, Lilian

Griffith, Nia

Gwynne, Andrew

Hain, rh Mr Peter

Hamilton, Mr David

Hamilton, Fabian

Harman, rh Ms Harriet

Harris, Mr Tom

Havard, Mr Dai

Healey, rh John

Hendrick, Mark

Hepburn, Mr Stephen

Heyes, David

Hillier, Meg

Hodgson, Mrs Sharon

Hopkins, Kelvin

Howarth, rh Mr George

Hunt, Tristram

Irranca-Davies, Huw

Jackson, Glenda

Jamieson, Cathy

Jarvis, Dan

Johnson, rh Alan

Johnson, Diana

Jones, Graham

Jones, Helen

Jones, Mr Kevan

Jones, Susan Elan

Jowell, rh Dame Tessa

Joyce, Eric

Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald

Keeley, Barbara

Kendall, Liz

Khan, rh Sadiq

Lavery, Ian

Leslie, Chris

Lewis, Mr Ivan

Lloyd, Tony

Llwyd, rh Mr Elfyn

Love, Mr Andrew

MacShane, rh Mr Denis

Mactaggart, Fiona

Mahmood, Shabana

Malhotra, Seema

Mann, John

Marsden, Mr Gordon

McCann, Mr Michael

McCarthy, Kerry

McClymont, Gregg

McCrea, Dr William

McDonagh, Siobhain

McDonnell, John

McFadden, rh Mr Pat

McGovern, Alison

McGovern, Jim

McGuire, rh Mrs Anne

McKechin, Ann

McKenzie, Mr Iain

McKinnell, Catherine

Meacher, rh Mr Michael

Meale, Sir Alan

Mearns, Ian

Michael, rh Alun

Miller, Andrew

Moon, Mrs Madeleine

Morden, Jessica

Morrice, Graeme


Morris, Grahame M.


Mudie, Mr George

Munn, Meg

Murphy, rh Paul

Murray, Ian

Nandy, Lisa

Nash, Pamela

O'Donnell, Fiona

Onwurah, Chi

Osborne, Sandra

Owen, Albert

Pearce, Teresa

Perkins, Toby

Phillipson, Bridget

Pound, Stephen

Qureshi, Yasmin

Raynsford, rh Mr Nick

Reed, Mr Jamie

Reeves, Rachel

Reynolds, Emma

Reynolds, Jonathan

Riordan, Mrs Linda

Ritchie, Ms Margaret

Robertson, John

Robinson, Mr Geoffrey

Rotheram, Steve

Roy, Mr Frank

Roy, Lindsay

Ruane, Chris

Ruddock, rh Dame Joan

Sarwar, Anas

Seabeck, Alison

Shannon, Jim

Sharma, Mr Virendra

Sheerman, Mr Barry

Sheridan, Jim

Shuker, Gavin

Skinner, Mr Dennis

Slaughter, Mr Andy

Smith, Angela

Smith, Nick

Smith, Owen

Spellar, rh Mr John

Straw, rh Mr Jack

Stringer, Graham

Sutcliffe, Mr Gerry

Tami, Mark

Thomas, Mr Gareth

Thornberry, Emily

Timms, rh Stephen

Trickett, Jon

Twigg, Derek

Twigg, Stephen

Umunna, Mr Chuka

Vaz, Valerie

Watson, Mr Tom

Watts, Mr Dave

Whitehead, Dr Alan

Williams, Hywel

Williamson, Chris

Wilson, Sammy

Winnick, Mr David

Winterton, rh Ms Rosie

Woodcock, John

Wright, David

Wright, Mr Iain

Tellers for the Ayes:

Phil Wilson and

Julie Hilling


Afriyie, Adam

Aldous, Peter

Amess, Mr David

Andrew, Stuart

Arbuthnot, rh Mr James

Bacon, Mr Richard

Baker, Norman

Baker, Steve

Baldry, Sir Tony

Baldwin, Harriett

Barclay, Stephen

Barker, Gregory

Barwell, Gavin

Bebb, Guto

Beith, rh Sir Alan

Beresford, Sir Paul

Bingham, Andrew

Binley, Mr Brian

Birtwistle, Gordon

Blackman, Bob

Blackwood, Nicola

Boles, Nick

Bone, Mr Peter

Bottomley, Sir Peter

Bradley, Karen

Brady, Mr Graham

Brake, rh Tom

Bray, Angie

Brazier, Mr Julian

Bridgen, Andrew

Brine, Steve

Browne, Mr Jeremy

Bruce, Fiona

Bruce, rh Sir Malcolm

Buckland, Mr Robert

Burley, Mr Aidan

Burns, Conor

Burns, rh Mr Simon

Burrowes, Mr David

Burstow, Paul

Burt, Alistair

Burt, Lorely

Byles, Dan

Cairns, Alun

Campbell, rh Sir Menzies

Carmichael, rh Mr Alistair

Carmichael, Neil

Carswell, Mr Douglas

Cash, Mr William

Chope, Mr Christopher

Clappison, Mr James

Clark, rh Greg

Clarke, rh Mr Kenneth

Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey

Collins, Damian

Colvile, Oliver

Cox, Mr Geoffrey

Crockart, Mike

Crouch, Tracey

Davies, David T. C.


Davies, Glyn

Davies, Philip

Davis, rh Mr David

Dorries, Nadine

Doyle-Price, Jackie

Drax, Richard

Duddridge, James

Duncan, rh Mr Alan

Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain

Ellis, Michael

Ellison, Jane

Ellwood, Mr Tobias

Elphicke, Charlie

Eustice, George

Evans, Jonathan

Evennett, Mr David

Fabricant, Michael

Fallon, Michael

Farron, Tim

Featherstone, Lynne

Field, Mark

Foster, rh Mr Don

Francois, rh Mr Mark

Fullbrook, Lorraine

Fuller, Richard

Gale, Sir Roger

Garnier, Mr Edward

Garnier, Mark

Gauke, Mr David

George, Andrew

Gibb, Mr Nick

Glen, John

Goldsmith, Zac

Gove, rh Michael

Graham, Richard

Grant, Mrs Helen

Gray, Mr James

Grayling, rh Chris

Greening, rh Justine

Grieve, rh Mr Dominic

Griffiths, Andrew

Gummer, Ben

Gyimah, Mr Sam

Halfon, Robert

Hames, Duncan

Hammond, Stephen

Hancock, Matthew

Hands, Greg

Harper, Mr Mark

Harrington, Richard

Harris, Rebecca

Hart, Simon

Harvey, Nick

Hayes, Mr John

Heald, Oliver

Heath, Mr David

Heaton-Harris, Chris

Hemming, John

Henderson, Gordon

Hendry, Charles

Hinds, Damian

Hollingbery, George

Hollobone, Mr Philip

Holloway, Mr Adam

Hopkins, Kris

Howell, John

Hughes, rh Simon

Huhne, rh Chris

Hunt, rh Mr Jeremy

Hunter, Mark

Huppert, Dr Julian

Hurd, Mr Nick

Jackson, Mr Stewart

James, Margot

Javid, Sajid

Johnson, Gareth

Johnson, Joseph

Jones, Andrew

Jones, Mr Marcus

Kelly, Chris

Knight, rh Mr Greg

Kwarteng, Kwasi

Laing, Mrs Eleanor

Lamb, Norman

Lancaster, Mark

Lansley, rh Mr Andrew

Laws, rh Mr David

Leadsom, Andrea

Lee, Jessica

Lee, Dr Phillip

Leech, Mr John

Leigh, Mr Edward

Leslie, Charlotte

Letwin, rh Mr Oliver

Lewis, Brandon

Lewis, Dr Julian

Liddell-Grainger, Mr Ian

Lilley, rh Mr Peter

Lord, Jonathan

Luff, Peter

Lumley, Karen

Macleod, Mary

Main, Mrs Anne

Maude, rh Mr Francis

Maynard, Paul

McCartney, Jason

McCartney, Karl

McIntosh, Miss Anne

McLoughlin, rh Mr Patrick

McPartland, Stephen

McVey, Esther

Mensch, Louise

Menzies, Mark

Mercer, Patrick

Metcalfe, Stephen

Miller, Maria

Mills, Nigel

Milton, Anne

Moore, rh Michael

Mordaunt, Penny

Morgan, Nicky

Morris, Anne Marie

Morris, James

Mosley, Stephen

Mowat, David

Mulholland, Greg

Mundell, rh David

Munt, Tessa

Murray, Sheryll

Murrison, Dr Andrew

Neill, Robert

Newton, Sarah

Nokes, Caroline

Norman, Jesse

Nuttall, Mr David

O'Brien, Mr Stephen

Offord, Dr Matthew

Ollerenshaw, Eric

Parish, Neil

Patel, Priti

Penning, Mike

Penrose, John

Percy, Andrew

Perry, Claire

Phillips, Stephen

Pickles, rh Mr Eric

Pincher, Christopher

Poulter, Dr Daniel

Prisk, Mr Mark

Pritchard, Mark

Pugh, John

Raab, Mr Dominic

Randall, rh Mr John

Redwood, rh Mr John

Rees-Mogg, Jacob

Reid, Mr Alan

Robathan, rh Mr Andrew

Robertson, Hugh

Robertson, Mr Laurence

Rogerson, Dan

Rosindell, Andrew

Rudd, Amber

Ruffley, Mr David

Russell, Sir Bob

Rutley, David

Sanders, Mr Adrian

Sandys, Laura

Scott, Mr Lee

Selous, Andrew

Shapps, rh Grant

Sharma, Alok

Simmonds, Mark

Simpson, Mr Keith

Smith, Miss Chloe

Smith, Henry

Smith, Julian

Smith, Sir Robert

Soames, rh Nicholas

Soubry, Anna

Spelman, rh Mrs Caroline

Spencer, Mr Mark

Stanley, rh Sir John

Stephenson, Andrew

Stevenson, John

Stewart, Bob

Stewart, Iain

Stewart, Rory

Streeter, Mr Gary

Stride, Mel

Stuart, Mr Graham

Stunell, Andrew

Sturdy, Julian

Swales, Ian

Swayne, rh Mr Desmond

Swinson, Jo

Syms, Mr Robert

Tapsell, rh Sir Peter

Thurso, John

Timpson, Mr Edward

Tomlinson, Justin

Truss, Elizabeth

Turner, Mr Andrew

Tyrie, Mr Andrew

Vaizey, Mr Edward

Vara, Mr Shailesh

Vickers, Martin

Villiers, rh Mrs Theresa

Walker, Mr Charles

Walker, Mr Robin

Wallace, Mr Ben

Walter, Mr Robert

Ward, Mr David

Watkinson, Angela

Webb, Steve

Wharton, James

Wheeler, Heather

White, Chris

Whittaker, Craig

Whittingdale, Mr John

Wiggin, Bill

Willetts, rh Mr David

Williams, Mr Mark

Williams, Roger

Williams, Stephen

Williamson, Gavin

Wilson, Mr Rob

Wollaston, Dr Sarah

Wright, Jeremy

Wright, Simon

Yeo, Mr Tim

Young, rh Sir George

Zahawi, Nadhim

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr Philip Dunne and

Jenny Willott

Question accordingly negatived.

16 July 2012 : Column 791

16 July 2012 : Column 792

16 July 2012 : Column 793

16 July 2012 : Column 794

Business without Debate

Business of the House


That, at this day’s sitting, proceedings on the Motion in the name of the Prime Minister relating to the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards may be proceeded with, though opposed, until any hour, and Standing Order No. 41A (Deferred divisions) shall not apply.—(Mr Vara.)

16 July 2012 : Column 795

Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards

10.12 pm

The Leader of the House of Commons (Sir George Young): I beg to move,

(1) That a Committee of this House be established, to be called the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, to consider and report on—

(a) professional standards and culture of the UK banking sector, taking account of regulatory and competition investigations into the LIBOR rate-setting process;

(b) lessons to be learned about corporate governance, transparency and conflicts of interest, and their implications for regulation and for Government policy;

and to make recommendations for legislative and other action.

(2) That Mr Andrew Tyrie be Chair of the Commission.

(3) That Mark Garnier, Mr Andrew Love, Mr Pat McFadden and John Thurso be members of the Commission.

(4) That the Commission have leave to join with any committee appointed by the Lords to consider the said matters.

(5) That the Commission may hold meetings under the provisions of paragraph (4) of this order at any time after the Lords has agreed to appoint a committee.

(6) That the Commission shall, except as provided for in this order, follow the procedure of a select committee of this House.

(7) That the Commission shall have power—

(a) to send for persons, papers and records;

(b) to examine witnesses on oath;

(c) to appoint specialist advisers;

(d) to invite specialist advisers (including Counsel appointed as specialist advisers) to examine witnesses;

(e) to adjourn from place to place;

(f) to sit notwithstanding any adjournment of the House; and

(g) to report from time to time.

(8) That the Commission shall have power to appoint sub-committees to consider matters specified by the Commission within the terms of this order and a subcommittee shall have—

(a) the powers in paragraph (7)(a), (b), (e) and (f); and

(b) the power to invite specialist advisers appointed by the Commission (including Counsel appointed as specialist advisers) to examine witnesses;

and the quorum of a sub-committee shall, subject to paragraph (12)(b), be one member of this House.

(9) That the Chair may report to the House an order, resolution or Special Report as an order, resolution or Special Report of the Commission which has not been agreed at a meeting of the Commission if he is satisfied that he has consulted all members of the Commission about the terms of the order, resolution or Special Report and that it represents a decision of the majority of the Commission.

(10) That the quorum of the Commission shall be two members of this House.

(11) That, whenever this House shall stand adjourned other than to the next day, any report, Special Report, order or resolution agreed to by, or evidence taken or received by, the Commission, including any under paragraph (9) of this order, may be published or printed under the authority of this House, shall be deemed to have been reported and shall be reported when this House next sits.

(12) That, when the Commission operates under the provisions of paragraph (4) of this order, the following provisions shall apply—

(a) the quorum of the Commission shall be two members of this House and two members of the House of Lords;

(b) the quorum of any sub-committee shall be one member from either House; and

16 July 2012 : Column 796

(c) the power of the Chair to report under paragraph (9) may also be exercised with the Chair’s agreement by a member of the Commission who is a member of the House of Lords.

(13) That the costs of the Commission shall be assessed by the House of Commons Commission from time to time and shall be paid by Her Majesty’s Government for the credit of the House of Commons (Administration) Estimate.

(14) That the Commission shall report on legislative action no later than 18 December 2012 and on other matters as soon as possible thereafter.

(15) That a message be sent to the House of Lords to desire their concurrence.

On 5 July, the House debated professional standards in the banking industry for a full day and resolved to establish a Joint Committee of the two Houses on that matter. As I said in that debate, I do not think there is any disagreement between the Government and the Opposition on what we need to do, which is to sustain in the UK a strong, vibrant, transparent and more accountable financial sector that commands international confidence.

The motion before us is the result of negotiation following the House’s decision to establish a Joint Committee. I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Chichester (Mr Tyrie) for the work that he has undertaken while also chairing a very active Select Committee. I also thank Her Majesty’s Opposition. Following the debate, it was essential that Parliament was seen to be acting in the best interests of the public in resolving the issue before it, and that could happen only if the Joint Committee were supported not only by the parties in Government but by the Opposition. I am grateful to those who have added their signatures to the motion.

I do not intend to detain the House for long. I want to make five points, spending half a minute on each. [Interruption.]

Mr Speaker: Order. Before the Leader of the House makes his five points, to which I wish to listen carefully, may I gently say to the House that he should be heard? Any Member should be heard, but the Leader of the House is a very senior Member, and Members should not be sitting chuntering to each other; they should show him some courtesy, which they all learnt at one time.

Sir George Young: As I said, I have five points and will spend half a minute on each one.

First, the process to establish the Commission is not following the normal process for establishing a Joint Committee. The Commission, if established tonight, will be able to begin its work immediately and to meet during the recess. It is my hope that before the other place rises, it will also establish a Committee of an equal number of members to act jointly with the Commission that we are establishing tonight.

Secondly, the Commission is being established with powers that are already inherent in our parliamentary system. It will also have the novel power to invite special advisers, including counsel appointed by the Commission, to examine witnesses. I do not think that that will become the modus operandi of other Select Committees, but it will give the Commission the teeth that it needs to carry out its important investigative role quickly and effectively.

16 July 2012 : Column 797

Thirdly, it is proposed that

“the Commission shall have power to appoint sub-committees to consider matters specified by the Commission”.

Unusually, the sub-committees will have a quorum of one. I have discussed that with my hon. Friend the Member for Chichester. The purpose is to allow a single member of the Commission to consider a specific issue, for example a technical matter, and to send for papers with a view to informing the wider Commission. That will feed into the Commission’s work and allow it to tackle a broad-ranging subject in a compressed time frame.

Fourthly, paragraph (13) of the motion directs the House of Commons Commission to assess the costs arising from the Parliamentary Commission to be paid by the Government. As the Chancellor said in the debate on 5 July:

“I commit to giving it any resources it needs to do its job.”—[Official Report, 5 July 2012; Vol. 547, c. 1136.]

I hope that that reassures my hon. Friend the Member for Harwich and North Essex (Mr Jenkin), who sought reassurance during our debate on 5 July that the Commission should not raid

“the staff and resources of other Committees.”—[Official Report, 5 July 2012; Vol. 547, c. 1149.]

Fifthly and finally, the motion sets a deadline for a report on legislative action of 18 December. That will include pre-legislative scrutiny of the banking reform Bill and any recommendations of the Commission’s inquiry that require a legislative vehicle in order to be implemented. The December deadline will give the Government time to consider any recommendations in time for the introduction of the banking reform Bill, which is planned for January 2013. If the Commission cannot complete all its work by 18 December, we will expect it to report on the other areas as soon as possible thereafter.

We have in this Parliament the skills, expertise and mandate to do the job. I am confident in the ability of the new Commission to rise to the challenges that confront us and to address the central issue at stake: restoring confidence in the UK banking industry. I commend the motion to the House.

10.17 pm

Ms Angela Eagle (Wallasey) (Lab): Like the Leader of the House, I do not wish to repeat the debate that we had on 5 July. We are in slightly calmer waters, we hope. In that debate, all parties on this side of the House felt that we needed a judge-led inquiry into the LIBOR scandal and wider issues in the banking industry. We did not win the vote so, despite our reservations, we decided to co-operate with the inquiry led by the hon. Member for Chichester (Mr Tyrie). I am grateful to the Leader of the House for his admission that the success of the Commission relies on the Opposition’s support. That gets us off on a better foot than might have been the case.

There are some novel elements to the motion, as the Leader of the House pointed out, not least the sub-committees of one. We will look with interest to see how that works in a Commission of the size that is proposed, especially given that it is a joint Commission with the other place.

16 July 2012 : Column 798

I am particularly pleased with the assurances that the resources that are needed will not be taken out of House of Commons resources for other Select Committees. I wonder whether the Leader of the House has a view on what amount of resources might be used and whether we will be kept informed as the process goes on. The Opposition are keen that the ongoing work of the Treasury Committee, the primary job of which is to hold the Government to account, must not be badly affected by its members, not least its Chairman, being engaged in other important work, which may have a tendency to take them away from their day job. We will obviously keep a keen eye on the situation, to ensure that the Treasury Committee’s work of holding the Government to account does not suffer as a result of the other duties that the hon. Member for Chichester and other members of the Committee who are to sit on the Commission will take on.

Having emphasised once again our belief that we needed a judge-led inquiry, the Opposition are happy, given that the vote on that was lost, to co-operate with the hon. Gentleman’s inquiry, and we will watch its progress with interest. If the House divides this evening, we will join the Leader of the House in the Lobby.

10.20 pm

Richard Fuller (Bedford) (Con): I rise briefly to welcome the motion and wish all the members of the Commission the best. I recognise the willingness that my hon. Friend the Member for Chichester (Mr Tyrie) has expressed for the Commission’s work to be forward-looking, and I understand that its role will not be to act as prosecutor. However, I give its members this piece of advice. They are doing the people’s work, and the people have an expectation of the review of the financial crisis and the financial services sector. They will not understand the work of the Commission unless this is accomplished: somebody has to go to jail.

Criminal prosecutions are an essential part of cleansing our financial services sector and moving us forward, to ensure that the City can reassert itself and its reputation not only in the eyes of the world but in the eyes of the British people. That is one of the most important requirements of the parliamentary inquiry, and I leave it to the Commission to consider that comment.

10.21 pm

John Mann (Bassetlaw) (Lab): It appears that this Commission, which was originally described as a very narrow one, is broadening so that, as the Leader of the House said, it can now look at particular matters with sub-committees of one, and there are suggestions that it should broaden into criminal prosecutions.

The issues remain as they were, but the evidence is changing and will continue to change. That is the problem with setting up ad hoc committees. Just in the past hour, further e-mails have come from the Bank of England that have some significance for matters that have already been looked at, looked at again and looked at a third time. Those e-mails are significant to what the Treasury Committee looked at the first time, and doubtless information will continue to emerge.

This is a moving feast, and the problem with a moving feast is that setting a time limit when one does not know what will happen next can lead to a certain momentum, which can be in the wrong direction. The

16 July 2012 : Column 799

problem is not that it is an arbitrary time limit—any time limit is arbitrary—but that it could be an irrational one.

Tomorrow in the United States, a new court action is being initiated not on LIBOR but on other market manipulation by banks, and specifically a British bank. We will see what happens as that court action proceeds, but simply examining LIBOR, and especially only the one bank in which what has gone on has been partially exposed, rather misses the point about market manipulation by investment banks over the past 10 years.

Even within the context of LIBOR, we have only just reached the stage of seeing some of the market manipulation that happened, and only in one bank, Barclays, which has received bad publicity. There is far more to be revealed about that, and I am certain that there will be more surprises to come in the next day, week or two weeks. Those surprises may well continue to flow.

Even in the case of Barclays, the manipulation of LIBOR is one tiny part of the allegations of market manipulation and anti-competitive work. A swathe of evidence is beginning to emerge, and more people are now prepared to speak out about how a range of markets have been manipulated in a range of ways. Derivatives have been used as the basis of that manipulation, but in fact it is much more complex than that. At its heart, as Barclays has said, was the making of a quick profit. In the past two weeks, courts in Canada have specified in a non-LIBOR-related case where the judge has pronounced that it was manipulation for short-term profit on an anti-competitive basis.

That is just one bank. No one can answer—the question was not answered by the Financial Services Authority today; perhaps it is not in its remit to do so—what the contingent liability is for Barclays. That is a small concern, and of significance to people working for the bank, people who have shares in it, and the wider economy, but it is clear that the largely state-owned banks, not least the Royal Bank of Scotland but also Lloyds TSB, have been doing the same thing. The problem that we will face is not just the issues of criminality that may or may not emerge. Proving a criminal case in any of that is fiendishly difficult—both finding the person who has committed an act and finding a victim so that a case can be taken. If law suits, beginning in the United States but spreading elsewhere, start to succeed, the amounts of money that have been fiddled are so great—because of the instruments that were used—that the British taxpayer may face a huge, unquantified bill, and we do not know when it will arrive. The future of Barclays is somewhat in question.

Mr Speaker: Order. I appreciate that the hon. Gentleman is indulging in scene setting—offering the House the context—but I would politely suggest that he will wish to turn to the proceedings and composition of the intended Committee. If it is helpful to him, I gently remind him, in relation to the motion, that he has 15 paragraphs from which to choose when deciding how to focus his remarks.

John Mann: I thank you for your guidance, Mr Speaker. My initial remarks related to the remit of the Committee, rather than its composition, which is frankly an irrelevance compared with the problems of the moving feast of its remit.

16 July 2012 : Column 800

The remit has been set so vaguely that it can incorporate anything and everything. We will face the economic consequences when the partially state-owned banks are hit in the same way. These issues are entirely out of our control—indeed, they are entirely out of British control. The American authorities are two years ahead of the British authorities, and have taken a lead, so they will dictate the time scale for what comes next. Whether the considerations are legal or political—there are elections coming up, so there may well be more of a political imperative to be seen to be doing things—they will have grave consequences for these financial institutions and the British taxpayer.

That is why although it may well come up with worthy and credible recommendations, the investigation cannot match the task that it has been set. Because of the course of events and the changes that will happen, arbitrary time limits are, by definition, self-defeating. There is another problem that goes alongside that, and it concerns the other options available to look at those matters. I am pleased that the Leader of the House appears to have given a commitment, and I urge him to clarify it, that no staffing resource will be removed from the Treasury Committee in that period of time. If that is the case, that is a significant step forward. If the Treasury Committee were mothballed at precisely this time, the ability of the House to respond to fast-moving events would worsen significantly.

The Treasury Committee has a heavy workload. Today, Commissioner Barnier was supposed to appear before the Committee in relation to the 17 EU directives and draft directives relating to financial services on the books at the moment. It is essential that this House properly scrutinises and takes a view on what happens with those directives, but that has not been happening—it is a key role that the Treasury Committee needs to fulfil.

Mr Kevan Jones (North Durham) (Lab): Does my hon. Friend agree that there may well be some dispute about what the Treasury Committee should look at and what this new Commission should look at—if, for example, another scandal or something like it emerged in the next few weeks?

John Mann: My hon. Friend makes the point that I have been stressing—that we do not know and cannot predict them, but we know that there will be a lot more scandals emerging, as we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg at present. [Interruption.] I appreciate that this is not good listening for those hon. Members trying to work out how to respond to this, but if this House is to set up arbitrary ad hoc committees at random every time there is a problem, it will potentially undermine itself. Which Select Committee will be next to give away some of its powers to an ad hoc committee? Is this the appropriate way to determine such matters?

If some of the powers set out in the motion were reinforced not just in respect of the Treasury Select Committee but of other Select Committees, that would reinforce the scrutiny of this House over what goes on both in government and in the country, so there are some good proposals here. The good proposals, however, are bespoke to this particular Commission—for example, the ability to call in a QC and the ability to take evidence on oath. If they are good enough for this new

16 July 2012 : Column 801

Commission, they should be made available to any Select Committee looking at any issue. The House is ducking this problem.

Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con): I think the hon. Gentleman is making some powerful and important points. Does he share my surprise that the Treasury Select Committee was not given this role? He is absolutely right: these powers should be given to all Select Committees to make Parliament more powerful.

John Mann: I take the hon. Gentleman’s point and I agree with him, but I do not intend to go through all the previous debate on this issue—interesting though it would be to do so—because I am sticking to the detail of what is in front of us, however badly worded it is. There is, however, clearly a case for saying that if the Treasury Committee had been allowed to carry on this work, it could have done so as effectively as this Joint Committee. I am sure that the five Members from the House of Lords who are as yet unknown and unnamed will bring great wisdom to this Joint Committee, but if the House of Lords wants to look into matters, it can look into them. This is the elected Chamber, and for this elected Chamber to hand over some of these powers of scrutiny to an unelected Chamber seems a retrograde step, which will come back to haunt us in future.

Once a precedent has been established and it suits the Government, it is likely to happen again—and this was a Government initiative. I am rather surprised that the Opposition Front-Bench team, perhaps looking forward to being in government themselves, have been seduced into accepting this way of undermining the historic, developed and improving role of this House to scrutinise. That, I think, is partly what is at stake here, if this becomes the way of doing business in this House.

I do not see how a Select Committee, denuded of half its members, can in any way work as effectively as a Select Committee operating with all its members. That is the reality of what will happen, and we need to be aware of the unintended consequences that might come from a potential eurozone crisis and other problems emanating from Europe that conflict across the work of this Joint Committee—and are wrongly not referred to within it—because proposals from Brussels are, rightly or wrongly, a fundamental part of the equation, affecting decisions made by this House and by the banking industry in this country and across the world. That aspect has been ducked by the creation of the Commission, which will create unhealthy confusion in the debate.

What should have happened? The remit given to the investigation, which should have been carried out by the Treasury Committee, should have been far broader—[Interruption.] An hon. Gentleman says “Boring” from a sedentary position, but this is not boring. For example, seven investment banks colluded to rig the price of the Kraft takeover of Cadbury’s. That is the real scandal that underpins the profits in investment banking. In some areas, there is ferocious competition, but in the vast majority of investment banking, there is no competition whatever. That is the scandal that created the culture that led to the LIBOR rigging. An investment bank called in by a company to advise on a sale or takeover has so much knowledge of the workings of the company

16 July 2012 : Column 802

that it has the ability to manipulate the market to determine how things will go. That is the fundamental weakness in the system of investment banking. The implications for British manufacturing and manufacturing elsewhere in the world—

Mr Speaker: Order. I have noted the hon. Gentleman’s references to investment banking, but I fear—very considerably—that he is now going to proceed to discuss the state of British manufacturing and any relationship between the banking and manufacturing sectors. He is gyrating between referring to the terms of reference of the Commission and matters of composition, and then talking about matters that are quite outwith the terms of the motion, which ought to afford him adequate scope. I feel cautiously hopeful that he may be nearer to the end of his remarks than to the beginning.

John Mann: I have so far got to paragraph (1)(b) of the motion, which I shall quote, so that you are assured, Mr Speaker, that my remarks are directly pertinent. Paragraph (1)(b) refers to

“lessons to be learned about corporate governance, transparency and conflicts of interest, and their implications for regulation and for Government policy”.

That is precisely what I was talking about in relation to how investment banks operate. The lack of transparency, conflicts of interests and the narrow remit—

Mr Speaker: Order. I am sure the hon. Gentleman is public spirited and trying to be helpful, but he should not misunderstand the terms of the motion. The paragraph to which he refers underlines the importance of the inquiry in learning those lessons. It is not necessary or feasible for the House to do so tonight. It would be a triumph of optimism over reality for him to suppose that the House would do so courtesy of his speech, no matter how compelling it is.

John Mann: Thank you for that guidance, Mr Speaker. I am merely outlining my objections to the lack of breadth in the remit given to the Commission.

My final questions on paragraph (1)(b)—[Hon. Members: “Hooray!”] I am surprised hon. Members are so keen to stay and hear the debate, given some of their sedentary comments. It would be helpful if the Leader of the House confirmed unambiguously that the principles behind the setting up of the Commission will in no way—practically and in reality—undermine the ability of the Treasury Committee to meet as often as it has over the past year to discuss subjects that it chooses to investigate. It would help if he confirmed that it can call the witnesses it chooses and that it will have the access to the staffing resource and expertise that it currently has. If he can give those assurances, I will not seek to divide the House on the motion. I look forward to hearing from him.

10.39 pm

John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington) (Lab): I want to make a brief point about paragraph (1)(a), which sets out the terms of reference. Some months ago there were reports, which I raised with the Prime Minister, about the Bank of England’s intervention with at least one bank, and perhaps more, about the manipulation of the quantitative easing auctions. I would welcome an

16 July 2012 : Column 803

assurance that paragraph (1)(a) will cover that issue as well, rather than just the LIBOR issue, because it is a matter of concern if a single bank or a number of banks sought to profiteer from the quantitative easing that was put in place by the Government to rescue the banks. Indeed, it seems extraordinary that the banks would seek to profiteer from the taxpayers’ money that was used to intervene and save them from the crisis that they had brought about. I would welcome an assurance from the Chair of the inquiry that that matter, as well as LIBOR, will be looked into when we consider the issue of transparency and the ability of the banks to manipulate the system overall.

10.41 pm

Mark Durkan (Foyle) (SDLP): I have quite fundamental reservations about the motion before us this evening, because, a bit like the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (John Mann), I have serious concerns about the implications for the work of the Treasury Committee. The way in which we are moving to set up the Commission, with a selection of members of the Treasury Committee—almost a Treasury Committee A team—being assigned to the Commission, will obviously have an impact on the Committee’s working capacity at a key time.

We heard from the Chancellor in the Chamber two weeks ago that he was appointing Martin Wheatley, the incoming chief executive of the Financial Services Authority, to conduct a review that would report within six weeks. That review was going to make recommendations that could feed into reconsideration of the Financial Services Bill. I would have thought that the outcome of the Wheatley review would be the subject of serious consideration by the Treasury Committee. I also wonder how the House would consider the implications of that urgent review, which the Chancellor has instigated, under Martin Wheatley. Will the Financial Services Bill Committee be reconstituted or will we just receive scrambled amendments? There will be confusion, because the Wheatley review is meant to come up with recommendations for legislative change—through the Financial Services Bill first, but possibly also through the banking reform Bill, which the Government have told us is due in the new year. Surely the journey to the banking reform Bill should involve serious consideration and pre-legislative scrutiny by the Treasury Committee, and perhaps others too.

I am not sure how the Treasury Committee can perform its usual role of giving such key legislative consideration if so many of its members and its Chairman are absorbed in the inquiry that this motion establishes—an inquiry that will be intensive and could even turn out to be extensive, in terms of the issues it gets into. We as a House are asking the Commission to surf a very dense, murky and smelly swamp in short order and come up with clear findings and recommendations. We are assigning it quite an inordinate task, which not only will be hard to achieve in itself, but will end up damaging the work of the Treasury Committee.

As someone who sat on the Financial Services Bill Committee, I was conscious of the fact that we had many members of the Treasury Committee serving on that Committee. I was also struck, however, by the fact that they resiled from positions that they had agreed to, as members of the Treasury Select Committee, in their very good report into aspects of the Financial Services

16 July 2012 : Column 804

Bill. It was quite common for the hon. Member for Nottingham East (Chris Leslie) to make points in that Bill Committee in which he quoted extensively from the Treasury Select Committee report, only for members of the Select Committee to disown the report or distance themselves from it. I was almost expecting them to say that they were not inextricably linked to their membership of the Select Committee in that particular capacity. That experience gives me concern about splitting the attention and capacity of the Treasury Select Committee in this way, and I worry that this might be a well-motivated misadventure in regard to its implications for the work of the Committee.

I hope that the Leader of the House will be able to clarify the Government’s hopes and intentions in relation to the timing of the Financial Services Bill and any amendments that they believe should be made to it in the light of the LIBOR scandal, given the Chancellor’s statement two weeks ago, and in relation to the banking reform Bill. There appear to be potentially overlapping and intersecting reviews going on, and if we in this Chamber are mandating them, we need to take responsibility for the possible confusion that could be caused to others and to ourselves.

I do not believe that these arrangements will be enough to deal with the scale of the problem or the questions that it raises not only about banking but about the competence and due diligence of this Parliament. Are we as parliamentarians up to the task of properly scrutinising legislation and introducing regulatory changes? Is it enough for us to devolve the task to a group of people hand-picked from the Treasury Select Committee by the Whips and expect them to come up with all the answers while we take responsibility only for receiving them? I do not think that that is good enough.

I did not vote for a parliamentary inquiry device when we voted on the matter the week before last, but I accept that this is the chosen outcome. I have serious reservations about the way in which the terms of reference for the Commission have been laid out here, and about the possibility of its composition weakening the Treasury Select Committee at a key time when two Bills are due to come back to us in the autumn, along with another Bill in the new year. I am also worried about the Committee’s ability to deal with other unfolding revelations that might emerge not only from the LIBOR scandal but from issues relating to quantitative easing, to which the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell) referred, and to deal with the outflow from the machinations in the eurozone.

There is a lot of work for the Treasury Select Committee to concentrate on, and I am not sure that it will be assisted by the creation of this device. If the Committee is content with the arrangement, I will have to accept its opinion. However, that does not absolve us in this Chamber from our legislative responsibility in respect of those two Bills, which the Chancellor has told us could be directly relevant and whose scope and reach will need to be adjusted to take account of the LIBOR scandal and possibly other scandals as well.

I have profound reservations, but I wish those who are undertaking the inquiry well. They have a difficult task ahead of them, and I do not know how they are meant to perform it if, as the motion suggests, they will sometimes be expected to work as sub-Committees of

16 July 2012 : Column 805

one. That would create the bizarre scenario of a sub-Committee of one relying on the hired specialist advisers and other agents who will be licensed by this motion. That would create some fairly peculiar scenarios that Parliament might find hard to stand over. Members of the Commission might also find it hard comfortably to take ownership of all the undertakings of the Commission, given the odd construct that is provided for in the motion. I accept that this is a scramble in particular circumstances, and that time is pressing. However, I am not sure that it has been a good scramble. I think that there should have been better thought and more consideration, and I think that many of the people who are comfortable with this device now may end up regretting their decision.

10.50 pm

Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con): It is a great pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Foyle (Mark Durkan), who is always worth listening to, but I have to say that on this occasion I disagreed with many of the points he made. I think that this is a chance for Parliament to assert itself. I think that it is a new adventure for Parliament. If the Commission is successful—if it produces a report that is unanimous and not split along party lines, and if it uses all the additional powers that it is being given—that will be a great step forward, and the arrangement may be repeated in the future. I take a much more optimistic view than the hon. Gentleman. The fact that so many Members are in the Chamber late at night shows how interested they are in the issue.

I have just two questions to put to the Leader of the House. One concerns paragraph (3), which names the members of the Commission. I am not sure how they were selected. I would have found it understandable for all the members of the Treasury Committee to be members of the Commission, because they were elected to their positions, but how did these particular names come to be here? Certain other Members’ names are not here although perhaps they should be. I am surprised, for instance, that a certain lady Member’s name is not included. Was it purple smoke, or was it, as I fear, the usual channels? Perhaps the Leader of the House could clear that up.

I welcome the Leader of the House’s announcement of an open-ended commitment from the Treasury to provide money for the counsel to the Commission. Does he hope, like me, that the counsel will act rather like a congressional committee and will grill the witnesses, and that members of the Commission will then be able to ask questions? I think that if we set up that sort of arrangement, we shall be moving Parliament forward.

10.52 pm

Mr Kevan Jones (North Durham) (Lab): Let me begin by reiterating the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Wallasey (Ms Eagle), who said that we had voted for a judge-led inquiry. We are setting an onerous task for the Commission. I think it was my hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw (John Mann) who said that it would be looked at very closely by members of the public, who now have very little faith in our banking system, whether because of national scandals or because of their dealings with their own local banks.

16 July 2012 : Column 806

The terms of reference are set out clearly in paragraph (1)(a), which mentions the

“professional standards and culture of the UK banking sector”.

I should be interested to know how “culture” is defined in the context of banking. Does it refer only to banks, or to building societies as well? We should bear it in mind that the banking industry consists of not only high-street chains but, for instance, mutual societies. Will they be included in the Commission’s investigation?

LIBOR was the catalyst for the establishment of the Commission. Paragraph (1)(b) refers to

“lessons to be learned about corporate governance, transparency and conflicts of interest, and their implications for regulation and for Government policy”.

You pulled up my hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw on the issue of corporate governance, Mr Speaker, and I accept your ruling. However, many of the matters that the Commission will consider will not relate purely to banking. As my hon. Friend said, they will relate to lending and takeover bids for companies. Will the Commission look into the culture of, for example, the Kraft takeover, which my hon. Friend mentioned? If it restricts its consideration to the banking sector, will not the inquiry be of limited use, not just in view of the vehicles involved in events such as the Kraft takeover but—I hasten to add—in view of some of the things that have been going on in local government? I have raised the issue of the refinancing of Newcastle airport, for example, which was a huge scandal in the north-east two years ago. That was driven by the idea that we could get a better deal for the local council tax payer by refinancing. In fact, it got them a worse deal. Will the Commission look at such situations?

Turning to transparency and governance, Government Members had strong opinions about private finance initiative deals when they were in opposition, and they still hold to those views now. Will such financing arrangements fall within the remit of paragraph (1)(a) and (b), as they are clearly part of a new culture that has emerged, and they are a new mechanism for funding Government policy? Paragraph (1)(b) refers to

“implications for regulation and for Government policy.”

Would today’s announcements on the investment in the railways fall within the remit? That is being financed in part through Network Rail, which is a completely separate organisation and is off the Government balance sheet. The Commission’s remit could lead to such areas being investigated. There are some wider implications here, therefore, and it will be interesting to see if the Commission resists going down certain paths. If we do not have a full inquiry that looks at all these areas, the public may well think we are just concentrating on a small part of the banking and finance industry, when there are many other concerns that directly affect them, too.

I have great respect for the Chair of the Treasury Committee, the hon. Member for Chichester (Mr Tyrie), who will chair this Commission, but the hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr Bone) mentioned the absence of any women on the nomination list from this House. Are we saying that there are no able hon. Ladies from either side of the House who could sit on this Committee? We have in the past tried to ensure that all Committees in this House included women Members. This is an omission, therefore. It may be possible that all the

16 July 2012 : Column 807

members from the House of Lords will be men, too. We would therefore have a Committee made up entirely of males, which would be very wrong. It would be right to include a certain—female—member of the Treasury Committee on the Commission. Obviously that hon. Lady did not fit the loyalty criteria set by the usual channels, however. Her inclusion could have been useful, especially in the light of her previous life in the banking industry.

We are going to agree this motion tonight when we do not know who the Lords members of the Commission will be. I agree with the position of my hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw: this is a slippery slope as we are agreeing to have a Joint Committee to scrutinise and make recommendations with some members who have never been elected—and some of whom are, perhaps, unelectable.

Another interesting question is what the powers of this Commission will be. Paragraph (7)(a) states that it will have the power to

“send for persons, papers and records”.

What will happen if an individual says, “No”? Will the Commission have the full powers of Parliament to enforce its will in this regard?

It is also stated that witnesses will be under oath, and also that the Commission will be able to appoint special advisers. That is very important in respect of the expertise it will bring to the Commission. There is a question to be asked about a possible declaration of interests by those individuals, however. Many of the people who have expertise in this field will have had direct involvement in the culture that this Commission will be examining. So what will be the restrictions on the appointment of those advisers in respect of either their past lives or any future involvement they may have? That needs to be spelt out from the beginning. We need to make sure that they have not got their fingers in any of the pies that this Commission is investigating.

I do not wish to cast aspersions on any members of the Commission from this House, but we do not know who its members will be from the other House. How are we to define declarations of interest? Are these interests that those individuals hold now or in previous lives? If they are commercial interests, that will raise questions about the impartiality of those individuals, and anything that does that will damage the Commission from the outset.

Paragraph (7)(d) has already been mentioned. It states:

“to invite specialist advisers (including Counsel appointed as specialist advisers) to examine witnesses”.

I am not sure what that means. The normal procedure that Select Committees follow is that the members ask the questions, and questions and briefing notes are clearly written in advance by advisers. This arrangement, however, is very different. This is about having special advisers being able to cross-examine witnesses. So what is the status of those individuals? As the hon. Member for Wellingborough has said, that is a huge change from the way in which Select Committees have operated in this House. When I served on the Select Committee on Defence we had some very able advisers, but the idea that they would cross-examine witnesses is a strange one. We need clarification on that matter.

What about specialist advisers and conflicts of interest? If they are going to be counsel, we need to ask whether they have ever acted for banks or financial institutions.

16 July 2012 : Column 808

Would that debar them from being appointed as an adviser to the Commission? It is important that we have those things laid out clearly right at the beginning. I do not think it is right to leave them up to the Committee or the Chair to determine.


Government Members may well think that this is frivolous, but to many of our constituents it will be very important, in terms not only of how their money is looked after, but of trying to get credibility back into a sector that is vital to this country’s economy. This is very important in terms of making sure we get it right and of the reputation of the Members of this House who are going to be serving on the Commission.

The other thing I wish to discuss is how the Commission is going to be financed. Paragraph (13) says that

“the costs of the Commission shall be assessed by the House of Commons Commission from time to time and shall be paid by Her Majesty’s Government for the credit of the House of Commons (Administration) Estimate.”

We all know that, if someone wants to control the activities of a committee or any organisation, they can starve it of money. Are we saying that this Commission has a blank cheque? Unless it has, the Government will be able to starve it of money and limit the scope of its activities.

Paragraph (7)(e) states that the Commission can

“adjourn from place to place”.

If a lot of foreign travel is involved, as may well be the case, that will create an expense. Who makes the determination on that in terms of the work the Commission does? Will the Treasury at some point try to limit it by saying, “I am sorry, but you have spent too much and so you cannot undertake that foreign travel or employ that expert witness to interrogate and produce the report”?

There are a lot of—[Interruption.] The hon. Member for Ealing Central and Acton (Angie Bray) is chuntering from a sedentary position, but she has only just come into the Chamber. I know that she did not have a very good week last week, but I wish her all the best for the future.

The financing of the Commission will be very important, so we need some assurance that we will not have interference by Government in the Commission’s work by stealth—that is, by starving it of the resources it needs.

Mr Bone: The hon. Gentleman is making serious points about parliamentary scrutiny, and it is great that so many Government Members are present to support him. Does he welcome this new initiative? If there is unlimited funding, if there can be counsel and if the Commission can cross-examine in the same way as congressional committees, is that not a good thing?

Mr Jones: It is—[Hon. Members: “Ah!] Hon. Members have not heard what I am going to say yet. I agree with the hon. Gentleman, but we have seen this problem with Select Committees, whose travel was limited in the previous Parliament, hampering their work. As the Commission will be subject to the Government’s decision on whether they can fund it or not, that is a very important point. If the situation will be that suggested by the hon. Gentleman, we should have the same arrangements for Select Committees. That would ensure that Select Committees could not only employ the proper advisers—and perhaps more of them—and see expert witnesses but undertake the detailed travel that is sometimes required.

16 July 2012 : Column 809

My other concern is paragraph (12)(b), which concerns the setting up of sub-committees. There is no detail about how sub-committees will be set up or about their composition. Paragraph (12)(b) states that a sub-committee will have a quorum of one, but how big will the committees be?

I am very uncomfortable with the idea of a sub-committee of one person making decisions or taking evidence. It should include at least one person from each House: a Member from this House and one from the other House. Likewise, on the question of political balance, it could include a Government Member and an Opposition Member. If we are going to have sub-committees, surely it would be right to increase the quorum to at least two, one from each House, and, potentially, to try to get political balance.

There are many provisions in the motion that prompt many questions. The hon. Member for Wellingborough made a very good point, in that it sets a lot of precedents and, I hope, sets a way forward that Select Committees can follow to draw down more resources and increase their powers.

I also want to raise the issue of the Commission’s reports. The motion states that it will

“report from time to time.”

Who will decide? If the Commission as a whole decides to produce interim reports or short reports throughout its life, some of them will be very market sensitive. Will not the Commission have to be very cautious in what it releases? I am sure that many finance houses, banks and other parts of the financial sector will be looking very closely at what the Commission recommends, and it could affect the share prices of those organisations. There is no guidance in the motion about how those reports should be produced, according to what time scale and for what reasons.

The other question that was mentioned earlier is whether we are happy now that we have basically set up a new type of Select Committee. Personally, I am not. I think that this inquiry would have been far better done by the Treasury Committee. Obviously, those on the Front Bench from my own party argued strongly for a judicial-led inquiry, which was the right approach to get confidence in the banking system. In the absence of such an inquiry, the Treasury Committee would perhaps have been a better vehicle. I worry about the precedent that this sets and whether it will allow the Government of the day to dictate to Select Committees or hybrid Committees. That goes to the heart of the independence of those Committees and their accountability to Parliament. The Commission will have a huge job to do and I wish it well in its deliberations, but we should undertake a serious examination of the new system and the precedent that that sets for our Select Committees.

Question put and agreed to.


(1) That a Committee of this House be established, to be called the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, to consider and report on—

(a) professional standards and culture of the UK banking sector, taking account of regulatory and competition investigations into the LIBOR ratesetting process;

16 July 2012 : Column 810

(b) lessons to be learned about corporate governance, transparency and conflicts of interest, and their implications for regulation and for Government policy;

and to make recommendations for legislative and other action.

(2) That Mr Andrew Tyrie be Chair of the Commission.

(3) That Mark Garnier, Mr Andrew Love, Mr Pat McFadden and John Thurso be members of the Commission.

(4) That the Commission have leave to join with any committee appointed by the Lords to consider the said matters.

(5) That the Commission may hold meetings under the provisions of paragraph (4) of this order at any time after the Lords has agreed to appoint a committee.

(6) That the Commission shall, except as provided for in this order, follow the procedure of a select committee of this House.

(7) That the Commission shall have power—

(a) to send for persons, papers and records;

(b) to examine witnesses on oath;

(c) to appoint specialist advisers;

(d) to invite specialist advisers (including Counsel appointed as specialist advisers) to examine witnesses;

(e) to adjourn from place to place;

(f) to sit notwithstanding any adjournment of the House; and

(g) to report from time to time.

(8) That the Commission shall have power to appoint sub-committees to consider matters specified by the Commission within the terms of this order and a subcommittee shall have—

(a) the powers in paragraph (7)(a), (b), (e) and (f); and

(b) the power to invite specialist advisers appointed by the Commission (including Counsel appointed as specialist advisers) to examine witnesses;

and the quorum of a sub-committee shall, subject to paragraph (12)(b), be one member of this House.

(9) That the Chair may report to the House an order, resolution or Special Report as an order, resolution or Special Report of the Commission which has not been agreed at a meeting of the Commission if he is satisfied that he has consulted all members of the Commission about the terms of the order, resolution or Special Report and that it represents a decision of the majority of the Commission.

(10) That the quorum of the Commission shall be two members of this House.

(11) That, whenever this House shall stand adjourned other than to the next day, any report, Special Report, order or resolution agreed to by, or evidence taken or received by, the Commission, including any under paragraph (9) of this order, may be published or printed under the authority of this House, shall be deemed to have been reported and shall be reported when this House next sits.

(12) That, when the Commission operates under the provisions of paragraph (4) of this order, the following provisions shall apply—

(a) the quorum of the Commission shall be two members of this House and two members of the House of Lords;

(b) the quorum of any sub-committee shall be one member from either House;


(c) the power of the Chair to report under paragraph (9) may also be exercised with the Chair’s agreement by a member of the Commission who is a member of the House of Lords.

(13) That the costs of the Commission shall be assessed by the House of Commons Commission from time to time and shall be paid by Her Majesty’s Government for the credit of the House of Commons (Administration) Estimate.

(14) That the Commission shall report on legislative action no later than 18 December 2012 and on other matters as soon as possible thereafter.

(15) That a message be sent to the House of Lords to desire their concurrence.—(Sir George Young.)

16 July 2012 : Column 811

Business Without Debate

arrangement of public business


That the following changes to Standing Order No. 14 (Arrangement of public business) be made, with effect from Monday 15 October 2012:

– in line 19, leave out ‘or Tuesday, four o’clock on’ and insert ‘, four o’clock on Tuesday or’;

– in line 20, leave out ‘three’ and insert ‘two’; and

– in line 29, leave out ‘three’ and insert ‘two’.—(Greg Hands.)

sittings in westminster hall (e-petitions)

Motion made,

(1) That the following changes be made to Standing Order No. 10 (Sittings in Westminster Hall) until the end of the next session of Parliament:

(a) in line 3, at the end, add the following new sub-paragraph—

‘(za) on Mondays beginning at half-past four o’clock and continuing for up to three hours, if the Backbench Business Committee has reported its determination that a sitting in Westminster Hall to consider an epetition or e-petitions should take place on that day;’.

(b) in line 28, at the end, add the following new paragraph—

‘(3B) (a) The business taken at a Monday sitting in Westminster Hall shall be the e-petition or e-petitions which the Backbench Business Committee has determined should be debated, and each such e-petition shall be debated on the motion, That this House has considered the e-petition from [petitioners] relating to [subject of petition].

(b) Paragraph (10) of this Order shall not apply to proceedings under sub-paragraph (b) of this paragraph; no dilatory motion may be made in relation to proceedings under that sub-paragraph except by a Minister of the Crown; and the question on any such dilatory motion shall be put forthwith.’

(2) That the following new paragraph be added to Standing Order No. 14 (Arrangement of public business), in line 50, at the end:

‘(3AA) In addition to those days allotted under paragraph (3A) of this order, the Backbench Business Committee may determine that a sitting in Westminster Hall may be held on a Monday in accordance with paragraph (3) (za) of Standing Order No. 10 to consider e-petitions.’

(3) That Standing Order No. 152J (Backbench Business Committee) be amended by leaving out from ‘with’ in line 39 to ‘of’ in line 40 and inserting ‘paragraphs (3A) and (3B)’.—(Greg Hands.)

Hon. Members: Object.

business, innovation and skills


That Mr David Ward be discharged from the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee and Mike Crockart be added.—(Mr Alan Campbell, on behalf of the Committee of Selection.)


Policing (Winsor Reforms)

11.11 pm

Jonathan Reynolds (Stalybridge and Hyde) (Lab/Co-op): I am pleased to have chosen this evening to present this petition from residents of my constituency and the neighbouring areas, prompted by a meeting that I held with local police officers.

16 July 2012 : Column 812

The petition states:

The Petition of residents of Stalybridge and Hyde and the Greater Manchester area,

Declares that the proposals made in the second part of the Winsor Review will have a devastating effect on the morale of frontline officers, and risk a detrimental effect on the quality of service the Police provide to the public.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Home Secretary to reject the recommendations contained within the Winsor Review.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.


Rushden Ambulance Station (Northamptonshire)

11.12 pm

Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con): I have a petition with 3,673 names on it, organised by a very nice lady in my constituency called Mrs Dorothy Maxwell. The problem that we have in Rushden is that the East Midlands Ambulance Service is rather poor and is getting worse. The way that the ambulance service has decided to solve that problem is to close the ambulance station. That, as might be expected, has not been universally welcomed.

The petition reads:

The Humble Petition of residents of Rushden, Higham Ferrers, East Northamptonshire, and surrounding areas


That the proposed closure of Rushden Ambulance station will detrimentally affect the 97,500 people that live in the local area, reducing response time and providing an inferior service.

Wherefore your Petitioners pray that your Honourable House requests the Secretary of State for Health to urge the Northamptonshire County Council, the District Council of East Northamptonshire and East Midlands Ambulance Service to work together to find a solution that will allow the Rushden Ambulance station to remain open.

And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray, etc.


Independent Pharmacy Provision (Brierley Hill, Dudley)

11.14 pm

Chris Kelly (Dudley South) (Con): It is my pleasure to present this petition when the Minister of State, Department of Health, my right hon. Friend the Member for Chelmsford (Mr Burns), is on the Front Bench. I was recently contacted by Vijaykumar Lad of Kingswinford, the proprietor of Ian McArdle’s, the independent pharmacy in Brierley Hill, which has been trading for more than 40 years. Mr Lad is concerned about the number of applications for 100-hour pharmacies in Brierley Hill, which he and his customers feel will threaten the survival of existing pharmacy provision there.

Upon visiting McArdle’s pharmacy to meet Mr Lad and several of his customers, I was presented with a petition signed by more than 1,000 residents who wished to see McArdle’s of Brierley Hill saved. I therefore present this petition to the House.

The petition states:

The Petition of users of McArdles Pharmacy, Brierley Hill and others,

Declares that the Petitioners are concerned about proposals to allow three further pharmacies to open in Brierley Hill town centre that will each trade for more than 100 hours per week, as the Petitioners believe that adequate pharmaceutical services are

16 July 2012 : Column 813

already provided by the network of three well established pharmacies and that these unnecessary and undesirable new pharmacies will jeopardise the existing businesses that have provided personal care to customers for more than 40 years. The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to ask Dudley Primary Care Trust to reject any application for the opening of further pharmacies in Brierley Hill town centre.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.


16 July 2012 : Column 814

NHS (Rationing of Care)

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—(Greg Hands.)

11.15 pm

Mrs Mary Glindon (North Tyneside) (Lab): This issue has already been raised today in the debate on a motion in the main business of the House, but I believe that the growing concern about rationing in the NHS justifies further debate tonight. For almost as long as the NHS has existed, rationing has been a matter of concern. Resources are finite, but in the past two years rationing has reached an unprecedented level; more than 125 previously free treatments have now been restricted or even stopped altogether, and they cover the full health care spectrum, from the cosmetic to the essential and all stages in between.

These findings were revealed in a survey, carried out by Labour’s shadow health team, of all NHS primary care trusts and shadow clinical commissioning groups in England. It is important to state the relevance of Labour’s new NHS check, which I will refer to in my speech, because as well as conducting surveys it gathers together the views of those working in the health service and takes into account the views of those receiving the service and their families. The submissions are considered alongside evidence from freedom of information requests to produce an accurate and relevant monthly report, such as the one on rationing.

Labour’s findings are backed by members of the British Medical Association who warn that creeping NHS rationing is making patients suffer unnecessarily, with people who need hip and knee replacements having to wait longer for operations while suffering in pain. GPs believe that the rationing is the result of the drive to make savings in the NHS of up to £20 billion by 2015. That is further borne out by the results of a poll conducted by the BBC in March, which found that more than four out of five GPs expect the rationing of NHS care to increase in response to financial pressure.

The concerns of the medical profession are echoed by other professions in the health service. Ahead of this debate I was contacted by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, which is very concerned about the rationing of NHS physiotherapy services and has a number of examples of patient care and outcomes suffering as a result. The CSP opposed the Health and Social Care Bill and the Government’s reforms to the NHS because of concerns about the negative impact on patient care resulting from rationing and the fragmentation of services. It is particularly concerned about the “any qualified provider” model and has found that patient choice is being adversely affected by the clear rationing of treatment and access in some of the “any qualified provider” service specifications, which it has systematically reviewed. For example, in Nottinghamshire the amount of treatment prescribed is limited without regard to patient need. In other areas, no re-referrals are allowed within a six or 12-month period, also regardless of patient need. This rationing is likely to lead to increased orthopaedic referrals and unnecessary surgical interventions.

The CSP has further concerns about the impact of the “any qualified provider” model, including a reduction in patient choice and the quality of care, the loss of clinically and cost-effective innovations such as self-referral

16 July 2012 : Column 815

to physiotherapy, the negative impact on the physiotherapy profession and the risk of conflicts of interest among private providers. Those are all legitimate concerns from a respected professional body, so I hope that the Minister will address them specifically with the society.

The Minister has denied the relevance of the shadow health team’s extensive survey, the NHS check, but perhaps he should reconsider his opinion of it, because the survey’s findings mirror those of GP magazine, which gathered evidence under the Freedom of Information Act, showing that 90% of primary care trusts were imposing restrictions. The magazine received responses from two thirds of England’s 151 trusts on the procedures that they considered to be non-urgent. The most common restriction was on tonsillectomies, but there was rationing in other areas, too.

Mr Jamie Reed (Copeland) (Lab): Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mrs Glindon: I will.

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Nigel Evans): Order. You can make an intervention, Mr Reed, but not from the Opposition Front Bench. If you step up to another Bench, you may intervene from there.

Mr Reed: Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. I trust that this is in order.

Will my hon. Friend join me in asking the Minister, who has indicated that he will not take interventions from me this evening, whether he will undertake a nationwide investigation into the clear rationing that is occurring in the NHS, and whether the Government will publish a list of procedures in which the eligibility criteria for treatment are now being changed? Will she join me also in asking the Government to act where various NHS organisations are breaching NICE guidelines on treatments offered to patients?

Mrs Glindon: I certainly will, and my hon. Friend may find that at the end of my speech I reiterate some of what he has said.

There is rationing in other areas, too, with 66% of trusts limiting cataract surgery and more than half rationing weight-loss surgery and hip and knee operations. Dr Richard Vautrey of the British Medical Association describes the situation as a “cost-saving exercise”, saying quite rightly:

“Patients fully understand the NHS doesn’t have unlimited resources...but they don’t understand, or believe it’s fair, when services are provided in one area but not another.”

The Labour party’s survey provides evidence of random rationing throughout the NHS, and of an accelerating postcode lottery. A number of rationed or decommissioned treatments are common across several PCTs and clinical commissioning groups, while some are specific to individual PCTs and CCGs. That demonstrates the wide variation throughout the country.