Watch live as MPs debate on social care reform in Commons
Boris Johnson faces the threat of a Tory rebellion over his proposed changes to the health and care bill, with former chief whip Mark Harper among MPs urging him to withdraw the amendment tonight over fears it will disadvantage poorer pensioners and those with long-term conditions.
The prospect of an embarrassing parliamentary climbdown came as the prime minister defended a rambling speech he gave earlier on Monday to business leaders at the CBI, during which he lost his train of thought, made car engine noises and went off on a tangent about the Peppa Pig World theme park.
Asked by a reporter afterwards, “frankly, is everything okay?”, the PM claimed spectators got the “majority of the points he was trying to make” and that his address had been received “well”.
Critics suggested the speech will have done little to assuage Conservative concerns about Mr Johnson’s leadership, following weeks of sleaze accusations and dodgy decisions – including the Owen Paterson controversy. The BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg quoted a senior Downing Street source as saying: “There is a lot of concern inside the building about the PM … It’s just not working”.
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Jeremy Hunt: ‘fundamental problem in social care is the core funding to local authorities’
Former Conservative health secretary Jeremy Hunt told the Commons that he feels “conflicted” about the new clause 49 and said that core funding provided to local authorities was the fundamental issue that needs to be examined.
Mr Hunt said: “I feel conflicted by new clause 49 because I think that what we will end up with after this is a whole lot better for people on low incomes than what we had before because the means-test threshold is raised from £23,000 to £100,000 so I think that is a very, very significant improvement.”
He added that while he thinks it is a “step forward” he said that it was not as “progressive as we had hoped for”.
“My concern is that when it comes to social care, our entire debate is focusing on what contributions do and don’t contribute to the cap, when the fundamental problem in social care is the core funding to local authorities.”
Celine Wadhera22 November 2021 21:02
‘No one will be appointed to an ICB who would undermine the independence of the NHS’
Health minister Edward Argar told the Commons that a government amendment would outline that “no one will be appointed to an ICB (integrated care board) who would undermine the independence of the NHS”.
He said: “It was never the intention for independent care providers to sit on independent care boards and it still isn’t. We were clear that the conflict of interest provisions … address this.
He added, however, that the government was not seeking to entirely ban private company employees from the boards of ICBs, as doing so would not achieve the “desired result”.
He said that some candidates would be “suitable but may have minor interests” in private health care, citing GPs as an example.
Celine Wadhera22 November 2021 20:55
Conservative MP says government’s plan is “less generous” for those with more modest assets
A Conservative MP told the Commons that the government’s proposals to cap social care costs were “less generous” than previous proposals for people with “more modest assets”.
Kevin Hollinrake, MP representing Thirsk and Malton, told MPs: “Some of the measures he’s (Edward Argar) brought forward are more generous than previously proposed, but there is no doubt that the way the cap works for those with more modest assets, it is less generous.
“How can that be fair” he asked.
Health minister Argar replied: “This, when compared to the current system, is a significant improvement and step forward, particularly when taken in the round with the overall package of measures which see those floors go from £23,250 up to £100,000 and from £14,250 up to £20,000.
“And I think we do have to look at this in the round, considering all aspects, rather than purely one element alone,” he added.
Celine Wadhera22 November 2021 20:50
Shadow social care minister asks whether the health minister is “absolutely sure” that “everybody would be better off”
Shadow health minister Liz Kendall asked if the health minister was “absolutely sure” that everybody would be better off from the proposed reforms.
She said: “Is he [Mr Argar] absolutely sure … that everybody would be better off under the new clause than now?
“Is it not the case, as illustrated by the Health Foundation, that people with very modest homes worth under £106,000 will never hit the cap, and therefore will not be better off under the government’s proposed system than they are now?
Health Minister Argar responded: “I said no one will be worse off, the majority would be better off, that’s the point I’d make. They wouldn’t be worse off.”
Celine Wadhera22 November 2021 20:42
Labour: it is ‘wholly wrong’ for the government to bring in last-minute proposals to cap social care costs
Shadow health minister Justin Madders told the commons that “last minute” proposals to cap social care costs, brought in as part of the Health and Care Bill, could not be properly debated today, as they had not yet been discussed in committee, nor had impact assessment been carried out.
Mr Madders labelled the governments proposals “wholly regressive” and urged Tory MPs to join Labour in opposing them.
“They should be getting used to broken promises from the Prime Minister by now and this is a chance to make a point that he should stand by what he says,” he said.
Celine Wadhera22 November 2021 20:36
Hancock: Proposals for changes to payment for social care should be weighed against current system
Proposals for changes to the way that social care is paid for should be weighed against the current system, not against the Dilnot report on social care, the former health secretary has said.
As MPs discussed the new cap on personal costs for social care in the Commons, Mr Hancock said: “Isn’t the right way to think about this change to consider the proposals in front of us compared to the current system?
“Because the reason that the Dilnot system as previously proposed was never put in place was there was never a proposal to pay for it, whereas this is a package that is paid for and that is why this government has been able to deliver a package where no previous government has been able to.”
Current health minister Edward Argar agreed, and said: “He is absolutely right – we deal in the reality and we should compare this reality of the system we have in place now and what we have proposed here is a system that is not only moving us forward but is actually funded and sustainable”.
Celine Wadhera22 November 2021 20:22
Health minister insists ‘no one will lose’ from reforms as social care debate kicks off
The debate on the amendment relating to the controversial cap on social care costs is now underway in the Commons.
Opening the debate on clause 49, health minister Edward Argar said: “Let me remove all doubt on this issue: no one will lose from these reforms, compared to the system we have now, and the overwhelming majority will win.
But Tory doubts over the bill emerged quickly nonetheless.
Conservative MP John Baron highlighted concerns from the Tory benches “about the distribution of the relative losses and the worry that those less well-off are going to be hit hardest from the government’s amendment tonight”.
Andy Gregory22 November 2021 20:04
Government rejects proposals for health warning on individual cigarettes
Proposals to ban child-friendly branding on e-cigarette packaging and for health warnings on individual cigarettes have been rejected by the government.
Labour’s Mary Kelly Foy had tabled a series of amendments to the Health and Care Bill at report stage in a bid to help the government meet its ambition for England to be smoke-free by 2030.
But health minister Edward Argar argued existing measures in place are “appropriate” and allow changes to be made where required.
The bill also supports the introduction of new requirements about calorie labelling on food and drink packaging and the advertising of junk food before the 9pm watershed in a bid to “level up” health across the country.
But Tory MP Richard Fuller warned the advertising ban on products high in fat, salt and sugar goes against the “essence of Conservatism” and warned it could hit products such as porridge and muesli.
Andy Gregory22 November 2021 19:51
PM could be ‘in trouble’, former No 10 chief suggests
Theresa May’s former chief of staff has weighed in on the gloom emanating from Downing Street this morning, as reported by the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg.
It’s an analysis unlikely to cheer the prime minister’s spirits:
Andy Gregory22 November 2021 19:44
With the possibility that many MPs may abstain in the looming vote on the controversial amendments to the health and care bill, it appears that just shy of 300 have voted on current amendments to the bill relating to smoking and alcohol.
Andy Gregory22 November 2021 19:28