The Care Bill's passage through the House of Commons

October 2013–March 2014

First and second readings

The Care Bill began its passage through the House of Commons on 30 October 2013, and on 16 December 2013 the second reading of the Care Bill began.

The Secretary of State for Health, the Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, led the debate on the Care Bill during its second reading in the House of Commons.

During the first day of the second reading, the Rt Hon Andy Burnham MP, Opposition Health Spokesperson, put forward a motion to oppose the second reading of the bill.

In discussion, Burnham suggested that he did not oppose the bill, but had tabled a 'reasoned amendment' to put on record the opposition's discontent on the proposals for how the new cap would work. The secretary of state felt this was the 'fastest U-turn in history'.

Andy Burnham explained that he felt the proposed cap on care costs was too restrictive and would not give adequate protection against high care bills, describing the situation as a 'care con'. He also objected to the proposed clause relating to hospital reconfiguration.

The House rejected the 'reasoned amendment' to oppose the second reading of the bill (231 for, 289 against).

Committee debates

The committee stage of the Care Bill's passage through the House of Commons began on 9 January 2014 and concluded on 4 February 2014, after 15 sittings.

The government sought to overturn the House of Lords amendment, which brought private providers of social care within the remit of the Human Rights Act 1998. The government was successful in removing the relevant clause following a 'clause part stand' debate.

A new clause was put forward to provide for the pooling of budgets between local authorities and clinical commissioning groups, to be made mandatory to support the Better Care Fund. The amendment was accepted and led to the creation of part 4 of the Care Bill.

The report stage

There were two sittings during the report stage in the Commons for the Care Bill, starting on 10 March and ending the next day, on 11 March.

Amendments were tabled and discussed at length, including clause 11, around the applicability of the Human Rights Act 1998 to private providers of social care services.

Amendments around new rights for carers, including better identification of carers, were discussed. Members were also keen to discuss new clauses for people to receive the right financial advice so they were able to understand the system better and plan accordingly.

A recurring point in the debates on both days of the report stage was the government's removal of the Care Quality Commission's oversight and inspection of local authority commissioning of adult social care services. Jamie Reed MP (Labour) expressed concerns that, by removing the CQC's powers, the bill focused on remedying failures, rather than preventing them.

The Rt Hon Norman Lamb offered reassurance that 'if there is strong evidence of a link between commissioning and poor care, the CQC will be able to examine it' as part of a special review or investigation.

Third reading of the Care Bill

The third reading of the Care Bill was concluded in the same sitting as the report stage.

Jeremy Hunt summarised some of the areas of reform set out in the Care Bill, which included:

  • a cap on care costs at £72,000 to provide better protection for people
  • a universal deferred payment scheme to prevent people from being compelled to sell their homes to pay for their care
  • the re-establishment of the CQC as an independent regulator.

Andy Burnham expressed his support for a number of provisions included in the bill but felt that the bill was 'no answer to the problems posed by an ageing society, and it is not equal to the scale and urgency of the care crisis that the country faces'.

The Care Act ultimately received royal assent on 14 May 2014 following Commons consideration of Lords' amendments.

Source(s)

House of Lords.
Care Bill - second reading. HL Deb 16 December 2013 vol cc487.
Hansard; 2013.

House of Lords.
Care Bill - public bill committee. HL Deb 9 January 2014 vol cc3.
Hansard; 2014.

House of Commons.
Care Bill - report stage (1st day) HC Deb 10 March 2014 vol cc47.
Hansard; 2014.

House of Commons.
Care Bill - report stage (2nd day) HC Deb 11 March 2014 vol cc181.
Hansard; 2014.

House of Commons.
Commons remaining stages; Care Bill.
Hansard; 2014.