Disabled peer secures victory in battle for new human rights protection


newslatestA disabled peer has secured new human rights protection for hundreds of thousands of disabled and older people across the UK who receive council-funded care, after a government concession.

Lord [Colin] Low had been pushing in the House of Lords for an amendment to the government’s care bill that would provide protection for all residents of private sector and charity-run homes.

Although peers approved his amendment – in a significant defeat for the coalition – it was later overturned by MPs.

His amendment aimed to address the problem that the Human Rights Act currently only protects some service-users, leaving hundreds of thousands of others not covered, including those receiving support in their own homes.

Now, following lengthy discussions with Lord Low and other peers, the Liberal Democrat care and support minister, Norman Lamb, has agreed to extend protection to all those who receive care and support arranged or funded – even in part – by their local authority.

Although Lord Low was not able to attend the Lords debate, his fellow crossbench peer Lord Hope said he backed the new amendment.

Lord Hope said: “First, he very much welcomes the amendment and, secondly, he has asked me to express his appreciation for the way [Earl Howe, the Conservative junior health minister, and Norman Lamb] have listened to the views in both houses and have worked very hard to secure an agreement on the current amendment across government.”

Earl Howe said Lord Low’s original amendment had gone “too far”, as it would have applied the Human Rights Act to all social care services regulated by the Care Quality Commission – including those arranged and funded privately – and “would have been the first time that the act applied directly to purely private arrangements where there is no state involvement”.

The bill will now return to the Commons on Monday (12 May), so MPs can consider the amendments made this week by peers. This is likely to be the final stage before the bill receives royal assent.

8 May 2014