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LABOUR CONDEMNS AXING OF BILLS FOR ELDERLY AND CHILDREN

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Shadow health secretary Chris Smith has attacked the jettisoning of key health measures from the Queen's speech and...
Shadow health secretary Chris Smith has attacked the jettisoning of key health measures from the Queen's speech and accused the government of being more interested in attacking Labour than reaching a consensus.

The government has dropped a planned bill on adoption from its legislative programme for the next session, despite the fact that it had attracted cross-party support. In addition, a proposed bill on long-term care for elderly people will be published for consultation only, and is unlikely to be implemented before the election.

Mr Smith said: 'The Conservatives' objective appears to be not to govern Britain but instead simply to set up confrontation with Labour. Legislation on adoption was promised for this session in the wake of cross-party agreement on the green paper issued a year ago. But the promised bill has now been dropped simply for reasons of political expediency. A golden opportunity to improve the way adoption works in this country has been lost.

'Meanwhile the Tories have also effectively dumped plans to help elderly people with the costs of long-term care. After introducing a ragbag of proposals in a green paper (for which they were strongly criticised by the health select committee, on the grounds that the plans were completely uncosted and untested), and after John Major had flagged up the issue in his last two conference speeches, the government has now lamely announced that a bill will be published in draft form only 'for consultation'.

'The whole Queen's speech has been a wasted opportunity for the country, with the Tories sacrificing desperately-needed measures to the short-term gain of political expediency. The sooner the prime minister calls an election and allows the country to judge this performance for themselves the better.'
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