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Kevin Brennan: I understand my hon. Friend's point, but I do not think that it would be appropriate for the commissioner to have power to overrule the decision of an independent tribunal, just as it would not be appropriate for Ministers to have power to overrule the decision of an independent tribunal. The role of the commissioner in respect of complaints, as requested by the Assembly and as envisaged in the Bill, is more an enabling role. However, my hon. Friend has made an important point about the cut-off point at which the standards in a home should be considered, and I am sure that it will be listened to, although I must reiterate that there are no current plans to change the regulations.
I should like to illustrate further what the older persons' commissioner can do. It is not intended that the commissioner will duplicate existing complaints procedures as set down in statute, or that they will be able to review or overturn the outcome of a complaint. The Bill provides the commissioner with powers to review and monitor, in regard to advocacy arrangements, complaints arrangements and whistleblowing arrangements. Any person can make advocacy arrangements, but complaints and whistleblowing arrangements must be made by either the Assembly, a regulated service provider in Wales, or bodies such as local authorities, health boards and trusts. The Bill also provides the commissioner with powers to review the discharge of functions of certain bodies, including local authorities.
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If we once again consider those powers in relation to my hon. Friend's case, and cases like it, we see that the commissioner could assist an older person placed in a failing care home in Wales by reviewing the functions of the local authority that placed them in that care home, and by looking at the complaints procedures of both the local authority and of the care home in question. More generally, I know that my hon. Friend is aware of the many initiatives being taken UK-wide and by the Assembly to help older people, and I shall not go through them again this afternoon. I know that he is fully aware of the many measures that have been introduced.
In conclusion, I believe that the Government's commitment to older people in Wales is clear. We have substantially increased the level of provision for older people during this Government's tenure, and we now look forward to introducing the important piece of
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legislation that will create an older persons' commissioner for Wales. The Bill has been touted as the world's first such legislation; it is certainly Europe's first. As regards the care home in Caerphilly to which my hon. Friend referred, I thank him again for bringing this issue to my attention. It is the responsibility of the Assembly, but I want to reassure him that Wales Office Ministers will gladly receive any further representation on the matter that he may care to make. I note his powerful warning about what he thinks might happen in that care home, and I can tell him with confidence that, if there are any further problems of the kind that he has predicted, my right hon. and hon. Friends in the Wales Office will be ready to hear his representations in the confidence that he will be the first to draw them to their attention.