How can government and Parliament also benefit more from the contributions of the elderly and retired? I notice that there are no people of our age in the Box. This is particularly important as the Government keep reducing posts. The Government contribute to the

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pensions of former civil servants such as me who would like to contribute. When civil servants were more numerous, government departments and, indeed, society benefited greatly from their representation in all sorts of national and international organisations. Regrettably, the UK is now almost notorious for its absence of representation in many such bodies. Retired civil servants could do this job—occasionally, I have seen this being done—and could feed back information to Whitehall and make sure that the UK is represented, just for the price of the train fare and a cup of tea on the train. This kind of thing should be thought about as part of the Government’s policy on slimming down the Civil Service.

In this debate there has not been much discussion of the medical and technological contributions to the welfare of the elderly and the ways in which they can help people, particularly those who are elderly and disabled. At one end of the spectrum, the noble Lord, Lord Giddens, referred to athletic achievement. At the other end, as a colleague of Professor Stephen Hawking at Cambridge, I was fortunate to see how technology enabled him to talk, be understood and continue his remarkable scientific contribution. However, he had the benefit of the latest technology. When she replies to the debate, will the Minister say what is being done to achieve this vision?

The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich said that human beings were not machines. However, machines can help humans be human. That is a very important point. For example, we can use high technology to understand what whales are saying to each other through the funny little noises they make across the ocean, but we are not using this technology to understand what people who can make only rather funny noises are trying to say to each other. It is just a matter of science, but the science is not being applied. We should have computer programmes that analyse the sounds and gestures of disabled people and enable them to communicate and to be seen as people. If we look at this in a very positive way, we may even be able to make an intergenerational leap from the very oldest to the very youngest techie children who respect only communications that come through the ether. Communications made through sound or touching are very old-fashioned and utterly uninteresting to them. We may be able to make a great breakthrough in that regard.

Government research agendas have an appreciable content of work focused on matters connected with the elderly and on the associated science, technology and social science, but I believe that a stronger vision of where this is leading is needed. This is a tremendously human-oriented programme. I look forward to the Minister’s response to that question.

1.23 pm

Baroness Barker: My Lords, in preparing for today’s debate I asked a number of people what they would say about the most reverend Primate. The most frequent response was that he had done an amazing job of keeping different people together within the church. That is absolutely right. He has managed to keep within his church a broad and diverse range of people with different opinions. That has been an extraordinarily difficult and at times very painful process for the

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church and for him. In years to come, his church will thank him for having done that. We in the wider society should do so too because what the church has to say about how enduring values affect issues as our society evolves is important and continues to be so. Therefore, the job that he has done in making sure that, in coming to its decisions, there are many voices within the church is extremely important.

It is therefore no accident that today a number of people have chosen to talk about diversity and older people. I intend to do so, too, but in a slightly different way. I want to talk about a group of people—older lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people—known by the inelegant acronym OLGBT. A decade ago at Age Concern, I was involved in Opening Doors, which was one of the first ever pieces of research in this area. It was the beginning of a project that endures. We did that because the law had changed in the 1970s and we knew that for the first time a cohort of people who had been out during their lives was coming towards old age. However, we knew that services and society were not ready for them and had not thought about them.

We were right. The prevailing attitude, certainly among service providers was, “We haven’t got any around here”. We said, “No, you would not have any around here because you have never looked for them”. In fact, they were a generation of people who had grown up through times of illegality and then went through a transition of becoming legal but not accepted. They were therefore very hidden and very reluctant to put themselves forward. Antony Smith, the diversity officer of Age UK, talks now about the need for organisations actively to come out and be welcoming of people from the OLGBT community, because if they do not those people will never have trust in those organisations.

In the decade or so for which this project has been running, we have got to know quite a lot, although there is still much that we do not know, about older gay people. We know that they are as diverse as the rest of the population. Some of them have had outstanding careers in the military, in our public services, in business and so on. We have also had some villains among them, as has the rest of the country. Many of the things that older gay people want are just the same as what everyone else wants. They want to feel safe, feel connected and be valued. However, in addition, they want to be understood because they have been so alone and so isolated for so long that they are not understood.

Recent research carried out with Age UK and Opening Doors in Camden gave rise to a description by an old lady that is more telling than I can describe. She said, “I am an older lesbian. If I never have another relationship with another woman, I will still be an older lesbian”. I shall also quote an older gay man, who said, “I think I was 82 before I felt good about myself”. Those two statements together begin to indicate to the rest of us what these people have gone through in their lives.

A very few projects have become established around the country. There is the Age UK project in Camden, which is perhaps the biggest and most well known, the Navajo project in Lancashire and the Equity Partnership in Yorkshire. There are not many more but they are

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dotted around the country. They provide simple services such as home care, social care and so on. What the people who go to those projects say is that they have given them a renewed sense of being part of a community, a structure to their lives and things to look forward to again—the same things that everyone else wants. However, those projects have also served as good research bases for others. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, in January 2012, used Opening Doors in Camden to carry out some research. It made some interesting discoveries. Lots of people make the assumption that, because in times past some faith groups have been very hostile to gay people, they have left their churches. It turns out that that is not so. Quite a number of gay people remained within the church. They may not be out, but their faith and participation in the church is important to them.

I have mentioned those small projects and there are some others. We got the news last week from the Charities Aid Foundation that the financial crisis that gripped the City in 2008-09 is now sending out its shockwaves and that those are going to hit charities and local authorities. Many of these projects are run by charities which are highly likely to disappear over the next few years, and I think it is likely that much of this work will be lost. Given what is about to happen in the charitable sector over the next three years, does the Minister agree that it is imperative that government takes a more proactive role in promoting diversity, particularly in public services, than they have in the past, so that policy statements across government reflect the diversity of the nation? There are some bits and pieces of work going on. Stonewall Housing, for example, is developing some standards to show what good practice should look like.

I simply want to put the matter across to noble Lords in terms that I think are strong but nevertheless warranted. Throughout the debate, people have spoken about the fact that nobody relishes the prospect of losing their independence in later life. However, having spoken to very many gay people, I know that they have an extra dread that old age may mean dependence upon people who either do not understand them or, worse, hate them. That is a real and constant fear within the community. That is why it is important, just as it is for members of our black and minority ethnic community, that government redouble their efforts to make sure that these people’s needs are included.

I want to finish on the following note. In future, the majority of care and support for old people will be in communities. The church always has and always will have a very important role in shaping the nature of our communities. It is, and will remain, a force which determines very many of the good and strong aspects of our community life. I hope that in the role that he goes on to play in the future, the most reverend Primate will continue what he has done in the past, which is to raise questions about the human condition and about society that cause Governments and the rest of us as individuals to think and to reflect.

1.32 pm

Baroness Flather: I add my appreciation to the most reverend Primate for initiating this debate. I should also like to add a personal note. I have felt very

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privileged that I have had the opportunity to get to know him, and I am grateful for the kindness that he and Mrs Williams have shown me on more than one occasion. I will remember that as a great good fortune for me.

We all know that we, here, are the luckiest old people in the world. There is no doubt whatever about that. When ageing, there cannot be anything better than to be in this place, to have things to do and to have wonderful people to talk to. It used to be called the best day centre in the world. It is, and we should never stop appreciating how many wonderful old people we meet. Some of us who, when we came here, thought that we were entering middle age in our 50s, realised that we were actually quite young. Then old age crept in. Old age has crept up on me without my realising it. Now that I am nudging the age of 80, I still do not understand how that happened. Where did the years go? I think that has happened because I have been so happy and productive here. Therefore, old age has no meaning when you are productive and doing things. It has a negative meaning when you are not productive and not doing things. It has a positive meaning when you can have a fulfilling time.

My experience is that I have just become old without realising and I do not see myself as old. I think it was the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Scotland, who said we have bits and pieces attached to us that keep us going. I have two new knees, a huge pacemaker and a stent and I feel wonderful. We are very lucky in this day and age but we also have to blame medical science for keeping us going. Many people who are not fortunate enough to be in this House do not find the fulfilment they need in their lives. I was very interested to hear the things the noble Lord, Lord Wei, suggested should be done. That is very important.

I am going to say something about families a little later, but I want to suggest something now. We have heard about volunteering and the contribution of elderly people—I had them in my notes but I will not speak about them because many noble Lords already have. I started my life in the voluntary sector so I have seen what people do—friends of mine looked after elderly people in hospitals when they were about five or 10 years older than the patients. Older people, who are well and fit, will do things and keep doing things and that is a wonderful thing and a wonderful example for us all. They save money for the country and that is a very good thing. However, we have to consider that somebody in their mid-50s who has lost their job may be told that they are too old to get a new job. That frightens me. Why should you be too old when you have such a long life span? You should not be too old until your mid-70s. It is extremely difficult to understand.

We need an initiative whereby people can participate in different activities. We have things called day centres. I have been to day centres because in my previous life I was a councillor. I know about day centres. I also know about sheltered accommodation because I decided to take responsibility for it. They are not designed to encourage people to do things for themselves and for other elderly people. Things cannot change unless elderly people—elderly like me, of course—can take

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responsibility for doing something for and with other elderly people so that there is pleasure, enjoyment and activity.

We have youth centres. What is a day centre? You sit around the room and get a meal. That is not good enough. Sometimes they have some card games and things but it could and should be much more than that. There should be a centre of the third age where people can go. There should be a workshop there for people who want to make or do things. There should be a number of different kinds of activities for people to participate in. There should be advice on starting a small business and how to get a loan to start one. It should be an overarching centre that anybody can access.

I would also like councils to encourage people to become a group to look at local issues. Who knows better what is happening in their local community than the older people? Starting such a group is not about money, although of course if you start a centre there will be need to be some money—you could convert a day centre into it.

I am very much in favour of people being treated with dignity. I hated the little young things calling the older women and men by their first names. I thought that was very unpleasant. It really is unbelievable that people can treat older people like that.

I have almost run out of time so I shall quickly go on to families. I was brought up to believe that we should respect old people. That seems to have completely disappeared in this country. You see older people standing and youngsters—the sort of people who are able bodied—sitting and not giving them seats. That depresses me.

When I was visiting sheltered accommodation I noticed that many of the people there had no visitors at all. They had separated from their brothers and sisters and their children and no one was visiting them. That, again, is a sad development. I would hope that people would nurture and foster family. It should not be like an Asian family, where you are dominated, but something with which people feel connected.

My last point is about Asian families. The noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, gave a lot of facts and figures but, basically, people imagine that Asians look after their own families—well, they do not any more. In fact, in some cases, Asian families have a far worse time than white families. I have known of parents being put in attics without heating and so on. Yes, they are with the family and no one can say that they have thrown their parents out, but it is not right and it is not what it should be. We should not make any assumptions about anyone looking after their parents and we should try to make a life for older people.

1.41 pm

Baroness Uddin: My Lords, I, too, express my thanks and gratitude to the most reverend Primate for his contribution and, in particular, for his leadership and vision about the benefits of interfaith understanding. I heard his every word today with warmth—they echo in my heart as though they were my own—and I salute him for his courage and wish him well in his new journey.

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A number of studies have sought to quantify the economic and social contribution of older people to our society. The WRVS and the Age Positive organisation have estimated that in 2010 older people made a net contribution of £40 billion to the UK economy. The WRVS describes older people as the social glue of their communities and neighbourhoods. A report by ResPublica observed that older people do more than their fair share of volunteering, charitable giving, voting and other forms of civil engagement, as other noble Lords have mentioned. This is demonstrated clearly across the country in church halls, tenants’ organisations, unions and political parties. It was most recently demonstrated in the Olympics.

However, recent research has indicated that older people feel unappreciated and disrespected by society in general. In 2009, a survey was conducted which found that 76% of the older people who responded believed that their country had failed to make good use of the skills and talents of their generation. We have a diverse older population in this country, as has been alluded to by the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, and, for the first time since the latest census, we have more robust statistics on minority elders. A recent survey of minority elders in Surrey found that those who have lived in this country for longer have the same fears of growing old as the general population—loneliness, isolation, reduced income, lack of access to day care facilities and specialist day care facilities and sheltered housing. Even in leafy Surrey, minority elders still have language and communication issues and rely on friends and families to help with their communication needs. The survey of minority elders in Surrey found that they have a perception of mainstream organisations that they do not try hard enough to engage with them. The take-up of Age UK services in Surrey by minority elders is extremely low.

Another survey, carried out in Blackburn, showed that 99% were not accessing any social care services. Some 80% said that they did not visit their GPs regularly and relied on family for their health and other information. Some 44% did not claim any kind of benefit, which is contrary to the information often given in the media. As my noble and learned friend Lady Scotland said, there are significant differences in the experience of women, where prejudice and discrimination continue to impact their later lives.

To address these gaps, we need to embrace policies that encourage the active participation of older people in all aspects of our social and economic life. We should positively promote their contribution and accord respect to all our elders. All older people rightly deserve that. Recently in our family, we have experienced a number of deaths—mostly people in their later years. It has reminded me time and time again of the importance of those in our lives who are older and how much their contribution enriches our very existence. So this debate comes at a time when I have been thinking about some of these issues on a very personal level. I grew up among the knowledge that an older person is experienced, wise, to be listened to and learned from. In addition, they are to be valued and, yes, revered and respected, and loved for their wisdom and guidance—never passive—with inalienable rights over their families

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that asserted that in time responsibility of their care would belong to the whole family. When I came to this country and went to live in the East End, I discovered that it was the same for the families who lived there. We were different in colour, culture and religion, but regard for the family was exactly the same.

Demographic changes have altered communities and practices so that many communities and families are struggling to keep hold of the longstanding commitments and values of extended families that can support each other. We are coping with the fallout of social policies of a modern and transient world. None the less, many families continue to support the elders within their families, but, worryingly, much research exists that enlightens us to the contrary. The issue of violence and abuse, highlighted by my noble and learned friend Lady Scotland and the noble Lord, Lord Alton, is ever increasing to blight our society. The new world order has exposed many older people to the fallout of economic gloom—inadequate care, poor and inadequate housing, poverty and isolation. Societal and working practices have seen massive cultural shifts with regard to income, the promotion of independence and self-reliance, thus impacting family structures. The demands of these differing norms have seen the dispersal of families to all areas of the country, and even to different parts of the world. That is characterised by a higher proportion of single households, divorces, couples without children, or families living apart. Added to that is the surge of 1980s consumerism and focus on individuals. Surely, we should have foreseen the results of our own making, with a society where many older people feel a burden, disrespected and misunderstood, existing in parallel to each other and not integrated and cohesive as one group or family.

Families define who we are. Much is being done to encourage older people to volunteer and actively participate in family life and society. We need to do more to encourage our young to understand and value our elders by their greater involvement and participation in joint activities, be that in school, university or other less formal settings. Of course I am not talking about the brigade of countless grandparents who are regularly rescuing their working children. Intergenerational relationships can be a great asset to today’s busy families and are an opportunity to honour our elders. This is ever present in my own life through the constant love and care my mother gives to her five children, 14 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

In the spirit of fraternity, I add my voice to that of the most reverend Primate and call on the Government to consider setting up a commissioner for older people. I echo the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, in his suggestion that we should have a panel of elders to reflect the diversity of our society and of our experience. What has actually inspired me to comment on a panel of elders is the work of Sir Richard Branson. It is something that we could look at and perhaps even replicate across the country in smaller ways.

I have talked about my personal experience of elders in my family, but I accept that this is not the experience of many families in Britain, even those who come from a familiar background and culture to mine. The panacea of extended families all living under one

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roof and taking care of each other is a fallacy in today’s society, as was so eloquently illustrated by the noble Baroness, Lady Flather. With an ever ageing population, the issues we are debating today are important to us all, regardless of ethnicity, race or religion.

1.51 pm

Baroness Pitkeathley: My Lords, your Lordships’ House has a wonderful record in longevity, as we have heard several times in the debate, but if the temperature in the Chamber drops any lower, I think it will see quite a few more of us off. It is an honour and privilege to speak in this debate and I congratulate the most reverend Primate on his magnificent contribution, on securing the debate, and on the title he has chosen for it—the “contribution” made by older people. Too often when we discuss the place of older people in society, we focus on the problems. We talk about the demographic time bomb, the drain on the resources of the NHS, social care problems and so on. I do it myself all the time when I speak about the problems faced by those delivering social care both now and in the future. But what it is easy to forget is that older people themselves are often the ones providing care, and it is on that caring contribution that I want to focus. We should recognise the contribution made by older people as providers of social care and childcare for grandchildren.

The latest census figures were published on Wednesday and show that the number of carers over the age of 65 is increasing even more rapidly than the general carer population. We are still awaiting the analysis but it certainly looks as though while the total number of carers has increased by 10% in the past 10 years, the number of carers aged over 65 may have increased by as much as 15%. The reasons for this are not difficult to see. The bulk of care in our society has always been provided within families, with twice as many unpaid carers, nearly 6.4 million, as there are paid staff in the health and social care systems combined. The care they provide is valued at a staggering £119 billion every year, which is easily the cost of another health service. If anyone says that families do not care any more—and I am sorry to say that I have heard that several times today—I am afraid that I want to scream. Everyone here in this debate will know at least one, and probably several, older spouses who are caring for a partner with Parkinson’s, some form of mental illness, dementia, arthritis or diabetes. The list is endless. Most of them do not want to stop doing it; they do it because of the love they have for their partner or out of a strong sense of duty, or for the simple reason, as many a carer has said to me, that, “It is what you do”.

Caring for relatives can be a positive experience and many report that it is so, but of course taking on the responsibility of caring, however willingly you do it, has its consequences. It can have very negative consequences for your own health, for example. More than 60% of carers report that their health has suffered as a direct result of caring—either their emotional or physical health, but often both. The vow that people take in the marriage service,

“in sickness and in health”,

is very real in these situations. Age UK research shows that of 2 million older people with care-related needs,

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nearly 800,000 receive no support of any kind from public or private sector agencies. Many live alone and will suffer the loneliness that many noble Lords have drawn attention to today. However, many others are cared for by a spouse who is becoming increasingly frail themselves because of the stress of caring, and increasingly unable to get any kind of support because of cuts in local services or the charges that councils are now imposing.

As noble Lords will know, councils are increasingly unable even to consider meeting care needs that are assessed as being non-severe or moderate. Research by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services shows that 83% of councils have eligibility criteria set at substantial. If your needs are not seen as substantial, you do not get any help. As one carer aged 87, caring for his wife of 85, who is severely afflicted with arthritis, said, “They say her needs are not substantial because she can get dressed and be wheeled into the shower that we had installed at our own expense. Of course she can’t dress herself but we manage it between us in about an hour and a half every day. They used to give me a break from caring once a month and took her into a care home for 24 hours, but of course it’s all stopped. But we soldier on—what else can we do?”. What else indeed?

Neither should we ignore the financial consequences of caring. There are extra heating bills, not to mention extra laundry, specialist foods and so on, but what causes most frustration among older carers is a lack of recognition within the benefits system. Those caring for more than 35 hours a week are entitled to carer’s allowance, currently just over £58 a week, but if you are in receipt of the state pension you cannot receive carer’s allowance because of the overlapping benefit rule. You are doing no less caring but you cannot be recognised financially. That causes a great deal of frustration and anger among older carers.

I turn briefly to those older people who provide huge amounts of childcare. This has also been mentioned several times today. Many older people wrote to Carers UK as part of its Sandwich Caring survey and talked about their caring experiences and where they impact on other aspects of their life. Many families rely on grandparents to provide childcare for their children while they are at work. In fact, grandparents are the biggest providers of childcare, as we all know. However, many found themselves caring at the same time for a parent with a sudden illness, a long-term condition, a stroke or dementia, and were therefore unable to provide the vital childcare in the way that they had done. They were painfully aware of the financial pressures this placed on their sons and daughters, not to mention the fact that they had enjoyed spending time with their grandchildren. More investment in care and a stronger care system, integrated better with health, would enable more of these grandparents to do both. As women have children later in life, this linking of caring responsibilities with grandparenting will become much more widespread.

Chronic underfunding has led to a crisis in our social care system, putting huge pressure on existing care services, the NHS and particularly on family members who provide care. This brings costs not only

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for carers and the people they care for but for the economy and public services more widely. Demand for the unpaid care provided by families and carers is increasing, and it has been estimated that nearly 3.5 million additional carers will be needed by 2037.

The care and support White Paper published in July presents a positive vision for the future, as does the draft Care and Support Bill, which is about to begin pre-legislative scrutiny; I declare an interest as a member of that committee. The Bill strengthens the rights of carers and those using care and support services, as well as bringing clarity and accessibility to social care law. However, a significant gap remains between the demand for care and support services and the ability of local government to provide good-quality social care to those in need. If this funding gap is not filled, and if a fairer and more sustainable model for the future funding of social care is not agreed, families and society will continue to pay the price.

I have said many times in your Lordships’ House that if we as a nation do not change our attitude to care and caring needs, we will be in serious trouble. We seem wilfully to ignore the fact that most of us will need care at some point in our lives. Report after report shows us that we do not plan for that and are not even aware that we will have to pay for social care. I ask the Minister, as I have asked others: when may we expect a reply from the Government to the Dilnot report and when may we expect this new thinking on social care to come on to the public service agenda?

I focused on the serious subject of providing and needing care, which can be depressing. If ever I am depressed about the passing years, I think of the example set for me by my auntie Ida. She is 94, lives alone, has an active social life, grows all her own fruit and vegetables and, as the Seville orange season approaches in January, will be preparing for her marathon marmalade-making session. She makes about 150 jars to give away because, as she puts it, “I like to make it for all the old people, bless them”.

2 pm

Lord Ramsbotham: My Lords, like all other noble Lords who have spoken in the debate, I thank and congratulate the most reverend Primate for obtaining it. I also pay tribute to him for all that he has done during his time in his historic office and the manner of his doing it.

After such a rich variety of speakers and the wonderful mix of wisdom and humour, I am sorry that as the final Back-Bench speaker I should end on a particular and critical note. Although the subject of the debate is,

“the place and contribution of older people in society”,

I deliberately limit my contribution to the place of one small but rising part of the whole, namely older people in prison. Their needs reflect those of older people in the community, which most of them will become on release. I speak in the context of the provisions of the Equality Act 2010, which outlaws harmful age discrimination in the provision of goods and services, and enforces a duty on all public sector bodies to promote age equality.

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My interest in older prisoners was aroused by an experience as Chief Inspector of Prisons when, visiting Winchester, I was asked by its excellent doctor whether I felt strong enough to see three very dangerous prisoners. All were elderly and bedridden, one with advanced Alzheimer’s, one with advanced Parkinson’s and the third so mentally ill that he clearly had no idea where he was. The doctor explained that she had found them in the category B Kingston prison, the Prison Service categorising them as being so dangerous that they could not be in less secure custody. In view of their condition and because Kingston did not have 24-hour nursing cover, she had on her own initiative brought them to category C Winchester to die in the dignity of her care.

When I raised the issue of elderly prisoners with the Prison Service, I learned that neither was anyone responsible for them as a group nor were there any special arrangements such as nominated prisons with suitable facilities. I therefore contacted the social services director responsible for the elderly and asked him to work with me on a thematic review of elderly prisoners as part of an overall review of minority groups in prison. When I reluctantly had to abandon that review, having been forbidden by the then Prisons Minister from including race, I forwarded the report of the social services director to the director-general of the Prison Service. It seemed that the director’s comprehensive survey of the problem and sensible recommendation that social services, with their national responsibility for the elderly, should be made responsible for the oversight of conditions for and treatment of elderly prisoners in nominated prisons, required immediate attention.

Needless to say, nothing came of that, and it was not until 2004, when my successor, Dame Anne Owers, published a review of older prisoners, No Problems - Oldand Quiet—a title taken from a prisoner’s personal file—that the size and shape of the problem was drawn to public attention. She reported that although some 7% of all prisoners were over 50, few prisons were taking the special healthcare and resettlement needs of older prisoners seriously—a problem exacerbated by the tendency of prisoners to age prematurely by up to 10 years while in prison.

Older prisoners were accommodated in a regime designed for, and largely inhabited by, young and able-bodied people, supported by prison staff who were untrained for their needs. Most disappointingly, in view of my previous attempts, the review found that, in general, local authority social service departments were extremely reluctant even to carry out assessments of older prisoners, still less to offer support either during or after imprisonment. A follow-up report in 2008 found that, although there had been some improvement in healthcare arrangements, the National Offender Management Service had still not developed a national strategy for older prisoners supported by mandatory national and local standards.

That is the background to the situation today, which is that as of 30 September, although there are isolated examples of good practice, there is still no national strategy or guidance relating to the welfare of the 9,913 prisoners over the age of 50. Of those

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prisoners, 3,333 were over the age of 60; more than 600 were over 70; 42 were over 80 and the oldest was 92. That represents 11% of the prison population, a rise of 4% since 2004. Prisoners over 60 are the fastest growing age group in the prison estate, a rise that is not matched by a corresponding rise in the number convicted by the courts. It cannot be explained by demographic changes, or a so-called elderly crime wave. The most likely cause is harsher sentencing policies, which have resulted in longer sentences being awarded to criminals aged over 60, especially those convicted of sex offences and drug trafficking. The sole guidance is a chapter on older prisoners in a Prison Service order entitled



with Physical, Sensory and Mental Disabilities

, which largely focuses on their health and mobility needs, which prisons are expected to meet by making what are called “reasonable adjustments”.

Inspection reports over the past year confirm that there are still a worrying number of deficiencies in conditions for and treatment of older prisoners, in addition to a general observation that the contrast between their treatment and that of other vulnerable groups has grown. For example, although some older prisoners may be unlocked during the day, as well as them being retired at 60—and so disqualified from earning wages—there is too often no structured activity for them and a general lack of daycare centres.

Although statistics suggest that more than half such prisoners are suffering from a mental disorder, staff training in mental health awareness is poor. Few have the ability to identify the early onset of dementia and, although most prisons have special clinics for older prisoners, few have a special lead nurse in place. A number of older prisoners with mobility problems are unable to use the showers, or have difficulty accessing top bunk beds. However, on the positive side, 85% of older prisoners state that staff treat them with respect, and 84% state that they have a member of staff whom they can turn to with a problem.

Older prisoners also need help in preparing for release, which, disappointingly, received no mention in Ken Clarke’s “rehabilitation revolution” Green Paper, Breaking the Cycle. Life on the out is nothing like life inside prison, and many will find it hard to cope, particularly those who have served long sentences and who may have lost all contact with their families and communities, or be prohibited from making contact because of the conditions of their release. Of course, age itself does not determine either capabilities or needs but, in addition to possible isolation from friends and family, older ex-prisoners are more likely to have health problems than the rest of the population, have less income and be less likely to find work. Furthermore, the frailties of age are likely to accentuate the effects of victimisation against them following their crime and punishment.

In sum, because the problems of older prisoners are often not visible and since they are less likely to complain or make trouble, it is too readily assumed that everything with and for them is satisfactory. However, it is clear from the evidence that that is far from the case and that too many of their well documented specific needs and concerns are not being recognised

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or met. For example, as reported in 2004, social care provisions for them are as minimal on release as they are in prison and also suffer from a lack of national direction.

Winston Churchill famously said in 1910 that the way in which it treated crime and criminals was the truest test of the civilisation of any country. Applied to the treatment of older prisoners, we currently fail that test. I know that this issue is outside the responsibilities of the Minister, but I hope that she will pass on what I have said to her colleagues in the Ministry of Justice and the Department of Health, in particular. In the Advent spirit of hope, I once again thank the most reverend Primate for the opportunity to raise the issue and wish him all good fortune on his return to Cambridge.

2.10 pm

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, it is a real pleasure to participate in today’s debate initiated by the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury. The words have rightly been very warm, but I hope that the archbishop is wearing his thermals.

I am delighted that after 10 challenging years as the leader of the Church of England and head of the worldwide Anglican communion, he will be able to enjoy a different and, I hope, slightly less demanding life as Master of Magdalene College Cambridge. A new career at 62 is brilliant. From these Benches, I thank him for the values he has espoused and articulated. His spiritual leadership and work with other faiths will be missed. Those of faith, little faith and no faith all appreciate the tremendous work of the Church of England in our communities, especially with young people, old people, the vulnerable and the disadvantaged. I fear that in these times of austerity its work is growing.

Like every other person on this earth, each and every one of us is growing older by the minute, but as Members of your Lordships’ House we are both privileged and cosseted. While we might worry about our health, our wrinkles and our dignity as we age, we are active, our minds are nourished and stretched, and in varying ways we are making a contribution to the life of our country, sometimes through our legislative work or advocacy, sometimes though our work with charities or business, oft times through our family life. In this House, we have hope. Hope in old age is denied to many, but I heard a wonderful example of hope the other day. A friend who lives in London has been concerned for some time about his parents, who live in Scotland, both of whom are in their 90s. My friend had been trying to get them to move into some form of sheltered accommodation, and a couple of weeks ago he spoke to his father, who said that at last he had decided to take the plunge. “That’s great”, said the son, “Shall I come and help you move? Can you tell me what date I should come?”. To his astonishment, his father replied, “Well, there’s no rush. I’ve put down a deposit on a home which should be completed in two years’ time”. Optimism is a wonderful thing.

Getting older is a strange and, too often, daunting process, and we know that death will surely follow. The fact that our society is obsessed with youth and frightened of death makes it all the more difficult,

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but getting older does not mean diminished capacity or a diminished contribution to society. We need the talents and skills of our oldest citizens, who are participants in our communities, but we must also value them. I am 57 and, yes, I fervently wish that I was younger and that I could relive parts of my life with the understanding that I have now, but in my lifetime the place and contribution of older people in our society has changed.

In physical terms, the shape of families has changed and many are fragmented so that frequently older people live alone, often far from sons and daughters.They sometimes feel unloved. With e-mails, cheap phone calls and Skype, parents and grandparents can now participate in the lives of their offspring who may be thousands of miles away. However, it is clear that loneliness is exacerbated by distance. Sadly, a recent report published by WRVS showed that the pressure of work and family commitments is taking its toll on older people, with many saying that their children were too busy to see them, but that they can gain strength and joy from other people’s children and intergenerational work is hugely important.

Society has changed. We went from a period of strong communities—although perhaps my rose tinted specs deceive me—to no such thing as society, but now, as the archbishop said in an extraordinary speech during our debates on last year’s summer disturbances,

“People have discovered why community matters. They have discovered why solidarity is important”.—[Official Report, 11/8/11; col. 1512.]

As life gets more difficult, the role of communities and families and the position of older people within them grow stronger. As the state withdraws from some public services, the voluntary sector and volunteers take its place, sometimes because they have rightly sought to deliver services, at other times because they have to shoulder burdens caused by the state that is shrinking because of cuts. Many of the volunteers are older people who, far from being a burden, are contributors to their community. We know that WRVS and many local charities provide support and companionship for people who are lonely and who cannot get out of their homes.

In my own area, it is also older people who run organisations such as the local history society, which, working with schools, ensures that our history and traditions are carried forward for the next generation. It is older volunteers who work with local environmental organisations, conscious that we are stewards of our environment for future generations. It is older people who underpin our voluntary services, which in turn are sustaining our society. This is good for society, but research also shows that older people who volunteer are less depressed, have a better quality of life and are happier.

Within extended families, friendship circles and local communities, it is often women taking the leading roles. At the same time, they are often doing tough but badly paid jobs in homes and hospitals. Women are supreme jugglers. Whereas the juggling used to stop when the children left home, it now continues for much longer. My party has recognised that older women

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are the nation's greatest untapped resource. We have set up an older women’s commission, which is looking into the pressures faced by a new generation of older women, whose lives are very different from those of our mothers, and how we respond to the challenges that these women face.

Recent Gransnet research has found that three-quarters of grandmothers aged over 50 are caring for their grandchildren, more than a third care for vulnerable or elderly relatives, almost 40% do voluntary work, and more than one in four are still holding a job. Many are also working really hard to hold families together across the generations.

We are living longer, which is often—but depending on one’s health not always—a joy. This poses huge challenges for society. Even as the retirement age rises we draw pensions for longer, and as demographics change there are fewer young people of working age to every pensioner. We should not look on this as a burden, but who is going to provide money for the pensions? It must not be a financial burden on the next generation who are facing far greater challenges in terms of security than our lucky generation ever had. Few can hope to own their own house before their late 30s, they will never have the security of a job for life, their own pensions may be meagre and they may well have to tackle issues relating to environmental and energy security. Where retirement is concerned, as the noble Lord, Lord Wei, suggested, perhaps we should be looking as a society at a phased-in period leading up to retirement, with shorter hours at work, more time volunteering, more time supporting younger people and time to adjust to the new realities. Loss of work must not mean loss of identity.

Longer lives do not necessarily mean healthier lives. We already have a crisis in our social care system. Carers are often themselves elderly. Local authorities are doing everything they can to protect front-line care services, but with further financial cuts inevitable, they will have to cut services further, despite increased demand.

We need urgent action to provide a holistic health and social care service—a truly integrated service with one budget, quality community services and a lasting financial settlement for social care. Unless we get that right, the fabric of our society will crumble. Living longer also means that we must reappraise our housing needs, as my noble friend Lady Andrews said. We should perhaps be looking at how younger and older people can live in the same community, as well as at having properly adapted housing. I would also suggest that we should reconsider policies such as the bedroom tax, which is a nightmare for many elderly people.

We have all visited residential homes, some of which are excellent, but others are profoundly depressing and are little more than warehouses for the elderly. There will always be a need for some quality homes, but we should be looking more at intergenerational solutions that are good for younger people and older people. I warmly welcome the initiatives where young working people who cannot afford the exorbitant cost of rented accommodation live with elderly people who need a human presence in their home—someone to do the shopping.

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There must be many other schemes that could and should be explored which would greatly enhance the lives of young and old as well as build trust between the generations. Today we have rightly focused on the positive attributes of elderly people—their skills, talents and experience. However, in doing so we must not diminish the wonderful attributes of our young people. Old and young can learn from each other, albeit in different ways. Society should indeed honour our elders, but we should celebrate the younger generation who are our future. Each generation should speak with, listen to and learn from each other.

In answer to the noble Lord, Lord Crisp, I assure him that the grey vote has always been of huge importance to all political parties, one practical reason being that older people are those who wish to vote. Having said that, older people are now rightly more vociferous and assertive. Public services which affect older people are now in crisis. These people are used to having their own way, and they want to be part of decision-making. They will have, perhaps, more impact on our policies in future.

This has been a rich debate. I end where the most reverend Primate began. As a society, we have to do more to change attitudes towards older people. To change our current culture, we have to affirm models of living for older people, provide opportunities for them to use their talents and experience, and enable them to live with dignity until the end. As a state, we have a duty to support those who need it, and we have to reaffirm that to assuage one of the fears of growing old. I like the emphasis put on love by my noble friend Lord Griffiths and others. Love should mean that we respect each other and older people, celebrate their contribution to society and recognise the self that is part of being a human being. That self does not disappear if it becomes dependent. I hope that, as a nation, we will better learn the importance of love; love which should be tolerant of difference so that, for example, elderly gay or black and ethnic minority citizens do not live in fear—and neither should prisoners.

I wish the most reverend Primate well in his new life. This man of warmth, compassion and huge intellect deserves space for thought and enjoyment after the past 10 years. As many have said, however, I hope that he will continue to be a catalyst for ideas and an inspiration for our country, including for policymakers and decision-makers who are grappling with today’s problems while searching for new ways to meet future challenges, especially in terms of public policy. On behalf of these Benches, I say to the most reverend Primate that I wish him well, and thank him for his extraordinary contribution to our society and for what he will continue to do.

2.22 pm

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): My Lords, this has been a hugely enlightening debate in which all Members of this House are infinitely more qualified to take part than me. I thank all noble Lords for their contributions.

I could not pass up the honour of answering the historic final debate in this House of the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury as the Archbishop

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of Canterbury. I, like others, hope that he will continue to make a contribution in the House, perhaps in a different guise. I thank him for the momentous role that he has played not only in this House but in the Church of England, in interfaith relations and in British society. He has been thoughtful, brave and challenging, and has always managed to remain relevant to today’s challenges. I add my voice to that of the noble Baroness, Lady Royall, to the wise words of the noble Lord, Lord Griffiths, and to the warm words of the noble Baroness, Lady Sherlock.

This debate could not be in a more relevant time or place, in a year when we are marking 60 years of service by one of Britain’s greatest ever older people, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth. When we refer to great women, I am sure that the House will join me in saying to the most reverend Primate that colleagues value not only his contribution but also the amazing contribution of his wife Jane. As we all know, no great man can ever succeed without a great woman behind him.

As we heard today, the changing demography of the UK means that the contribution of older people in society is more important than ever. Much was made earlier this week of the changing make-up of Britain, revealed in the census results. One of the biggest changes to our country that is often overlooked is the rising number of older people. Every year about 650,000 people turn 65. That means that there are more people over the age of 60 than there are under the age of 18, and it means that pensioners make up almost one-fifth of our total population. There are 1.4 million people over the age of 85 living in Britain today, and 12,000 of those are Britons over the age of 100. Of those, 10 are super-centenarians: people who have reached the age of 110.

Our oldest living resident, Grace Jones of Bermondsey, celebrated her 113th birthday earlier this month. That is something that we can all call—using the words of the noble Lord, Lord Sutherland of Houndwood—a very good innings. Long may it continue. The proportion of older people in Britain is set to rise even more dramatically, mainly due to a drop in fertility rates, advances in healthcare, and the fact that all those baby boomers from the 1960s are starting to reach retirement. It is estimated that by 2050 the number of Britons over 65 will have doubled to reach 19 million.

We owe a great debt to the older members of our society—family members, friends, colleagues and neighbours—who have shaped the world that we live in today. Some of them lived through the Great War, remember the roaring ’20s and the depression, fought fascism and saved Europe from tyranny, rebuilt Britain after the war and created the welfare state, came to Britain for a better life from other countries and spent the swinging ’60s campaigning for the equalities that we enjoy today. Our older people take a long view. They have seen booms, they have seen busts. They have seen politicians come and they have seen them go. The point is that society has so much to learn from them, which is why we should encourage more intergenerational interaction.

The noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Chesterton, had some interesting suggestions on how high tech could play a role. More conventional intergenerational

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interaction is something that my department already supports. For example, there is a project known as the Mitzvah Mummies, which I visited earlier this month, where mothers and their babies visit retirement homes—so simple yet so beneficial, alleviating the loneliness that is, sadly, part of the lives of so many older people. This was referred to so poignantly by the noble Lords, Lord Glasman and Lord Crisp. The Department for Work and Pensions, too, supports this interaction—for example, by introducing grandparent credits to support those who care for their grandchildren with their pension contributions. Our Government recognise the importance of generations past by learning about British history. That is something that the Education Secretary is proving with his national curriculum. So we appreciate how valuable the people are who have lived through and shaped our history.

Older people have not just shaped our past; they make an enormous contribution today, in particular to our economy. The number of people of state pension age and above in employment has nearly doubled in the past two decades. According to one survey, the over 65s, through taxes, spending power, social care and volunteering, make a net contribution of £40 billion to the economy. The Government have scrapped the default retirement age, which was forcing people from their jobs just because they had hit 65. I could not put it better than my noble friend Lady Bottomley, who mentioned serious businesses opting for age and wisdom over youth. We are making difficult but necessary changes to the state pension age. Much evidence shows that working longer is good for the economy, for society and for the individuals. Keeping more people in work helps the economy to grow. If everyone worked a year longer, annual GDP could increase by £13 billion. In fact, one report has predicted that the country will continue to experience an increase in demand for older employees and an increase in the supply of those willing to work.

With an average age of 69, this House is a fine example of the contribution of older people to public life. Indeed, my first memorable experience in your Lordships' House was meeting my noble friend Lady Trumpington. I tried to intervene on a Question, as did my noble friend. Because of the youth in my legs, I got to my feet slightly quicker and took the question. I apologised afterwards and was, rightly, solidly told off by my noble friend because I forgot that she comes here with great expertise and I should have been more respectful of her and of this House. I realised very quickly that Members of this House are not just Members; many of them are institutions in their own right.

In 2010-11 this House spent 400 hours examining Bills. We considered 47 Bills and 2,499 changes and made 610 changes. We asked 7,546 Questions, many of which I seem to answer these days. We have former Foreign Secretaries; Olympic heroes; scientific geniuses; business gurus; faith leaders; and even wartime code-breakers. We have years of collective experience and expertise, which is what helps this House play its key role in checking and challenging the decisions and actions of this or any Government, ensuring that the laws of this country are rigorously tested to be fit for

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purpose. The downside for me is that I can never find anybody to whom I can complain about feeling tired, cold, overworked or in need of rest without being reminded that, by virtue of my age, I am not yet eligible to make such complaints.

We must also consider the unpaid contribution made by older people in Britain. The noble and learned Baroness, Lady Scotland, was right to say that their contribution cannot be measured just in monetary terms. That point was reiterated by the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Harries. The noble Baroness, Lady Greengross, also made that point powerfully. Every year older volunteers spend an average of more than 100 hours informally volunteering and more than 55 hours in formal volunteering roles. This is worth £10 billion to the UK economy. In 2010-11, one in three people aged 75 and over were involved in some form of civic participation, including petitioning and participating in consultations and local meetings. In the same period, one in four people aged between 65 and 74 undertook some form of formal volunteering such as organising events, raising funds, leading a local group and visiting people. In fact, compared with other age groups, more older people visited others as part of their volunteering effort. This is invaluable when you think of the loneliness and isolation that can blight the older generation, as has been referred to by many noble Lords today.

A report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation found that older people make significant contributions to the capacity of the organisations they assist through their voluntary work by bringing to them years of experience and expertise together with commitment and loyalty. I take on board the further schemes and initiatives referred to by my noble friend Lord Wei. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich spoke about the care provided for older people. However, the other side of the coin is the way in which so much care is provided by older people. About 960,000 people aged 65 and above provide unpaid care for a partner, family or other members of their extended circles. A fifth of all carers aged over 75 provide 50 or more hours of informal care each week.

Recent research has estimated that older carers in the UK are providing up to £4 billion-worth of unpaid volunteering and up to £50 billion worth of unpaid family care. That case was made powerfully by the noble Baroness, Lady Pitkeathley. Grandparents Plus estimates that 25,000 grandparents over the age of 65 are raising 30,000 grandchildren in the UK and that if the children they are caring for were in independent care it would cost £1.4 billion in care costs alone each year. The noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, made a passionate speech about the contribution made by grandparents and, indeed, godparents. On a personal note, when I was appointed to your Lordships’ House, I was a single parent with a child in Yorkshire. Had it not been for my parents, I simply could not have taken on my role here. So, far from being just recipients of money, older people are also the creators of wealth.

Given the crucial place and contribution of older people, it is vital that society offers them support when they deserve it. We have heard too many stories of poor treatment of older people in hospitals and care

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homes. On 1 October this year, the ban on age discrimination in the provision of goods, facilities and services came into effect and will be an important means of improving the experience of older people in health and social care. My noble friend Lady O’Cathain rightly raised real concerns around dementia. We know that dementia is a nettle we need to grasp, which is why we have a champion group leading work on dementia-friendly communities where people will come together to reduce misunderstanding about dementia and improve the ability of people with dementia to remain independent and have choice and control over their lives.

Older people are the core customers of the health and care system. We need to ensure that their needs are met by, so far as is possible, keeping them well and out of hospital, providing high-quality, dignified and compassionate care, helping them to regain their independence after a period of support and providing advice and choice around end-of-life care. Those principles were mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Andrews, in her wide-ranging speech. The thing is, if we get it right for them, we get it right for everybody, including our minority ethnic elders. The challenges they face were expertly detailed by my noble friend Lord Dholakia and the noble Baroness, Lady Uddin. Those with specialist needs were referred to by the noble Baroness, Lady Masham, and my noble friend Lady Barker spoke about older people from the OLGBT communities. She asked a number of questions in relation to diversity of provision. I have received a reply but it is not one with which I am satisfied, and I will therefore reply in more detail in writing.

The noble Lord, Lord Crisp, referred to the grey vote. I echo the words of the noble Baroness, Lady Royall, on the electoral importance of older people and the fact that they are a generation whose politics can change in later life. My noble friend Lord Cormack referred to compulsory retirement for members of the clergy and the Supreme Court. It is a matter on which I will have to write to him, but I should ask him and others to bear in mind that there are those of us at the other end of the scale, of my generation and below, who yearn even to think about the possibility of choosing to retire at the age of 65 or 70.

The noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, raised the issue of the specific vulnerabilities of age faced by prisoners. He reminded us why a person, a Minister or a single commissioner is unlikely to resolve the diversity issue or a range of issues faced by older people in prison and why those needs need to be mainstreamed. I will take those issues back to colleagues.

I note the concerns raised by the noble Lord, Lord Alton of Liverpool, and the noble Baroness, Lady Pitkeathley, in relation to services for older people. However, in difficult times, I hope that they will acknowledge what the Government are doing for older people by protecting key benefits, including free eye tests, free prescriptions, free off-peak bus travel, free television licences for those aged over 75, and winter fuel payments.

The noble Lord, Lord Giddens, raised a number of points that I shall try to answer. In relation to raising the pension age, people are living longer and healthier lives, and they therefore need to retire at a time when it

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is right for them. From 1 October 2011, the Government abolished the default retirement age. I agree with the noble Lord on combating ageism against older women. It is interesting that those of us who are women are usually seen as not as good when we are younger and not as strong or resilient when we are older, but we seem to outlive the men. In relation to expanding work opportunities for older people, I agree that there is no evidence that increasing the employment of older people reduces job opportunities or wage rates for younger people. Evidence suggests that older and younger workers are not competing for the same jobs; they tend to have different skill sets and different work experiences. In relation to the marathon runner, there is hope for us all to get fit. I also say to the noble Lord that I do not know when he anticipates retiring, if at all, but if he does, he has a potential further role as a stand-up comic.

Noble Lords asked me about the Government’s position on Dilnot. The Government are providing an extra £7.2 billion over the spending review period to protect access to services that support vulnerable people. Regarding Dilnot, the Government are still in consultation on the funding but looking to resolve that issue over the course of the next spending review.

I believe the mark of a good society is how well it treats its older people. Respecting our elders is inherently British. We must bust those myths and stereotypes about older members of society, who are not a homogenous group but whose ages span five decades from 60 to 113. As I have said, older people are not just recipients, they are contributors. They are not just helped by volunteers, they are the volunteers. They are not just the cared-for, they are the carers. This growing proportion of our population should not be seen as an issue but as an asset.

Perhaps I may take a moment at the end of my speech for some personal reflections. I recently went on holiday with my parents. As we were walking back one evening, having had a meal, my father was struggling to walk. His age is about the average age of Members of this House, and therefore, in many people’s eyes, he is not an older person. However, as he was struggling to walk, I remember reaching out to steady him and giving him my hand, and I remembered the way in which my parents must have on many occasions steadied me as I learnt to walk. I remember feeling quite sad, being aware that he was getting old and being concerned about how long he would be there for me. I realised then that, although I possibly no longer had his hand to steady me, I did have his wisdom. It was at that moment that I realised that in families, as the noble Baroness, Lady Flather, and the noble Lord, Lord Alton, said, we must focus less on what older people can do physically and more on what they can do in so many other spheres. It gave me great comfort that there was so much more that I could continue to take from my parents.

2.40 pm

The Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, this has indeed been a very rich debate. I am profoundly grateful to all those in your Lordships’ House who have taken the trouble to be here today, not only on a Friday—and

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a Friday not long before Christmas—but on a Friday whose climatic conditions are clearly in evidence in the growing number of scarves and wraps appearing round the Benches.

It would be impossible to respond to all the immensely valuable points raised but I should like to touch briefly on four things that have emerged during the discussion today. One is a cluster of concerns around training and learning. The noble Lord, Lord Glasman, pointed out that we need a view of a lifelong vocation to transmit wisdom and that, therefore, older citizens are in need not just of training but of an opportunity to teach and to share what they have learnt. This House is of course a notable example of what can be achieved in that respect. For that reason, I do not want to sideline at all the importance of training. The noble Baroness, Lady Greengross, had a great deal to say about this earlier in the debate, and I made numerous notes because she covered so many significant points about the success of training for older people in making them more able to contribute what they can and in the development of business models for older people, as well as many other things.

Behind that lies a deeper question about the authority that we accord to older people in our society. I use the word “authority” advisedly because, although it is not a comfortable word in our society today, it is one that has some real traction when we begin to think about how we learn and how we orient ourselves. Virtually every speaker today has, in effect, assumed that we can properly speak of an authority of experience that resides in our older citizens—an authority that we need to pay attention to, value and nurture appropriately.

A second group of issues that has come up has already been flagged by the Minister in her response, and that is to do with the fact that it is of course impossible to generalise about older citizens. Each one is an individual and many belong to groups which have distinctive needs and concerns. Our attention has been drawn in several contexts today to those older citizens who belong to a category of persons for whom ageing brings extra difficulties—whose condition is compounded by disability, by circumstances of ethnic background and community, or by their status as prisoners. I was very glad that the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, had such detailed evidence to submit to us on the still unresolved issues around ageing prisoners. And of course, as the noble Baroness, Lady Barker, pointed out, there are questions arising around the needs of older LGBT people.

Our response to older citizens has to be sensitive, varied and flexible. It is important, as many noble Lords have pointed out today, to bear in mind that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to these questions. What we need is a fundamental change of attitude which expresses itself in an imaginative, sympathetic response to the particular needs of communities and individuals.

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A couple of very specific questions were put by, among others, the noble Baroness, Lady Masham, and the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, about the role of the clergy. The role of chaplains in healthcare institutions is crucial both in drawing attention to the needs of older citizens and in gathering and galvanising volunteers. That they should also have a role in identifying those deserving of public recognition in some way is, if I may pick up the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, something that I would want to take away with some enthusiasm.

As to retirement ages, I feel I am not in a very good position to speak, being on the edge of leaving office, but I hear what is said and I believe there is a very significant area of concern for many of our churches, not least the Church of England, in the way in which we perhaps too readily refuse to consider and to respond to what I called earlier the authority of those who are older and experienced.

Fourthly, I want simply to touch on the remarks made by the noble Baroness, Lady Andrews, about the need for a protocol for all care institutions, in which principles of respect and attention are clearly set out. I believe this to be at the very heart of all our discussions today and of any future policies. We need clarity and a sense of what people—as I believe I said in my opening remarks—know is owed to them as citizens and human beings. That is the essence of whatever emerges from today in terms of more focused policy proposals and initiatives.

Running through my head in much of the discussion has been one of the most haunting prayers in scripture: “Do not forsake me when I am old and grey-headed”. It is a prayer addressed to the creator but it could very well be addressed by older citizens to their fellow citizens. We are urged not to forget, to run away from, to despise or to undervalue those to whom we are bound in common citizenship and humanity.

Finally, I want to express my deep personal gratitude for all the embarrassingly undeserved things that have been said more personally in the course of this debate. I want to put them in the context of the remarks right at the beginning of the debate from the noble Baroness, Lady Trumpington. On my calculation, she has lived through the reigns of nine or 10 Archbishops of Canterbury and must have a view of archbishops as simply butterflies who come for a day and disappear.

As a butterfly happily contemplating mutating into a caterpillar very shortly, I am very glad indeed to acknowledge my debt to fellow Members of your Lordships’ House for many years of unbroken stimulus, companionship, challenge and inspiration.

Motion agreed.

House adjourned at 2.46 pm.