§ Sir Peter Emery
To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if it is his policy that a local authority should not place people in its own directly managed residential care homes at a price, in real terms, higher than that obtainable for comparable quality care in the independent sector; 
(2) what plans he has to ensure that the wish of an individual to be placed in a private residential home of his choice rather than a local authority home so long as the cost is no greater and the service provided is as thorough as the local authority establishment is respected. 
§ Mr. Dorrell
It is for local authorities to manage their substantial community care resources efficiently and effectively taking full account of their statutory responsibilities. One of these is the responsibility to obtain value for money and we expect them to secure adequate and appropriate care for their clients and the most competitive services regardless of sector. The Government have also issued a statutory direction on choice to make sure that, within certain limits of cost and suitability, people are able to exercise real choice when selecting a care home.
In addition, the Audit (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1996 will enable the Audit Commission and the Department's social services inspectorate to undertake 529W joint reviews of local authorities' social service departments. The reviews will cover every authority in the country on a cyclical programme with about 20 authorities being reviewed each year. Reviews will focus on the three aspects of performance—cost-effectiveness, quality of service and sensitivity to the wishes and needs of users and carers.