Embargo: 00:01 Wednesday 22nd March 2006

Contact: Owen Williams 020 7219 8659


The Government's failure to take steps to improve the scientific understanding of ageing and the lives of older people is deeply disappointing, according to a follow-up report by the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee.

The Committee's original report, published in July 2005, recommended a range of improvements in the co-ordination of research, along with practical steps to provide better treatment for strokes and to alleviate winter mortality. The Government's response, now published, fails to engage with the committee's recommendations either strategically or in detail.

Lord Sutherland of Houndwood, who chaired the original inquiry, said:

"We have said all along that at a time when people are living longer, their last years should be years of good health and active engagement in society. We have recommended ways to achieve this with a minimum of extra spending, largely by making better use of existing resources and improving co-ordination between departments.

"The Government has completely missed the point that this is a cross-departmental responsibility, and underlined the misunderstanding by issuing the response through the DWP, which took no interest in our inquiry, and has no responsibility for science or research policy. The Government seem to look on an ageing population as a burden, not as an opportunity.

"We've asked experts, including Help the Aged and the British Council for Ageing, to comment on the Government response. They share our acute disappointment - though expressing themselves in stronger language.

"We have a debate coming up in the House of Lords. I hope the Government take the chance, ahead of that debate, to improve their act."


Notes to Editors

1. The follow-up report is published by The Stationery Office: Ageing: Scientific Aspects Follow-up, HL Paper 146, 0 10 400837 7, price £11.00. The report can be accessed via the committee website,

2. The original inquiry, which began in July 2004, was conducted by Sub-Committee I of the Science and Technology Select Committee, which was chaired by Lord Sutherland of Houndwood.

Other Members were:

Lord Broers

Lord Drayson (until May 2005)

Baroness Emerton

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff

Baroness Hilton of Eggardon

Lord May of Oxford

Lord Mitchell

Baroness Murphy

Lord Oxburgh

Lord Soulsby of Swaffham Prior

Lord Turnberg

Baroness Walmsley

3. The original report was published by The Stationery Office in July 2005: Ageing: Scientific Aspects, HL Paper 20, ISBN 010 400730 3, price £19.00

Further information from:

Christopher Johnson (Clerk to the Select Committee) on 020 7219 5750

Owen Williams (Committee Press & Information Officer) on 020 7219 8659