Health minister John Hutton has welcomed the introduction of the Carers and Disabled Children Bill into Parliament by Labour MP Tom Pendry. The bill paves the way for carers to receive services in their own right. Currently, they can only have their needs assessed if the person they are caring for is being assessed. The bill will also allow direct payments to be made to children and young people. Mr Hutton said the government was 'committed to ensuring that carers themselves are properly supported in their role'. Great Britain has an estimated 5.7 million carers, of whom 855,000 care for 50 hours a week or more.