Scottish first minister Henry McLeish has confirmed his intention to make personal care as well as nursing care free for people in nursing and residential homes, as recommended by the Royal Commission on Long-Term Care.

'We are embarking on a process which will have as its destination the implementation of free personal care. I cannot be more explicit, ' he said.

He insisted he was embracing 'in full' the principles of the commission chaired by Sir Stewart Sutherland. 'There will be no backsliding, ' he promised.

Mr McLeish's statement followed a week of controversy in the Scottish Parliament.

See news focus, pages 14-15.