HC Deb 22 February 1945 vol 408 cc940-2
31. Mr. Keeling

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he can now name the members of the committee which is to inquire into the provision made for children deprived of a normal home life.

71. Mr. Viant

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he can now give the names of the members of the proposed committee on children who lack a normal home life.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Herbert Morrison)

As the answer is rather long, I will, with permission, answer these Questions by means of a statement at the end of Questions.


Mr. H. Morrison

This committee, which as previously stated, is to be appointed jointly by the Minister of Health, the Minister of Education and myself, will be constituted as follows:

  • The Chairman will be:
    • Miss Myra Curtis, C.B.E.—Principal of Newnham College, Cambridge.
  • The members will be:
    • The hon. Member for Dartford (Mrs. J. L. Adamson, M.P.).
    • The hon. Member for Islington, East (Mrs. Cazalet Keir, M.P.).
    • The hon. Member for Birkenhead, East (Mr. H. Graham White, M.P.).
    • Miss S. Clement Brown—In charge of Mental Health Course for Psychiatric Workers, London School of Economics.
    • Mr. R. J. Evans—Chairman, South Wales Regional Council of Labour, and Organiser (Cardiff and District) Shop Assistants' Union.
    • Miss Lucy G. Fildes—Provisional National Council for Mental Health.
    • Miss M. L. Harford—Chief Woman Officer, National Council of Social Service.
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    • Dr. Somerville Hastings—Chairman of the London County Council.
    • Alderman Miss M. Kingsmill Jones, O.B.E., City Alderman, Manchester, and Chairman of the Residential Homes and Special Schools Sub-Committee of the Manchester City Council.
    • The Rev. J. H. Litten—Honorary Secretary to the Council of the Associated Children's Homes.
    • Mr. J. Moss—Public Assistance Officer, Kent County Council.
    • Mrs. Helen Murtagh—Chairman, Maternity and Child Welfare Committee, City of Birmingham.
    • Mr. Henry Salt—Member of the Chancery Bar.
    • Professor J. C. Spence, M.C., M.D.— Professor of Child Health in the University of Durham.
    • Mrs. F. G. A. Temple—Widow of the late Archbishop of Canterbury.
    • Mr. S. O. Walmsley—Headmaster of Bewerley Park Camp School, Yorks.

Mr. Keeling

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the selection as chairman of this Committee of one of the two persons who made the much-criticised report on the L.C.C. remand homes will not inspire public confidence in the inquiry?

Mr. Morrison

If I may say so I think that is a regrettable and an unfair observation. The point not unnaturally was taken into account but the question is whether the controversy has impaired the integrity of these two eminent persons and I do not think it has. Moreover, some of the comment has really been grossly unfair, as witness one extract from a leading article in a newspaper which1 says: His Committee"— that is to say the Committee on the London remand home— has made every possible effort to whitewash the London County Council and the Home Office.

Earl Winterton

On a point of Order. If my right hon. Friend is to give a lengthy defence of the attacks which he alleges have been made upon the head of the L.C.C. are we to be allowed to debate the question, because it seems to have nothing to do with the Question and the answer?

Mr. Speaker

There was a supplementary question which raised the point, but the main Question asked for the names of the Committee, and I think we might leave it at that.

Mr. A. Bevan

On that point of Order. As, following the reading of the list of names, a statement was made casting prejudice upon the chairmanship of this Committee, is not my right hon. Friend entitled to try to remove that prejudice?

Mr. Morrison

I have very little more to say, but my hon. Friend made an imputation that this lady was not fit to be chairman of the Committee, and I submit that I am entitled to give reasons why I think she is.

Mr. Speaker

I cannot stop the right hon. Gentleman doing that, but I suggest that we ought not to go on to a Debate. An imputation was made, and the right hon. Gentleman is entitled to give an answer.

Mr. Morrison

I can only add that all this was taken into account and the question is whether criticism of the kind I have quoted is fair. I think it is disgracefully unfair, if not libellous, and that if we had dropped our intention, which was made before the Report was published, to appoint Miss Curtis in the light of statements of that sort, we should not have been very upright in our conduct.

Dr. Edith Summerskill

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the public will welcome the setting up of this Committee and particularly the choice for chairman of a woman of the highest integrity?

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Lady cannot go into the personalities of the members of the Committee.

Dr. Summerskill

I promise to keep off personalities. In view of the urgency of this matter, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman to press the Committee to expedite their business in order that their recommendations may be implemented without delay?

Mr. Morrison

I will certainly do anything I can in that direction. They have a big job, as hon. Members will recognise, but it may be possible for interim reports to be presented.

Major Sir Derrick Gunston

Can the Home Secretary say how many of the ladies who are to be on this Committee are married, and how many are mothers?

Mr. Morrison

As to those who are married, I gave their names with "Mrs." How many children they have, I do not know.

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