HC Deb 02 August 1951 vol 491 cc1609-10
35. Mr Yates

asked the Minister of Health how many ineducable children there are in Birmingham certified to be in need of institutional care but unable to obtain admission; how many have been waiting for more than two years; and what steps his department is taking to provide additional accommodation for such cases.

Mr. Marquand

There are 142 mentally defective children under 16 in the City of Birmingham awaiting admission to institutional care and of that number 69 have been waiting for more than two years. Regional boards have been asked to give high priority to the provision of additional accommodation for such children within the limits imposed by the present economic situation.

Mr. Yates

While appreciating the Minister's answer, may I ask if he does not realise that this need is causing very grave anxiety throughout the whole of the Midlands, as it is hardly possible to-obtain a vacancy throughout the whole of the Midlands? Does he not think that there should be much closer investigation and inquiry into this matter, because it is causing considerable anxiety to parents who are unable to control very difficult children?

Mr. Marquand

I am aware of the seriousness of this problem. I am sorry to say that it can be found in other parts of the country as well as the Midlands. I am doing all that I can administratively, by encouragement of the enrolment of nurses and by pressure on the regional boards, to provide more accommodation.

Mr. J. Johnson

Is my right hon. Friend aware that many people in the Midlands, including specialists, teachers, and laymen, feel that there are perhaps children in these institutions who might safely be released and thus afford beds for much worse cases?

Mr. Marquand

Yes, Sir, and the possibilities of release are continuously under review.