§ 14. Mr. Hector Hughes
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he has yet investigated the case, concerning which the hon. and learned Member wrote to him on 19th May, of the Aberdeen mother of a boarded-out child in the custody of Kincardine County Council who desires to regain custody of her child so that he can have the benefits of family life as he grows up; and if he will make a statement.
§ The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. John Maclay)
I have investigated the case of this boy most thoroughly and have written to the hon. and learned Member about it. There is nothing more I can usefully say at present.
§ Mr. Hughes
Does the Secretary of State agree that the preservation of family life is very precious to mother and child, however poor, and that when they are parted their plight should be considered in a humane way and that mere formalities should not be used to keep them apart? Will he apply those doctrines in this case?
§ Mr. Maclay
I assure the hon. and learned Gentleman that those considerations are very much in the minds of child-care authorities and in my own mind, but I have nothing to add to what I have written to the hon. and learned Gentleman about this case.
§ Sir C. Thornton-Kemsley
Is my right hon. Friend aware that in this case a father left a family eleven or twelve years ago and has not been heard of since; that he left a family of six un-provided for and that the authority which the hon. and learned Member mentions, which happens to be part of my constituency, has provided well for the children ever since; that the boy mentioned is an epileptic aged 16 and that very good arrangements have been made for his care and that he has been well looked after?
§ 15. Mr. Hector Hughes
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will state the method by which he exercises supervision over the allocation of the custody of boarded-out children by Kincardine County Council, with particular regard to the resumption of custody by 192 their parents, to preventing the division and breaking up of family life.
§ Mr. Maclay
Under the Children Act, the county council is entirely responsible for the arrangements made for boarding out individual children in its care. I have made regulations providing for the welfare of children boarded out by local authorities, I am shortly sending these authorities a memorandum on boarding-out, and I also offer them general guidance, both through the Child Care Inspectorate and by letter.
§ Mr. Hughes
In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply to the last Question, I beg to give notice that I shall raise this matter on the Adjournment at the first opportunity.