HC Deb 09 July 1964 vol 698 cc596-7
14. Mr. D. Smith

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware that it is desirable wherever possible for children in the care of local authorities to be boarded out with foster parents, but that the percentages boarded out vary widely among different local authorities; what steps he is taking to remind authorities of their duties in this respect; and whether the total percentage of children boarded out is increasing.

Mr. Brooke

Yes, Sir. A local authority is required under the Children Act, 1948, to board out a child in its care unless this is not practicable or desirable, and there has been a steady increase in the percentage boarded out in England and Wales from 37 per cent. in 1950 to 52 per cent. in 1963. When I addressed the local authorities' child care conference recently I drew attention to the scope in some areas for further development of boarding out, and I take every opportunity of stressing this.

Mr. Smith

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the largest local authority in the country, the L.C.C., seems to have been particularly unsuccessful in this matter, and that it has the lowest percentage of any authority for the boarding out of children? Can my right hon. Friend say why this is so?

Mr. Brooke

London is said to present particular difficulties in this respect. My hope is that when child-care work in London is taken over by the new London boroughs next year they will give special attention to this and will improve on the present figures.

Miss Bacon

Would the right hon. Gentleman agree that in London it is probably the difficult housing position which creates some of the difficulties? Will he persuade local authorities to indulge in much more publicity in their areas to attract the right kind of foster parent?

Mr. Brooke

I agree with the hon. Lady. I think that much more publicity is needed in some areas. We must get the right kind of foster parent, and I hope that the new London boroughs will pay special attention to this.