HC Deb 20 May 1965 vol 712 cc1649-50
12. Mr. Marten

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proposals he has for increasing the number of child care officers by means of an increase in training facilities.

Miss Bacon

As I said in my reply on 13th May to a Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, East (Mr. Mapp), courses of professional training, which produced 187 qualified child care officers in 1964, are being expanded to an estimated output of 235 in 1965, 300 in 1966 and 400 in 1967.

Mr. Marten

I am sure that we are all grateful for that increase, but would not the hon. Lady agree that those figures fall fairly far short of what she and I and many other people would agree are required? First, can she say what money is being spent on publicity to get new entrants into this service? Secondly, is she satisfied with the salary structure of this service in so far as it attracts men, who are more likely to stay in it than girl trainees?

Miss Bacon

As the hon. Member knows, the salary structure is a matter for the negotiating machinery. I am anxious that many more people shall be attracted to the child care service, because, looking ahead, particularly concerning the preventive measures, we shall need many more. There are, however, competing demands and a great many social workers are needed in a great many services, and it will be necessary for us to look to the training of more social workers in general.

Mr. Mapp

Is my hon. Friend aware of the great backlog—for example, 550 to March last year and towards 400 in the current year—as a result of neglected opportunities in the past? Will she ensure that the specialised agencies via the universities and similar bodies are able to meet the expanded programme which she has mind?

Miss Bacon

We are already doing that with regard to the universities and the institutes of training. We are anxious to get as many child care officers as we can. I know that there is a backlog to make up and we are doing everything we can to deal with it.