HC Deb 13 February 1968 vol 758 cc1121-2
17. Mr. Gardner

asked the Minister of Health what effect cuts in local authority spending will have on the provision of training centres for the mentally handicapped.

Mr. Snow

The building of training centres will continue, though at a rather slower rate than previously planned.

Mr. Gardner

Is my hon. Friend aware that there is a near-desperate shortage of places, particularly for mentally handicapped children? Will he ask local authorities to give this part of the service even greater priority, in spite of restrictions on spending?

Mr. Snow

It is very much in the hands of local authorities to decide their projects and priorities. My hon. Friend will be pleased to know that the new adult training centre at Arnold will now go ahead and capital will be made available for it. Likewise, the first phase of the extensions and improvements at Digby Avenue Training Centre will be authorised shortly.

Mr. Maurice Macmillan

Can the Parliamentary Secretary tell the House what, if any, will be the effect on this programme of the transfer of the responsibility which may take place from the Ministry of Health to the Secretary of State for Education, bearing in mind that we are concerned with the mental rather than the physical age of the children involved? Can he give any date when it is likely to happen?

Mr. Snow

No, Sir. Nothing has yet been announced. Decisions have yet to be made.

Dr. David Owen

Will my hon. Friend consider sending a circular to local authorities drawing attention to the chronic lack of investment in these centres over many years and deprecating any cutting off of investment in this sphere?

Mr. Snow

I think that has already been done. There is a great pent up demand for this sort of accommodation. When my right hon. Friend receives the replies from the local authorities about the priority for building projects for which he has asked, he will take into consideration local excess demand.