HC Deb 17 July 1968 vol 768 cc1466-70
The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Bruce Millan)

I beg to move Amendment 1, in page 2, line 10, leave out '7(1)(e) thereof' and insert: '7(1) thereof so far as relating to the'. This is a drafting Amendment. Section 7 of the Mental Health (Scotland) Act, 1960, is amended by Schedule 7, and we need a corresponding Amendment here.

Mr. Edward M. Taylor

I hope that this is the last occasion on which I shall say anything on Report. There are two points that I should like to be clear about. First, the Amendment would seem to extend to Section 7 only in so far as it relates to assessment and exclusion as formulated in Section 7(l)(e) of the 1960 Act. This would seem to be more than drafting.

As far as I can see, under Section 65 of the Education (Scotland) Act, 1962, there is a procedure whereby certain children who are ineducable can be transferred to the responsibility of the local health authority. I am wondering whether, if they are referred to under Section 65, they come in under Section 7 of the Mental Health (Scotland) Act, 1960. Will this mean a change, or will they remain under the responsibility of the local health authority?

I want to refer to an article from the Medical Officer, published on 14th June of this year, which refers to a small group of children who are unable to fit into the educational system. These children are referred by the education authority to the health department under Section 65, in order that they can be cared for under the provisions of Section 7 of the Mental Health (Scotland) Act, 1960. Bearing in mind that this article refers to 22 children who were excluded as ineducable, more than half of whom were suffering from physical disabilities, concern was expressed that this should be under the responsibility of the social work department and not the local health authority. Does the Amendment, in referring to the totality of Section 7(1) and not just to paragraph (e) bring in the question of medical referral of Section 65 cases under the 1962 Act?

One question raised by the Association of Medical Officers of Health concerns the boarding out of mental defectives. We would accept that there is a real need for medical supervision of these cases. Under the Clause as drafted it would appear that responsibility rests with the social work department. Will the Medical Welfare Commission have power to supervise the work of the social departments in this field? Can I also be told whether, by the Amendment, any changes made in the responsibility for supervising mental defectives who are boarded out? It would seem that the spirit of the Mental Health (Scotland) Act in this respect has been weakened by the Clause as drafted.

Mr. Millan

This is a drafting Amendment. It should be read in conjunction with Amendment 151, in page 76, line 17, leave out '(e)' and Amendment 152, in page 76, line 19, leave out from '7(1)' to end of line 24 and insert: 'after the words "shall include", there shall be inserted the words "the ascertainment of mental deficiency in any person not of school age within the meaning of the Education (Scotland) Act, 1962". (1A) In relation to the aforesaid persons the purpose for which arrangements are authorised or required to be made by a local authority under the said section 27(1) as read with section 1(4) of the Social Work (Scotland) Act, 1968 shall include the following, that is to say—"; and paragraph (e) shall be omitted". (2) In subsection (2) for "(1)" where secondly occurring there shall be substituted the word "(1A)"'. Perhaps the hon. Member will study those Amendments. If he does this Amendment may be a little clearer to him. I do not want to stimulate him to make another speech when we reach Amendments 151 and 152, but he will get a better idea if he looks at them.

The powers of the Medical Welfare Commission are not affected by the Bill. We are simply referring to the local health authority the function of ascertaining mental health deficiency. It is a medical matter and is not for the social work department. A slight adjustment is required because the references in Schedule 7 to the 1960 Act and the 1962 Education (Scotland) Act are being changed. This is purely a drafting Amendment. There is no change in the function of local health authorities in relating to the ascertainment of mental deficiency.

Mr. MacArthur

I rise almost on a point of order to call attention to the fact that Amendments 151 and 152 are associated with this Amendment. Before you took the Chair. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Mr. Speaker was good enough to suggest that an indication of groupings of Amendments from the Government would be welcomed. We should also welcome it. There are 189 Amendments, of which 187 remain to be dealt with. At our present rate of progress it is conceivable that it will take us nearly 60 hours to debate these Amendments.

It would be for the general convenience of the House to have some indication of groupings, and it would be to the convenience of my hon. Friends if purely drafting Amendments could be grouped together and taken with some rapidity.

Mr. Millan

That is a perfectly fair point. I have quite a number of later Amendments grouped together. There was some misunderstanding between Mr. Speaker and I on the question of grouping. We have now sorted this out and I shall as soon as possible have the information on grouping passed to hon. Members. I apologise for the fact that it has not already been done.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Millan

I beg to move Amendment No. 2, in page 2, line 17, at end insert: (5) On the date of the commencement of Part III of this Act the functions of education authorities in relation to the establishments which immediately before that date were approved schools and the children resident therein shall be transferred to the local authorities in whose areas the said children are ordinarily resident or, in the case of children who have no ordinary residence in Scotland, such local authorities as the Secretary of State may determine. The purpose of the Amendment is to make it clear that on the date when Part III comes into operation and approved schools as such cease to exist the function of education authorities in relation to approved schools will be transferred to the appropriate local authority; that will be the local authority normally in whose area the child is ordinarily resident. This is a consequential Amendment made necessary by the fact that when Part III comes into operation we shall no longer have approved schools as such.

Mr. William Hannan (Glasgow, Maryhill)

I. too, want to follow the point made on the previous Amendment. Are we considering with this Amendment the new Schedule on approved schools which covers 2½ pages? If we are, are we now entitled to debate the whole issue? It seems a pity, as there are so many Amendments, that this issue will be inadequately discussed on Report.

Do I understand the position correctly? If children who are resident in approved schools outwith their areas are coming back to their own areas on the due date, is my hon. Friend satisfied that there is sufficient accommodation within the areas to which the children will return? Is not this one of the problems which will arise consequent upon changes made earlier in the Bill? How many local authorities have approved schools under their own management? How many are privately run? How many are run by county councils and large burghs? I should be surprised if any large burgh has an approved school, although some may be run by counties and by cities.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Sydney Irving)

There has been no request to the Chair so far to discuss the new Schedule with this Amendment.

Mr. Millan

If it had been the intention that the Schedule should be discussed with this Amendment, obviously I would have said so and said something about the Schedule. The Schedule will be dealt with separately.

My hon. Friend has misunderstood the position. There is no question of transferring people from one approved school to another to get them within the areas of any particular local authority. The responsibility for, for example, making the financial contributions for children who are at approved schools falls at present on the local education authority. It is the appropriate local authority for making those contributions. After the passage of the Bill the appropriate authority will no longer be the education authority. It will be the local authority which has the social work department for the purposes of the Bill. It is therefore necessary to provide that, in future, the contributions will be paid by the social work department, or at any rate by the local authority which is the social work authority, and not by the education authority. That is entirely different from transferring people from one school to another, and there is no question of that arising. General questions about residential establishments do not arise on the Amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

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