HC Deb 16 April 1970 vol 799 cc1563-4
21. Mr. Judd

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many extra child care officers have been estimated as required by all local authorities in England and Wales in response to circular 187/1969 in order to cover adequately those provisions of the 1969 Children's and Young Persons Act relating to private fostering, abolition of approved school order, children under 10, children aged 10 and 11; and whether he will make a statement.

Mr. Merlyn Rees

On the basis of replies to circular 187/1969, I estimate that some 850 additional child care officers will be required by local authorities in England and Wales to cover work arising from the provisions to which my hon. Friend refers.

Mr. Judd

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Would he not agree that the estimates are rather larger than anticipated? Would he undertake to look closely at the adequacy of facilities for the training of child care officers and also the conditions of service as an inducement to potential recruits?

Mr. Rees

I am satisfied, after consultation with the local authority associations, that the officers required can be recruited. A similar increase in staff was required after the 1963 Act and there was no difficulty then. The annual output of training courses is now more than three times what it was in 1964.

Mr. Deedes

Can the hon. Gentleman really be so satisfied? Is he not aware that, as we warned at the time, there is a serious shortfall in the administrative needs set up by this Act, and that, not only among child care officers but in other spheres, a major crisis is developing over personnel?

Mr. Rees

We are satisfied that we can deal with this. Not the least of the reasons is, to repeat, that the training programme is very much higher than before. We believe that, with the phasing of the dates, we can meet this problem.