HC Deb 20 March 1970 vol 798 cc833-4

It shall be the duty of every local education authority to furnish each year to the local authority details of any disability acquired by, or not apparent at birth of, any children who have attained the age of 14 years.—[Mr. Weitzman.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Mr. David Weitzman (Stoke Newington and Hackney, North)

I beg to move, That the Clause be read a Second time.

The idea behind the Clause is that it would be valuable to have a record of the children referred to so that effective steps can be taken for their care in the future. Children at school may develop defective hearing, eyesight, or the like, which has not been identified before and notified to the welfare authorities.

The Clause is in my name but I am not responsible for its phraseology. It is defective, in that it requires the local education authority to notify the local authority, which is the same authority. However, my hope is that its objective will be achieved by something done in another place.

Mr. Neil Marten (Banbury)

I am loath to disagree with the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Stoke Newington and Hackney, North (Mr. Weitzman), with whom I have worked so closely, but it is surely a parent's duty to notify local authorities of these matters. The Clause would put on local authorities a duty to notify a disability which, strictly, should be the duty of any decent parent.

The Minister of State, Department of Education and Science (Mr. Gerry Fowler)

I have every sympathy with the motive behind the Clause but, as my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Stoke Newington and Hackney, North (Mr. Weitzman) has said, the wording is defective. It is not clear that one part of a local authority could be required to report to the rest of the local authority, and I believe that this defect is not susceptible to legislation. In any event, my belief is that most local authorities keep these records. Moreover, I am not sure that the Clause would achieve its objective. Its incorporation in the Bill might distract effort from what is really important, such as a regular flow of information between Departments at any time when co-operation is needed. I hope that my hon. and learned Friend will consider the matter again before the Bill reaches another place.

Mr. Weitzman

I recognise the difficulties, but the idea behind the Clause is important from the point of view of the various societies concerned with the welfare of the chronically sick and disabled. I therefore hope that that idea may be considered in another place. In the meantime, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Motion.

Motion and Clause, by leave, withdrawn.

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