HC Deb 20 March 1970 vol 798 cc834-6

The Secretary of State shall collate and present evidence to the Council for Training in Social Work on the need for the Council to supervise and review the content and extent of training courses for persons engaged in social work among disabled persons.—[Mr. Weitzman.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Mr. Weitzman

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

Many persons, to their credit, are engaged in important social work among the disabled, but the approaches of the various bodies are at present rather haphazard. It is important that their work should be examined and correlated. The Council for Training in Social Work is a statutory body established under Section 1 of the Health Visiting and Social Work (Training) Act, 1962, and it would be very valuable if this or some kindred body could undertake this work.

11.15 a.m.

Dr. John Dunwoody

I share the views expressed by my hon. and learned Friend about the importance of this subject, and it is expected that the Council for Training in Social Work, which has played an important part in the past, will in the future play an increasingly central rôle. The Clause as it stands, however, presents certain difficulties and problems, one being the relationship existing between the council and other bodies involved. I want to be sure that in this or other areas covered by the Bill we do not shut away the chronically sick and disabled from ordinary life and ordinary work. We must remember that everything that affects other people affects these people also. There is hardly any form of professional or other work which is not thus, in part, work for these people.

It is not possible for me to contemplate a single body containing all the expertise required to cope with even a small part of such a wide field. I am not entirely happy about the apparent implication in the Clause as it stands that this one body would be given the duty to supervise, almost to instruct, other bodies which are doing very valuable work. That would produce very considerable difficulties among the various professions involved. One of the encouraging things is the way in which some professional jealousies and antagonisms which seemed to be the rule some years ago are now going by the board, and the people who benefit are those with whom the Bill is concerned. I could not ask one professional group to consent to being supervised by another.

I do not intend to suggest that in this connection we have not done a considerable amount, and do not intend doing more. Two years ago, my Department wrote to the postgraduate deans of medical schools emphasising the importance of the rehabilitation and resettlement of disabled persons into normal ways of life. It is our intention to keep before all those engaged in this work the importance of dealing with the special problems and difficulties facing certain sections. I can also assure my hon. and learned Friend that my Department intends reviewing—over a period, it is true, but not too long a period—the general position in order to see what practical action can be undertaken. The Clause as it stands could well be counterproductive and, perhaps, harmful.

Mr. Fred Evans (Caerphilly)

I accept what my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary has said, but I must point out that at a recent meeting between members of the Standing Committee and the Council for the Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons I pursued the subject of disablement rehabilitation officers, who are admirable people doing extremely fine and dedicated work. From my questioning of Commander Henderson it became quite obvious that the council thought that disablement rehabilitation officers should have open to them avenues for proper training, and for secondment to a special kind of course to fit them further for this work. I trust that the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity and my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary will bear that point in mind.

Mr. Weitzman

I am grateful to the Under-Secretary for what he said. I of course recognise that there are difficulties and also that an immense amount of work has been done by the Department. I was very pleased to hear the assurances my hon. Friend gave that the problem will be looked into carefully. In the circumstances, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Motion.

Motion and Clause, by leave, withdrawn.

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