HC Deb 25 February 1971 vol 812 cc838-9
Q1. Mr. Carter-Jones

asked the Prime Minister if he will review departmental responsibilities for the employment of the handicapped school leaver with a view to assisting local education authorities to ensure that the full potential of handicapped persons is developed before they become the responsibility of the Department of Employment.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Edward Heath)

I have carefully examined this question and I find there is already the closest co-ordination between all Departments concerned with developing the potential of the handicapped while still at school and with fitting them into employment.

Mr. Carter-Jones

Will the Prime Minister accept that I am rather disappointed with that answer? There have been experiments in certain areas to try to get youth employment officers to specialise in taking care of the disabled and handicapped so that they can be taken care of early in their school careers rather than late and, therefore, be ensured of the opportunity either of further education or of employment. This ought not to be left to the disablement resettlement officers.

The Prime Minister

Yes. I know of the hon. Gentleman's great interest in this matter. There are, in fact, 60 such officers helping with careers who are specialists in the problems of the disabled. At the same time, the hon. Gentleman will realise that it is not possible to have separate officers throughout the country to deal only with the problems of the disabled. Therefore, we must try to get the best results we can with the numbers available. It is also true that on the Central Youth Employment Executive, which is the responsibility of the Department of Employment, there are representatives of the Education Departments as well as of Employment.