HC Deb 03 April 1973 vol 854 cc216-7
16. Mr. Haselhurst

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what action he proposes to take following the publication of the Quirk Report on Speech Therapy.

15. Mr. John Wells

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he is satisfied with the co-ordination between his Department and the county councils in supplying an adequate national coverage of speech therapists to deal with adult patients as well as children; and what coordination there is on speech therapy research.

21. Mr. Redmond

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if, following the Quirk Report, he will increase the number of speech therapists employed by his Department.

Mr. Alison

My right hon. Friend and my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Education and Science, Scotland and Wales are considering the recommendations in the Quirk Report, including those for a unified service, an increase in the number of speech therapists and an expanded programme of research. There is close co-operation between the Departments.

Mr. Haselhurst

Will my hon. Friend say that the Government will accept the target of 2,500 speech therapists which the Quirk Report recommended? In connection with this, will he bear in mind the importance of ensuring an increase in the supply when the Government are having an increase in the expansion of nursery education? If this is to be effective in detecting impediments and speech difficulties among young children, does he agree that we must have the requisite number of speech therapists in order to take advantage of the nursery education programme?

Mr. Alison

We do not dispute at all the vital contribution that speech therapists can make in precisely the field to which my hon. Friend has drawn attention. As for accepting at this point the target figure which the Quirk recommendation includes, we could not do so until our comprehensive consultations with all interested parties are completed. They are in train at present.

Mr. Redmond

When my hon. Friend is considering this matter will he also look into the problem of deaf children who can be given the priceless gift of language if they have speech therapy at the right age?

Mr. Alison

Yes, we certainly understand the vital connection here; indeed the Quirk Report itself refers to this aspect and makes recommendations.