HC Deb 04 December 1973 vol 865 cc1064-5
3. Mr. Fowler

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what recent representations he has received about the problem of battered babies.

The Secretary of State for Social Services (Sir Keith Joseph)

I have received a number of valuable suggestions about different aspects of this complicated problem all of which are being considered. Where appropriate they will be included in the further guidance which I hope to issue early in the New Year.

Mr. Fowler

The whole House will recognise the grave difficulties in the way of a solution to this difficult problem. Is not one of the questions here the legal aspect? Is it not a fact that the legal rights of some children are too small whereas those of some parents are perhaps too great?

Sir K. Joseph

I hesitate to give an affirmative answer to that very large question posed by my hon. Friend. On a narrow front, it may be necessary to ask the House to consider further powers.

Mr. Bowden

When my right hon. Friend receives the report of the committee that he has established to inquire into the death of Maria Colwell, who lived in my constituency—an inquiry which is proceeding in great depth under the brilliant chairmanship of Mr. Field Fisher, QC—will he undertake that the House will be given an opportunity to debate it?

Sir K. Joseph

What the House debates is not a question for me. I am sure that the result of the inquiry will lead to further widespread consideration by all of us, particularly by myself and my colleagues, of the lessons that may be learned