HC Deb 23 March 1976 vol 908 cc193-4
16. Mr. Michael Roberts

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what steps she is taking to keep mentally handicapped children and adults apart in mental hospitals.

Dr. Owen

I have publicly reaffirmed the philosophy and general principles of the White Paper "Better Services for the Mentally Handicapped", which indicated that there should be separate facilities for mentally handicapped adults and mentally handicapped children.

Mr. Roberts

Does the Minister accept that many of the 8,000 children in mentally handicapped hospitals are there because there is no other place for them? Will he consider fostering schemes to give these children a better chance in life?

Dr. Owen

Yes, I will. In fostering, I think that the movement away from the attitude that accepts normal children to one that embraces mentally and physically handicapped children is one of the most encouraging social developments for a decade. We are doing everything we can to encourage it.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton

Has the Minister noticed the glaring lack of facilities for young mentally handicapped adults outside official training centres? Will he sympathetically consider any proposals for grant aid by voluntary organisations which are planning to provide places for such young people in agricultural or horticultural centres?

Dr. Owen

I am only too well aware of it. I do not make the point in a party political sense, but it is time that the country realised that it is no good making demands for better services for the mentally handicapped and the mentally ill and then demanding cuts in public expenditure.

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