§ The Secretary of State for Social Services (Mr. Norman Fowler)
I am grateful to the committee and the institute for this thorough report. Many of its broad conclusions are consistent with our policies for care in the community. I am seeking urgently the comments of interested bodies and will then consider what action the Government need to take.
§ Mr. Alton
I am grateful for that reply. Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that there is a need to protect the citizen more adequately against the arbitrary powers of social workers? In particular, has he had time to consider the case of Miss Caroline Pritchard of Liverpool? In that case a social worker took a child into care and the paediatrician involved described it as legalised child stealing.
§ Mr. Fowler
I have not looked at that case, but I know of the hon. Gentleman's concern about it, and also the Gaskin case, which he has raised in the House. Essentially, his questions are for the local authority to answer. I shall look further at the case that he has raised to see whether there is anything that I can add.
§ Mrs. Faith
Is my right hon. Friend aware that the public expenditure White Paper shows that appreciably more money, in real terms, will be spent on social workers in future? Will he comment on that? Would it not be better to spend more money on increasing the number of home helps?
§ Mr. Fowler
There is a need in both respects. The theme of the Barclay report is to harness the efforts of the community in both the statutory and voluntary sense. That is very much in line with the Government's view.