§ 4. Mr. Patrick Thompson
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received on his proposals to place the same duty of care on local authorities in respect of children in care as he proposes to place on parents for the crimes committed by their children.
§ The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. John Patten)
We have had no responses so far, but I expect any responses to be 100 per cent. in favour of the excellent proposals contained in my right hon. and learned Friend's White Paper, which has received such a warm welcome.
§ Mr. Thompson
I thank my right hon. Friend for his reply, and welcome the proposals, particularly as there have been instances in my constituency where young people in care have committed offences. Will my right hon. Friend explain how the victims of offences committed by young people will be affected by the proposals?
§ Mr. Patten
The present position is that the victim of an offence by a young person in the care of the local authority is denied any recompense via compensation from the court. We intend to put that right, as I am sure the whole House would want us to do on European Victims Day.
§ Mr. Thurnham
Does my right hon. Friend agree that local authorities have a duty to ensure that children in their care do not commit offences repeatedly? Is not it wrong for some local authorities to allow children to commit up to 30 or 40 offences while they are supposedly in their care?
§ Mr. Patten
I think that I can guess the local authorities to which my hon. Friend refers. One or two local authorities, in the past at least, have failed to exercise proper care over the juveniles remitted to them by the courts. That is something which the Department of Health's excellent social services inspectorate is working hard to put right.