§ 9. Mr. Ron Davies
To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the progress being made with the implementation of the Children Act 1989.
§ Mrs. Virginia Bottomley
The target date for implementation of the Children Act 1989 is October 1991. We are preparing the regulations, rules of court and guidance documents needed. Plans are also being made for a training and dissemination programme for local social services departments, the courts and other agencies.
§ Mr. Davies
Why, when the Association of Directors of Social Services warned six months ago that record numbers of children are registered as at risk from abuse or neglect, have the Government chosen to delay implementation of the Act by another six months? Does the Minister realise the difficulties that social services departments have with inadequate staff, training and resources? Why do the Government preach the value of the family when they cannot find the money or the time to do something about the matter?
§ Mrs. Bottomley
In identifying the serious problems of children at risk, the hon. Gentleman is naive about the implications of the Children Act 1989. It is a complex and important Act which co-ordinates the legislation dealing with the protection of children. It is extremely important to ensure that the necessary training is in place in local authorities and in the courts so that a comprehensive, integrated programme can make headway. In conjunction with other agencies we have embarked on plans to ensure that that programme is put in place as swiftly as possible and in time for implementation in 1991.