HC Deb 05 November 1991 vol 198 cc320-1
9. Mr. French

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the aims of the Children Act 1989 with regard to improving the welfare of children.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley

The Children Act 1989 incorporates most private and public law relating to children. It sets out clearly principles for their care and upbringing, and is in effect a charter for children.

Mr. French

Will my hon. Friend firmly rebut the criticisms made by those who continue to argue that although the aims of that Act are excellent, the funding arrangements to support it are not?

Mrs. Bottomley

The Act was implemented with an unprecedented level of co-operation and collaboration between central and local government and I pay a warm tribute to all those who helped with the delivery of guidance and the legislation's careful framing. The Lord Chancellor's Department and social services departments were involved in the training of 140,000 social service staff last year, when the social service standard spending assessment increased more than at any time over the past 15 years.

Mr. Tom Clarke

Is the Minister aware that the Act cannot be fully effective unless the provision of child psychiatric services is improved? Does she acknowledge the concern that exists about that aspect and can she explain what action the Government intend to take?

Mrs. Bottomley

There will be an announcement in the relatively near future about the results of the review that we are conducting into arrangements for child psychiatric services. I announced such a review at a conference that I addressed the other day. The traditional pattern of child guidance services is not always adhered to and we must ensure proper integration in hospitals and the community. There has been a substantial increase in the number of child psychiatrists, a great increase in clinical psychologists and an increase in child psychiatric nurses. We must ensure that all staff with considerable expertise work to best effect in collaborating not only with the health services but with social and education services.