HL Deb 26 July 1965 vol 268 cc991-2

2.35 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will hold an inquiry into the social effects of the increase in the number of mothers of young and adolescent families who are going out to work; whether this has a direct relationship with the increase in delinquency and what action should be taken by public authorities and employers to prevent the damage to family life which this development may cause.]


My Lords, such research as has already been done on this question has not given any reason to think that the children of working mothers are more delinquent than other children. The National Survey of Child Health and Development will yield further information and the Government do not consider that a special inquiry is necessary. Preliminary figures provided by the Survey about children whose mothers had worked while they were at primary schools show no significant difference in the delinquency rates.


My Lords, has the Minister's attention been drawn to the statement of the Medical Officer of Health for Leicester in regard to this problem? If he has not considered it, would he and his Department do so? Although this Question includes a reference to delinquency, there are many other social problems which are created by this particular development. Does he not think that it is now opportune to have an inquiry into this particular matter on a Government level rather than through private sources?


My Lords, I am quite well aware that this matter gives rise to social problems other than that of delinquency. I have not seen the statement to which the noble Lord referred, but I will look at it. There is a great deal of evidence in support of the Answer I gave to the Question—for example, the National Survey of Child Health and Development, which is a continuous study of some 5,000 children born in 1946. There are many other inquiries which have yielded valuable information.


My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord whether he will also make inquiries of the police authorities, who, as I know from personal experience in my part of the country, are concerned with this problem?


My Lords, we are all concerned with developments of this kind, and in particular with delinquency; but I was dealing with the precise Question which the noble Lord put on the Order Paper. The answer to that is the one which I have given.

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