HL Deb 09 July 1975 vol 362 cc784-5

3.4 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, following the findings in the case of Steven Meurs and the facts brought to light therein, they will set up a board of inquiry to establish the factors common to this and other cases of non-accidental injury to children and to make urgent recommendations for the improvement of procedures within and communications between the welfare and other public services concerned.


My Lords, I shall attempt to answer briefly. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Social Services shares the concern which is felt, I am sure, by all Members of your Lordship's House and all who have heard of the case of Steven Meurs. She welcomes the announcement by the Norfolk County Council and by the Norfolk Area Health Authority that they are to set up an independent review body to inquire fully into the matter. The Department will consider the report to see whether any particular guidance can and should be given.


My Lords, may I thank the noble Lord for that Answer and ask whether he is aware that he will have the support of the whole House, and, I believe, of all people of good will throughout the country if his Department will get together the results of the various committees of inquiry operating locally up and down the country on analagous cases? Does he not agree that it is beginning to appear that there are common contributory factors in these cases, and that these could be alleviated if the Department or some other agency could correlate the reports? Does he not further feel that, from this correlation, administrative directives could go out which, without legislation, would begin to remove this appalling stain from our consciences.


My Lords, I am in complete agreement with what the noble Lord has said, as I am sure is the Department. This is a matter we must look at in the light of what has happened, but it would be wrong to assume that no directives have been sent out in the past. These matters continue and therefore they must be looked at afresh.


My Lords, does my noble friend feel that the last Government made a mistake in their reorganisation of local government when they abolished the self-contained children's departments and merged them into the much greater social welfare departments?


My Lords, if the question is directed to me personally, I am of the opinion that the last Government made a number of mistakes.


My Lords, is the Minister aware that all Governments make a number of mistakes?