HL Deb 26 January 1987 vol 483 c1120

2.59 p.m.

Baroness Lane-Fox

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

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what action has been taken to ensure the suitability of those who work with children.

The Minister of State, Home Office (The Earl of Caithness)

My Lords, the Government introduced arrangements in July last year for police checks to be made for the first time on teachers, social workers, probation officers and other staff and volunteers engaged by local authorities in England and Wales who will have substantial access to children in the course of their work.

Baroness Lane-Fox

My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that very encouraging Answer. I know that it will go a long way towards relieving the minds of a number of people wo have been deeply anxious about the matter for some years. I should like to ask her what further plans there are with reference to national health and independent homes?

The Earl of Caithness

My Lords, with regard to the National Health Service I understand that circulars are at an advanced state of preparation and should be issued shortly. In relation to the voluntary sector as a whole, consideration is being given to devising a means of checking which would be more widely available in that sector.

Lord Mellish

My Lords, is the Minister aware that the vast majority of people involved in the care of children are doing a magnificent job? They are as much disturbed as anyone could be at the tiny minority of queers and odd people who have been given jobs. Is it not time that this Government asked those local authorities who are responsible for these absolutely extraordinary appointments how they ever came to make such appointments?

The Earl of Caithness

My Lords, the new arrangements did not affect the need to apply the normal good recruitment practices, including the taking up of references, which are essential to any selection process. But it appears that some of these good practices were not carried out to the full, and that is why we instituted the arrangements that we did for the benefit of the children.

Lord Ennals

My Lords, bearing in mind the very disturbing increase in the number of cases of child abuse is the Minister satisfied that there are an adequate number of properly trained social workers, people who usually have to deal with these difficult situations?

The Earl of Caithness

My Lords, I think that question is a little wide of the Question on the Order Paper. I do not have the figure to hand, but perhaps I could write to the noble Lord.

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