HC Deb 02 February 1956 vol 548 cc133-4W
78. Mr. Skeffington

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will recommend the appointment of a Royal Commission or Departmental Committee to inquire into the relationship between the statutory and voluntary social services dealing with the family.

90. Mr. MacColl

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has now reached a decision on the request made to him by the Magistrates' Association to set up an inquiry into the working of the juvenile courts and the treatment of children coming before them.

Major Lloyd-George

My right hon. Friends and I have considered with care and sympathy the proposals made by Mrs. Fisher's deputation in July last year, for a general inquiry into the social services concerned with the family, and by a deputation from the Magistrates' Association in November that the suggested inquiry should be coupled with a review of the working of the Juvenile Court system in England and Wales. Mrs. Fisher's deputation drew particular attention to the need for better co-ordination of the services in question. This matter has already received much attention in the Departments concerned, and we propose to follow up, by means of departmental study and administrative action, the steps already taken to improve coordination of the local services at all levels and to secure a combined approach to a family's problems. As regards the proposals of the Magistrates' Association for a review of the work of the juvenile courts and the treatment of children coming before them, I have come to the conclusion that the time is ripe for a new study of this subject, and I propose to set up a Committee to consider and make recommendations regarding the working of the relevant provisions of the Children and Young Persons Act, 1933, as amended.

Both deputations also drew attention to the need to pay more attention to pre ventive work; and the Committee's terms of reference will include consideration of the powers and duties of local authorities under the Children Act for preventing the suffering of children neglected in their own homes. The membership and exact terms of reference of the Committee will be announced in due course. In order that interested organisations may have time to consider what evidence to submit to the Committee, I contemplate that it should not start work before the autumn. We believe that the action which I have announced will meet the situation and will be of more practical value than a wide-ranging general inquiry at the present time.