§ Mr. Leslie Huckfield
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether she will now publish the report of the study group set up to consider requirements and procedures for communication between the various authorities and other persons concerned with the care and environment of mentally handicapped children in residential care outside their home area; and whether she will make a statement.
§ Mrs. Castle
Arrangements are being made for the report to be published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office towards the end of September under the title "Mentally Handicapped Children in Residential Care". A copy will be placed in the Library of the House.
I am grateful to the group for its helpful report based on extensive inquiry and examination of existing practices in many parts of the country. Some of its recommendations would require new substantive or subordinate legislation, and its suggestion for dual registration of residential schools implies a significant change in the presently accepted division of responsibility between education and social service authorities, on the merits of which we must for the present reserve judgment. Other recommendations will require further consideration before my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science or I would wish to issue advice on them to authorities. The report however states many sound principles which authorities will recognise as important to the well-being of mentally handicapped children in residential homes.
I am accordingly drawing the report to the attention of local authorities so that, in advance of any departmental guidance, they can—within the presently accepted allocation of responsibility—consider the recommendations relevant to their own arrangements for residential care for mentally handicapped children, for helping to maintain contact with these children and their families, for collaboration and communication with other authorities and for the supervision of homes within their own area.