HC Deb 02 December 1975 vol 901 cc554-5W
Mr. Stallard

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) if she will make a statement on the progress she has made under DHSS Circular 21/73 towards comprehensive services for homeless alcoholics in England and Wales, including the setting up of the promised four pilot detoxification centres;

(2) what budget her Department has allocated for the establishment and continuation of the four pilot detoxification centres in East London, South-East London, Birmingham and Manchester.

Mr. Arnold Shaw

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) whether she is satisfied with the progress her Department has made towards establishing detoxification centres in major cities which, in line with Section 34 of the Criminal Justice Act 1972, can act as an alternative to court and custody for chronic alcoholics;

(2) when she expects the main recommendations of the 1971 Home Office Report on the Habitual Drunken Offender to be implemented nationally.

Dr. Owen

In 1973 the Department assumed responsibility for the payment of deficit revenue grants to hostels for alcoholics which were formerly within the Home Office after care scheme and 21 of these hostels providing 244 places are currently being funded. Capital grants have also been authorised for 20 hostels providing 229 new places for alcoholics, including 19 places at the Leeds detoxification centre; and deficit revenue grants have been authorised in respect of 206 of the new places. There has also been a growth in the number of shelters and other experimental facilities for homeless single people, including alcoholics, and better links are being forged between community facilities and health services. Nevertheless, progress generally has been slower than we would have wished.

Many hospitals carry out detoxification but the cost of this service cannot be identified separately. The Department is considering financial support for three experimental detoxification centres planned in Leeds, London and Manchester and discussions are proceeding on their design and cost.

My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary will, I understand, be bringing into force Section 36 of the Criminal Justice Act 1972 in readiness for the opening next year of the experimental detoxification centres in Leeds and Manchester.

Earlier this year we set up an Advisory Committee on Alcoholism with a Sub-Group appointed to advise the main Committee on services for homeless alcoholics and to promote their development as part of services for the homeless and alcoholics in general.