§ Miss Lestor
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what guidance was provided to local authorities by his Department to assist them in deciding the criteria to be applied when considering the closure of a children's home with specific reference to the local authority exercising their general duty to children in care under section 18 of the Child Care Act 1980 in the years(a) 1988, (b) 1989, (c) 1990 and (d) until 30 June.
§ Mrs. Virginia Bottomley
[holding answer 12 July 1991]: There have been a number of legal decisions, in particular involving the London borough of Hammersmith and Fulham in 1979, Sunderland borough council in 1983 and the metropolitan borough of Solihull in 1984 concerning the need for local authorities to ascertain, so far as is practicable, the wishes and feelings of a child in their care when decisions relating to the child are being reached. Authorities will have had to take account of these decisions.
The following publications, which have been issued to local authorities in relation to the new legislation over the period in question, all emphasise the need to consult children in matters affecting them:
- The Introduction to the Children Act (published 1989);
- The Care of Children: Principles and Practice in Regulations and Guidance (published 1989);
- The Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations— Volume 3—Family Placements (published 1991).
The same advice has been included in a number of training packs commissioned by the Department and made available to authorities in 1990 and 1991.
Under the Children Act 1989 the duties of local authorities to consult children in relation to decisions concerning them restates and amplifies the duty in this respect contained in section 18 of the Child Care Act 1980.