HC Deb 22 December 1997 vol 303 c456W
Mr. Ernie Ross

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what arrangements will be made in Scotland following the fundamental review of the functions of the Central Council for Education and Training in Social Work. [22471]

Mr. Galbraith

The Government have today published the fundamental review of the functions of the Central Council for Education and Training in Social Work (CCETSW). I and my hon. Friends will be considering in detail the conclusions and recommendations in the report. The report paves the way for the creation of regulatory machinery which would combine regulation of the workforce with the regulation of social work education and training. I have thought carefully about whether it would be appropriate for this machinery to have a UK-wide remit or whether it should be separate and specific to Scotland. I have concluded that, in view of the differences in legislation, the scope of social work services which includes criminal justice social work, existing devolved structures for higher education and vocational training and the considerable support expressed by Scottish respondents to the CCETSW review for separate arrangements, the weight of the argument points towards a separate Scottish body. However, it will be essential, and in the pubic interest, that the regulatory arrangements should be aligned across the UK. I would not want to create a situation where there are significant disparities in standards or practice in relation to registration. Officials across UK departments will work together to ensure harmonious regulatory arrangements across the UK.

This will, of course, require legislation and I intend that legislative proposals should be published in a separate Scottish White Paper in the spring after discussion of the detailed issues within Government and with all the key stakeholders.

I have thought it right to clarify these issues in order to minimise uncertainty and allow sensible planning and preparation for the establishment of a new body. The Scottish Committee of CCETSW and its staff in Scotland will continue to make an important contribution in achieving an appropriately qualified and trained workforce and, alongside other stakeholders, will be able to contribute to discussions leading to the setting up of a new regulatory body. I have asked the Chief Inspector of Social Work Services to commence direct discussions with key stakeholders in the New Year.