HL Deb 11 March 1997 vol 579 cc18-9WA
Lord Hylton

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is their response to (i) the Council of Europe's document 1993.R(91) and its 1994 report on street children in so far as these refer to the United Kingdom; and (ii) the comments on the United Kingdom in the report of the United Nations Children's Committee, published in January 1995.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Cumberlege)

We have studied the Council of Europe's reports and considered the recommendations carefully. Through the Children Act 1989, we have placed duties and responsibilities on local authorities to provide services for children in need and their families. Many, if not all, of these children would be assessed as children in need. Where there is no person with parental responsibility for the child under 18 and where the child's welfare would otherwise be seriously prejudiced, the local authority must provide accommodation for that child. The Act also enabled the setting up of refuges to provide a safe environment when children had run away and where their difficulties could be addressed.

The Government have read the report and noted the comments of the United Nation Committee on the Rights of the Child. There is no obligation under the UN Convention for the United Kingdom Government to respond to the committee's observations—which praised much of what is being done for UK children—or to implement any of its recommendations. We do take our international obligations seriously and believe we comply with them—especially in relation to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.