§ Ms McCafferty
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what guidance his Department issues to chairs of local authority social services committees concerning the operation of the Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act 1985. 
§ Mr. Hutton
As well as being illegal, female circumcision is an extremely unpleasant practice with lasting mental and physical effects on those girls on whom it is carried out. We have issued no specific guidance on this matter to chairs of social services committees but our wider advice, set out in "Working Together to Safeguard Children" on child protection procedures is clear. The Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act 1985 makes female circumcision, excision or infibulation (female genital mutilation (FGM)) an offence, except on specific physical and mental health grounds. A local authority may exercise its powers under section 47 of the Children's Act 1989 if it has reason to believe that a child is likely to be or has been the subject of FGM.