asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he has taken to persuade the authorities administering the Children and Young Persons Boarding-out Rules, 1946, to accept the advice given in paragraphs 30 and 31 of the Memorandum on Boarding Out of Children and Young Persons, issued jointly by his Department and the Ministry of Health, in which is stressed the importance of the natural parents being allowed to visit and correspond with their children who are boarded out with foster parents.
I am informed that local authorities generally follow the advice given in the Memorandum on Boarding Out. If it were learnt that a more restrictive practice was being followed in any area, the matter would be discussed with the local authority concerned. The general principle that there should be contact between boarded out children and their natural parents is constantly stressed by my Department, but it must rest with the responsible local authority to decide what should be done in individual cases.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in at least one important local authority his excellent and humane advice is being ignored, that parents are being permitted to see their children only after prior application for permission and at a place appointed by the local authority, and to write to them only via the local authority? If details are brought to his notice, will the right hon Gentleman renew his persuasive efforts?
Yes, Sir, I would welcome any information that can be given to me; but I am sure the hon. Gentleman will agree that there are, unfortunately, a few cases in which it is undesirable that the natural parents should have access to their children either in person or by letter.