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Social Policy (Co-Ordination)

Volume 763: debated on Thursday 2 May 1968

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Q4.

asked the Prime Minister what arrangements he is now making for the co-ordination of social policy.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the Answers I gave to Questions On 11th April by my hon. Friend the Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. Archer) and on 25th April by my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, West (Mr. William Hamilton).—[Vol. 762, c. 1582; Vol. 763, c. 76.]

Is my right hon. Friend aware that we appreciate the amalgamation of the Ministries of Health and Social Security? Could he be more specific, however, about the Home Office functions which will be taken over by the new Department? Will he consider amalgamating in the new Department not only the Children's Department of the Home Office but also its functions in race relations as well, since this is primarily a social problem and more appropriate to a social Department?

The merger between the Ministries of Health and Social Security does not involve any proposals for taking over part of the Home Office. The question of proper co-ordination in matters, for example, of children's welfare, will fall to be considered when we have the report of the Seebohm Committee, although that goes far beyond questions affecting children. My hon. Friend also mentioned race relations, and I remind him that I referred to race relations and community relations in areas where immigrants have gone in an Answer I gave on Tuesday about the reconstituted Committee presided over by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary.

Does the Prime Minister recollect that his statement announcing the amalgamation of the Ministries of Health and Social Security was made in a Press release and not to the House? Why was this?

It has been usual—indeed, almost invariable—for announcements affecting Ministerial changes to be made in the first instance in that way. I remember the famous case when the Leader of the Opposition became Lord Privy Seal. That was the way in which his appointment was announced and in the end we had to get all the information by staging an Adjournment debate. On this occasion, I informed the House very quickly afterwards in answer to a Question about the merger, and its purpose, over which my right hon. Friend is presiding.