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Mentally Handicapped Persons(Education)

Volume 889: debated on Wednesday 26 March 1975

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13.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many centres for the education of the mentally handicapped are in the process of construction.

Ten for children and five for adults.

Is my hon. Friend satisfied that enough has been done to begin implementing the Education (Mentally Handicapped Children) (Scotland) Act 1974, which is widely acclaimed by many people in Scotland who have a special interest in educating the mentally handicapped? Those people are worried about the lack of visible progress in the building of accommodation. Will my hon. Friend say whether anything is being done and what new developments he has in mind, particularly in relation to profoundly mentally handicapped children?

As my hon. Friend will be aware, the Education (Mentally Handicapped Children) (Scotland) Act 1974 comes into operation on 16th May this year. There are 10 centres for children and five for adults at present under construction. There are a number of problems, but many of the premises already used will be taken over by the education authorities which will be responsible for the education of mentally handicapped children after the appointed day. One problem, for example, concerns the 1,500 children in mental deficiency hospital wards, many of whom receive no education or training at present. Most education authorities are making short-term arrangements for taking over hospital wards for teaching purposes, as is being done, for example, at Lynebank Hospital, in my hon. Friend's constituency.