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List D Schools

Volume 960: debated on Friday 15 December 1978

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asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether the consultations on his proposals for the future of the List D schools have yet been completed; and if he will now make a statement.

pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 15th December 1978, Vol. 960, c. 558, made the following statement:In the statement which I made on 4th August 1976—[Vol. 916, c. 783–41]—I announced that I had decided to accept in principle the basic recommendation of both the Mitchell committee and the Advisory Council on Social Work that the List D schools should come under the control of the regional authorities. I indicated that I was disposed to accept also the Advisory Council's recommendation that overall responsibility for the schools should rest with social work committees. I subsequently issued to all the interests concerned, including the managers of the schools, the local authorities, the relevant staff organisations and the STUC, a consultative memorandum setting out in detail my proposals for the future financial and administrative arrangements for the schools.Written comments on this memorandum were received from a wide range of organisations and individuals; and my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State has discussed the proposals with representatives of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, the Church of Scotland, the Roman Catholic Church, the Joint Committee of Staff Organisations, the Educational Institute of Scotland and the STUC.It is clear from these consultations that views differ on a number of important issues relating to the proposed transfer of the schools to the regional authorities. Some of the major interests, including the Convention of Scottish' Local Authorities, support transfer of the schools, but others, including mast of the managers of the voluntary schools, oppose the proposals. I have concluded, in the absence at present of any agreement among the interests principally concerned about the future arrangements for the schools that it would not be practicable at this time to pursue the question of transfer, which would require legislation, or to make any change in the present financial arrangements for the schools.

I consider it essential, however, that there should be closer co-operation between the List D schools and the local authorities in providing a comprehensive range of facilities for children in need of care. It is also important that the contribution which the schools make to the range of facilities should be kept under review in the light of changing circumstances, including the recent reduction in the demand for places in the List D schools and the consequent increase in the cost of maintaining a child in the schools.

I propose accordingly to set up a standing advisory committee in which representatives of the schools, the local authorities, the children's hearings systems and my Department will be able to consider jointly these matters and other major issues relating to the schools. My Department will now be consulting the interests principally concerned about the proposed arrangements.