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Health And Personal Services

Volume 975: debated on Wednesday 5 December 1979

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he has completed his review of the Central Health Services Council and the Personal Social Services Council; and if he will make a statement.

I have decided, jointly with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales, to wind up the Central Health Services Council and the Personal Social Services Council. This decision has been taken in the interests of reducing the number of separate and overlapping channels through which Ministers receive advice, and of achieving administrative economies wherever it is open to us to do so.My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales and I recognise the valuable role of the Central Health Services Council in providing advice to successive Ministers. But, especially in recent years, the various elements reflected in the council's membership have developed direct—and highly valued—links with the Health Departments, and Ministers have increasingly looked to specially appointed and representative ad hoc committees to undertake inquiries and prepare reports on particular subjects. The Council can no longer be seen therefore as the essential source of expert opinion that it was in 1948. The necessary legislative proposals to wind it up will be brought forward.We see a continued need, on professional matters, to balance the advice that is received from special interests within the separate professions, and therefore the power to establish standing advisory committees will be retained. The detailed arrangements are under review.After consulting with the Associations of County Councils and of Metropolitan Authorities, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales and I have concluded that the Personal Social Services Council should be wound up at the end of the present financial year. Jointly funded by the Government and the associations, the council has done worthwhile work since it was set up in 1974 after the reorganisation of social services in local government. We do not, however, con- sider that the council itself any longer has an essential role; bodies which nominate to the council have ready access to Ministers and our Departments.There will be discussions with the council and other interests on possible arrangements for carrying forward some of its plans which will not have been brought to fruition by the end of the financial year. There is no legislative provision for the Personal Social Services Council: I shall propose repeal of provisions relating to an advisory council on child care, which has not existed as a separate body for a number of years.The Children's Committee which was established in 1978 with members including nominees of both councils, for three years, will continue, but will be the subject of review before the end of this period.The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, at present a joint committee of the Central Health Services Council and the Scottish Health Service Planning Council, has been asked to continue its work as a body advisory to Ministers.The Central Health Services Council is serviced by my Department and incurs direct annual expenditure of about £25,000. The estimated saving from the abolition of the Personal Social Services Council is about £200,000 a year.Another body with a major role in the development of social services is the Central Council for Education and Training in Social Work. We propose to revise its constitution, and a consultation paper was issued in September.My right hon. Friend and I are deeply appreciative of the individual contribution made by members of the two councils to be discontinued and have written to them to convey our decision and to thank them for their services. We also warmly recognise the energy and dedication of the staff of the Personal Social Services Council.