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Child Benefit

Volume 979: debated on Tuesday 19 February 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what would be the level of child benefit which would represent the same value in real terms as it had when first introduced; and what this represents compared with its current value.

No. I am satisfied that existing statutes and other arrangements in general provide an adequate framework for the protection of the rights of children in residential institutions, but the Government fully recognise that long term residential care is unsuitable for most children for whom a family life is likely to provide a more stable and emotionally satisfying upbringing.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what guidelines are issued concerning the use of tranquillisers on children in community homes and other residential institutions; under what circumstances tranquillisers are used for non-medical reasons; if he is satisfied with the current practice of giving tranquillisers to children in such institutions; and if he will set up an inquiry to look into this matter.

I hope that the use of tranquillisers is kept to the necessary minimum.The Department does not issue guidelines, but in prescribing drugs, including tranquillisers, for children in community homes and in supervising their administration, registered medical practitioners are bound by the usual strict code of medical ethics; and they are under a legal obligation, except in an emergency, to satisfy themselves that the informed consent of the children, or where appropriate, of their parents or of those in loco parentis, has been obtained. The primary responsibility of the medical practitioner is to the child and not to the institution. The use of drugs for non-medical reasons is contrary to medical ethics. I am not satisfied that an inquiry into practices in community homes is called for.