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Children Act

Volume 181: debated on Tuesday 20 November 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress he is making in the implementation of the Children Act 1989.

Our major programme of regulations, guidance and training continues to make good progress. We hope to launch the bulk of the guidance early in the new year.

Will my hon. Friend tell the House a little more about her Department's plans for the Act's training support programme?

I am able to announce a substantial increase in the amount of money for training in social services generally. The training programme for the implementation of the Children Act is making good headway. I am pleased to be able to inform my hon. Friend that we are arranging training through the National Children's Bureau for those involved in the national health service. The first training event took place in East Anglia only last week. I hope that it will soon be available to NHS workers in my hon. Friend's constituency.

I am always glad to hear from the Minister that there are training programmes. However, as £3,000 million of Government money is to be used to offset the effects of the poll tax, can she assure the House that sufficient resources will be available fully to implement the Children Act in October 1991?

I can give the hon. Gentleman that assurance. There has been a very good settlement for local authority personal social services this year which amounts to a 23·4 per cent. increase on last year's standard spending assessment. In addition, the training resources are ring-fenced. They go out in the form of specific grants for child care and for the implementation of the Children Act. We shall implement the Children Act in 327 days' time.

Is my hon. Friend aware that I heard with some concern from a group of my constituents that the consultation documents sent out by her Department on the running of day nurseries were received in Cleveland only on the day that they were due to be responded to? Will my hon. Friend look into that and, if necessary, extend the time?

I shall certainly look carefully at my hon. Friend's point. Only last month I attended a seminar in Newcastle at which local authorities, voluntary organisations and the private sector discussed precisely that guidance—that they should have inspected provision for child minders in play groups within three months and for day nurseries within six months. New guidance is important. We are funding the National Children's Bureau to produce material on that part of the Act. I certainly assure my hon. Friend that I shall look into the matter as it affects his part of the country.