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asked the Minister of Health what, in view of the recommendations of the Guillebaud and Piercy Committees, is his policy on the amalgamation of the health and welfare services; and what advice he is giving to local authorities as to the amalgamation of their health and welfare services as opportunities occur.
I have advised local authorities that there should be close integration of the local health and welfare services. Whether this can best be achieved by combining their administration or in some other way must be left to the discretion of each local authority. having regard to local conditions.
Will not the right hon. Gentleman agree that in most areas the health visitor, part of his own Department, has a more intimate knowledge of the conditions of the people and their need than perhaps anyone else? Is it not highly desirable that the medical officer of health and his staff should be very much more integrated, or that he should be put in charge of the whole welfare department?
The important thing is to get the closest possible co-ordination in the functioning of the domiciliary health and welfare services at the level of the people for whom they are provided. As the hon. Member knows, we had a very full and interesting debate on this question two or three weeks ago, to which he made a very helpful contribution.