Clause 47. — (Children Authorities.)

Orders of the Day — London Government Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 25th July 1963.

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Lords Amendment: In page 67, line 16, at end insert: (4) The Greater London Council may make contributions to any voluntary organisation—

  1. (a) whose object or primary object is to promote the welfare of children; or
  2. (b) who are providing advice, guidance and assistance such as to promote the welfare of children by diminishing the need to receive children into or keep them in care under the Children Act 1948 or the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 or to bring children before a juvenile court."

Photo of Miss Mervyn Pike Miss Mervyn Pike , Melton

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment.

Clause 50 when it left the House provided that the local authorities to undertake this licensing function should be the councils of the London boroughs. The effect of the Amendment is to place this responsibility, for the whole of Greater London, on the Greater London Council, and I think this will be acceptable to the House as a whole.

Photo of Mr Albert Evans Mr Albert Evans , Islington South West

I think that we should welcome this Amendment. It is more economical for the Greater London Council to decide what contributions should be made to the voluntary organisations for children's welfare. From my reading of the But I understand that borough authorities will retain the right to make contributions in certain cases, but perhaps the hon. Lady will make this clear. Will borough authorities retain the right to make contributions to voluntary organisations, side by side with the Greater London Council also having that power?

Photo of Mr Laurie Pavitt Mr Laurie Pavitt , Willesden West

I welcome the Amendment, as did my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South-West (Mr. A. Evans). It brings this Clause into line with similar provisions made in previous Clauses for welfare and mental health activities. I am concerned about how far this Clause goes in the amount of support that it gives for voluntary organisations, in view of the discussions that took place both in another place and in Committee upstairs on the preceding parts of this Clause.

There was considerable disquiet about the question of responsibility, which would be divided, and the actual methods to be used to provide services for children. I hope the hon. Lady will assure us that there will be an opportunity for both the new boroughs and the Greater London Council to make contributions for voluntary organisations, and that this will not preclude them from undertaking any of the other responsibilities that fall on them in other parts of the Bill. I hope that there will be some attempt to ensure that there is greater co-operation in dealing with the difficult problems which are being hammered out between the various bodies responsible for the provision of these services.

Photo of Miss Mervyn Pike Miss Mervyn Pike , Melton

I give that assurance.

Photo of Mr Michael Maitland Stewart Mr Michael Maitland Stewart , Fulham

I am a little puzzled by the hon. Lady's speech when she moved the Amendment. I think she referred to Clause 50. My hon. Friends were speaking—and admirably, too— about voluntary contributions to bodies concerned with child welfare, but I think the hon. Lady was talking about petroleum, a fact which escaped my hon. Friend's notice because they are further away from the hon. Lady than I am. She made a rather rapid speech, and I think that I was the only Member on this side of the House who grasped what she was talking about.

We are in a little confusion. Mr. Speaker, I think you put the Question, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment," that is to say, the Amendment in page 67, line 16, which proposes to add certain words to Clause 47 of the Bill which is concerned with the making of contributions by the Greater London Council to voluntary organisations concerned with child welfare, and a very necessary and desirable Amendment it is. I hope the fact that the hon. Lady has made a speech appropriate to a later Amendment does not mean that we are switching on to a discussion of a later Amendment, because we want to make sure that we make this Amendment dealing with children, before we go on to deal with petrol.

7.15 p.m.

Photo of Miss Mervyn Pike Miss Mervyn Pike , Melton

Perhaps I can help. I apologise to the House. I spoke to the Amendment in page 67, line 16. As this Amendment was acceptable to the House, I thought that it had been accepted, and that we had moved to the next Amendment while I was looking at my papers. Like the hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart), I was a bit puzzled at first about how voluntary contributions came into petroleum, but I thought I had made an error in not hearing that we have moved to the next Amendment.

Photo of Mr Michael Maitland Stewart Mr Michael Maitland Stewart , Fulham

If we are talking about voluntary contributions for child welfare, in a sense this is an anomalous Amendment, as were the provisions we made earlier in Standing Committee upstairs to give the Greater London Council power to make contributions to certain voluntary bodies, because the general aim of the Bill has been to ensure that the Greater London Council shall not be a welfare authority. I think I am right in saying that the only power it now has in connection with social services—apart from education in inner London—is this power to make contributions to voluntary bodies.

It is not, for instance a children's authority itself at all. If one were niggly, one might ask whether a body which is not a children's authority, and will not naturally attract people interested in social service into its membership, is really a good body to make the voluntary contribution? But I do not propose to niggle like that because, although this is anomalous in the sense that it is unlike the rest of the Bill, I think the rest of the Bill is bad. I am glad that this bit of the Bill is different from the rest, because we know that the L.C.C. had a very good record for contributions to voluntary bodies.

When the Bill was published, the voluntary bodies were worried about what might happen with the disappearance of the L.C.C. because there were no provisions in the Bill to enable the Greater London Council to have power to make contributions similar to those made by the L.C.C. I am glad that, partly in this House, and partly in another place, power has been given to the Greater London Council to make these contributions.

I think the passage of time will show that it would be better if the children's services were in the hands of the Greater London Council, and nearly everybody who has experience of those services thinks so, but since we cannot have that this Amendment is better than nothing.

Photo of Mr Albert Evans Mr Albert Evans , Islington South West

If I might, with the leave of the House, revert to the point I put to the hon. Lady when she was thinking about petroleum and I was thinking about voluntary contributions, may I ask whether she can confirm that, although the Greater London Council has this power to make contributions to voluntary organisations, that power will also reside with the borough authorities, the children's authorities?

Photo of Miss Mervyn Pike Miss Mervyn Pike , Melton

Yes, I can confirm that.

Question put and agreed to. [Special Entry.]