asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department from what bodies representations have been received by the Home Office on the Government White Paper, The Child, The Family and The Young Offender, Command Paper No. 2742; and what action he is proposing to take in the light of these representations.
The proposals in the White Paper were published for the purposes of discussion before legislation. I will circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT a list of the bodies which have submitted comments. These show widespread support for the underlying principles contained in the White Paper, but include criticism of some of the details for giving them effect. In deciding the legislation which we intend to introduce we shall give due weight to the views that have been expressed.
While thanking the right hon. Lady for that extraordinary reply, may I ask whether she will not endeavour to increase the deservedly high reputation of her right hon. Friend by persuading him to withdraw this muddled and inadequate White Paper, for which he is in no way responsible and which has been so devastatingly criticised by probation officers and magistrates throughout the country?
I think that the whole House will realise that those who disagree with anything are usually much more vocal than those who agree. Disagreement seems to be better news than agreement. I should, however, like to tell the House that among the bodies which give general support to the White Paper, with some reservations about the details, are the Association of Municipal Corporations, the County Councils Association, the Association of Children's Officers, the Association of Child Care Officers and the Police Federation of England and Wales.
Would not the Minister of State nevertheless agree that this White Paper has few friends and a great many enemies? [HON. MEMBERS: "Rubbish."] In particular, would she agree that the most invidious proposal of all is that to entitle family councils, sitting in private, to send children away to possibly long-term detention by agreement with their parents? Will the right hon. Lady agree to abandon this thoroughly ill-considered proposal?
I reiterate that it is not true to say that there has been widespread opposition. During the last few months I have spent a considerable amount of time receiving deputations from those who wished to see me about this matter and the impression that the hon. Member has given is quite wrong. Indeed, the proposal concerning family councils does not include sending children away without recourse to a family court where that is so desired.
I am well aware that some probation officers and magistrates have criticised the Report. It is quite contrary to my knowledge to say that children's officers have criticised it. The Association of Children's Officers is very enthusiastic about the Report. It is the intention of the Government to legislate when time can be found available.
May I ask my right hon. Friend not to be deterred by the rather blinkered questions which we have been getting from certain hon. Members opposite? Will she recognise or remind the House that the publication of the White Paper has stimulated some really good fresh thinking at local authority level concerning future development of family welfare services?
Following is the list: