Homeless Children

Oral Answers to Questions — Social Services – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 22nd January 1974.

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Photo of Mrs Jill Knight Mrs Jill Knight , Birmingham, Edgbaston 12:00 am, 22nd January 1974

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will instigate an investigation into the numbers of children under 16 years of age living rough, without parents or guardians caring for them.

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Somerset North

I am aware of recent reports that some young people, including perhaps a small number under 16 years of age, sleep rough, but I am not sure that an investigation would help. Local authorities have the power to return children of this age to their parents or to receive them into care and provide accommodation for them.

Photo of Mrs Jill Knight Mrs Jill Knight , Birmingham, Edgbaston

Is my hon. Friend aware that a Mr. Henderson, of the Elfrida Rathbone Society, claims that there are 3,000 children, some of them very young, living rough in the Liverpool area alone. Does he agree that such reports need investigation so that they can be acted upon if they are true, and refuted if untrue?

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Somerset North

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for putting that point. It is difficult to get accurate figures, but we study with care the reports we receive, including this one. There are some indications that the problem is growing. It is for this reason that local authorities have substantial powers and duties. I pay tribute to the valuable work carried out by voluntary organisations in this field, often with Government support.