I have no evidence that any local authority has suspended implementation of Section 1 of the Act. The annual returns show that all authorities in England have been increasing the numbers registered, and my officials are in constant touch with authorities in relation to all matters affecting the personal social services. I shall have my hon. Friend's suggestion in mind when I review the returns for 1975–76.
Will my hon. Friend confirm that it applies to the mentally sick? Is it not something of a scandal that we have been waiting for the Doctor Brown report, which has prompted very little initiative from the Government and local authorities? Should not this have been taken up?
My hon. Friend has a distinguished record of service to the mentally handicapped. Where appropriate, the Act applies to the mentally handicapped and the mentally ill as much as it applies to the physically handicapped and the physically ill.
My Department is considering the first draft of the Dr. Malcolm Brown report which was received earlier this month. It deals with administrative action taken by local authorities in 1971–72 to inform themselves of the number of disabled people. I intend to lay a copy of the report in the Library at the earliest possible date.
I am very much aware of the Outset surveys. I pay the warmest possible tribute to Nicholas Blake and his colleagues in that organisation. We must do all we can to identify all severely handicapped people. I could give the figures of severely disabled people who have already been identified. Enormous progress has been made recently.
Is my hon. Friend aware that in its 1976–77 budget the Knowsley Council, in my area, has made no provision for Section 2 of the Act for aids and adaptions for disabled and handicapped people? Does he take the same serious and shocked view that I do of this? Will he take default powers, to ensure that the local authority complies with the law?
The current economic situation is extremely difficult for local authorities. I am doing my best to emphasise that priority should be given to the claims of disabled people. I hope that all hon. Members will do what they can in their localities to emphasise the needs of the disabled.