§ 1. Mr. Wilson
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the level of provision of list D accommodation.
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. John MacKay)
There are 18 list D schools providing 922 places, of which 729 are currently occupied.
§ Mr. Wilson
Does the Minister recall his correspondence with me about the unfortunate case of the girl of 14 who could not be provided with secure accommodation and absconded for a period, though she was subsequently safely returned? Does he realise that there is considerable alarm among the children's hearings and the police about the lack of secure and balanced accommodation? Will he postpone the proposed transfer of list D schools to the regional councils and produce an overall report on the situation to make sure that the system that is to be passed over is a coherent system?
§ Mr. MacKay
If the hon. Gentleman had listened to my reply he would realise that there are about 200 places surplus to need in the list D sytem. Negotiations are under way between the principal local authorities involved and the list D schools, and I am satisfied that the negotiations will come to a conclusion that will allow to continue schools that in the eyes of the regions are necessary for the continuation of the system to continue.
§ Mr. McQuarrie
What steps does my hon. Friend propose to take following the decision of the social work services group to cease having a role with the list D schools with effect from 1 April 1986?
§ Mr. MacKay
That decision was taken by my right hon. Friend and me. The subject has been on the go since 1968 when the then Act envisaged that the Secretary of 903 State would retain his responsibility on a temporary basis only. I thought that it was time to bring that temporary arrangement to an end. Many people agree with me. I believe that once the current negotiations are concluded, the list D school system will be closely related to the local authority social work system, and I believe that that is the correct place for the relationship.
§ Mr. Wallace
The Minister has said, certainly in correspondence, that the amount of direct grant currently given to list D schools will be wholly made over to the local authorities assuming responsibility for those schools. Will that amount be hypothecated for that purpose? If not, will the hon. Gentleman assure us that by April next year the same number of places will still be available? That is particularly important for local authorities which do not have list D schools in their areas. Will the hon. Gentleman also answer the point made by the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. Wilson) about secure accommodation?
§ Mr. MacKay
The arrangements for secure accommodation will continue as before. The children who end up in secure accommodation do not come only through the children's panel system and, therefore, through the social work department of the region. The broad purpose of the cash settlement has been to avoid giving local authorities extra costs without extra resources. We have agreed the transfer to the local authorities of resources that would have been used by the Government if we had continued to support the schools direct.
On the latter part of the hon. Gentleman's question, given the large number of places that are surplus to need, it is clear that the solution that will marry the social work departments and the list D schools will make sure that the needs are met.