§ Sir K. Joseph
asked the Minister of Labour whether he will make a statement on the recommendation made by the Piercy Committee about placing services for the blind.
§ Mr. Iain Macleod
Yes. The Piercy Committee recognised the force of the suggestion that a specialist placing service is necessary for the blind, and paid a tribute—which I gladly endorse—to the efficient services now operated by some local authorities and by voluntary bodies acting as their agents. They felt, however, that the application of that principle under existing arrangements might well have had the effect over the country as a whole of providing a service inferior to that available for other classes of disabled. The Committee therefore recommended that my Department should assume full responsibility for ensuring that the placing of the blind is put on a satisfactory footing and should itself normally provide a placing service, thus relieving local authorities of their present responsibility. They suggested that local authorities and voluntary organisations now carrying out the work satisfactorily should continue to do so if they wish, at any rate for the time being.
I have carefully considered this recommendation having regard to the views expressed by the National Advisory Council on the Employment of the Disabled, the Local Authority Associations and the Royal National Institute for the Blind. While I sympathise with the object of the recommendation, it is not possible to consider implementing it in financial circumstances such as those of the present. I propose to review the position in three years' time. I feel confident that those concerned will meanwhile devote their best efforts to maintaining the efficiency of the existing services, and I am considering what can be done, within the limits of existing resources, to promote closer co-operation, where necessary, between those services and my Department.