§ Mr. Raffan
asked the Secretary of State for Wales what conclusion he has reached following his Department's review of the "All Wales Strategy for the Development of Services for Mentally Handicapped People"; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Mark Robinson
The Welsh Office has completed its three-year review of progress on the all-Wales strategy provided for by my right hon Friend when he launched this major initiative in 1983, arid I am grateful to all those who have assisted by responding positively to invitations to comment. A copy of the report is being placed in the Library of the House.
The strategy is designed to promote the development of new patterns of community-based services for mentally handicapped people over a 10-year period, and the Report confirms that a start has been made in the eight counties and in the vanguard areas following the formal approval of funding in all 10 plans submitted to the Welsh Office. Activities have been concentrated so far on relieving pressures on families and these and other services will be progressively developed for mentally handicapped people whether in the community or in hospital. While progress has been less rapid than had been hoped, the 10-year period allowed for the development of the strategy recognised from the outset that if, as was the intention, services are to be planned according to the needs of the individual, radical changes in attitudes towards the needs and the means of meeting them were called for. It was acknowledged, therefore, that achieving these changes would take time. Nevertheless, I am encouraged by what has already been accomplished in some counties.
The review has highlighted a number of issues which will need to be addressed by the Welsh Office and the counties; and several recommendations are aimed at introducing measures to relieve pressures on families, developing educational opportunities, providing a wider range of day time activity including employment and choice of accommodation for independent long-term living.
My right hon. Friend and I accordingly reaffirm our support for the strategy and its objectives and do not propose to make fundamental changes in the arrangements for its implementation. We shall however be revising, in the light of experience, the terms of reference and constitution of the all-Wales advisory panel to whose chairman and members I pay tribute for the commitment they have shown and the contribution they have made to progress thus far. For the future my right hon. Friend proposes to set up a smaller panel which will advise on 119W major policy issues, though he hopes that members of the existing panel will continue to make their expertise available to counties as required.