§ Miss Widdecombe
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services when he will be issuing a consultation paper on his proposals concerning standards for day care and residential holidays for children aged between five and 16 years referred to in the White Paper "The Law on Child Care and Family Services".
§ Mr. Newton
The Department, jointly with the Department of Education and Science and the Department of the Environment, has today issued a consultation paper "Day Care and Residential Holidays for Children over Five". It is being sent to local authorities including non-metropolitan district councils in England; voluntary bodies active in the child care, disabled, mental handicap, educational, sporting and recreational fields; and organisations representing medical, nursing and social work interests.
The Government have decided that a full registration system which would apply to all activities provided for children aged between five and 16 would be inappropriate and impractical. It is primarily the responsibility of parents to satisfy themselves about the adequacy of the arrangements to which they entrust their children. Whilst we recognise that children need to be protected from harm, we believe that out-of-school or holiday play schemes need 593W a lower level of control than residential holidays where children are away from their parents for some time. The Government are seeking views on two options: the introduction of a limited registration scheme (for which legislation would be necessary). This would be operated by local authorities and apply to residential holidays for groups of children for up to 27 days; or the establishment of voluntary codes of practice to be drawn up by private or voluntary organisations. These would cover day care and residential activities.
Similar consultation exercises are being carried out by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales and my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland.