Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Bill [Lords]


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Clause 43

Family and personal relationships
Mr. Dhanda: I beg to move amendment No. 172, in clause 43, page 26, line 40, at end insert—
‘( ) This section does not apply to—
(a) the appointment of a person as a deputy under section 16(2)(b) of the Mental Capacity Act 2005;
(b) the appointment of a person to any position mentioned in paragraph (a), (b) or (f) of section 44(10) or to exercise any function mentioned in that paragraph;
(c) anything done by a person appointed as mentioned in paragraph (a) or (b) above.’.
The amendment makes clear our intentions about family members who act as deputies on behalf of children or adults, and family members or friends who act on behalf of adults under lasting or enduring powers of attorney or who are DWP appointees charged with managing someone’s benefits or pension. Those who require such assistance are potentially at an increased risk of abuse, and it is therefore right that the individuals who provide those types of support should carry on regulated activity. People on the barred list should therefore be barred from such activities. That seems to be common sense.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause 43, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 44

Vulnerable adults
Mr. Lewis: I beg to move amendment No. 173, in clause 44, page 28, line 16, at end insert
‘in receipt of residential accommodation pursuant to arrangements made under section 21(1)(aa) of the National Assistance Act 1948 or care pursuant to paragraph 1 of Schedule 8 to the National Health Service Act 1977’.
The Chairman: With this it will be convenient to discuss the following amendments: No. 57, in clause 44, page 28, line 16, leave out paragraph (d).
Government amendment No. 174
Mr. Lewis: Amendment No. 173 is designed to narrow the circumstances in which a pregnant woman or a nursing mother may be considered vulnerable. I think that the Opposition share our concern that, as drafted, the clause is far too wide. For example, the teacher of an antenatal yoga class would at present be regarded as undertaking a regulated activity.
The amendment would tighten that definition and limit it to those groups that receive community care services. As a result, only those staff who work closely with pregnant women or nursing mothers in the provision of community care services will be subject to monitoring, and barred people will not be able to undertake such work. For example, the tighter definition would include some health visitors that deliver community care services to new mums. We want to ensure that women in those circumstances have the same reassurances about the staff working with them as others using community care services. I hope that the Opposition accept that including a tighter a definition of the receipt of community care services for pregnant women is sensible.
Amendment No. 174 is a minor, technical and consequential amendment to adjust references to national health service legislation, to ensure that those references are consistent with those in the NHS Consolidation Bill. I hope that the hon. Members for Basingstoke and for East Worthing and Shoreham accept what I have said about the definition and that they will not feel it necessary to press amendment No. 57.
Mrs. Miller: I am pleased with the Minister’s reply. I was rather surprised when I first read the clause to find that all expectant and nursing mothers were classified as vulnerable adults. It struck me as a retrograde, sexist and insulting way of categorising women who are pregnant or nursing.
Having been pregnant three times—perhaps other female Members have been pregnant—I was surprised that the Minister should allow the Bill to include such a provision. Times have moved on since the days when it was thought that women were fragile and in need of special attention purely because they were pregnant. I hope that I can draw on the support of other women in the room on that matter.
I was unaware that the Government had noticed that rather large mistake, so I raised the issue with the National Childbirth Trust, which does much excellent work in that area. It was rather shocked; it clearly had not been consulted. I understand that, at that point, it contacted the Department, which may have led to the Government amendments. I acknowledge the fact that it was clearly a drafting error, but given that the Bill has been so long in the drafting, it is concerning that such a sizeable mistake could have been make. I am glad that the Government have seen the error of their ways. I am glad not to have to move the Opposition amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment made: No. 174, in clause 44, page 28, line 35, leave out from ‘section’ to the first ‘are’ in line 36 and insert
‘248 of the National Health Service Act 2006 or section 187 of the National Health Service (Wales) Act 2006)’.—[Mr. Dhanda.]
Clause 44, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Clause 45 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 46

Orders and regulations
Amendments made: No. 175, in clause 46, page 29, line 30, at end insert—
‘( ) by order under section 14(3B)(b),’.
No. 176, in clause 46, page 29, line 30, at end insert—
‘( ) by order under section 18(8),
( ) in regulations under section 19(4)(f),’.—[Mr. Dhanda.]
Clause 46, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Clause 47 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Schedules 5 and 6 agreed to.
Clauses 48 to 50 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 51

Short title
Mr. Dhanda: I beg to move amendment No. 177, in clause 51, page 30, line 29, leave out subsection (2).
Subsection (2), which deals with charges, was inserted in the Bill in the other place. It preserves the constitutional convention that the other place does not pass legislation that authorises the imposition of charges or the levying of taxation. We now need to go through the technicality of removing it.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause 51, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

New Clause 1

Information sharing protocol
The Secretary of State shall issue guidance on information sharing arrangements between police forces and local authorities for the purposes of the protection of children and vulnerable adults under this Act.’.—[Annette Brooke.]
Brought up, and read the First time.
Annette Brooke: I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.
I am pleased that we have reached the new clauses. In many ways they make probing points. New clause 1 would require the Secretary of State to develop guidance on creating a national information sharing protocol between police forces and local authorities. Although the Bichard inquiry has the higher profile, two other influential reports were produced following the Soham tragedy. One was by Sir Ronnie Flanagan; the other was the serious case review by Sir Chris Kelly. It is the latter to which I shall refer.
In his report, Sir Chris Kelly recommended formal information-sharing protocols between the police and child protection agencies. That recommendation is important relative to the flow of information under the Bill. There will clearly be situations in which information does not meet the criteria for referral under clause 31, so it will still be important to share information with the police to feed possible future disclosures to the IBB under part 1 of the Police Act 1997.
Sharing information and building up a picture may be relevant in connection with individuals who later seek work with children. We want a proper protocol from the word go. Some of it will be soft information, and it is difficult to know how that is to be handled. We know from the Soham tragedy that there were many bits of information about Huntley but that they were never pulled together.
I hope that the Minister will give a full response, as what the new clause seeks is comparable with the approach taken in “Every Child Matters”.
Mr. Dhanda: I shall try to give the full response that the hon. Lady seeks. New clause 1 would impose a duty on the Secretary of State to issue guidance to police forces and local authorities on sharing information for the purposes of safeguarding children and vulnerable adults. It is an important area of practice, but it is covered in existing guidance.
“Working Together to Safeguard Children” explains the circumstances in which information needs to be shared in the course of action being taken to safeguard children. “Information sharing: practitioner’s guide” provides practitioners across all children’s services with clear guidance on when and how they can share information legally and professionally. The two guidance documents were published in April 2006, and together they provide an effective framework for sharing information between local authorities, police forces, health organisations and others.
3.30 pm
Significant progress has also been made on implementing the recommendations aimed at improving police management of information contained in the Bichard report. Regular progress reports have been provided to Parliament. Guidance to the police on information management and sharing was issued in March under the code of practice on police information management. Police and local authorities will also have regard to the guidance in “Working Together to Safeguard Children”.
Under the circumstances, we do not believe that further guidance is required at present. I therefore ask the hon. Lady to withdraw the motion.
Annette Brooke: I can quite see the point of existing guidance. My one concern is what will trigger further changes. Perhaps lacking at the moment is the trigger for work to be done on such protocols. The advantage of having something in the Bill is that it would focus the mind on the need for continual monitoring and revising in this important area. I am happy to withdraw motion.
Motion and clause, by leave, withdrawn.

New Clause 2

Power of other organisations to refer to IBB
‘(1) Any organisation may provide IBB with any prescribed information they hold relating to a person if the first and second conditions are satisfied.
(2) The first condition is that the organisation thinks—
(a) that paragraph (1), (2), (6) or (7) of Schedule 2 applies to the person,
(b) that the person has engaged in relevant conduct (within the meaning of paragraph (4) or (9) of Schedule 2) occurring after the commencement of this section, or
(c) that the harm test is satisfied.
(3) The harm test is that the person may—
(a) harm a child or vulnerable adult,
(b) cause a child or vulnerable adult to be harmed,
(c) put a child or vulnerable adult at risk of harm,
(d) attempt to harm a child or vulnerable adult, or
(e) incite another to harm a child or vulnerable adult.
(4) The second condition is that the organisation thinks—
(a) that the person is engaged or may engage in regulated activity or controlled activity, and
(b) (except in a case where paragraph (1), (2), (6) or (7) of Schedule 2 applies) that IBB may consider it appropriate for the person to be included in a barred list.
(5) For the purposes of paragraphs (2)(b) or (c), it is immaterial whether there is a finding of fact in any proceedings.
(6) An organisation may provide IBB with any prescribed information they hold relating to a person if—
(a) an organisation thinks that a person has engaged in relevant conduct (within the meaning of paragraph 4 or 9 of Schedule 2) occurring before the commencement of this section, and
(b) the condition in subsection (4) is satisfied.’.—[Annette Brooke.]
Brought up, and read the First time.
 
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Prepared 17 July 2006