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Baroness Seear: The Minister gives the impression that the people making these judgments are perfect. I am most certainly not perfect and even the noble Lord is not. On occasions we all make mistakes. It is because we do that people must have safeguards in being able to say that there was just cause why what has been decided is wrong. It is against the minority decisions which are wrongly made that we need to have this safeguard. They may simply not have taken into account some aspect of the personality or physique of the youngster concerned when the judgment was made. The judgment may be wrong. The law has to recognise that we can all get it wrong.
Lord Swinfen: The Minister told the Committee how the system will operate and what the process is likely to be. In my view he has not answered the amendment. He has given no reason to the Committee why the words "without good cause" should not appear on the face of the Bill. There are many Acts of Parliament where similar words appear. They have gone through this House and the other place. I can see no reason why these words cannot be on the face of the Bill.
Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: I hate to tell the Committee, but I am only halfway through my observations on this matter. If my noble friend will give me the opportunity and then examine the point I am putting in its entirety, he may see why those words are not necessary. Dare I say to the noble Baroness who made the first intervention that the same applies to her? However, I should like to put on record some of the safeguards that exist because I appreciate that we are not perfect. I certainly would not like to test in the Division Lobbies the question of whether I was perfect. Indeed, I might not even manage to get all of my noble friends into the same Lobby as myself!
I should now like to return to the amendment, having picked up the point about the CAB. That was an example of where it was acknowledged that the person was wrongly placed. I hope that that will happen rarely, but I accept that, in the real world, it will happen on occasions. With JSA, we are introducing a new system of internal review which may take place before a direction is revoked on the ground that the young person has refused a suitable training place. The young person will be given the opportunity to request a re-examination of his case by the
If a young person is in a training place and is not happy with his trainerI have already mentioned this, but will have to do so again because I have been asked about ita number of courses of action are open to him. He can raise the question with his training provider. I concede, however, that the nature of his complaint may be such that the training provider may not be the best person with whom to do that. Failing that, the young person can raise the matter with the TEC which is, after all, responsible for ensuring that the places are provided, or he can raise the matter with the careers service. Again, the facts of the case will have to be looked into carefully and, if appropriate, the young person will have to be found another place.
But if the young person does leave a training place early and feels that he had good cause for doing so, he will be able to put his side of the case to the Employment Service. The circumstances of the case will be re-examined, and, where good cause is established, a certificate will be issued by the Secretary of State and a copy given to the young person. If he reapplies for severe hardship under JSA, the certificate will entitle him to receive the full amount. If, however, he does not have a certificate when he applies for a new direction, he will receive the reduced amount of benefit. But if he later gets a certificate, he can apply for a review, under the Social Security Administration Act, in order to get back the amount of the reduction already made.
I believe that, taken together, the youth training guarantee, backed up by the sanctions, safeguards and protections that I have described now and previously, represent a fair and balanced package of measures for young people. Therefore, I do not believe that we need to put any qualifying words into the Billwhether they be those suggested by the noble Baroness in this amendment or any others that she may prefer from the contributions that have been made. I do not think that we need to add such words to the Bill. With that explanation, I hope that the Committee and the noble Baroness will accept that there are safeguards, that they work, and that we do not need to put other words on the face of the Bill.
Baroness Williams of Crosby: Before we conclude this debate, perhaps I may ask the Minister about one point. He has dealt to some extent with some of our concerns, particularly with regard to the consideration that will be given by the Employment Service to objections raised by a young person about the hardship allowance being withdrawn.
However, I was interested that the Minister did not deal with the point that I tried to make about a difference in approach if the case goes all the way up to the Minister. If the words "without good cause" are included, the Minister will be obliged to consider whether there has been good reason for a young person leaving a training place. The Minister's arguments have essentially been that the Employment Service is judge and jury in its own cause. Many of us have great respect for the Employment ServiceI certainly dobut to be judge and jury in one's own cause does not meet the point that was made by my
Lord McCarthy: I am glad that we have now listened to the whole of the Minister's answer, but if he will not put something into the Bill, could he take something out of it or even think about doing so? What is so worrying about the Minister's refusal to include such provisions in the Bill is that the Bill states that such directions may be given,
or to a member of the Employment Service. I repeat that the words are "If it appears". The Minister says that many other things, such as suitability, will be taken into account, but that is below the line because the Bill simply states:
Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: I am not entirely sure that I understand that point. I cannot think of who else it must appear to other than the person having to make the decision. In most cases, that will be the official at the Department of Employment.
Lord McCarthy: The point is that it should appear to someone else besides the Minister. Most importantly, it should appear fair to the applicant. That is why the conditions and circumstances which the Minister actually takes into account should appear on the face of the Bill.
Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: The circumstances will be many and varied and I do not think that they can all appear on the face of the Bill because the question will depend rather upon the applicant and his aptitude, ability and circumstances. The case that we were considering related to disability and arthritis. However, it is also a question of the kind of training place that is provided. A place that is suitable for one person may not be suitable for another. It is a question of judgment.
I think that the system contains checks and balances that will ensure that in the limited number of circumstances where a young person refuses or leaves not only the first place but also a second place, he or she will have received plenty of warning about the consequences of that action. Indeed, I not only "think" that; I am confident that that will be the case. If the issue goes right up to ministerial level, Minsters will have to take all the same judgments into account as the officer, but will take a second look at the case. I am not sure to what extent things will get that far, but that sometimes happens through ministerial correspondence, as the noble Baroness will recall. One does have an opportunity to look at cases and one can ask questions if one is unhappy.
However, I think that that is a slightly different argument from the question of whether we need to add those words to the Bill. I am honestly not going to go to the stake on whether we need some qualifying words
Baroness Seear: Does not the Minister understand and accept that, with the best will in the world, the employment officer may misinterpret what he is being told? He may think, "This chap is just belly-aching" whereas the chap had appendicitis. A perfectly legitimate mistake would be made, but in the end it could be shown that the claimant had appendicitis and therefore had "good cause".
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