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"Where a child is looked after by a local authority they shall, in such manner as the Secretary of State may prescribe—
(a) safeguard and promote his welfare (which shall, in the exercise of their duty to him, be their paramount concern)".

There is a Government amendment to extend the definition of children "looked after" by local authorities, and so Clause 17, including the requirement for the local authority to regard the child's welfare as its paramount concern, will reach all the appropriate children. The amendment proposed to Clause 16 seems altogether too general and could lead to some confusion.

I hope that the approach proposed in the Bill—placing in Clause 17 a specific duty on local authorities in relation to the children whom they look after—is a more appropriate way to deal with the situation. Indeed, I believe it entirely meets the concerns of the noble Baroness.

Baroness Faithfull: I thank the Minister for his reply, but I should like to state that I cannot speak for Scotland, only to what is happening in England. I think that it is generally agreed that in England there is concern that because we have had so many difficult cases before the courts very often social workers are concentrating, and local authorities have felt themselves needing to concentrate, on children in care who have suffered difficulties as a result of, perhaps, the staff in a children's home, and so on. I want to emphasis the need to prevent these children from coming into care and also to prevent them having to be in residential care. In some cases that has to be, but unless the social services, the social workers and the directors of social work realise that it is of paramount importance that the children in the community should be cared for, we shall have some real difficulties. I thank the Minister and will consider what he said.

Lord Macaulay of Bragar: I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

5.15 p.m.

Lord Macaulay of Bragar had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 26:

Page 13, line 11, leave out ("the circumstances mentioned in subsection (4) below") and insert ("making a decision or determination under or by virtue of this Part of this Act").

The noble Lord said: This is one of a series of amendments, Amendments Nos. 26 to 31, all relating to Clause 16. Having heard what the Minister has said, I should like to have another look at them. Unless the noble Earl, Lord Mar and Kellie, wishes to move them, I do not intend to do so.

[Amendment No. 26 not moved.]

[Amendments Nos. 27 to 31 not moved.]

Clause 16 agreed to.

Clause 17 [Duty of local authority to child looked after by them]:

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Lady Saltoun of Abernethy moved Amendment No. 32:

Page 14, line 10, leave out ("looked after") and insert ("cared for").

The noble Lady said: This group of amendments falls basically into two halves. The first half comprises Amendment No. 32 and the consequential amendments to it, which are Nos. 34, 35, 38, 40, 81, 83, 84, 88, 91 and 92, and the other half comprises Amendment No. 70 and those amendments consequential upon it, Amendments Nos. 71, 72, 74 to 80 and 82.

The point of Amendment No. 32 is that it would restore the requirement on local authorities to provide the care and good parenting which has been the position in the distinctive system operating in Scotland since 1948. The amendment would replace the lesser duty implied by the words "looked after" which have been hastily imported from the Children Act 1989.

There is currently a deficit in the Bill with regard to children defined as being in need of care, both in the provisions of Clause 22(1)(a), (b) and (c) which relate to voluntary care with the agreement of the child's parents or carer, and in Clause 48(2)(c), which relates to compulsory care through the children's hearings system. The amendment would actually serve to provide such children with the care which they require rather than the lesser status and duty implied by the term "looked after child".

The Government stated that the term "looked after" was a generic term to cover voluntary care, respite care, compulsory care and the care of 16 and 17 year-olds in regard to whom a duty to provide care and accommodation did not previously exist. I do not know why they preferred "looked after" to "cared for". I think there was a feeling that a stigma attached to having been "in care". If so, the same stigma will very soon attach itself to being "looked after", and what an awkward mouthful "a looked after child" is compared with "a child in care".

It can clearly be argued that even in the cases of respite care and 16 and 17 year-olds who request and are readmitted to a children's unit, those forms of accommodation will only be offered where it is felt that the child or young person concerned requires an element of care, whether due to a parent's inability to offer such care or because the young person concerned is deemed too immature or unable for other reasons to survive on his or her own in the community.

Local authorities will welcome the positive parenting role and responsibilities which are implied in the concept of caring. In comparison, the term "looked after" clearly implies a lesser duty, albeit that that was not the Government's stated intention. The word "care" itself has synonyms such as nurture, foster, like, love, nurse, protect, tend, watch over, all of which terms appropriately describe the needs of children who do not live with their own parents. To "look after" implies more tasks such as chaperoning, guarding, keeping an eye on, minding, supervising, watching over. When local authorities set out the duties and training for residential care staff, it will be extremely important that those staff are clear that they will be expected to care for, and not simply look after, the children for whom

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they have responsibility. I am afraid that too often in the past looking after is all they have got, and sometimes not very much of that. Primary legislation should therefore be set out in such a way as to leave no room for doubt on the matter.

The effect of Amendment No. 70 and consequent amendments is that the inherent deficit in the Bill as it stands will be corrected; namely, a child or young person described in Clause 32(1)(a), (b) and (c) as in need of care and accommodation should not simply be provided with accommodation without the element of care also required. A study of the clause as it stands shows up the dissonance between a child in need of care, as defined in Clause 22(1) (a), (b) and (c), who is simply offered accommodation by a local authority. A baby cannot simply be placed in bed and breakfast accommodation. Surely, it is accepted that such a child, like all other children defined by the clause, requires a care element in addition to any accommodation provided by the local authority. Hence the proposed term "care and accommodation" neatly clarifies those two important elements.

Clause 17(6) would also more appropriately define a child cared for by a local authority as a child for whom it is providing care and accommodation. I beg to move.

The Earl of Mar and Kellie: I support Amendment No. 32 and the others. The term "looked after" sounds a little too casual; it does not really describe what is taking place. Most parents would agree that they care for their children and that looking after them is part of meeting their day to day needs. A child minder also looks after a child for a brief period. I hope that the more serious terminology of the amendment can be adopted.

Baroness Faithfull: I too support the amendment. A number of single parent mothers feel that they must get out. However, they find that they cannot leave because there is no one to look after the child. Often, they bring in a young child as a child sitter while they are out. There was a very serious case a little while ago where a mother actually said to the court, "I arranged for the child to be looked after" when the child was really being looked after by another child and therefore not being cared for. I strongly support the amendment.

The Earl of Balfour: I wonder whether this is the right thing to do. A parent cares for his or her children. Anyone else can really only look after them. They will not necessarily care for them with that love and affection which the word "care" brings to mind. I have thought a great deal about this amendment. I prefer the drafting of the Bill: it is rather safer if it goes to a court.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie: Before replying to the specific amendments, it may be useful if I set out the background to the terminology used throughout Part II of the Bill—but, first, the essential features of the new terminology. In setting out duties of local authorities towards children, Clause 17, as has been pointed out, uses the term "looked after". This is indeed a collective term which embraces children who are accommodated under Clause 22, children who are subject to a supervision requirement determined by a children's hearing, and children who are subject to a warrant or order under Part II of the Bill. The changes in

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terminology are aimed at clarifying responsibilities and rights in relation to children and removing uncertainties, not least for children and their parents, surrounding use of the expressions "care" and, in particular, "in care". Incidentally, I should say that the word "care" is not absent from the Bill; indeed, it is applied to children in the care of their parents. We think that this is right and in keeping with the policy conveyed in Part I about parental responsibilities and rights. In our view, this reinforces the need for us to reconsider the statutory definitions to be included in the part of the Bill which we are now considering, Part II, which brings in the duties and powers of public authorities towards certain children.

The words "in care" feature prominently in the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968. That Act, as I readily acknowledge, was a milestone in the development of children's legislation in Scotland, and it has served us well. It not only established social work departments as major components of Scottish local government but also introduced the children's hearings system. But it was also a product of its time. Twenty-seven years on, the social work departments have developed a considerable degree of expertise and the children's hearings system is held in high regard, but there is a growing awareness of the responsibilities and rights of parents, and also of the rights of children. It is therefore appropriate that the Bill should not only reflect the needs and expectations of the times but also build on the experiences of the past.

For both these reasons, the use of the term "in care" has been the subject of extended consideration. Some noble Lords will be aware that in this respect we are not breaking new ground. Ten years ago the Government published a Department of Health report entitled Review of Child Care Law, which concluded that the use of the term "care" in services designed to support families was,

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