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Lord Fraser of Carmyllie: I respond with gratitude to my noble friend. I trust that I am not investing too much hope in some of the projects that we are developing; we certainly want to approach them with all vigour and enthusiasm. If the outcome of all that is that fewer children have to be taken away from their home and held in secure accommodation, I think she will recognise that we will consider that to be a very considerable advance.

Lord Macaulay of Bragar: I am sure that those of us who live north of the Border are always grateful to receive plaudits from south of the Border, and I would endorse what the noble and learned Lord has said. As the Minister has made quite clear, we have a system—the children's hearing system—set up by the late Lord Kilbrandon, which is looked upon with world-wide regard. The Minister probably attends more of these things than I do, but people come from all over the world to see how the children's system is working. We are very proud of it, but that does not mean to say it is perfect.

With this amendment we are seeking to deal with "a little monster" in society, a person who slashes car tyres, who breaks car windows and who is out of control. What is the paramount consideration? I do not know where the word "paramount" comes from. I think it is an Americanism, but it is a horrible word. It does not mean anything, but anyway it is in the Bill. Where does paramountcy go in achieving the balance between society and the individual?

The problem with Clause 17(5) is that it does not tell the local authority what to do with the person. It says "You have all these duties under the Act but if this person is a little monster or a menace in the eyes of the local authority, do something with him". But it does not say what the local authority is to do with him. If I were advising a local authority on someone who had slashed all the car tyres down the street, what advice would I give to the local authority on disposal? There is nothing in the Bill; no guidelines are given except perhaps in subsection (7); but it does not seem to meet the problem. The local authority is just being landed on the one hand with looking at the paramountcy of the child's welfare, and then when the child gets out of control it is told "Just dump him".

That is not even provided for in Clauses 64 and 69. Clause 64 specifies that the children's hearing can arrange for secure accommodation. Clause 69 states that the Secretary of State can do so. While I agree with the Minister that a balance must be kept within society and that young people cannot get away with it all the time, on the other hand the local authorities have to have some guidelines set out for them as to where such young people can go. I am not sure whether these provisions ignore those of Clauses 64 and 69.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie: Perhaps the noble Lord might like to look at the inter-relationship of Clauses 16 and 17 again. The aim is not to leave the local authority

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abandoned and unclear about what it should do next. It is to give it a signpost as to what it should do next. In the circumstances set out in subsection (5), it is anticipated that the local authority will go to the children's hearing to see what would be the most appropriate disposal for that child. So we are not leaving local authorities without a clear view of what they should do. It would not be for them to take that decision anyway. As the noble Lord, Lord Macaulay, said when accepting the compliment from the noble Baroness, Lady Faithfull, it would be for our unique system of children's hearings to reach a decision.

Lord Macaulay of Bragar: Before the Minister sits down, the point I was making was: might it not be better to include in Clause 17 (5) a reference back to Clauses 64 and 69 so that local authorities know where to go? As the clause stands at the moment, they do not know where to go. Perhaps this is a matter that can be considered between now and Report stage. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 37 and 38 not moved]

The Deputy Chairman of Committees: If Amendment No. 39 is agreed to, I cannot call Amendments Nos. 40 and 41.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie moved Amendment No. 39:


Page 15, line 2, leave out from ("child") to end of line 11 and insert—
("(a) for whom they are providing accommodation under section 22 of this Act;
(b) who is subject to a supervision requirement and in respect of whom they are the relevant local authority ("relevant local authority" having the meaning given by section 65(3) of this Act);
(c) who is subject to an order made, or authorisation or warrant granted, by virtue of Chapter 2, 3 or 4 of this Part of this Act, being an order, authorisation or warrant in accordance with which they have responsibilities as respects the child; or
(d) who is subject to an order in accordance with which, by virtue of regulations made under section 29(1) of this Act, they have such responsibilities.").

The noble and learned Lord said: This amendment is essentially of a minor and technical nature, intended to offer yet further helpful clarification of the definition of a child who is looked after by a local authority. This is part and parcel of the new terminology which we have discussed and I hope that noble Lords who have been concerned about this particular piece of phraseology are encouraged by how clearly it is now expounded upon for them.

The Earl of Balfour: This is certainly helpful to me. I know that I have raised a few questions on that point, but I am happy to accept the amendment.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 40 and 41 not moved]

Clause 17, as amended, agreed to.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove moved Amendment No. 42:


After Clause 17, insert the following new clause:

Local authorities to provide independent person to advise children

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(" .—(1) Section 5B of the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968 shall be amended as follows.
(2) After subsection (4) there shall be inserted the following subsections—
"(4A) The local authority shall ensure that any child looked after by a local authority shall have access to an independent person to provide advice and support and, if the child wishes, make representations on the child's behalf.
(4B) In subsection (4A) above, an independent person shall mean a person who is not employed by the local authority or the establishment providing care or foster care.
(4C) In this section, a child who is "looked after" by a local authority, is to a child for whom they are providing accommodation under section 22, or under any provision of Chapter 2 of Part II, of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 or in respect of whom either they have been granted a parental responsibilities order or have rights and obligations under an order which, by virtue of regulations made under section 101 of the Children Act 1989, has effect as if it were a parental responsibilities order.".").

The noble Lord said: The purpose of this amendment is that it gives children in local authority care who wish to make a complaint the right to an independent advocate. Who the advocate would be is not specified, but that person could be drawn from a range of sources, for instance, from safeguarders or voluntary organisations representing children. The amendment is a specific request from young people who have been in care who wish to have someone they perceive as independent from the children's homes.

Perhaps I may make a few observations from an explanation that has been provided by some of those children. They want to know who cares. The Who Cares? organisation in Scotland represents, and is composed of, young people with experience of care. We sometimes forget that there is a big resource out there if we are willing to dig in and take the trouble to find out. They say:


"When you are living in a Children's Home, it is very difficult to make a complaint in confidence to a member of staff. Staff are bound by the procedures of the local authority and may have to report issues to their line managers." If anything happened which was difficult, and made life in the institution rather difficult, anyone who had not passed up a complaint to their line manager would be in serious trouble. Therefore, you are asking the line manager to take a very serious step.

A young person living in a home might have a complaint about the way a decision about sanctions was arrived at, if he had pocket money withdrawn or had leave denied. If the person arriving at that decision was the head of the home, who would the young person complain to? The young person might get on very well with his or her key workers, but would feel inhibited from going to the key worker as he or she is accountable to the head of the home. In extreme cases abuse—physical, sexual or emotional—may be taking place within the residential setting. Who, then, does the young person go to, because that is a very serious matter to approach anyone with? If he approaches a member of staff, will he be believed? Who will deal with the complaint?

Many young people have frequently stated that they wish to have access to someone outside the social work department or, at the very least, someone who is

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independent of the particular children's unit, to act as an adviser and to be advocate in these situations I understand that the overall opinion of young people with experience of care is that access to independent advice can also act as a safety valve. Not all contacts with independent agencies will lead to formal complaints or advocacy being undertaken, but it may offer the young person another avenue to check out his rights, legally or as stated in policy, or to sound out information.

It must be within all our experiences that if, for some reason or another, we thought our parents in the past when we were much younger were overdoing something in whatever way—such as withholding pocket money—most of us had someone to go to, such as a grandmother or grandfather. There must be some person outside who is still part of the caring society that you are associated with, who can speak to those who have the authority to try to get to the bottom of a problem and perhaps come back and say, "I have done it. They know about it and they will take care"; or, "This was the reason they stopped your pocket money". It is quite important that young people should not feel isolated and not able to make any sort of complaint at all. I beg to move.


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