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The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Viscount St. Davids): If Amendment No. 62 is agreed to, I

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cannot call Amendment No. 63.

Clause 21 [Children affected by disability]:

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie moved Amendment No. 62:


Page 17, line 4, leave out from ("effect") to ("and") in line 5 and insert—
("on any—
(i) disabled child who is within the authority's area, of his disability; and
(ii) child who is within that area and is affected adversely by the disability of any other person in his family, of that other person's disability;").

The noble and learned Lord said: I am pleased to have been able to have tabled Amendment No. 62 in response to an undertaking given in another place. We think it is right that when a local authority is providing services for children affected by disability in their families, the services should be designed so as to minimise the effect of the family's member's disability on the child adversely affected by it and to give that child the opportunity to lead a life which is as normal as possible. Amendment No. 62 would ensure that that happened.

Amendment No. 66 would also ensure that the same definition of disability applies to both children and adults for the purposes of this clause. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 63 not moved]

The Earl of Mar and Kellie moved Amendment No. 64:


Page 17, line 5, after ("disabilities") insert ("or those of their family member,").

The noble Earl said: The aim of Amendment No. 64 is to put on the face of the Bill a duty on local authorities to take an active interest in, and give support to, those young people who are caring for other family members. These children are distinctly affected by the disability of others. For example, a 12 year-old boy may have many extra tasks placed on him at home because his mother is confined to a wheelchair. It is only reasonable that children who are patiently helping their immediate family members in this way should be recognised by the local authority and given every assistance. This could include access to respite services and day trips, which their disabled parent would have difficulty in organising and leading. I beg to move.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie: In view of the amendment I have moved, Amendment No. 62, it may be that the noble Earl in a position to move Amendment No. 64 when he could not move Amendment No. 63. Nevertheless, as I understand it, what he is seeking to do with Amendment No. 64 is effectively embraced within what I have introduced by way of Amendment No. 62. On that basis, I hope he will withdraw it.

The Earl of Mar and Kellie: I beg leave to withdraw.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The Earl of Mar and Kellie moved Amendment No. 65:


Page 17, line 8, leave out subsection (2) and insert—
("(2) For the purposes of this Act—

6 Jun 1995 : Column CWH58


(a) a child has a disability if he has a physical, mental, or sensory impairment which has a detrimental effect on his ability to carry out activities associated with the expected stage of children of a similar age without a disability;
(b) 'impairment' means any damage to or loss or absence of a physiological, psychological or anatomical function; and
(c) an adult has a disability if he has a physical, mental or sensory impairment which has a detrimental effect on his ability to carry out normal day to day activities, including the normal activities involved in caring for a child.")

The noble Earl said: In Amendment No. 65 I am aiming to update the terminology used in the Bill. The amendment gives a definition of a child who, according to the Bill, is chronically sick or disabled or suffers from mental disorder. The words in the amendment more accurately reflect current thinking about disability in children. It also has the merit of being more in line with the Disability Discrimination Bill.

In particular, the terminology of the Mental Health (Scotland) Act used in the Bill is fairly inappropriate when dealing with children. Few young children would be classed as mentally ill, although they might have emotional or behavioural problems. Furthermore, a clear diagnosis of a child's problem is often not made for several years. I beg to move.

The Earl of Balfour: I wonder whether I may put a question here. Some children suffer from tremendous activity which I am led to say can sometimes, particularly with homeopathic medicines, be helped quite considerably. They can, however, be the most awful problem children. In answering the question of the noble Earl, Lord Mar and Kellie, I wonder whether my noble and learned friend Lord Fraser of Carmyllie would consider these children who can have quite serious problems with this hyperactivity, as it is called. It is quite a well-known problem with children.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie: It certainly is known that there are children with such problems. Here we are seeking to replace the definition of a disabled child in Clause 21(2) and provide instead an extended and new definition. It was considered briefly, I understand, in another place, but it was not thought to be necessary to bring in a more detailed definition as the definition already in the Bill seemed to cover the types of disabilities relevant to the clause.

I can appreciate the temptation to introduce particular types of conditions within the definition of disability, but going down that road carries the risk that some specific condition, perhaps of the type to which the noble Earl is referring, may be omitted, which would have the effect of putting the child with that condition outside the definition of a disabled child. I have no doubt that none of your Lordships would wish that to happen.

The definition already provided in the Bill has, as I see it, the twin advantages of being flexible and also of being familiar to local authorities in that it is drawn from the Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act 1986. Before suggesting to the noble Earl that he should withdraw his amendment, I would repeat what I said in relation to Amendment No. 66, which would apply the definition in the Bill not only to a child but also to an adult.

6 Jun 1995 : Column CWH59

Baroness Faithfull: Perhaps I may seek some information from my noble and learned friend. If we are in the future to have small unitary authorities, will there be the level of expertise necessary over a wide range in one area for children with disabilities? I am thinking particularly of blindness, glaucoma and other disabilities. I do hope that it is going to be possible, despite the small authorities, to have that specialist help and advice for assessment and treatment of those children.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie: One would certainly be very concerned if there were to be children with these disabilities in any particular part of Scotland who, because they happened to live in a small unitary authority, would not be provided with the necessary specialist services. It may be that not each and every one of those new authorities will wish to provide the full range of specialist services but we certainly wish to ensure that and I believe there is no reason why they should not be provided in one form or another either by an adjoining local authority or by having resort to the independent or voluntary sector to provide them. After all, as the noble Baroness knows from her own experience, these specialist services are frequently provided throughout the United Kingdom not by the local authorities themselves but by their having access to either voluntary or other charitable organisations which can provide the services that are necessary.

The Earl of Mar and Kellie: The noble and learned Lord smiled at me when referring to small local authorities. Yes indeed there is a fair challenge for Clackmannanshire to provide these services and I believe it will be done by arrangement with others. May I also say to the noble Earl, Lord Balfour, that the problems of hyperactivity are definitely acute and that we have much more to learn about how hyperactivity is triggered off. On that basis, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie moved Amendment No. 66:


Page 17, line 8, leave out ("child") and insert ("person").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

The Earl of Mar and Kellie moved Amendment No. 67:


Page 17, line 11, leave out subsection (3) and insert—
("(3) A local authority may, if the parent or guardian of the child agree—
(a) combine an assessment carried out under section 61 of the Education (Scotland) Act 1980; or
(b) include in the assessment an assessment of need for services which the local authority could provide in the exercise of any of its powers and duties under the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987.
(3A) If, while they are carrying out their duty under subsection (3) of this section, it appears to a local authority that there may be a need for the provision to any person to whom that subsection applies of any service under the National Health Service (Scotland) Act 1978 by the Health Board—
(a) in whose area he is ordinarily resident; or
(b) in whose area the services to be supplied by the local

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authority are, or are likely to be provided,
the local authority shall so notify that health Board and invite them to participate in a joint assessment of the person's needs.
(3B) Where a local authority are making an assessment under this section and it appears to them that the person concerned is a disabled person, they shall—
(a) proceed to make such a decision as to the services he requires as is mentioned in section 4 of the Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act 1986 without his requesting them to do so under that section; and
(b) inform him that they will be doing so and of his rights under that Act.").

The noble Earl said: The purpose of this amendment is to clarify the purpose of the assessment procedure for children with disabilities and to promote a multi-disciplinary approach to the assessment of children with special needs. The amendment would allow the assessment of a disabled child to be co-ordinated with an educational assessment and also to consider the housing and health needs of the child.

At Committee stage, in another place, the Government opposed a similar amendment saying that it imported arrangements from community care assessments. In fact, the problem is that the Children (Scotland) Bill falls far short of the National Health Service and Community Care Act 1990 in creating a clear framework and purpose for assessments.

This amendment might appear to make things more complicated for statutory agencies, but it would certainly make things a lot simpler for parents and children. Parents who submitted evidence to the consortium campaigning on the Bill clearly stated that disabled children already had too many assessments, including those for health needs, housing needs, education needs, and for entitlement to various welfare benefits. Simply adding another assessment is not going to help families. What is needed is for the agencies to work together to deliver a co-ordinated package of care with one agency taking lead responsibility.

The amendment would create the possibility of a one-stop assessment which would look at the needs of the whole child rather than perpetuating separate assessments which are primarily for the needs of the service agencies.

The amendment also rectifies another omission from the Bill, which is the failure to connect the new assessment procedure with the existing assessment procedure for disabled children, introduced by Section 4 of the Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act 1986. That section allows a disabled person, including a disabled child, to request an assessment of the person's needs under the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970. That is important because the 1970 Act created entitlements of great importance to many disabled children, including to help in the home, adaptations and holidays. Because that has not been linked with the new assessment procedure, it would be quite lawful for a social work department to carry out an assessment without considering those needs. Parents would be expected to know that they would have to request separate assessments under the Bill and under the 1986 Act. Not only is that unreasonable; it is different from the provision for adults. When an adult receives a

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community care assessment, the needs of the person under the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act must be considered without formal request.

I hope that the failure to make the link with the 1986 Act can be rectified to ensure that disabled children receive services to which they are legally entitled. I beg to move.

7.15 p.m.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie: In response to an earlier amendment which had a similar purpose behind it, I indicated that I had some sympathy with that essential intention; namely, the avoidance of unnecessary duplication of assessments.

However, I again doubt whether this is the way forward. What I would suggest is that the question of the avoidance of duplication of assessment should feature in the guidance that we shall be preparing following on the enactment of the Bill. The noble Earl certainly has my assurance that the desirability of what he argues for is effectively without question.


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