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Lord Macaulay of Bragar: I was interested to hear that dissertion and I shall read it with care in Hansard because it is a very complicated issue. I have no doubt that the counsel who gave the opinion will also read the Minister's observations with care and we may come back for another shot at it. The whole of this Committee is agreed that we must be very careful to protect the system of the children's hearing, but within that context we still have to protect the rights of the child within the European Convention. I shall read with some care what the Minister has said. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie moved Amendment No. 134:


Page 35, line 8, leave out from ("hearing") to end of line 16 and insert ("continuing a child protection order under section 55(4) of this Act.").

The noble and learned Lord said: Clause 47 at present restricts the numbers of decisions of a children's hearing which can be the subject of an appeal to the sheriff. To allow a right of appeal in a wider range of circumstances, and to meet European Court of Human Rights obligations, it seems appropriate to remove those restrictions so that all children's hearing decisions can be appealed against. The exception is a hearings decision to extend a child protection order, which is already subject to its own separate appeals provision. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 47, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 48 [Children requiring compulsory measures of supervision]:

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy moved Amendment No. 135:


Page 35, line 20, leave out ("supervision") and insert ("care").

The noble Lady said: In moving Amendment No. 135 I beg leave to speak also to Amendments Nos. 138, 139, 143, 150 and 156. These amendments would allow children dealt with by the children's hearing system to benefit from "compulsory measures of care" as opposed to "compulsory measures of supervision", as the Kilbrandon Report recommended.

Many children referred to the children's hearing system are in need of care and protection. Some may remain in care through the children's hearing for longer than they have in the past due to the proposed extended

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systems of appeal. Supervision does not mean care and care must form part of the provision offered to children in residential and secure accommodation. Two of the Government's reports, the Skinner Report and Scotland's Children recommend that a child should receive "good basic care" when in residential accommodation.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton stated in Committee in another place that he wanted the Children (Scotland) Bill to harmonise with the Children Act 1989 in England. However, when the term "in the care of" disappears from Scottish legislation, the same term remains in the Children Act, in relation to care orders, in both Sections 22 and 31. These amendments would achieve greater harmony, if that is what the Government want. I beg to move.

The Earl of Lindsay: The purpose of these amendments moved by the noble Lady, Lady Saltoun, is similar to that the Committee considered yesterday in relation to Clause 17. During that debate my noble and learned friend Lord Fraser suggested that the use of the "care" terminology has contributed to the uncertainties about where the responsibilities for children lie when they are the subject of local authority care. The same uncertainties arise where children are subject to supervision requirements—and they are confusing for children and their parents.

The vast majority of children subject to supervision requirements live at home, where they are cared for by their parents. The local authority's role will largely, if not wholly, be one of supervision. The revised terminology more accurately reflects the essential effect of the requirement—that is, supervision.

Even where the child is not living at home, it is expected that the parents will continue to have significant responsibilities over the child and exercise them. In this respect the position is similar to a child who is "accommodated" by the local authority, and the same arguments already advanced in favour of the revised terminology will therefore also apply.

I do stress to the noble Lady that we are seeking the greater harmony which she referred to, but we are convinced that this is the right way to approach the subject. On that basis I hope the noble Lady will feel able to withdraw her amendment.

The Earl of Mar and Kellie: Before the noble Earl sits down, may I add, at the risk of re-opening it, to this debate on terminology? It occurs to me that we need a new word for those children who are looked after on a voluntary basis, which would currently come under Clause 15. We need a new name for them as opposed to those who are on compulsory measures.

The Earl of Lindsay: I think we already have a new name—it is "accommodated".

5.45 p.m.

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy: I have to say that I cannot see that this does in fact achieve greater harmony with the Children Act. I am not really very happy about where the children are in residential and secure accommodation. However, having said that, I beg leave

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to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The Earl of Lindsay move Amendment No. 136:


Page 35, line 25, leave out from ("any") to end of line 28 and insert ("relevant person").

The noble Earl said: This is a technical amendment. The clause as currently drafted details those to whom the provisions apply or do not apply. As the term "relevant person" is already defined within the Bill and includes those to whom the provision applies, it is easier to refer to "relevant person" for this purpose. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed.

[Amendment No. 137 not moved.]

Clause 48, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 49 [Provision of information to the Principal Reporter]:

[Amendments Nos. 138 and 139 not moved.]

Clause 49 agreed to.

Clause 50 [Reference to the Principal Reporter by court]:

[Amendment No. 140 not moved.]

The Earl of Lindsay moved Amendment No. 141:


Page 37, line 24, after ("shall") insert ("—
(a) make such investigation as he thinks appropriate; and
(b) if he considers that compulsory measures of supervision are necessary,").

The noble Earl said: This is the amendment to which we intended to refer, and is connected to Amendment No. 140, tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Macaulay. The noble Lord's amendment sought to introduce the reporter's discretion to decide whether or not a child should be referred to a children's hearing rather than placing on him an obligation to do so if the child is referred to him by a court considering a family matter.

It has the same purpose as the amendment I am now moving to Clause 50, which clarifies the situation and allows the reporter to make enquiries and obtain reports before exercising his discretion over whether or not the child should be referred to a children's hearing. I beg to move.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove: In the temporary absence of my noble friend, Lord Macaulay of Bragar, I have looked at this carefully and it seems as though there is a great deal of semantics in the Bill generally. I believe that Amendment No. 141 probably makes things marginally a little more clear than the amendment that was tabled by my noble friend.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 50, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 51 [Child assessment orders]:

The Earl of Balfour moved amendment No. 142:


Page 37, line 32, after ("authority") insert ("or Principal Reporter").

The noble Earl said: The purpose of the amendment is to bring in the principal reporter as well as the local authority. It is a matter that concerns me in various following parts of the Bill. I regret to say that I have not

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been able to write to my noble friend about Chapter 3 onwards. As the principal reporter is mentioned in the previous clause I suggest that it is included in Clause 51. I beg to move.

The Earl of Mar and Kellie: Perhaps I may support the amendment. It is a fact that the reporter system can receive information from anyone; it does not have to come from the local authority.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie: The child assessment order is a new provision introduced in the Bill. At present, if a local authority has reason to suspect—having information from any sources, as the noble Earl points out—that a child is being neglected or is failing to thrive, it may not be able to see the child in order to assess the situation because the relevant person will not allow the authority access to the child. This clause introduces a facility whereby the authority may apply for a child assessment order to ensure that it is able to assess the child's needs and to assess whether there is any need for compulsory measures of supervision.

I would tell my noble friend Lord Balfour that it would not be appropriate to extend this order to the principal reporter for this reason. Referrals to the principal reporter should only be on the basis that there is reasonable cause to believe that the child is in need of compulsory measures of supervision. The assessment order is very much an investigative measure and rightly falls on the local authority, which is charged with that responsibility under Clause 49. In other words, they have separate functions and the function that is imposed upon the local authority comes at a prior investigative stage. It is for that reason that the principal reporter is not included within it.

With that explanation, I hope that the noble Earl will withdraw his amendment.


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