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Lord Jenkin of Roding: Before the noble Lord withdraws his amendment, perhaps I may say that I endorse everything he said. I listened with the greatest care to the Minister's reply. He gave five safeguards that the Government believe they have built into the Bill. With the greatest respect to the Minister, if he again examines them, he will see that they do not begin to answer the case made by the noble Lord, Lord Phillips.

The noble Lord referred to a provisional list. There must be some form of suspension pending the necessary full inquiry. That seems to be the way ahead here. I understand the case the Government make: that if someone has a serious accusation made against him, he should not be able to rush off and get another job. There should be the equivalent to a suspension which indicates that there is a question mark; so let us examine this fully. A full examination must include oral hearings and the opportunity to hear witnesses for both sides. One has seen that in many disciplinary hearings in the public sector: the National Health Service, local government and elsewhere. If, at the conclusion of that, it is decided that there has been misconduct (or whatever is the trigger), one puts the individual on the black list, saying, "This person has shown himself completely unsuitable for work in this kind of environment. He may not get another job in this environment". That is such a condign penalty that it must occur only after proper procedures.

If this House has performed no other purpose, it has exposed the dangers that lie in Clause 71. It covers pages of the statute book and yet one can imagine the opportunities almost for blackmail: "We'll get you". One knows of such attitudes in some rather closed communities where there are bad relations, and so on. This kind of weapon could be a form of legal bullying of a very unpleasant kind. Proper protection has to be built in.

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I hope that the Minister will be a little more forthcoming and recognise that he seeks to defend the indefensible.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 143B to 144C not moved.]

Clause 71 agreed to.

Clause 72 [Employment agencies and businesses: duty to refer]:

[Amendment No. 145 not moved.]

Clauses 72 agreed to.

Clause 73 agreed to.

Clause 74 [Applications for removal from list]:

Earl Howe moved Amendment No. 146:

    Page 45, line 46, after ("70") insert ("or section 1 of the 1999 Act").

The noble Earl said: During the passage of the Protection of Children Act last year, I argued that there may well be circumstances in which the imposition of a lifetime's ban on working with children was unjust and inappropriate. The sorts of circumstances that I considered fell into that category were those where an individual had harmed a child or placed a child at risk of harm, not out of any malice but out of gross incompetence arising from, say, youthful inexperience. The initial verdict of misconduct could have been arrived at perfectly properly, but years later, when the individual might have grown up and perhaps brought up a young family of his or her own, it might well be appropriate to review the initial judgment that he or she was for ever unsuitable to work with children.

I thought that I detected at least some sympathy on the part of the Government with the arguments that I advanced, but it was, alas, not enough to convince them that the Bill should be amended in the way that I suggested. It was, therefore, with some pleasure that I noted the inclusion in this Bill of Clause 74, which enables an individual who has been included on the Secretary of State's list for at least 10 years as a result of past misconduct involving vulnerable adults to apply to the tribunal to have his or her name removed from the list and thereby effectively to rehabilitate himself or herself. This provision, for me, provides a considerable counterweight to my political and ethical concerns over granting a right to the state to debar an individual from being employed in a particular field for the rest of his or her life, regardless of circumstances.

We must bear in mind that, as the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, has graphically reminded us, the procedure by which an individual has his or her name confirmed on the list in the first instance is not a judicial one; it is an administrative one. In my view, there really must be a judicial or quasi-judicial means of appeal against the Secretary of State's decision, first, for those who consider that their names have been wrongly included in the list from the outset, and, secondly, for those whose subsequent conduct has demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that they no longer pose a threat to vulnerable adults. Both such types of appeal are allowed for in the Bill.

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However, the Protection of Children Act does not contain any provision parallel to that in this clause. My amendment seeks to rectify that. I cannot see any difference in principle between the rights of individuals blacklisted under this Bill and the rights of those blacklisted under the Protection of Children Act. It appears from the clause that the Government consider there to be good reasons for allowing a means of appeal for those who feel that they should be redeemed or rehabilitated. I shall be glad to hear from the Minister what those reasons are. I hope that he will go on to tell me that the Government are prepared to take a second look at the issue as it relates to the Protection of Children Act. I beg to move.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury: I should like briefly to identify myself with everything that the noble Earl, Lord Howe, said in moving the amendment. I would just add that the circumstances in which teachers can have themselves taken off the barring list under their regulations are a good deal more generous than those included in this clause, even with the amendment we are now discussing. One of the things the Government might like to do before Report is to consider introducing the wider scope of the teachers' regulations into the provisions in this Bill.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: I am grateful to the noble Earl, Lord Howe, for raising this matter. He is quite right: we had a very good debate on it at the Report stage of consideration of the Protection of Children Bill. I very much accept the general point of principle that he has made. However, the Government would prefer to use an alternative mechanism to reach the same point.

On 25th January 1999, the report of an interdepartmental working group on preventing unsuitable people working with children and on abuse of trust in relation to children was placed in the Libraries of both Houses. The report set out mechanisms for preventing unsuitable people working with children and its recommendations included a review mechanism under which a person banned from working with children could seek to have the ban lifted. Such an application for renewal would fall to a tribunal set up under the Protection of Children Act and would be available only 10 years after the imposition of the ban or the release from prison, whichever is later; at 10-year intervals thereafter; and should be available only if the banned individual can demonstrate exceptional circumstances why the ban should be removed.

The Government have accepted the broad principles of those recommendations, including a review mechanism for those banned from working with children. They have decided that they would like to implement those proposals through the crime and protection Bill, which was announced in the Queen's Speech and will be introduced in this Session. I hope that that meets the noble Earl's concern and that he will consider withdrawing his amendment.

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10.45 p.m.

Earl Howe: I thank the Minister for that answer which is a welcome response to my concerns. It is a pity that during the passage of the Protection of Children Bill the Government were not able to be more accommodating. I am not sure why that was; perhaps they had not completed their deliberations. However, there would have been an opportunity for them to hasten their deliberations in view of the strength of feeling then expressed. Nevertheless, the main point is to reached the desired position, and I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 74 agreed to.

Clause 75 [Effect of inclusion list]:

[Amendment No. 146A not moved.]

Lord Phillips of Sudbury moved Amendment No. 146B:

    Page 46, line 25, at end insert--

("(4) The Secretary of State may by order add to the category of persons subject to this section.").

The noble Lord said: I must be frank in admitting that when I tried to construe Clause 75 I was not aware that the phrase "person who provides care" is defined in Clause 69(7). That definition is satisfactory in terms of the evil I tried to avoid in Amendment No. 146A. If the Government believe that there is virtue in the extra discretion given in Amendment No. 146B, I am happy to move it. I beg to move.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, for raising this matter. It is our intention to bring forward an amendment to create an appropriate power to extend the provisions of the scheme to include other services. I wonder whether on that basis the noble Lord will consider withdrawing his amendment.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury: I should be delighted to do so.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 75 agreed to.

Clauses 76 to 85 agreed to.

Clause 86 [Boarding schools: national minimum standards]:

[Amendment No. 147 not moved.]

Clause 86 agreed to.

Clauses 87 to 94 agreed to.

Clause 95 [Supplementary and consequential provision etc.]:

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