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Essentially, he has indicated that this amendment is unnecessary in practice. I understand the concept and value of the responsible local authority. That is an extremely important concept. I understand that a local authority other than the responsible authority which provides support to an estranged youngster can claim reimbursement from the responsible local authority. What I term the missing piece of the jigsaw is the absence--at least as I saw it--of a specific duty on the second authority to provide the assistance.
The Minister suggested that there is already a duty in Section 17 of the Children Act. If he is right, it is doubly extraordinary that so many local authorities are not taking any notice of that duty. As I said, I shall study very carefully what the Minister said. I recognise that he has tried to be as helpful as he can. Between now and Third Reading I shall decide whether this is an issue to which we should return. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
The noble Baroness said: My Lords, this amendment seeks to add the words "and Young Persons" to the Title of the Bill. I feel that this Bill is so important as we are dealing with the most vulnerable group of young people in our society, people who have been discarded by their families for a variety of reasons. Many of them will have been abused or have seen their mothers abused or unable to cope.
For many years I served on the board of visitors of a young offenders' institution. The young people concerned were between the ages of 15 and 21. About 40 per cent came from care. They were often institutionalised. Many of them had returned after discharge, having found the outside world too difficult to cope with and fallen into crime. Without support and interested people to keep such young people on the right road, that will continue to happen.
Many of the people whom the Bill sets out to help will be late developers. The support for many may continue under the pathway plans until they are 21. A person of 18, 19 or 20 is not a child. Such a person might feel insulted to be covered by a Bill entitled Children (Leaving Care), when the help is ongoing after they are no longer children. Local authorities may find a loophole by saying that the Bill is for children. How would that stand up in court?
The part which I cannot see, however--this is where the amendment of the noble Baroness, Lady Masham, seems to be entirely with merit--is why we cannot simply change the title of the Bill. In his letter, the Minister wrote,
The Earl of Listowel: My Lords, I wonder whether the Minister will reconsider the matter. There is to be a "Take a child to work" day fairly soon. Care leavers will be coming to this House. It was originally to be called the "Take a care leaver to work" day, but the cared for children were then asked how they felt about it and they said that they did not really want such a stigma attached to them. The term "care leaver" sadly often carries a stigma with it. This is a similar kind of issue; are we going to infantilise those young people? I hope that the Minister will be able to think again about the issue.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I have thought again. Of course, I understand the substantive points which the noble Lords and the noble Baroness have made in their remarks. I think I would just draw a distinction between the terminology used in the Bill and the Title and the action that has to take place in the field to make sure that we provide the right kind of services. I should like to suggest that, whatever the Title is, the key issue for us is ensuring that young people and children get the kind of services that we want them to get, to ensure that they have a much better start to their lives.
Perhaps I may just go through the reasoning behind the Short Title of the Bill. The Children (Leaving Care) Bill amends the Children Act 1989 and, as your Lordships will know, as we have struggled at times to relate the provisions of this Bill to those of the Act, it
I know the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, said it might be worth some inconvenience to make the change, but for people outside Parliament who do have to consult legislation, it behoves us to make that legislation as clear as possible. I know those are sentiments which many of your Lordships have expressed when various Bills have been discussed in your Lordships' House. Section 105 of the Children Act gives the definitions of terms used within it. Those are the definitions that we need to use in the Bill. The definition of a child is a person under the age of 18 and the Bill is consistent with that definition. Where the Children Act itself is concerned with powers and duties in respect of those aged 18 and above, as in Section 24, it refers to a "person". We have reproduced that terminology in the Bill's restatement of Section 24.
Outside the legislation, of course, we have much more freedom with the language. The audience for the legislation itself and its Title is likely to be comparatively narrow. However, there will be a much wider and more varied readership for the guidance in other documentation that will shape and accompany implementation. I want to reassure the noble Baroness particularly that, in producing that documentation, we will take particular care with the tone and language that is used.
Turning specifically to the Short Title of the Bill, the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, quoted from a letter that I sent to him. He said he was not persuaded. I must say that I was completely persuaded by the logic of my arguments. The point is that the Short Title of the Bill serves for indexing purposes. We need to signal clearly that the Bill before us belongs with and amends the
The noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, as a lawyer, can find his way through these things but I know that in my previous life I found working my way through these indexes very difficult. I think we should have a little bit of sympathy with those people in the field who have to find their way through this. For that reason I think it is unreasonable to change the Short Title. However, in saying that, I want to assure the noble Baroness that I have taken account of what she said and I shall want to ensure that the language that accompanies the Bill will be sensitive to the points she has raised.
I tried to count in the previous amendment how many times the Minister spoke of "young people". He mentioned "young people" so many times that I lost count. I feel even more strongly that the Bill should have the words "young people" in its title. I do not want to do away with the word "children", but the Minister said "young people" on so many occasions that I believe he is trying to pull in the bad and the slack local authorities which may opt out of dealing with the 18, 19 and 20 year-olds. Therefore, before the next stage I shall get together with the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones--a small and dedicated group--and carefully read what the Minister has said. We may return to this point. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.