Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page


Earl Howe: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that very helpful and full reply. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

8.45 p.m.

Clause 31 [Arrangements which may only be made with a registered person]:

Baroness Barker moved Amendment No. 48:


The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I move this amendment with some reluctance if only because it comes before Amendment No. 49. Noble Lords will recall that at a previous stage of our discussions my noble friend Lord Clement-Jones and I made the point very strongly that the requirement to use only a registered domiciliary care service should not be restricted solely to local authorities and the NHS. I believe that Amendment No. 49 in the name of the Minister is greatly preferable as a way of seeking to achieve what we want. Therefore, with some reluctance I formally move this amendment. I beg to move.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for her warm welcome for what I am about to say. That does not happen too often. We had a very interesting discussion in Committee about the issue of domiciliary care agencies. I believe that the view of the Committee was that all such agencies should be regulated by the commission. At Committee stage I explained that the Government's intention was that in time all domiciliary care agencies would be required to register, but that for an initial period it would not be compulsory. However, for that period local authorities or NHS bodies would be required to place contracts only with registered providers. That is what Clause 31 provided.

28 Mar 2000 : Column 736

In the light of our discussions in Committee we have considered those arguments and decided to extend regulation to all agencies. That will mean that there will no longer be a transitional stage. All domiciliary care agencies, whether providing services to local authorities or to individuals, will be required by law to register. The requirements in Clause 10 will apply, which mean that it will be an offence for any person to carry on or manage a domiciliary care agency without being registered. Since the full registration requirements will be applied to domiciliary care agencies, there is then no reason to have Clause 31.

As the noble Baroness, Lady Barker, has conceded, I believe that in the light of my amendment there is no need for her to pursue her own. I am very pleased to have been able to make this change. I hope that it will be supported.

Earl Howe: My Lords, I do not know whether it is in order for me to speak after the Minister, but we are in a somewhat unusual situation with an amendment having been moved by the noble Baroness and a further amendment about to be moved by the Minister. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Minister for addressing the issue that I raised in Committee. I am most grateful.

Baroness Barker: My Lords, I echo the words of the noble Lord, Earl Howe. What the Minister is about to do is highly welcome. I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath moved Amendment No. 49:


    Leave out Clause 31.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 37 [Transfers of staff]:

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath moved Amendment No. 50:


    Leave out Clause 37, and insert the following new clause--

TRANSFERS OF STAFF UNDER PART II

(" .--(1) The appropriate Minister may by order make a scheme for the transfer to the new employer of any eligible employee.
(2) In this section--
"eligible employee" means a person who is employed under a contract of employment with an old employer on work which would have continued but for the provisions of this Part;
"new employer" means the registration authority;
"old employer" means a local authority or a Health Authority.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this group of amendments deals mainly with transfers of staff. Clause 37 allows the Government to transfer staff from local authorities and health authorities to the national care standards commission or, in Wales, the Assembly. The amendment to Clause 69 enables staff to be transferred from local authorities to the new arm of Ofsted or, in Wales, to the Assembly.

28 Mar 2000 : Column 737

The CCETSW is a body with UK-wide responsibilities and staff working in all four countries. Therefore, we have to make separate provision to ensure that CCETSW's staff can be transferred to the councils being established in England and Wales under the Bill, and to the equivalent bodies when they are established in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Therefore, we are amending Clause 67 to provide for the transfer of CCETSW's staff across the UK by Order in Council.

The new clause to be inserted after Clause 92 ensures that all these staff transfers will reflect the TUPE principle that staff transferred will do so on their existing terms and conditions. It replaces and expands the provisions in the existing Clause 37, and applies to all staff transfers made under the Bill, not just those made under Clause 37, as at present.

The amendments to Schedule 1 are related. They give the commission, the GSCC and the care council for Wales, the power to pay pensions and compensation such as redundancy payments to their staff. This is implicit in the Bill as it stands, but we would prefer to have it spelt out in order to give staff the maximum reassurance and protection. The intention is that staff who transfer to these new bodies will remain in their existing pension scheme, either the local government pension scheme for staff transferring from local authorities and CCETSW, or the NHS pension scheme for staff transferring from health authorities.

Perhaps I may take this opportunity to say more about these staff transfers because I am aware that they will affect the lives of a great many people who are naturally anxious to hear more about our plans.

In England, the national care standards commission will take over the regulation of social care services and private healthcare from local authorities and health authorities. We intend that all staff who are currently employed in the regulation of these services will transfer to the commission, be they heads of unit, inspectors or administrative staff. This is not a job-cutting exercise. We value the work of inspection unit staff, and we are keen to ensure that we retain their knowledge and expertise. Indeed, it is essential. I should like to give a further important reassurance, which is that all staff who transfer will do so on their existing terms and conditions.

Under Part IV of the Bill, there will be a transfer of statutory functions from the Central Council for Education and Training in Social Work (CCETSW) to the general social care council (GSCC). We intend that all England-based staff working in CCETSW who wish to transfer to the GSCC will be able to do so. Those staff who transfer to the GSCC will do so on their existing terms and conditions. This approach to transferring staff to the new council will assist the smooth transfer of the functions from the CCETSW to the GSCC and will establish the new council as an active body with suitably experienced staff to undertake the work.

28 Mar 2000 : Column 738

Perhaps I may now turn to the amendment to Clause 69. My noble friend Lord Bach said in Committee:


    "It is the Government's intention that local authority inspectors, managers and administrative staff will be given the opportunity to transfer to the new early years directorate, bringing with them their knowledge and experience".--[Official Report, 18/1/2000; col.1027.]

That amendment makes this commitment a reality. It is essential that the best of the existing system is maintained in the new one. Again, Ofsted does not have hundreds of staff who are suddenly able to transfer from other activities in order to take on this new responsibility. The early years directorate will achieve greater success if many of those now doing the job opt to continue to do so. Transferring local authority staff can be reassured that they will transfer with their existing contractual terms and conditions. Ofsted will meet all its relevant statutory and legislative responsibilities in that regard. Transferring staff will be treated fairly and their statutory employment rights will not be infringed in any way. Pension rights will also be protected.

In Wales, the Bill provides for health authority and local authority staff, including those working with under-eights, to transfer to the new regulatory arm of the Assembly. It also provides for CCETSW staff in Wales to transfer to the care council for Wales. All of the reassurances I have given for England apply in the same terms to staff in Wales.

None of the important reforms in the Bill will be a success unless we continue to engage the knowledge, skills and experience of the staff currently undertaking this work. All the staff transfer arrangements will need to be worked out in detail and we, the Assembly and Ofsted will want to work closely with the relevant trade unions and representative bodies, as well as with local authorities and health authorities. However, I hope that I have said enough to reassure people at this stage. Obviously, we shall want to keep staff informed of progress as the plans are developed.

The Bill also contains provision for an Order in Council to be made to transfer CCETSW's functions. In addition to those amendments concerning the transfer of staff, we are putting forward several minor amendments to clarify our intentions with regard to the transfer of CCETSW's functions. As I have already stated, CCETSW is a body with UK responsibilities. So we have to be careful to provide for its abolition and for the smooth transfer of its functions to the successor bodies that will be established in the four countries of the UK. That will require some careful handling and will be achieved through agreement between the countries in drawing up schemes of transfer through Order in Council. I beg to move.


Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page