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Baroness Pitkeathley: My Lords, before the Minister rises to his feet, I declare an interest as the

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chair of the General Social Care Council Advisory Group. I hope that I can reassure the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, that the purpose of extending the categories in this way is precisely what I think concerns him in relation to raising the status and the way in which this kind of work is regarded. It is very important that we move it away from social work.

I am old enough to remember--perhaps I might suggest that the noble Lord is also--when we talked about a general social services council. We now talk about a general social care council, precisely to reflect the fact that we must have the widest possible categories of people who are working in this field, not only to reach the requisite standards but to raise its status in the eyes of the profession and also in order to provide reassurance to the public.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I am not sure that I need to add very much to what has been said by my noble friend. It is clear, first of all, that this recognises the protection of the title of "social worker". That is important, because I think that part of the function of the changes being proposed is to raise the status, the professionalism and public confidence in fully qualified professional social workers.

I very much take the point raised by the noble Lord. This provision is also designed to embrace all those people working within the social care system. Although it will take time--because we are talking about half a million people who are employed within the "care industry", if I may use that term for the care service--the GSCC will play a vitally important role in relation to those care workers too in enhancing the training, support and development of people of whom we ask a great deal. We accept that they often have to work under pressure but without the support that is necessary.

Two lessons have always come home to me from reports of inquiries into such terrible events: first, the sheer horror of the abuse to residents; and, secondly--I take the point about residential care in particular--that there has always been a lack of support from the local authorities for people in that particular sector. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath moved Amendments Nos. 61 to 67:


    Page 23, line 5, leave out ("engaged") and insert ("engages").


    Page 23, line 5, at end insert ("(referred to in this Part as a "social worker")").


    Page 23, line 6, at beginning insert ("is").


    Page 23, line 6, leave out ("at the premises") and insert ("for the purposes").


    Page 23, line 8, at beginning insert ("is").


    Page 23, line 15, at end insert--


("( ) a person engaged in the provision of personal care for any person;
( ) a person engaged in the provision of relevant services (within the meaning of section 40);").

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    Page 23, line 22, at end insert--


("( ) An establishment is a day centre if it provides nursing or personal care wholly or mainly for persons mentioned in section 3(2), but does not provide accommodation for them.").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 53 [The register]:

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath moved Amendment No. 68:


    Page 23, line 24, leave out from ("of") to end of line 29 and insert--


("(a) social workers; and
(b) social care workers of any other description specified by the appropriate Minister by order.
(2) There shall be a separate part of the register for social workers and for each description of social care workers so specified.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 55 [Grant or refusal of registration]:

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath moved Amendment No. 69:


    Page 24, line 1, leave out from ("is") to second ("and") and insert ("physically and mentally fit to perform the whole or part of the work of persons registered in the part of the register to which his application relates;").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in Committee great strength of feeling was expressed against the wording of the health test for registration with the councils. I have reflected on the matter and I fully recognise that the words were wrong. They could be taken to be discriminatory, however unintentionally. I am sorry that that happened because it distracted from the general welcome that noble Lords gave to this section of the Bill.

In Committee, the noble Lord, Lord Addington, called for the health test to be withdrawn completely. We cannot do that. The driving force behind the councils is to achieve a greater degree of protection for service users, their carers and the general public. What we want to achieve with the health test is to prevent people registering with the councils whose health would make them unsafe to practise.

A health test for registration is a common feature of regulatory bodies. Social care is no different. We want to achieve higher standards for the public. To succeed in that, we must have a workforce capable of delivering the standards which we want to see and which will meet the increasing expectations of the public.

Our amendment proposes a different form of words for Clause 55. It requires an applicant for registration to be,


    "physically and mentally fit to perform the whole or part of the work of persons registered in the part of the register to which his application relates".

We believe that that formula avoids the unintended discrimination of the existing provision and gives the councils one of the powers that they need to ensure that the social care workers whom they register are safe and competent to practise.

It will be for the councils to draw up detailed rules about registration. However, their rules will be subject to approval by Ministers. Our view is that the councils will not insist that every social care worker must be in

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a state of health that would allow them to undertake the full range of possible duties. The health of some workers will mean that they cannot do so, but nevertheless they can make a valuable contribution and do so safely and competently.

I hope that the amendment will allay the concerns about discrimination raised in Committee and that it provides a reasonable test for registration to ensure that the council registers only those workers who are safe and competent to practise. I beg to move.

Lord Addington: My Lords, I rise to welcome the amendment. The words in the amendment are not the words that I would have chosen, but they are certainly a great improvement on what was there before. It may just be the case that my semantics should not get in the way of progress. I thank the Minister for listening and for going away and getting something done about the clause. I hope only that this happy relationship will continue.

Baroness Pitkeathley: My Lords, perhaps I may briefly add that the members of the General Social Care Council Advisory Group will be extremely happy with this wording. I am extremely glad that the Government have taken account of the concerns raised hitherto in your Lordships' House.

Earl Howe: My Lords, I should like to re-echo those sentiments. The wording seems absolutely to the point.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath moved Amendment No. 70:


    Page 24, line 6, leave out from ("registration") to end of line 7 and insert ("as a social worker").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 56 [Removal etc. from register]:

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath moved Amendment No. 71:


    Page 24, line 27, after ("in") insert ("a part of").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 57 [Rules about registration]:

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath moved Amendment No. 72:


    Page 25, line 4, leave out ("an annual") and insert ("a periodic").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 58 [Use of title "social worker" etc.]:

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath moved Amendments Nos. 73 to 75:


    Page 25, line 6, after ("person") insert ("who is not registered as a social worker in any relevant register").


    Page 25, line 8, leave out from ("is") to ("he") in line 14 and insert ("so registered, or in any way holds himself out as so registered").

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    Page 25, line 14, at end insert--


("( ) For the purposes of subsection (1), a register is a relevant register if it is--
(a) maintained by a Council; or
(b) a prescribed register maintained under a provision of the law of Scotland or Northern Ireland which appears to the appropriate Minister to correspond to the provisions of this Part.").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 59 [Codes of practice]:

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath moved Amendments Nos. 76 to 78:


    Page 25, line 20, at end insert ("; and


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