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Lord Peyton of Yeovil: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble and learned Lord for giving way. In the middle of his rather misplaced triumphal song, I ask him what evidence or expectation he has that any Irish citizen other than a member of Sinn Fein will make use of the provisions of Clause 1 of the Bill.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, I have no idea who will use the Bill. By way of argument, I am saying that the Bill recognises the strengthening relationship between the United Kingdom and the Irish Government. It does not give automatic rights to representation to Members; it simply makes it possible for the electorate to have a wider choice of candidates. In doing so, it extends the democratic principle.

I finish by answering a question which has been asked throughout the debates in this House: who wants this Bill? The Government want it because they recognise all that the partnership with Ireland has brought in recent years. By the same token, the Irish Government support and welcome the Bill. For the reason that I gave earlier--the extension of the democratic principle--it is also generally supported by the nationalist population. The Bill is also welcomed by a number of the political parties in Northern Ireland, such as the SDLP, the Alliance Party and the Women's Coalition.

There is support for the Bill and there are good reasons to support it. I urge all those who want co-operation with the Irish Government and progress in Northern Ireland to support it.

On Question, Bill passed, and returned to the Commons with amendments.

Children (Leaving Care) Bill [H.L.]

3.37 p.m.

Lord Burlison: My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, who is attending a family funeral in Northern Ireland, I beg to move that the Commons amendments be now considered.

Moved, That the Commons amendments be now considered.--(Lord Burlison.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

COMMONS AMENDMENTS


COMMONS AMENDMENT

1Clause 4, page 6, line 25, leave out ("registered") and insert ("private").

Lord Burlison: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 1. I wish to speak also to Commons

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Amendments Nos. 2, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11. The Care Standards Act amends the definitions of residential care homes, nursing homes and registered children's homes to care homes, independent hospitals and private children's homes. In restating Section 24 of the Children Act, the Children (Leaving Care) Bill deploys at Sections 24(2)(d) and 24(2)(c) the existing definitions of such homes. It was introduced ahead of the Care Standards Bill.

Amendments updating those references were made to the Children Act in the Care Standards Act at its Committee stage in order to avoid having to table amendments to the Children (Leaving Care) Bill. Those amendments were drafted on the reasonable assumption that the amendments to the Children Act made by the Children (Leaving Care) Bill would have become law first. In the event, that did not happen. Therefore, the amendments refer to new sections of the Children Act which did not exist at the time that the Care Standards Act obtained Royal Assent.

As a consequence, the amendments have no effect. Therefore, we need to amend the Bill in order to bring into line the references to such homes and to remove the now incorrect amendments to the Care Standards Act. These amendments are technical and have no new policy implications. I commend them to the House.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 1.--(Lord Burlison.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

COMMONS AMENDMENT

2Clause 4, page 6, line 31, leave out from ("any") to second ("or") in line 32 and insert ("care home or independent hospital").

Lord Burlison: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 2.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 2.--(Lord Burlison.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

COMMONS AMENDMENT

3Clause 4, page 8, line 11, after ("full-time") insert ("further or").

Lord Burlison: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 3 and I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 4 to 6. This Bill is all about improving life chances for young people who have been in care. Education is the best way to do that--helping them into jobs, careers and a fulfilling and productive role in society. That is why the Bill is assiduous in creating duties to help with education and training even beyond the point at which young people leave care.

The new duties for qualifying care leavers aged 18 and over specifically include a duty on councils to assist with education and training to the end of the agreed course, even if that takes a young person past the age of 21. The Bill has always backed that up with a new duty to provide vacation accommodation for care

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leavers in higher education. This was introduced because we were aware of cases where a young person who had left care was unable to take up a university place simply because he would not be able to find somewhere to live during vacations. That is why it applies to all care leavers, not just to those to whom the rest of the Bill applies.

Since the Bill has been making its passage through Parliament, we have been made aware of the fact that vacation accommodation can be an issue for some further education students as well. For the most part, students take FE courses near to home, at their local school or college, studying from home. Those students do not have special accommodation needs during vacations and the amendments do not affect them.

However there are some courses--agricultural, horticultural and some arts courses--which are run at residential colleges and those students are in the same position as many university students during vacations in needing to find alternative accommodation. So we have decided explicitly to extend the duty to provide vacation accommodation to care leavers who require it to cover these FE students as well.

Amendment No. 6 allows the Secretary of State to make regulations defining "further education" for the purposes of this Bill and the intention is to define it in terms of the kind of residential FE courses which I have described. Amendment No. 4 adds the qualifier,


    "because his term time accommodation is not available to him then"

to establish the reason why a student would need to call on that duty. Most students have the option open to them to return to their family home during vacations--an option which is not available to care leavers. These amendments are intended to create a more level playing field by making sure that care leavers are not left with nowhere to go during vacations. I commend the amendments to the House.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 3.--(Lord Burlison.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

COMMONS AMENDMENTS

4Clause 4, page 8, line 12, after ("vacation") insert ("because his term-time accommodation is not available to him then").
5Page 8, line 14, leave out ("then") and insert ("during the vacation").
6Page 8, line 18, leave out (""full-time higher education"") and insert (""full-time", "further education", "higher education"").

Lord Burlison: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 4 to 6.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 4 to 6.--(Lord Burlison.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

COMMONS AMENDMENTS

7Clause 4, page 8, line 31, leave out ("registered") and insert ("private").

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8Page 8, line 35, leave out from ("any") to ("or") in line 36 and insert ("care home or independent hospital").
9Page 8, line 44, at end insert--
("( ) If subsection (1) comes into force before the commencement of section 11 of the Care Standards Act 2000--
(a) until that commencement, the references to a "private children's home" in sections 24(2)(c) and 24C(2)(a) of the 1989 Act as substituted by subsection (1) are to be read as references to a registered children's home; and
(b) until that commencement, the references to any "care home or independent hospital" in sections 24(2)(d)(ii) and 24C(2)(c), as so substituted, are to be read as references to any residential care home, nursing home or mental nursing home,
and paragraph 14(4) of Schedule 4 to the Care Standards Act 2000 (which amends section 24 of the 1989 Act) is repealed.").
10Clause 7, page 10, line 27, at end insert--
("(5) In the Care Standards Act 2000, in Schedule 4 (minor and consequential amendments)--
(a) in paragraph 14(4), the words ", as it has effect before the commencement of section 4 of the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000"; and
(b) paragraph 14(5) and (6),
are repealed.").
11Clause 8, page 10, line 29, after ("from") insert ("section 7(5) and").

Lord Burlison: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 7 to 11.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment Nos. 7 to 11.--(Lord Burlison.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.


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