40: Clause 87, page 63, line 36, at end insert—

““appropriate minister”—

(a) in relation to England, means the Secretary of State,

(b) in relation to Wales, means the Welsh Ministers,

5 Feb 2014 : Column 240

(c) in relation to Northern Ireland, means the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, and

(d) in relation to Scotland, means the Scottish Ministers;”

Amendments 38 to 40 agreed.

Clause 88: Protection of children’s health: offence of smoking in a private vehicle

Amendment 41

41: Clause 88, page 64, leave out lines 11 to 13 and insert—

“(1) The Health Act 2006 is amended as follows.

(2) In section 5 (smoke-free vehicles)—

(a) after subsection (1) insert—

“(1A) Regulations under this section may in particular provide for a private vehicle to be smoke-free where a person under the age of 18 is present in the vehicle.”, and

(b) in subsection (2), for “The regulations” substitute “Regulations under this section”.

(3) In section 9 (fixed penalties), after subsection (1) insert—

“(1A) The appropriate national authority may by regulations provide that, in the circumstances specified in the regulations, an authorised officer of an enforcement authority (see section 10) who has reason to believe that a person has committed an offence under section 8(4) in relation to a vehicle in relation to which the authorised officer has functions may give the person a penalty notice in respect of the offence.”

(4) In section 10(1) (power to designate bodies or descriptions of body as enforcement authorities)—

(a) after “designating the” insert “persons or”, and

(b) after “descriptions of” insert “person or”.

(5) In section 79 (orders and regulations)—

(a) in subsection (4) (powers to which affirmative procedure applies), in paragraph (a) (powers in Part 1), for “or 8(7)” substitute “, 8(7) or 9(1A)”,

(b) in that subsection, in paragraph (f) (powers in Schedule 1), for “or 8” substitute “, 8 or 17”, and

(c) after that subsection insert—

“(4A) No statutory instrument containing regulations under section 9(1A) or paragraph 17 of Schedule 1 may be made by the Welsh Ministers unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, the National Assembly for Wales.”

(6) In Schedule 1 (fixed penalties), after paragraph 16 insert—

“Power to amend or modify Schedule

17 The appropriate national authority may by regulations—

(a) amend this Schedule so as to modify its application in relation to penalty notices issued by an authorised officer of an enforcement authority of a particular kind, or

(b) provide for this Schedule to apply with modifications in relation to such notices.””

Amendment 41 agreed.

Amendment 42

Moved by Lord Nash

42: After Clause 89, insert the following new Clause—

“Parent carers

(1) In the Children Act 1989, after section 17ZC (as inserted by section 89) insert—

“17ZD Parent carers’ needs assessments: England

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(1) A local authority in England must, if the conditions in subsections (3) and (4) are met, assess whether a parent carer within their area has needs for support and, if so, what those needs are.

(2) In this Part “parent carer” means a person aged 18 or over who provides or intends to provide care for a disabled child for whom the person has parental responsibility.

(3) The first condition is that—

(a) it appears to the authority that the parent carer may have needs for support, or

(b) the authority receive a request from the parent carer to assess the parent carer’s needs for support.

(4) The second condition is that the local authority are satisfied that the disabled child cared for and the disabled child’s family are persons for whom they may provide or arrange for the provision of services under section 17.

(5) An assessment under subsection (1) is referred to in this Part as a “parent carer’s needs assessment”.

(6) Subsection (1) does not apply in relation to a parent carer if the local authority have previously carried out a care-related assessment of the parent carer in relation to the same disabled child cared for.

(7) But subsection (1) does apply (and so a parent carer’s needs assessment must be carried out) if it appears to the authority that the needs or circumstances of the parent carer or the disabled child cared for have changed since the last care-related assessment.

(8) “Care-related assessment” means—

(a) a parent carer’s needs assessment;

(b) an assessment under any of the following—

(i) section 1 of the Carers (Recognition and Services) Act 1995;

(ii) section 6 of the Carers and Disabled Children Act 2000;

(iii) section 4(3) of the Community Care (Delayed Discharges) Act 2003.

(9) A parent carer’s needs assessment must include an assessment of whether it is appropriate for the parent carer to provide, or continue to provide, care for the disabled child, in the light of the parent carer’s needs for support, other needs and wishes.

(10) A local authority in carrying out a parent carer’s needs assessment must have regard to—

(a) the well-being of the parent carer, and

(b) the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of the disabled child cared for and any other child for whom the parent carer has parental responsibility.

(11) In subsection (10) “well-being” has the same meaning as in Part 1 of the Care Act 2014.

(12) A local authority, in carrying out a parent carer’s needs assessment, must involve—

(a) the parent carer,

(b) any child for whom the parent carer has parental responsibility, and

(c) any person who the parent carer requests the authority to involve.

(13) A local authority that have carried out a parent carer’s needs assessment must give a written record of the assessment to—

(a) the parent carer, and

(b) any person to whom the parent carer requests the authority to give a copy.

(14) A local authority in England must take reasonable steps to identify the extent to which there are parent carers within their area who have needs for support.

17ZE Parent carers’ needs assessments: supplementary

(1) This section applies for the purposes of section 17ZD.

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(2) The references in section 17ZD to providing care include a reference to providing practical or emotional support.

(3) Where a local authority—

(a) are required to carry out a parent carer’s needs assessment, and

(b) are required or have decided to carry out some other assessment of the parent carer or of the disabled child cared for,

the local authority may combine the assessments.

(4) The Secretary of State may by regulations make further provision about carrying out a parent carer’s needs assessment; the regulations may, in particular—

(a) specify matters to which a local authority is to have regard in carrying out a parent carer’s needs assessment;

(b) specify matters which a local authority is to determine in carrying out a parent carer’s needs assessment;

(c) make provision about the manner in which a parent carer’s needs assessment is to be carried out;

(d) make provision about the form a parent carer’s needs assessment is to take.

(5) The Secretary of State may by regulations amend the list in section 17ZD(8)(b) so as to—

(a) add an entry,

(b) remove an entry, or

(c) vary an entry.

17ZF Consideration of parent carers’ needs assessments

A local authority that carry out a parent carer’s needs assessment must consider the assessment and decide—

(a) whether the parent carer has needs for support in relation to the care which he or she provides or intends to provide;

(b) whether the disabled child cared for has needs for support;

(c) if paragraph (a) or (b) applies, whether those needs could be satisfied (wholly or partly) by services which the authority may provide under section 17; and

(d) if they could be so satisfied, whether or not to provide any such services in relation to the parent carer or the disabled child cared for.”

(2) In section 104 of the Children Act 1989 (regulations and orders)—

(a) in subsections (2) and (3A) (regulations within subsection (3B) or (3C) not subject to annulment but to be approved in draft) after “(3AA),” insert “(3AB),”, and

(b) after subsection (3AA) insert—

“(3AB) Regulations fall within this subsection if they are regulations made in the exercise of the power conferred by section 17ZE(5).””

Lord Nash: My Lords, both in Committee and on Report, we have discussed support for parent carers. I am delighted to move Amendment 42, which will insert a new clause on the assessment of support for parent carers into Part 5 of the Children and Families Bill. I particularly thank the noble Baroness, Lady Pitkeathley, and my noble friend Lady Tyler for the time they spent discussing the issue with me and officials. I sincerely thank the parent carers whom I met recently for sharing with me their moving stories.

On Report, I committed to bring back an amendment in response to the powerful arguments that had been made. I am pleased to bring forward an amendment to consolidate existing legislation on parent carers of disabled children into the Children Act 1989 and to streamline the legislation so that it is consistent with

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the approach being taken to young carers and carers of adults. The consolidated legislation will remove the requirement for those with parental responsibility for disabled children to be providing substantial and regular care in order to be assessed. It will take a more consistent approach across carers and avoid confusion. The legislation will also require local authorities to assess on the appearance of needs as well as following a request by a parent carer. This will benefit those parents who are not aware of the rights.

The amendment specifically requires a local authority to consider the well-being of the parent carer in carrying out the needs assessment alongside the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of the disabled child, which of course must remain of paramount importance. The requirement to consider well-being builds on existing legislation, which already requires local authorities to consider aspects of parental well-being, including whether they wish to work or to undertake education, training or leisure activities. The amendment widens the definition of “well-being” to the definition in Part 1 of the Care Bill. This wider definition includes other aspects of well-being, such as physical and mental health and emotional well-being. The amendment means that we are taking a more consistent approach to different groups of carers.

As I said on Report, I also recognise that there is work to do to ensure that guidance sets out clearly the legislative framework on how services should work together to support families. My officials are working with representatives of parent carers and local authorities to consider the changes to statutory guidance that are needed.

I hope that your Lordships agree that this amendment is necessary, and I urge noble Lords to support it. I beg to move.

Baroness Pitkeathley (Lab): Noble Lords will not be surprised to hear that I am very pleased with the government amendment. Much more important, parent carers everywhere will be relieved and delighted. All that we ever wanted was for parent carers to have the same rights to assessment as those which have been given by this Government and previous Governments to carers of adults and to young carers. We also wanted the well-being principle to be enshrined in legislation for parent carers as it has been for other carers.

We are given to understand that nothing so pleases the Almighty as a sinner that repenteth. While I would not for a moment wish to accuse the noble Lord of being a sinner, he and his officials were certainly a bit resistant to these ideas at the beginning, but—no matter—the important thing is where we have ended up. This amendment sends a strong message to parent carers that their well-being really matters. I pay warm tribute to the Minister and his officials for being willing to listen, to meet parent carers and to bring this elegant and wide-ranging solution to the problems which those parent carers so graphically illustrated in his meeting with them.

5.30 pm

I want also to thank colleagues across this House and in another place, the noble Baronesses, Lady Lister, Lady Tyler and Lady Howarth, and Mr Norman

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Lamb, for their support, as well as my own Front Bench. Most particularly, thanks are due to Carers UK—of which I declare an interest as a vice-president—and to Emily Holzhausen and Chloe Wright for their skill, experience and indefatigable dedication to achieving equal rights for parent carers. We have heard a great deal in your Lordships’ House recently about campaigning charities, and I offer this as a perfect example of how an experienced and respected campaigning charity can influence policy change in a way which will benefit thousands of dedicated people for many years to come.

I congratulate the Government and have great pleasure in supporting the amendment.

Baroness Tyler of Enfield: I associate myself with the eloquent remarks of someone whom I consider to be very much my noble friend, the noble Baroness, Lady Pitkeathley.

Having been involved in the discussions as we have gone through the various stages of this Bill, I am extremely pleased with where we have come out, which is a far more consistent package of rights to assessment and support for parent carers. They will now be on a level playing field with young carers and carers of adults. The two Bills together, this Bill and the Care Bill, will make a huge difference to carers. In this amendment, we are thinking particularly of parent carers and the important role that they play.

We are hugely in the debt of carers as a whole in this country for their very hard and self-sacrificing work, and I am absolutely delighted that legislation is now almost on the statute book which recognises that. I pay tribute to the Minister and his officials for listening and responding, and for working so hard to get us to where we are.

Baroness Howe of Idlicote (CB): My Lords, as one who has been part of the process of this Bill almost from day one and who has watched the amazing progress that has been made, I want to thank the Minister for two things. The first, which has already been discussed, is the ability to provide education facilities for young offenders within institutions, which is a major step forward; the other is this amendment.

Parent carers should of course have the same consideration as other carers. To see parent carers of disabled children and their general well-being now being considered on the same basis is a huge tribute to the Minister and his team, who we have seen so effectively listen and respond to so many of these amendments. Even though I happened to be the mover of one amendment which did not get quite as far as I wanted it to, I share every bit of the appreciation for the work that has gone on behind the scenes as well as on the Front Benches. I thank everybody involved.

Baroness Howarth of Breckland: My Lords, I want to speak briefly to say two things. The first is that I understood some of the early concerns about ensuring that all children in need receive equal attention and about the difficulties when one group might find themselves with greater attention. I understand where the noble Lord was coming from in trying to think

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through that issue, but in our discussions it was quite clear—I think he understood—that, if you work with these as a family, you are not actually giving more attention. If the assessment can be done as a family, then it works as a holistic measure. Secondly, I want to pay tribute to the noble Baroness, Lady Pitkeathley. Without her indefatigable work for carers, we probably would not be where we are.

Lord Nash: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Pitkeathley, for welcoming this amendment and echo what the noble Baroness, Lady Howarth, has just said about her tireless efforts in this area. It is entirely down to her that we are where we are. I would also like to thank her for her comments about repentance and my noble friend Lady Tyler and the noble Baronesses, Lady Howe and Lady Howarth, for their words.

As I said previously, we cannot underestimate the contribution that parent carers of disabled children make. It is right that we recognise the particular challenges that they face in supporting their families. I am very pleased that we are able to bring parent carers of disabled children into the Children and Families Bill today.

Amendment 42 agreed.

Amendment 43

Moved by Lord Nash

43: After Clause 89, insert the following new Clause—

“Arrangements for living with former foster parents after reaching adulthood

(1) The Children Act 1989 is amended as follows.

(2) After section 23C (continuing functions in respect of former relevant children) insert—

“23CZA Arrangements for certain former relevant children to continue to live with former foster parents

(1) Each local authority in England have the duties provided for in subsection (3) in relation to a staying put arrangement.

(2) A “staying put arrangement” is an arrangement under which—

(a) a person who is a former relevant child by virtue of section 23C(1)(b), and

(b) a person (a “former foster parent”) who was the former relevant child’s local authority foster parent immediately before the former relevant child ceased to be looked after by the local authority,

continue to live together after the former relevant child has ceased to be looked after.

(3) It is the duty of the local authority (in discharging the duties in section 23C(3) and by other means)—

(a) to monitor the staying put arrangement, and

(b) to provide advice, assistance and support to the former relevant child and the former foster parent with a view to maintaining the staying put arrangement.

(4) Support provided to the former foster parent under subsection (3)(b) must include financial support.

(5) Subsection (3)(b) does not apply if the local authority consider that the staying put arrangement is not consistent with the welfare of the former relevant child.

(6) The duties set out in subsection (3) subsist until the former relevant child reaches the age of 21.”

(3) In Part 2 of Schedule 2 (local authority support for looked after children) after paragraph 19B (preparation for ceasing to be looked after) insert—

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“Preparation for ceasing to be looked after: staying put arrangements

19BA (1) This paragraph applies in relation to an eligible child (within the meaning of paragraph 19B) who has been placed by a local authority in England with a local authority foster parent.

(2) When carrying out the assessment of the child’s needs in accordance with paragraph 19B(4), the local authority must determine whether it would be appropriate to provide advice, assistance and support under this Act in order to facilitate a staying put arrangement, and with a view to maintaining such an arrangement, after the local authority cease to look after him or her.

(3) The local authority must provide advice, assistance and support under this Act in order to facilitate a staying put arrangement if—

(a) the local authority determine under sub-paragraph (2) that it would be appropriate to do so, and

(b) the eligible child and the local authority foster parent wish to make a staying put arrangement.

(4) In this paragraph, “staying put arrangement” has the meaning given by section 23CZA.””

Lord Nash: My Lords, I thank the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, and the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, for the way in which they have brought this matter to the attention of the House. I also pay tribute to the late Paul Goggins, the MP for Wythenshawe and Sale East, who sadly passed away on 30 December. He was a champion for children in care and I know worked closely with the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, on a range of issues including promoting staying-put arrangements.

The noble Earl and the noble and learned Baroness made a compelling case for enabling young people to remain with their former foster carers once they turn 18 where this is what they and their foster carers agree they want.

With this year’s figures showing only a slight improvement in the numbers who have been able to stay in such arrangements, we have agreed that more action is now required. So I am delighted to be putting forward a government amendment that addresses this extremely important matter. We have consulted on our new clause with a range of voluntary organisations, including the Fostering Network, Barnardo’s and the Who Cares? Trust. I am pleased to say that they have all fully supported its wording.

Proposed new Sections 1 to 6 deal with what constitutes a staying-put arrangement, the duties placed on local authorities for the duration of the arrangement and the conditions that underpin the support of the local authority. The new clause says that a staying-put arrangement is one where the young person is someone who was in care immediately prior to their 18th birthday as an eligible child, and continues to reside with their former foster carer once they turn 18. So long as the arrangement is consistent with the welfare of the young person, the local authority will be required to provide advice, assistance and support to them and their former foster parent to support the maintenance of the arrangement. It would also be required to monitor the arrangement.

Proposed new Section 23CZA(4) explicitly says that the support provided to the former foster carer must include financial support. This is a crucial element of the new duty. These duties will continue until the

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former relevant child reaches the age of 21 unless either they or their former foster parent decides to end the arrangement sooner.

Local authorities are already under a duty to assess the needs of eligible looked-after children and devise a pathway plan for their transition into adulthood. The assessment process usually starts around the time of the child’s 16th birthday. The second part of the clause places a duty on local authorities to determine, at this early assessment stage, the appropriateness of working towards facilitating a future staying-put arrangement.

We will also issue statutory guidance which underpins the new duty. We have published a draft of this guidance on our website and sent it to noble Lords. We have been consulting voluntary sector organisations about the wording of the guidance and will continue to do so over the coming weeks.

The guidance sets out more detail about the types of support local authorities will be expected to provide. It also sets out how providing staying-put arrangements fits within the wider statutory duties to support young people make the transition to adulthood.

I would welcome comments from Peers in the next couple of weeks on the wording of the guidance. I hope that your Lordships agree that the amendment is a hugely positive step for children in foster care, I urge noble Lords to support it and I beg to move.

The Earl of Listowel (CB): My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for bringing forward this amendment and welcome it most wholeheartedly. I am grateful for his kind words. As he says, the amendment will make a huge difference to the lives of hundreds of young people leaving care each year. It has been described as the most important change for young people in care for a generation.

If our children or grandchildren were pushed out of their home at the age of 18, we would be very troubled and do everything in our power to change that. Your Lordships have done just that with this amendment. Just consider the difference that this will make for young women. We know that many women leaving care are prey to sexual exploitation. They are more likely to have pregnancies as teenagers and more likely to have their own children taken into care. It is highly arguable that a contributing factor is their poor relationship with their father. I was speaking earlier today to a woman who lost her father at the age of 14, and the traumatic effect that had on her life impressed that on me once more.

It has been encouraging, during the Bill’s process, to meet young women lobbying me with their male foster carers, looking to continue that healthy relationship with an interested male carer. I am convinced that for many of these young women, the opportunity to have a continuing relationship with a man interested in their success and welfare will have a very beneficial impact on their self-esteem and their future choice of men. I was very pleased to hear my noble and learned friend Lady Butler-Sloss talk about the charity, Families Need Fathers, and I certainly support what she said.

I thank the Minister. He has bent over backwards to listen to my concerns, as I know that he has to many of your Lordships, and he has acted on them. I

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remember him warning me at our first discussion that there was no money left to fund changes to the law. It is to the Government’s great credit that they have gathered together the £40 million necessary to fund staying put. If I may say so, I hope that the Minister will enjoy reflecting with his family on the difference that he has made to the lives of young people leaving care. I know that his wife already does much important work for young people.

I am also most grateful to the children’s Minister, Edward Timpson MP, for his concern to see this change and to the Secretary of State, the right honourable Michael Gove, for agreeing it and for finding the money to fund it.

I hope that I may extend a few further notes of appreciation to those who have been involved. I am grateful to the Opposition for their support for the amendment, and particularly to the noble Baroness, Lady Hughes, for her enthusiastic support and for setting up the staying-put pilots which provided the essential evidence in making the case for that change. I am grateful to the officials, who worked so hard to make this possible, crunched the numbers on the costs and produced the helpful draft guidance, which I welcome, in time for Third Reading. I am grateful to my colleagues, the noble Baronesses, Lady Perry and Lady Massey, my noble friend Lady Howarth, my noble and learned friend Lady Butler-Sloss, and the noble Lord, Lord Storey, for their advice and support. I am grateful to all those who spoke with such unanimity and strength in Committee—albeit, understandably, occasionally flagging up the caveat of cost. That was extremely helpful.

I am also most grateful to the late and much lamented Paul Goggins MP—I was pleased to hear the Minister’s words of tribute to him and his work. He tabled the staying-put amendment in the Commons and lobbied the Speaker there hard and successfully to have it debated. He gave such strong encouragement to me on the two occasions we met to discuss the amendment. He was a remarkable and lovely man, and it was a privilege to have the opportunity to work with him.

I am grateful to Ann Coffey MP, who spoke to the amendment in the Commons and gave much appreciated later support. I am also grateful to David Simmonds, lead councillor for the Local Government Association on child welfare, for meeting me to discuss the matter and clearly doing such a successful job in lobbying the Government for proper funding of staying put, and to Craig Whittaker MP, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Looked after Children and Care Leavers, for his advice and support.

I am grateful to the coalition of charities which made this possible, including Barnardo’s, the NSPCC and the Who Cares? Trust, and most especially to Robert Tapsfield, chief executive of the Fostering Network, who led the charge. The help offered by his officer, Vicki Swain, was faultless.

I hope that one day soon we will be looking at extending staying put until age 25—the noble Baroness, Lady Morgan of Drefelin, made a powerful case for this in Committee—and to young people in children’s homes. However, today is the time to celebrate the immensely welcome initiative from the Government.

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Staying put is a revolution and a landmark. The Government are doing so much good work for children in care, if I may be permitted to say so, and I salute them for it.

5.45 pm

Baroness Hughes of Stretford: My Lords, I thank the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, for agreeing to lead on this issue from the Cross Benches. He has been exemplary in the way that he has taken this forward once the issue arrived in this House. I also thank him and the Minister for their recognition of my very good friend Paul Goggins, who is a great loss to the other place and particularly to the cause of improving the lives of children in care.

I am also grateful to my colleagues at the other end because it was very important for us to get cross-party agreement from the two main parties, the Conservative Party and the Labour Party, to the spending commitment involved here. I am pleased that we were able to get that, so that had the Government not agreed to this today we could have given the assurance that we would want to implement it. As the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, says, these amendments extend to a national provision the pilots initiated under the previous Labour Government. I am very pleased that we are able to do that because it will make a huge difference to a great many young people.

I have read the draft guidance and very much welcome the emphasis, which the Minister referred to, on the financial support that local authorities must consider in staying-put arrangements. However, I would also reflect on the fact that the references to any tax and benefit implications for the foster families perhaps need to be strengthened. Local authorities really need to help foster carers unravel any tax and benefit implications of a staying-put arrangement, particularly when they get financial support. The key will be in getting local authorities to implement this fully. Perhaps the Minister could comment on how the Government intend to monitor what is happening so as to know how many young people are being offered, and are taking up, the possibility of a staying-put arrangement and how well those are going.

This is the last time in what has been a very long Bill that I will be on my feet this afternoon. I was reminded earlier that it was July when we had Second Reading. I would like a moment on behalf of myself and my noble friends Lady Jones, Lady Morgan and Lord Stevenson, to make some thank yous. What is remarkable is the number of very substantial improvements made to the Bill during its consideration in this House, which has shown the House of Lords at its best. Despite the fact that many of the changes which we have agreed here had been proposed in the other place and rejected, the willingness of many Members across the House to work together in common cause on key issues has dramatically improved the original Bill, as we received it. On adoption, family justice and special educational needs there are now significant changes which are very welcome. There are new areas of policy as well, as we have been discussing this afternoon, on parent carers, the protection of children from smoking and so on.

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There were some lost opportunities for which there was substantial but, in the end, insufficient support to carry the day, particularly on compulsory SRE and online child protection measures. I have no doubt that we will return to those because I know that the noble Baroness, Lady Howe, is not going to give up her indefatigable campaign of online child protection issues. I look forward to supporting her in other opportunities.

While at times the pace of our considerations no doubt caused some concern for the Government, this was in no small measure due to the detailed scrutiny which Members were prepared to give to the Bill, with the time to discuss it and flesh the issues out. We were aided substantially by a wide range of organisations outside the House willing to help us to make the most of the opportunity that the Bill provided, and I thank them very much.

I thank all the Ministers and the Bill team for their willingness to meet us and to listen. They gave very generously of their time and I very much appreciate that. We had some good discussions, and obviously many of those bore fruit.

I also want to mention the Hansard recorders in Grand Committee. We stretched the normal time limits on a number of occasions and I was very conscious of that. I want to put on record that we appreciated their help.

I also thank Sophie Davis, who helps the opposition team in our office. She is terribly well organised, and I am sure that noble Lords who have had e-mails from her and the opportunity to speak to her have found that she is unfailingly courteous and very measured. She has been a great help.

Lastly, I thank the Ministers here today, the noble Baroness, Lady Northover, and the noble Lord, Lord Nash, for their constructive approach and their willingness to bring forward changes that we have discussed. I think that many of us will have heard with regrets the noble Lord’s announcement on Report that he has no intention of remaining a Minister after the general election. One may think that after making such progress with this Bill, it would be rather a waste if this were to be both the first and the last Bill that he took through this House. I hope that he reconsiders. In any event, whatever he does, we wish him well. I thank both Ministers again.

Lord Nash: I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Hughes, for her kind remarks. It has been a pleasure working with her and the noble Baroness, Lady Jones, over the past few months. I have never had so many compliments—certainly not so many back-handed compliments—quite so quickly. The noble Baroness might be interested to know that the draft of the few words that I might say after the final amendment said, “This is my first and last Bill”, and I found myself taking out the words “and last”, so you never know.

I echo the noble Baroness’s remarks about the noble Earl, Lord Listowel; it is in fact entirely thanks to his relentless determination on this issue that we have arrived at the point where we have today with the staying-put arrangements. I thank him for his time in meeting me and officials to discuss the matter and the clause itself. As I mentioned earlier, I would welcome

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comments from Peers on the draft guidance in the coming weeks, and I will take back the noble Baroness’s comments that she made today.

On the question of monitoring implementation, the noble Baroness, Lady Howarth, made a comment about implementation. I have been saying in the department for some time now that I hope we are not just going to pass the Bill and retire to the sidelines; it is all about making sure that it happens. I just had a word with my honourable friend the Minister responsible for this field and told him that the noble Baroness had made the point again about implementation, and he said that perhaps she would like to come to our first implementation meeting. It is not my brief but I shall be there, and I intend to be at as many as I can get to. As everyone has said, it is about changing practice and ensuring that it actually happens.

On the point about monitoring made by the noble Baroness, Lady Hughes, we will be monitoring the statistical returns from local authorities to assess the take-up of staying put. Also, the revised Ofsted inspection framework includes a new sub-judgment on care leavers that has a focus on accommodation, including staying put. Based on these sources of information, we will be able to identify whether any local authority is not fulfilling its duties, and will not hesitate to challenge those that are not.

We are continuing to work with sector organisations on the guidance to ensure that it supports the effective implementation of this important new duty. We are committed to doing more to support care leavers, and I believe that the proposed new clause is a crucial step forward. I hope that noble Lords will support it.

Amendment 43 agreed.

Amendment 44

Moved by Lord Ramsbotham

44: After Clause 101, insert the following new Clause—

“Use of the Human Rights Act in legal proceedings

After section 2F of the Children Act 2004 (as inserted by section 101) insert—

“2G Use of the Human Rights Act in legal proceedings

The Commissioner may, in the course of legal proceedings for judicial review which it institutes (or in which it intervenes), rely on section 7(1)(b) of the Human Rights Act 1998 (c. 42) (breach of Convention rights); and for that purpose—

(a) the Commissioner need not be a victim or potential victim of the unlawful act to which the proceedings relate,

(b) the Commissioner may act only if there is or would be one or more victims of the unlawful act,

(c) section 7(3) and (4) of that Act shall not apply, and

(d) no award of damages may be made to the Commissioner (whether or not the exception in section 8(3) of that Act applies);

and an expression used in this subsection and in section 7 of the Human Rights Act 1998 has the same meaning in this subsection as in that section.””

Lord Ramsbotham: My Lords, I am conscious that my amendment is something of an oddity today because it is the only non-government amendment on the list. I raise it because I still have hopes that it might become

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a government amendment. It is an amplification of a point that I raised on Report, and about which I asked a supplementary question of the Minister.

The issue concerns the Children’s Commissioner and the request that he or she would share equal footing with the equality and human rights commissioner in being able to bring cases under the Human Rights Act. On Report, the Minister said that initiating and intervening in legal proceedings was, in the Government’s view, implicit within the commissioner’s primary function; I certainly took that at face value. Following on, he said that the commissioner would have sufficient interest in a case, because of his or her statutory role to promote and protect children’s rights, to satisfy any judge who might question the right of the commissioner to intervene. He emphasised that the Government did not wish to put into the Bill anything to do with such a right, but assured me in answer to a supplementary question that incoming commissioners would be briefed on their powers in bringing cases before courts.

Unfortunately, about half an hour before the Public Bill Office closed for business last night, the Children’s Rights Alliance for England contacted me, having consulted legally—unfortunately, after the good meeting I had earlier had with Ministers about the Bill. The alliance pointed out that, currently, the Children’s Commissioner is actually prohibited from bringing legal proceedings under the Human Rights Act because to do so you have to be a victim. The Children’s Commissioner does not qualify as a victim in a case.

This was got around for the equality and human rights commissioner through a clause in the Equality Act 2006, which made an amendment to Section 7 of the Human Rights Act, allowing the equality and human rights commissioner to bring legal proceedings. All I am seeking, as I did on Report, is to acknowledge the Minister saying that he agreed that the two commissioners should have equal rights; and that amendments, instead of being made to the Equality Act, should be made to this Bill and to the Children Act 2004, to allow the Children’s Commissioner to bring things forward without running into the risk of being prohibited to do so by something which I suspect was not meant by the Government or anyone else. That is why I move the amendment. I apologise for doing so at this late hour, but we have made so much progress in the Bill that I hope that the Minister, in the spirit in which he has tackled everything else, will feel able to reconsider my original request.

Baroness Howe of Idlicote: My Lords, I support everything that my noble friend has said. I very much hope that the Minister will find a way to make this a possibility.

Lord Nash: I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, for tabling the amendment, and congratulate him on the speed with which he grasped the moment to do so. This offers an opportunity to provide further clarity on the matter.

In a nutshell, the amendment would mean that, when seeking to bring a case under the Human Rights Act, the commissioner would be exempt from the requirement that he or she must be the victim in the case. This would replicate a provision in the legislative framework of the Equality and Human Rights

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Commission, and would in effect put the Children’s Commissioner on the same footing as the EHRC. I have several reservations in respect of the proposed amendment. I am happy to discuss the point further with the noble Lord, but I must state those reservations now.

First, I do not accept that the Children’s Commissioner and the equality and human rights commissioner have the same role. As I have indicated at various stages during the passage of the Bill, we see the role of the Children’s Commissioner as being largely strategic, whereas the EHRC has oversight of both strategic human rights issues and individual casework. The amendment would give the commissioner a power to pursue individual cases under the Human Rights Act, which would increase the risk that the OCC loses its strategic focus. Noble Lords will appreciate that we have tried to avoid that.

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Secondly, we believe that it is important to avoid an unnecessary and unhelpful duplication of functions between the Children’s Commissioner and the Equality and Human Rights Commission. The EHRC has a clear remit in relation to the HRA and we do not think it is necessary or appropriate also to give the OCC an explicit power in relation to challenging violations of individuals’ ECHR rights. The EHRC’s role is not age-limited, and it is therefore open to it to bring a case under the Human Rights Act in respect of a child under the age of 18, in just the same way as it would be able to for an adult.

There is also nothing to prevent the Children’s Commissioner from bringing children’s rights issues to the attention of the EHRC and assisting it in any legal challenge it brings in relation to children’s rights, whether it is under the Human Rights Act or otherwise. The EHRC’s all-age focus is illustrated by the fact that its strategic litigation priorities for 2012-13 included a number of priorities in relation to education matters.

John Dunford recognised the possibilities for joint working between the OCC and the EHRC in his 2010 report and encouraged both organisations to work more closely together in this regard. This approach is reinforced through the power at Section 18 of the Equality Act 2006, which requires the EHRC to,

“co-operate with persons interested in human rights within the United Kingdom or elsewhere”.

Thirdly, we all know how quickly litigation can swallow up resources. While I would expect any commissioner to use his or her powers to instigate legal proceedings responsibly and sparingly, there can be no guarantees that this would be the case in practice.

To accept the amendment would, in my view, be inconsistent with other aspects of the OCC’s legal framework. For example, it is hard to see how giving the Children’s Commissioner a free rein to take up legal cases on behalf of individual children is consistent with the ongoing provision which precludes the commissioner from investigating the case of an individual child in the discharge of the primary function.

I can, however, repeat the reassurances I gave when we last debated the OCC clauses. First, in the Government’s view, initiating or intervening in legal

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proceedings more generally is implicit within the commissioner’s primary function. It is therefore open to the commissioner to bring legal proceedings not based on the HRA, provided that the judge in the case concerned is satisfied that the commissioner has a “sufficient interest” in the matter. Secondly, I also gave an assurance that the Government would explain this position to an incoming Children’s Commissioner when they take on the role, and I am happy to give that assurance again today. I hope that that is helpful.

I hope that, having heard the arguments, the noble Lord will be prepared to withdraw his amendment, and I urge him to do so. As I said, I am happy to discuss the matter with him further.

Before I sit down I will take the opportunity on this last amendment to say thank you to your Lordships’ House for the intense scrutiny which the Bill has had here in the Chamber, in Grand Committee and in the many meetings that we have had outside the Chamber. Nearly 50 years ago I wrote my university entrance paper on your Lordships’ House. I have long since forgotten what I wrote, and fortunately the absence of technology in those days means that my answer does not survive. However, I would now be able to answer the question with far greater clarity. Having seen the forensic way in which noble Lords have scrutinised this Bill and the way that they have used their expertise in many areas to home in on individual clauses, I would now say that no one could question the worth and value of this House. The level of scrutiny has been exhausting—I am sorry, exhaustive—and at times exhausting.

I thank all noble Lords across the House for their co-operation and tireless efforts, and, as a number of noble Lords have said, for the consensual approach—I accept that in some cases it was eventually consensual—that noble Lords on all sides of the House took to ensure that the Bill is the best that it can be. It came to this House as a very good Bill and it leaves it as an excellent one. It will greatly benefit many children, young people and families in this country.

During the Bill’s passage through this House the Government tabled or accepted 177 amendments to the Bill. In total, noble Lords considered 649 amendments to the Bill. The formal consultation on the code of practice was conducted while the Bill was in the Lords. The comments and contributions from noble Lords will lead to significant improvements in how the code is drafted. For example, a big change is that it will now cover support for disabled children in more detail, following amendments to the Bill to extend certain clauses to include disabled children without SEN.

I must apologise for the volume of correspondence: we have sent noble Lords 54 letters, policy statements and sets of regulations, but I hope that was helpful. A whole new part of the Bill—Part 5, “Welfare of Children”—has been created. This includes provision on child performance; protecting children from the harms of tobacco; young carers; parent carers; a new duty on schools to support pupils with medical conditions; local authority intervention; measures to improve the quality of children’s homes; and the provision of free school lunches.

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I should like to thank my noble friends on the ministerial Benches. This is the first piece of legislation—this is the bit I took out—that I have taken through the House and I greatly appreciate the support and advice I have received from my ministerial colleagues over the past few months. Of course, I must thank my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education and my honourable friend the Minister for Children and Families, both of whom are passionately committed to the causes of all children and young people. I also thank the many organisations that have engaged with us on the Bill. They made a vital contribution and I hope they will continue to engage with the department as we look to implement the important reforms set out in the Bill.

Finally, I pay tribute to the Bill team, brilliantly led by Jenny Preece, and the other officials who have worked on this Bill so hard and with considerable composure and good humour, and who very sensibly have at no stage ever let me out of their sight. The progress we have made in this place is in very large part due to them, and I thank them most deeply. I know that noble Lords—as many of them have already said—appreciate the great work that they have done. It has been a true tribute to the high standards of the Civil Service and I know that all noble Lords have been incredibly impressed by their professionalism and no-stone-unturned approach. There will be an opportunity for noble Lords to express their gratitude to them personally in the not too distant future—as I know many wish to do—and I hope as many noble Lords as can will attend. I thank you.

Lord Ramsbotham: My Lords, I thank the Minister for the care and attention he has given to his reply to my amendment. All of us in this House were enlightened by what he had to say and I am gratified to hear his confirmation that the Dunford report’s proposal for close working between the equality and human rights commissioner and the Children’s Commissioner is something that will be encouraged. If that happens, and they work together, the actual office of Children’s Commissioner is bound to be strengthened. I am sure that, when noble Lords look at the Hansard of the debate and see the care and content of the Minister’s

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summing up, they will reflect that we have indeed been fortunate throughout this Bill in having such care and attention paid to all the points that we have raised. That has been one of the great pleasures of it.

Having already thanked the Minister and the Bill team, I would like to mention something that I forgot: I thank him for the frequent letters and contacts, which were enormously helpful and made the lives of those who had no research support much easier. As the Minister said, there will be a lot of people who will look back on this Bill—particularly children and young people in the future—with greater opportunity than there was previously. That has been due to the work of an awful lot of people. It has been a great pleasure and privilege to be one of those involved. I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment 44 withdrawn.

Clause 126: Orders and regulations

Amendment 45

Moved by Earl Howe

45: Clause 126, page 134, line 24, at end insert—

“(ca) regulations under section “(Prohibition of sale of nicotine products to persons under 18) or (Amendments consequential on section (Prohibition of sale of nicotine products to persons under 18)),”

Amendment 45 agreed.

Bill passed and returned to the Commons with amendments.

Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill

Returned from the Commons

The Bill was returned from the Commons with certain of the Lords amendments agreed to and the remaining Lords amendment disagreed to with an amendment in lieu. It was ordered that the Commons amendment be printed.

House adjourned at 6.09 pm.