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I come to amendments Nos. 37, 41 and 42. Amendment No. 37 adds nothing substantive to clause 11. If an undertaking is an establishment or agency required to be registered under the Bill--for instance, an independent clinic--the person carrying on or managing the clinic will be required to register only once because he or she is providing only one type of service.
Mr. Hammond: My point is that some establishments provide more than one service, such as an establishment in my constituency that provides respite care for children with cerebral palsy and day care for adults with learning difficulties. I understand that it will have to register twice.
Ms Stuart: The amendment is intended to provide that there is a need to register only once in respect of a single site or building, irrespective of the different services provided there. That is unacceptable, even if the same staff and premises are used for two different categories of establishment. It will be important to have a separate registration for each.
Amendments Nos. 41 and 42 would enable representations to be made in person or in writing when an individual received a registration authority's notice of proposal. The very same amendments were tabled in Committee, but, as I do not want to repeat those debates, I simply say that the Bill will not remove people's right to make representations in person. They will still have the opportunity to appeal to the tribunal, and the Bill merely provides that the registration authority can decide whether to take enforcement action without oral representations being made.
In Committee, the hon. Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr. Hammond) said that he had been furnished with the view that the Bill's provisions for making representations would not comply with the Human Rights Act 1998. That is not the case: a person will be able to appeal to the independent tribunal and there will be an oral hearing. The authority's decision would not take effect until the tribunal had decided the case, unless the provider's registration had been cancelled under clause 20--the urgent procedure for cancellation. Before that, individuals would have had the opportunity to make written representations to the registration authority before it made a decision. At that stage, a misunderstanding could be cleared up or the authority could decide to take further action.
For the reasons that I have given--abuse of the existing provisions for oral representations in the Registered Homes Act 1984 and prolonging the risk to vulnerable people--I ask the House to reject the amendment.
Mr. Hammond: The Minister's arguments on amendments Nos. 41 and 42 were unconvincing and she did not address the question of the false premise, on which the arguments made in Committee by the Minister of State, the hon. Member for Barrow and Furness (Mr. Hutton), depended. I hope that the hon. Lady takes the trouble to consider recommendation 31 of the Longcare inquiry report in detail. Perhaps she will realise that the Government are removing an important right without good cause. However, amendment No. 37--the lead amendment--is relatively minor, so I shall not press it. [Interruption.] If Labour Members are so insistent, we might think again about amendments Nos. 41 and 42 at the relevant point. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendments made: No. 55, in page 9, line 21, after "variation" insert "or removal".
No. 56, in page 9, line 38, after "(stating" insert ", where applicable,".--[Mr. Mike Hall.]
Amendment made: No. 57, in page 10, line 26, after "vary" insert "or remove".--[Mr. Mike Hall.]
Amendment made: No. 58, in page 11, line 16, after "varied" insert--
', the condition which is removed'.--[Mr. Mike Hall.]
Amendments made: No. 59, in page 11, line 32, after "varying" insert "or removing".
No. 60, in page 11, line 37, after "variation" insert ", removal".--[Mr. Mike Hall.]
Amendment made: No. 61, in page 14, line 47, at end insert--
'( ) Before making regulations under this section, except regulations which amend other regulations made under this section and do not, in the opinion of the appropriate Minister, effect any substantial change in the provision made by those regulations, the appropriate Minister shall consult any persons he considers appropriate.'--[Mr. Mike Hall.]
Mr. Hanson: The amendments represent minor modifications to the clause that simply extend the power of direction to enable the National Assembly to direct a local authority in Wales to take account of any code of practice published by the Care Council for Wales. They will create powers parallel to those already prescribed for England. Indeed, they are essential requirements. The hon. Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr. Hammond) raised those issues in Committee. We gave a positive response and have tabled the amendments.
Amendments made: No. 63, in page 33, line 15, at end insert--
'(5A) Any functions of the Assembly under this section--
(a) may be delegated by the Assembly to the Welsh Council; or
(b) may be exercised by any person, or by employees of any person, authorised to do so by the Assembly'.
No. 64, in page 33, line 17, after "(5)(b)" insert "or (5A)(b)".
No. 65, in page 33, line 18, leave out "Secretary of State" and insert "appropriate Minister".
No. 66, in page 33, line 23, after "Act" insert--
'and, in respect of an authorisation given by the Assembly, references to a Minister included the Assembly'.
No. 95, in page 33, line 23, after "(5)(b)", insert "and (5A)(b)".
No. 67, in page 33, line 25, leave out subsection (7).--[Mr. Mike Hall.]
'(b) make recommendations concerning the operation of arrangements falling within subsection (2), (3) or (4) with the purpose of improving the effectiveness of those arrangements in safeguarding and promoting the rights and welfare of children to whom this Part applies; and
(c) when he considers it necessary, or when requested so to do by the Secretary of State or the Assembly, prepare and submit, to the Secretary of State and the Assembly, proposals for amending the provisions of this Act or any other enactment or instrument as they relate to regulated children's services in Wales.'.
Mr. Griffiths: I welcome the provision for a children's commissioner in the Bill, and the way in which the Government have acted since the Waterhouse report and other reports about the abuse of youngsters in care in Wales. I also welcome the way in which the Government have worked with the National Assembly for Wales in terms of clauses 71 to 77 and schedule 2.
However, I feel that my amendments will help to fine-tune and improve the Bill and the functions of the commissioner. The burden of the clauses is to emphasise the process and the functions that the commissioner will have in relation to individual children in regulated services in Wales.
The clauses are concerned with the duty of the commissioner to review and monitor the effectiveness of arrangements for safeguarding and promoting the rights and welfare of children participating in regulated children's services; the effectiveness of information disclosure; issues relating to criminality; the effectiveness
What is missing is any positive note that the children's commissioner should make recommendations for the improvement of the provisions made in the Bill. In this, I claim no originality; I looked at the remit of the Equal Opportunities Commission, which could, on its own initiative or at the request of the Secretary of State, bring forward proposals to amend the Act or any other Act relating to its functions.
It would strike a positive note in the Bill if we could give the commissioner the power to take such initiatives, which would involve making a recommendation to the Secretary of State in cases of primary legislation--either this Act or Acts related to regulated children's services in Wales. However, recommendations could also be made about secondary legislation, which would be a matter for the Assembly.
In both cases, the commissioner could make recommendations, or either the Secretary of State or the Assembly could request the commissioner to consider whether there was a need to change legislation to make it more effective. I hope that the Government will feel that they can accept the amendments, as that would be a good signal to the National Assembly and people involved in regulated services for children in Wales. The commissioner would be more than a person dealing with process and functions, and would have the positive role of being able to recommend changes in legislation--for this House or the Assembly--to ensure that safeguards for children in care are kept at the highest levels.