Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Bill [Lords]


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Mrs. Miller: I am heartened that the Minister will do that. The Bill appears to say clearly that there will need to be monitoring of people who care for or supervise a child, or who do so in the course of their employment, and paragraph 2(3) clearly states that the exclusions do not apply in the case of children who have not yet reached the age of 16. Children or people entering employment will receive instruction during the course of that employment, or may be in their employer’s care, whether they are a newspaper boy or girl or anybody else in the relevant age group. If I were an employer, I would have great concerns, and if the Bill indeed implied that children of 14 or 15 would need to be in the care of somebody who was monitored during employment, it would put me off employing someone in that age group.
Based on the Minister’s remarks this evening, it seems that that would be a wholly unintended consequence of the Bill. As somebody who employed people for 17 years—albeit perhaps not of that age—such a consequence would cause me concern, so I am pleased that the Minister will examine the matter further. When he does, perhaps he will put himself in the position of an employer reading the Bill, and ensure that it is amended to clarify the point for employers.
I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendments made: No. 182, in schedule 3, page 45, line 45, at end insert—
‘(ma) a deputy appointed in respect of a child under section 16(2)(b) of the Mental Capacity Act 2005;’.
No. 183, in schedule 3, page 46, line 17, at end insert—
‘( ) For the purposes of sub-paragraph (1)(k), a person is the operator of a database if he—
(a) establishes or maintains the database, or
(b) otherwise, exercises any function in relation to the management or control of the database.’.
No. 184, in schedule 3, page 46, line 31, at end insert—
‘ A person who is part of a group in relation to which another (P) engages in regulated activity relating to children does not engage in regulated activity only because he assists P or does anything on behalf of or under the direction of P which, but for this paragraph, would amount to engaging in regulated activity relating to children.’.—[Mr. Dhanda.]
Mrs. Madeleine Moon (Bridgend) (Lab): I beg to move amendment No. 129, in schedule 3, page 47, line 11, at end insert
‘or any other establishment which is exclusively or mainly for people who are entitled to community care services.’.
The Chairman: With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:
Amendment No. 130, in schedule 3, page 47, line 13, after adults, insert
‘or any other establishment which is exclusively or mainly for people who are entitled to community care services.’.
Amendment No. 104, in schedule 3, page 47, line 35, at end insert—
‘(ba) a day centre providing more than six hours per day of provision for vulnerable adults and operating two or more days per week,’.
Government amendments No. 185 and 186.
Mrs. Moon: I promise not to keep the Committee long. I will endeavour to be as brief as I can.
It has been said during today’s debate that people who are abuse are clever. In fact, in my experience, abuse often arises from ignorance, and more specifically from institutionalised bad practice. The two probing amendments in my name would cover establishments that are not currently regulated and do not have specific standards set for them. In particular, I wish to include organisations and establishments where there are opportunities for staff to set their own standards of practice in working with client groups, appearing to make life easier for staff but in fact allowing institutionalised abuse to become normal practice due to a lack of training, supervision and skills.
The probing amendments would extend the range of establishments defined as providing regulated activities covered by the Care Standards Act 2000. As the Bill stands, day care establishments in particular do not appear to be covered. The definition should be extended to such establishments, at which vulnerable people would otherwise not receive protection.
Annette Brooke: I will also endeavour to be brief. Amendment No. 104 is a probing amendment. It comes from practical experience, but I suspect that amendments Nos. 129 and 130 approach the problem in a much more satisfactory manner. I tabled the amendment, plucking hours and days out of a hat. When my father was elderly, I was encouraged to keep him in his own home. He went to a church day centre, with which I had no problems or worries, for up to six hours a day. He went to the stroke club one afternoon a week; again, I had no problems and knew everybody. He also went to a local authority day centre two days a week. They were very kind and carried out a great deal of personal care, and I was horrified to see that such a centre seems to be excluded from the Bill.
Equally, I have visited many training establishments and day centres for adults with learning disabilities and feel that they should fall within the Bill. I can see that the wording is much better in amendments Nos. 129 and 130, which I hope the Minister will support. I have practical experience of different types of day centre for elderly people, and it is crystal clear that some need regulation because it is possible for someone who is doing the cooking, for instance, to befriend vulnerable elderly people.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Mr. Ivan Lewis): It is a pleasure finally to get to my feet after sitting for so long.
I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgend (Mrs. Moon) on her probing amendments and the hon. Member for Mid-Dorset and North Poole on her constructive contribution. It is difficult to get the definition of day care right, and I shall try to explain why I think the Bill gets it about right, despite the understandable reservations that have been expressed.
I shall speak first to amendments No. 129 and 130. They seek to define day care in terms of an establishment in the same way that elsewhere we have defined care homes, but the term “day care” covers a wide range of very different types of services provided to old and disabled people, as has been acknowledged. It can be provided in a variety of ways: by a local authority or voluntary sector provider, a private sector organisation or local faith group, for example. Because of the disparate nature of day care services, we do not believe that seeking a definition based purely on setting works. We have therefore tried to capture “day care” in the Bill by identifying it in terms of activity rather than in terms of a specific establishment. I reassure hon. Members that the definition of regulated activity already includes those working in day care settings whose responsibilities include the provision of care, supervision, training, assistance, advice or any other activity listed under paragraph 5(1) of part 2 of schedule 3.
Amendments Nos. 129 and 130 seek to achieve their aim by defining day care as an establishment for people who are entitled specifically to community care services. Community care services are those services provided to or commissioned by the local authorities defined in the relevant 1990 Act. We have already made provision for all posts within this sector to come within the scope of the scheme. The Bill provides that all posts within community care services which are not covered by the bar but which give the opportunity for contact with those receiving services or access to records will be covered by “controlled activity”. That means that all staff working in local authority-provided day care settings but who are not undertaking regulated activity will still be subject to vetting processes under the new scheme.
It will be up to individual employers to decide whether to employ a barred person in a job involving controlled activity. When an employer takes a decision to engage a barred person in a controlled activity, we shall obviously expect extra safeguards to be put in place. We are currently looking at the most appropriate mechanism for the enforcement of the requirements related to controlled activity. Extra safeguards are likely to include additional supervision of a barred person which prevents him or her from having the opportunity for unsupervised contact with those individuals attending the day care group.
I hope that to some extent what I have said provides some reassurance. I say to my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgend and the hon. Member for Mid-Dorset and North Poole that we need to give greater detail about what the safeguards may be to allay their concerns.
I deal now with amendment No. 104, which was tabled by the Liberal Democrats. It raises similar issues. Under the Bill, the definition of a regulated activity includes inspection functions carried out by those bodies listed in sub-paragraphs (5) and (6) of part 2 of schedule 3. This is to ensure that those individuals with responsibility for inspecting an establishment, agency, person or body which provides any form of care, treatment or therapy for vulnerable adults are subject to the bar and will need to be checked and subject to monitoring. Sub-paragraph (7) lists establishments, agencies and so on which are subject to inspection by the relevant listed regulatory bodies.
As hon. Members know—this is a legitimate topic for debate but not necessarily in the context of the Bill—day care is not currently regulated under part 2 of the Care Standards Act 2000. Very often, as hon. Members have said, day care is provided in a community setting where a range of other activities takes place. As such, it would be very difficult to define day care in terms of an establishment or an agency appropriate for inspection by the Commission for Social Care Inspection. I accept that the nature of inspection and regulation of day care is not a closed debate, but I do not think it appropriate to deal with it under the Bill.
Government amendment No. 185 is a minor, technical amendment relating to the definition of regulated activity in terms of vulnerable adults. It would bring the functions of the chief executive and other members of the IBB within the definition of “regulated activity” in relation to vulnerable adults. Its omission was an oversight, and I am sure that all Committee members will accept that it is a common-sense amendment.
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Finally, Government amendment No. 186 is identical in its application to vulnerable adults to amendment No. 184 in relation to children, to which my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgend has already spoken. It specifically ensures that, where an activity is carried out by a member of a group of vulnerable adults and possibly others on behalf of or under the direction of an individual engaged in regulated activity with the group, the group member will not be engaged in a regulated activity. For example, it would ensure that where residents of a care home provide help and assistance to other residents of that care home, they will not be required to be subject to monitoring and the care home would not be required to check their status. Again, it is not a simple or easy issue but, I hope, a common-sense outcome.
I urge my hon. Friend to withdraw her amendment and the hon. Member for Mid-Dorset and North Poole not to press her amendment, and I urge the Committee to support the Government amendments.
Mrs. Moon: I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendments made: No. 185, in schedule 3, page 47, line 46, at end insert
‘( ) The exercise of the functions of a member or the chief executive of IBB is a regulated activity relating to vulnerable adults.’.
No. 186, in schedule 3, page 47, line 46, at end insert—
‘( ) A person who is part of a group in relation to which another (P) engages in regulated activity relating to vulnerable adults does not engage in regulated activity only because he assists P or does anything on behalf of or under the direction of P which, but for this sub-paragraph, would amount to engaging in regulated activity relating to vulnerable adults.’.—[Mr. Ivan Lewis.]
Further consideration adjourned.—[Mr. Cawsey.]
Adjourned accordingly at one minute past Seven o’clock till Thursday 13 July at Nine o’clock.
 
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