Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Bill [Lords]

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Mr. Dhanda: When I write to the hon. Member for St. Albans—I will copy in the hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham—I will clarify where it is in the Bill. What I can confirm is that if he is a trustee of a charity and that charity is involved in regulated activity, he too will be covered.
Tim Loughton: Strictly speaking, I am a director of a charitable company limited by guarantee. I am not strictly speaking a trustee. Am I covered on that basis? I am directly covered as a director of a charitable company. The Minister is indicating that he believes so. It has gone from yes to believe so.
The point is that there are many question marks being thrown up. That is not helped by the fact that there is no mention of any of this in the explanatory notes, which are particularly brief in this area. I will not press my amendment to a Division: in any case, it is not the lead amendment. I will defer to the Liberal Democrats on that.
However, we need some extra clarification. It might come in one of the many letters that the Minister has been promising to myself and other Committee members all week—he is going to have a very full list and we are going to have full postbags. Some more thought needs to be given to that and some clarification, if not some amendments, needs to be introduced on Report. Does he wish to intervene before I sit down? Otherwise I will say my piece and hand over to the Liberal Democrats.
Annette Brooke: On further education, I can envisage a situation in which one might, for example, reach40 per cent. as the total proportion of students at an FE college who are under 18, or under 16, or who have special needs or who are adults with learning disabilities. It would easy to reach that 40 per cent. mark. We might say that there should be a majority, but a significant minority would be just as important. Nevertheless, I shall not press the amendment at this stage, although I am not happy about the trigger—the threshold—when one slips from one definition to another.
Amendment No. 114 was always intended to be a probing amendment. It was difficult to find a suitable opportunity to address the point, but I felt that it should be pressed, as we had not received any answers on Second Reading. I make no apology for pressing it, because there was no response to what I thought was an excellent speech on an issue of national significance that should be considered at all possible levels. There will be more and more trust situations—the responsibilities of the trustees of new trust schools may need to be clarified, for instance. So I concur with the hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham that notes are required, and I look forward to receiving a copy of the Minister’s letter on the issues. With that, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment made: No. 146, in clause 8, page 4, line 38, at end insert—
‘( ) A person does not commit an offence under subsection (1) or (2) if he has not attained the age of 16.’.—[Mr. Dhanda.]
Clause 8, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Clause 9 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 10

Use of person not subject to monitoring for regulated activity
Amendment made: No. 147, in clause 10, page 6, line 19, at end insert—
Question proposed, That the clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill.
Sarah Teather: I continue to have some concerns about the breadth of clause 10. The sentiments underlying the clause are similar to those underlying clause 9, except that clause 9 relates to people who are barred rather than those subject to monitoring. As drafted, the clause would criminalise mistakes, which I do not believe is the Government’s intention. I suspect that, particularly as the legislation beds down, mistakes will be likely, because there are a number of points of potential confusion. For example, there is the question of whether therapy is a regulated activity. Therapy provided to a child is a regulated activity. However, under clause 14(1)(a), complementary and alternative therapy are listed as areas of exemption from the need to make monitoring checks for vulnerable adults. Meanwhile, therapy is listed as a controlled activity in relation to both children and adults, requiring guidance from the Secretary of State before engagement in it. Clauses 18 to 20 deal with that.
The situation is confused. As I said on a similar matter earlier, the definitions are not clear and I suspect when the legislation first comes into force there will be a high potential for mistakes. Serious misconduct can lead to disciplinary action or dismissal, but there is a question mark over whether it is appropriate to deal with it in legislation. I wonder whether the Government might consider an amendment on Report to narrow the definition so that there would have to be knowledge of monitoring. That would catch fewer people.
Mr. Dhanda: With your permission, Mr. Conway, I shall leave the discussion on clause 14 until we reach clause 14. As to use of people who are not subject to monitoring, many of the arguments were made in discussing an earlier clause. The Government wish to err on the side of caution and our arguments remain the same.
Clause 10, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
It being twenty-five minutes past Ten o’clock, The Chairman adjourned the Committee without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order.
Adjourned till this day at One o’clock.
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