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Lady Saltoun of Abernethy: Does the noble and learned Lord not agree that he has been referring to aftercare? But if care does not precede aftercare, if the children are not cared for children but are looked after children, the term "aftercare" does seem a bit of a contradiction in terms.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie: I think I would understand that point better if "looked after" was a term that was going to be adopted to deal only with those children who have at some time in their childhood been looked after in the sense of being accommodated by the local authority during that period of childhood.

However, what I sought to explain yesterday was that the term "looked after" is a much broader term and embraces a wide range of different duties and obligations imposed upon the local authorities. It is to avoid confusion between this very specific type of care and the broader range of obligations that we have selected this terminology.

The Earl of Mar and Kellie: This is a children's Bill and we are dealing with children who will have been looked after by the local authority. I persist in being keen that children who are being looked after should know that the local authority will continue to be interested in them until approximately the same time in their lives as could be said of children who are fortunate enough to have remained at home.

I should have liked the provision to be extended to the age of 25 in order to establish that right, so that social workers could confidently say to the children they were involved with that the local authority was there for them until they were well into adulthood.

I do not think that would have imposed too much of a problem on the local authority, because it was, after all, a duty to provide advice, guidance and assistance on request, and I suppose I hoped that that would be happening anyway. I am thinking mainly about briefing the children as they leave care and return home and being able to reassure them that the local authority will not abandon them. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 90 and 91 not moved.]

Clause 25 agreed to.

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Clause 26 [Financial assistance towards expenses of education or training and removal of power to guarantee indentures etc.]:

[Amendment No. 92 not moved.]

Clause 26 agreed to.

Clauses 27 to 29 agreed to.

Clause 30 [Registration and inspection of certain residential grant-aided and independent schools etc.]:

4 p.m.

The Earl of Mar and Kellie moved Amendment No. 93:

Page 22, line 17, leave out ("without his being") and insert ("only if he is").

The noble Earl said: The purpose of Amendment No. 93 is to bring all grant-aided and independent schools within the registration scheme. When we are considering comprehensive provisions for children in Scotland, I can see no reason why we should not have a licensing system for all schools. Attending any school, and a boarding school in particular, has a major impact in any child's life. One of the merits of having a licensing or registration scheme is that it would also act as a complaints system. A duty to investigate complaints would meet the need of parents who seem to be increasingly unhappy about the performance of the schools their children attend. I do not accept that the approach of caveat emptor—that is, if you do not like it, take your child away—is the best way of dealing with problems in the organisation of a school. The child is treated as the product in that scenario. The child who is removed from the school on that basis will subsequently be thought to have been at fault and thus stigmatised.

Secondly, independent schools should have nothing to fear from such a system. It will provide a guarantee of the maintenance of minimum standards which should be a plus factor in their advertising. Similarly the prospect of refusal of registration or subsequent de-registration would no doubt be helpful in focusing the minds of all managers of independent schools. At present, managers who might not qualify for registration can opt out because the scheme is a voluntary one.

This amendment would act as a sound quality assurance measure and would be welcomed by all parents considering independent school education for their children. I beg to move.

Lord Macaulay of Bragar: On this side we support the amendment. We are talking in terms of grant-aided and independent schools. It cannot be right that even if a parent or parents want to give their children away to a grant-aided or independent school, they should be entitled to diminish the rights of the child.

We are speaking at a time when the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is very much to the fore of social thinking. The thinking about this particular clause seems to be that the parent can just throw away any responsibility for his child, put it in the hands of the headmaster or the headmistress and the child has no escape. If I interpret correctly what the noble Earl, Lord Mar and Kellie, was getting at, to use a colloquialism, there should be an open-handed approach to all

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children's rights in Scotland or indeed the United Kingdom, and they should not be locked away in a fortress where their rights are being denied to them and where they have no means of exercising their rights by complaining.

I have no doubt that the Government have received some representations from a person whose child was severely, or allegedly, severely abused at a Scottish public school, so called. I shall not go into the details of that, but if we are going to have an open society where children have rights, then there is no reason for anybody to close the door. The amendment moved by the noble Earl, Lord Mar and Kellie, has opened the door and no-one should have any reason to fear anyone coming through that door and allowing any child in any school to speak to them. I support the amendment.

The Earl of Balfour: I very much support what has been said on the amendment. I would appreciate some guidance to enable children at such schools to know to whom to appeal if they feel thoroughly unhappy about whatever it may be at the school: the bullying, the accommodation, if they feel they are being unfairly treated, and so on. They must be protected.

I have written to my noble and learned friend Lord Fraser voicing my concern about children being educated in this country whose parents hold down a job overseas or who may be foreign citizens. Those children can be very lonely. They must have somebody they can turn to within the local authority structure, for a want of a better word.

Baroness Faithful: I support Amendment No. 93 which, in England and Wales, is already enacted. It was enacted because of a very serious case that was brought before the courts. Therefore, I support the amendment.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie: I have listened carefully to what has been said about the need to introduce compulsory registration under the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968 for both grant-aided and independent schools which provide a measure of care. I agree that there will be circumstances where independent schools should be registered under the 1968 Act but this amendment takes that rather too far. The extent to which a school provides personal care and support would be irrelevant. The amendment would require all schools, I emphasise all schools, to be registered under both the 1968 Act and the Education (Scotland) Act 1980.

I am bound to say that it is very difficult to justify extending compulsory registration in the way proposed. It would place too heavy a burden on the schools. It would be over-bureaucratic and would carry serious resource implications for local authorities. For schools providing no social care and support the whole process would have no practical value at all. I believe that what we have in the Bill as drafted strikes the right balance. We require registration of residential grant-aided and independent schools, the whole or a substantial part of whose function is to provide personal care and support, and we allow the voluntary registration of other schools. With that explanation of why I consider that the amendment goes too far, I hope that the noble Earl will

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withdraw it.

A number of other observations were made. The noble Earl, Lord Balfour, is perhaps aware of the provision to which we shall shortly be coming in Clause 31. It has regard to the welfare of children and young persons in residential accommodation within a school. That is the more appropriate point at which his concerns can be registered.

Lord Macaulay of Bragar: Before the Minister sits down, does he make a distinction between a grant-aided school and an independent school for the purposes of the proposition which he has just advanced to the Committee?

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie: Not at all. What I have indicated is that this is a clear alternative as the drafting says,

"a grant-aided or independent school". The difficulty here, as I am explaining, is that all schools, grant-aided and/or independent, whether or not they provided any degree of social care, would be required to register if this amendment were to be carried. I understand why it is desirable for some where that care is being provided, but that is not the effect of the amendment.

The Earl of Mar and Kellie: This is a children's Bill, and we are considering the fate of children who are committed to something that a sociologist would describe as a total institution. For eight months of the year, the child is totally within the bounds of the private school. I reflect on my own prep school in Scotland where we rarely ever came out of the area within the walls, though I may say that they were not that close. However, it was a total institution. I wonder therefore how it can be said that such a school did not supply a social care. It certainly supplied education but it also supplied care because it was looking after us.

By not having a registration scheme, I fear that people may get the message that using an independent school means that the parent perhaps wants different standards for the child. One of the reasons why I wish to see a registration scheme is just to prove that that does not happen.

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