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Page 17, line 47, at end insert ("and shall
(a) having regard to the results of that assessment, decide whether the needs of the child or other person call for the provision of any service; and
(b) provide a written copy of the assessment and any decision made following the assessment to the child and child's parent or guardian.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I am not quite sure why the amendment is included. No doubt the Government have had notice of it and have some observations to make on it which I can consider between now and the Third Reading. I beg to move.

Lord Rodger of Earlsferry: My Lords, for what they are worth, the Government's observations are much as they were in Committee. The aim of the Government is to keep Clause 22 as simple and focused as possible and to avoid cluttering the primary legislation with too much detail. Therefore, whatever the intention behind Amendment No. 32, which the noble Lord does not seem to be clear about, we believe that it would add unnecessary detail. Nonetheless, the intention is that guidelines will be issued which will deal with the objectives that lie behind the amendment. I hope that, with that assurance, the noble Lord will be able to withdraw the amendment.

Lord Macaulay of Bragar: My Lords, in the circumstances I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 23 [Assessment of ability of carers to provide care for disabled children]:

Lord Macaulay of Bragar moved Amendment No. 33:

Page 18, line 7, leave out ("the carer may request").

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The noble Lord said: My Lords, Amendment No. 33 is grouped with Amendments Nos. 34 to 38. The purpose of the amendments is to ensure that where a carer's assessment is made in respect of a disabled child that assessment should be made at the same time. The Bill as drafted introduces two assessments which may be relevant to families affected by disability. It is much fairer if the carer and the disabled person are assessed at the same time rather than separately. I beg to move.

The Earl of Balfour: My Lords, I should like to draw the attention of your Lordships to page 18, line 10, of the Bill, which reads:

    "to carry out an assessment of the carer's ability to continue to provide".

I get the impression that this relates not only to the carer's physical ability but also to his financial ability to provide care and whether a person can afford to look after a disabled child.

In relation to Amendment No. 37, I do not know where the word "many" appears in line 15. I have not found it.

In addition, I could not possibly agree to Amendment No. 38. I believe that the word "by" is much more important than "in respect of".

The Earl of Lindsay: My Lords, the essential purpose of the amendments moved by the noble Lord, Lord Macaulay, is, so far as we understand, to remove the need for a carer to request an assessment and for the assessment of the carer's needs to be carried out independently of the needs of the child.

I have difficulty with that on three grounds. First, it goes beyond our undertaking to align the Scottish provisions dealing with carers as closely as possible to the provisions which will apply in England and Wales. Secondly, I fear that the amendment, by requiring the carer's needs to be assessed independently of the needs of the child, might put the clause outwith the scope of the Bill in that it is a children Bill. Any assessment of adult carers would need to be carried out for the purposes of addressing the needs of the child.

The third point is that I do not feel that it is appropriate for assessments to be imposed on carers. There will be carers who are perfectly happy and competent to care for the child. Local authority intervention of the kind which would apply if the amendments were adopted might well be resented by some carers. However, I accept that carers should be aware that they have a right to an assessment when the child's needs are being assessed. We propose to cover the point in the guidance issued following enactment of the Bill.

For those reasons, and for the reasons put forward by my noble friend Lord Balfour, but with the assurance that I have given on guidance, I invite the noble Lord to withdraw the amendment.

Lord Macaulay of Bragar: My Lords, the more closely one considers the Bill, the more difficult it becomes. One is not aware of many of these issues until considering the Bill. The assessments are made at the

5 Jul 1995 : Column 1142

request of the carers. Under Clause 23(1) where there is an assessment to determine the needs of a disabled child, a person in that section referred to as a carer,

    "may request the local authority ... to carry out an assessment"

of the carer's ability. Should a power be given to the local authority to assess the carer? Why should the impetus come from the carer? We have to be careful about the needs of children, disabled or otherwise. Might some provision be built into Clause 23(1) to give the local authority the power to assess the ability of the carer to look after the disabled child?

The more one reads the Bill, the more one sees problems emerging. It is an all-party Bill; I do not make any party points. Will the Government and their advisers consider the matter to see whether the local authority should be given some power to consider the carer as well as the child rather than wait for the request of the carer?

Subject to that, and seeking to be helpful, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 34 to 38 not moved.]

Clause 28 [After-care]:

The Earl of Mar and Kellie moved Amendment No. 39:

Page 20, line 43, leave out ("nineteen") and insert ("twenty-one").

The noble Earl said: My Lords, in moving the amendment I speak also to Amendments Nos. 40 and 41.

At present, the Bill offers some young people who have been looked after by their local authority the useful possibility of help, guidance and assistance as young adults. I continue to believe that the age range specified is too tight and that a slight relaxation of the age range of eligibility will be more than beneficial in the case of those who were discharged from being looked after by the local authority after their 15th birthday.

I would suggest that it would be even more significant to look at the size of the group discharged after they reach 15½ years. I clearly believe that an enlargement of the catchment group could be useful in reducing homelessness, addiction, unemployment, lack of skills, disaffection and delinquency, all of which cost the nation a fortune, albeit set against a different budget. I remind noble Lords that the cost of a week's imprisonment is £500 per person.

Similarly, I should be keen to see the age range of the power to assist raised to 23 years. That would bring the provision up to a par with the average age of leaving home which is now understood to be 22 years. It also reflects the fact that growing up in a "looked after" environment is rarely a springboard to early maturity. I beg to move.

The Minister of State, Scottish Office (Lord Fraser of Carmyllie): My Lords, I am keenly aware of the importance of aftercare. There is little sense in investing time, money and staff resources in looking after young people and then failing to provide them with the necessary support when they move towards independent living.

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To my mind the key point is that services—that is, advice, guidance and assistance given to them—should be improved, not simply extended to people who are slightly older. If we get the services right at the early stage I very much hope that we shall be able to avoid some of the difficulties which exist at present.

It is not simply a question of resources, although clearly additional costs could be significant if we both materially improve services and extend the age range of the young people who might qualify to receive them. It is just as important that the services and support should be carefully tailored to meet the needs of the young people involved. I hope that that can be achieved.

I stress that the clause contains a duty for local authorities to provide aftercare for young people up to 19 and a power to continue assisting young care leavers until they are 21. All in all, we are providing for aftercare on a wider basis than is available for other parts of the United Kingdom. The aftercare provisions are considerably more generous than they are under the 1968 Act.

I do not believe that we need to take aftercare beyond a young person's 21st birthday. But it should be noted that Clause 29 empowers local authorities to contribute to costs of education and training for young people beyond 21.

This is essentially a children Bill. We have provided a strong framework of aftercare within it. I hope that, with the assessment on the quality that is provided, rather than extending the range the noble Earl will feel able to withdraw the amendment.

The Earl of Mar and Kellie: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his reply. It is encouraging. Therefore I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 40 and 41 not moved]:

Clause 33 [Registration and inspection of certain residential grant-aided and independent schools etc.]:

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