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Lord Fraser of Carmyllie moved Amendments Nos. 42 and 43:

Page 24, line 38, leave out second ("or").
Page 24, line 41, after ("1984,") insert ("or Part II of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995,").

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, these amendments simply insert a reference to the Bill into the redrafted Section 67 which the Bill puts into the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968. I beg to move.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 34 [Welfare of children in accommodation provided for purposes of school attendance]:

The Earl of Mar and Kellie moved Amendment No. 44:

Page 25, line 21, at end insert:
("( ) Such inspections shall be made
( ) on a routine basis; and
( ) in response to any reasonable complaint by a child or his parent or parents.".").

The noble Earl said: My Lords, the amendment builds on the answer given by the Minister at Committee stage. I bring the amendment forward for several reasons.

5 Jul 1995 : Column 1144

First, I believe it is essential that it is made absolutely clear that there are no exemptions to the jurisdiction of the future Children (Scotland) Act and that children in independent schools are definitely covered by that legislation.

Secondly, problems arise in independent schools which need to be resolved. I believe that all schools should have effective and powerful internal systems to deal with complaints by pupils, parents and guardians. I further believe that there is a need for a system of external investigation and inspection. This, I understand, is already in place but seems to be little known and probably under-resourced.

Thirdly, there are an increasing number of children from abroad attending Scottish independent schools. Our reputation in education goes before us, but we must live up to it. These children may be vulnerable, culture-shocked and far from home. We must ensure that the local systems of support are good enough to meet their needs.

Fourthly, it may be necessary to give assistance and advice on anti-bullying and anti-abuse strategies. Her Majesty's inspectors should, by now, have broad experience in the area. As an analogy, the Scottish Prison Service has for the past two years had an anti-bullying strategy at the top of the list of priorities of governors of young offenders institutions. Perhaps the old virtue of over-privileged children being subjected to artificial hardship has broken down in an era of social mobility.

Fifthly and finally, private education is bought and paid for, but it is not a consumer product which can be returned to the manufacturers. Parents who have committed their children to an independent school must be confident that the school is a competent place where their child can grow up. There is no second chance for a ruined childhood and upbringing. The amendment would put the Secretary of State's existing task on the face of the Bill and publicise it. I beg to move.

6.30 p.m.

Lord Macaulay of Bragar: My Lords, as I indicated at the Committee stage of the Bill, I support the amendment moved by the noble Earl. I noticed that in Scottish newspapers recently—I shall not mention the name of the school involved—it was stated that the headmaster had taken on board the problems which had been recognised in the school. He said that he was quite happy to have any inspection at any time. If that is the case, I cannot see why the noble Earl's amendment should be resisted by the Government.

I noticed that in his remarks the headmaster said that hanging a child out of a window by his ankles and inserting a broom into a certain part of his anatomy was "horseplay". If that is horseplay, it is not the type of horseplay to which I should like my child or anyone else's to be subjected. The whole objective behind the amendment is to give an avenue through which parents and children can obtain justice within the school system. If the headmaster who made the remarks was responding to the criticisms of that school, then let us have an open house with the Government supporting the amendment.

5 Jul 1995 : Column 1145

The Earl of Kintore: My Lords, I wonder whether the amendment will help in relation to the problems raised by the noble Lord, Lord Macaulay. I understand that independent schools have nothing to hide and very much welcome inspections from HMI. The schools believe that they do well and if they receive a good inspection report from HMI, the position is confirmed.

HMI or the relevant authority will react,

    "in response to any reasonable complaint by a child or his parent or parents".

As a parent myself, I believe that one should complain first to the headmaster and, if the problem is not resolved quickly, one should remove one's child from the school.

Schools might wish to consider the proposal that there could possibly be room for having a really independent person outwith the school whom the children could consult if they had a problem. It would have to be publicised to the children and everything would have to be totally confidential. The outside adviser would have to have the ear of the headmaster 24 hours a day, but something like that could be useful.

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy: My Lords, I entirely agree with what the noble Earl, Lord Kintore, has just said. Apart from anything else, no amount of inspections would stop the kind of bullying described by the noble Lord, Lord Macaulay. Bullies do not hang children out of the window by their ankles when the inspector is standing below. I do not think inspections would stop that kind of thing and what the noble Earl, Lord Kintore, suggested is far more likely to do so.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Earl for moving the amendment and particularly for the way in which he did it. As he is aware, a number of allegations have been made about a school in Scotland in what seemed to me to be extremely unfair circumstances. Little opportunity was allowed to the school to offer any explanation of whether the allegations were well-founded. For that reason, I am grateful to the noble Earl for approaching the matter in an objective way and without reference to particular circumstances.

I am in complete agreement with the noble Earl that it is clearly desirable that the new welfare duty should be imposed on schools and that, as part of their inspection, Her Majesty's inspectors of schools should have regard to that new welfare duty. The inspections will be carried out on a routine basis, but in my view it would not be helpful to be restrictive in the Bill as to the frequency of the inspections. We have proposed a five-year inspection cycle, but that is not the only basis on which it might be undertaken. I take very seriously the noble Earl's concern that inspections should be triggered by complaints by pupils or their parents. All complaints about the operation of independent schools received by the Secretary of State are already followed up with the schools concerned. Her Majesty's inspectors of schools can be asked to carry out investigations and report their findings to the Secretary of State and make recommendations for improvements in provision by schools where those are considered necessary.

5 Jul 1995 : Column 1146

My conclusion is that there is already in place an effective means of investigating complaints about the operation of independent schools. However, it does not end there. I note what the noble Earl, Lord Kintore, and the noble Lady, Lady Saltoun, said. I can advise them that child protection guidelines are being drawn up by Professor Kathleen Marshall of Glasgow University, in consultation with a number of interested and expert parties, for use by the independent schools in meeting their new duty under this clause. Clause 34, as at present worded, will provide an effective means of ensuring that appropriate welfare standards are in place in independent schools. I hope that noble Lords will be reassured by the action that is being initiated by independent schools in Scotland to meet the new duty that is imposed on them. With those words, I hope that the noble Earl will feel that he can withdraw the amendment.

The Earl of Mar and Kellie: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his remarks. I shall go along with his request and therefore beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 37 [Short-term refuges for children at risk of harm]:

[Amendments Nos. 45 and 46 not moved.]

Clause 40 [Safeguarding child's interests in proceedings]:

The Earl of Lindsay moved Amendment No. 47:

Page 29, line 1, leave out subsection (4).

The noble Earl said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 47, I wish to speak to Amendment No. 48. These are two small technical amendments and I therefore commend them to the House. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 41 [Power of Secretary of State to make rules governing procedure at children's hearing etc.]:

The Earl of Lindsay moved Amendment No. 48:

Page 30, line 7, at end insert:
("( ) the procedure in relation to the disposal of matters arising under section 40(1) of this Act;
( ) the functions of any person appointed by a children's hearing under section 40(1) of this Act and and right of that person to information relating to the proceedings in question;
( ) the recording in writing of any statement given under section 40(3) of this Act;").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 43 [Prohibition of publication of proceedings at children's hearing]:

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