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Lord Clement-Jones: Can the Minister say whether there will be medical representation on the council?

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: I do not want to go further at present. That matter needs to be considered, but from the broad range of interests involved one can see many potential backgrounds. However, I shall take into account the noble Lord's views.

Baroness Pitkeathley: It may be helpful if I report on the recent discussions of the Social Care Council Advisory Group, in which the issue was aired with great interest. There was a strong feeling that the council should not be aiming for representation, since it is impossible to have representation on all the groups. Rather, it should aim for an organisation which would work and in which the interests of all the user groups would be heard rather than represented.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: That is most helpful. It was unfortunate if I used the word "representational", particularly in view of my comments in relation to an earlier amendment. Clearly, at the heart one needs people with common sense. This is one of the most exciting parts of the Bill. It will have an enormous influence on helping to raise the status and professionalism of an extremely important group of people in society. Clearly, people of the highest quality are needed on the council. It is equally important that they must come from a broad range of backgrounds, but when they meet as a council they will meet as one corporate body.

Lord Laming: I am extremely grateful to the Minister for that helpful and carefully considered response. It is a source of great comfort to me that the noble Baroness, Lady Pitkeathley, is chairing the advisory group. I had hoped--perhaps rather naively--that it might have been possible to work towards a situation where the four countries of the United Kingdom had proper representation on a council or to work towards properly established regulatory machinery. I accept what the Minister said. The noble Baroness, Lady Barker, is quite right in that we have already experienced difficulties in the past because of the separate arrangements in Scotland. The motivation behind the amendment is simply that we do

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not replicate those difficulties and that we try to avoid exactly the kind of problems to which the noble Baroness, Lady Park, referred.

I still hope that, following the Minister's extremely helpful response, it might be possible to go a touch further, but in the light of what he and the noble Baroness, Lady Pitkeathley, have said, I am happy to beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Earl Howe moved Amendment No. 120:

    Page 22, line 14, at end insert--

("who shall ensure, in particular, that each Council has access to information relevant to the discharge of its functions").

The noble Earl said: This is a straightforward amendment, the point of which is to ensure that full and up-to-date information is furnished to each care council. The background to that is, as I understand it, that the CCETSW has experienced a certain amount of difficulty over the past few years and has not felt itself to be--shall we say--as well briefed as it would like to ensure that training is kept up to date. There is a need to ensure, for example, that each council has access to information about the condition of the various services, about new and important developments which may affect those services and about anything that may affect staff numbers. That is the context in which I have tabled the amendment. I hope that the Minister will understand my purpose. I beg to move.

Baroness Pitkeathley: I again declare an interest: I have every sympathy also with the amendment moved by the noble Earl. Essential information is, of course, vital to the functioning of the councils. I believe that the councils are so welcome and have been so long awaited that the spirit is very willing to ensure that that exchange of information and provision of information will take place.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: I am not convinced that the amendment is required but I accept the point that the noble Earl has raised. Ministers are responsible for the way in which the councils carry out their functions and are answerable for them to Parliament and to the Welsh Assembly. Therefore, they will want to ensure as a matter of course that the councils will have full access to whatever information is necessary. As I have said before, it is an extremely important part of the Bill. It would be in the interests and desires of Ministers to ensure that the body had all that it required in the way of information to carry out its job effectively.

Earl Howe: I am in part reassured by that response. I should like to believe that that is the way that it will work. I am sure that at the beginning, everyone will start out with the best of intentions. My fear is that, somewhere along the road, the system may not work as it should. I suppose that if mechanisms are put in place at the outset they will continue. But it is something to which we must be alert. I am comforted by the strength of the Minister's assurance on the issue

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and before I withdraw the amendment, as I intend to do, I see that the Minister would like to add one more comment.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: I am sorry to delay the proceedings at such a late hour. However, it is important to remember that this will be a non-departmental public body. It will be subject to review and, therefore, one would expect there to be the closest dialogue between Ministers and the council. It will be possible for problems to be ironed out and for discussions about the future direction of policy to take place. I believe that those will be the circumstances in which Ministers will be able to have confidence in the council and, as a result, will, of course, want the council to have all the information that it requires.

Earl Howe: I am grateful. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 50 agreed to.

Clause 51 [Interpretation]:

[Amendment No. 121 not moved.]

Lord Laming moved Amendment No. 122:

    Page 22, line 40, at end insert ("or otherwise in connection with the provision of day services").

The noble Lord said: I am delighted that day centre workers will be included under the jurisdiction of the general social care council. Undoubtedly that will go some way towards driving up quality within that sector of work. However, the popular image of day care for someone with a learning disability is five days a week from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. spent in a day centre. Developments over recent years have meant that the reality is quite different. Now there is a wide range of activities for which the day centre is sometimes the base, but often it is not. Those activities might include voluntary work, the use of local cultural or leisure resources, including the local library, environmental projects, such as collecting newspapers for recycling, and writing and publishing newspapers. The amendment seeks to bring staff who work in all those different settings within the scope of the legislation. Therefore, it is the quality of the support staff that is paramount rather than the location of the resource.

We have already touched on the definition of day services. The Minister was apprehensive of the wider definition. For my part, I cannot see the logic of protecting group activities in the day centres but ignoring one-to-one activities by staff outside them.

Incidentally, reference to day centres in Clause 51 seems to argue for a definition of day services at the beginning of the Bill, even if the day services are not to be included initially in the remit of inspection and registration. I beg to move.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: I believe that the noble Lord has raised a most important matter in wanting to ensure that we will have the power to bring into the framework people who are not at present under the definition of "social care worker", if we believe that

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that is necessary. Therefore, we propose to bring forward a government amendment to allow for the definition of "social care worker" to be extended where Ministers see it as an additional safeguard for the public.

Lord Laming: I am most grateful to the Minister for that reply. It gives me enormous pleasure to seek to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 51 agreed to.

Clause 52 [The register]:

[Amendment No. 123 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

Baroness Barker moved Amendment No. 123A:

    Page 23, line 12, at end insert--

("(5) Each council shall publish, monitor and update a timetable for the training and registration of each and all types of social care workers.").

The noble Baroness said: Late as it is, I should like to spend a little time discussing this amendment, which, I believe, is probably one of the most important. We have talked a great deal over the past few days about the length of time that it will take to get the various commissions up and running. We have talked about the amount of time that it will take to set the minimum standards and to implement them.

This particular clause deals with staff. As your Lordships know, in any social care activity staff and the quality of staff are perhaps the critical factors which determine the quality of care. In the documents that we have so far produced, it seems likely that the training and registration of staff will start at the higher levels. However, the amendment seeks to draw attention to the fact that the most important levels of staff are the lowest ones--those in perhaps the most menial and manual jobs. It is in those kinds of jobs and areas where instances of abuse most frequently take place.

This amendment seeks to discover whether it is possible to start the training at that lower level of activity which is crucially important. We accept that the training and registering of 1.3 million staff will take an extremely long time. It will also have a tremendous effect on the whole care economy. For example, many voluntary organisations which are providers of care are extremely worried about the sudden imposition of the need to train staff. As we have said on many occasions previously, the training of staff has significant resource implications.

Therefore, we are asking for timetables to be set. We are seeking to ensure that the implementation of the training requirement does not lead to a dramatic disruption of services. It is entirely possible that the sudden imposition of a need to train vast numbers of staff may threaten the viability not only of care home providers but of all sorts of providers of social care. I am sure that that is not the Government's intention.

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It is extremely important that we look at where there is abuse and seek to tackle that as a priority. Action on Elder Abuse runs a telephone helpline and, of the instances of abuse in care homes which are reported to it, the overwhelming majority are perpetrated by lower grade care staff. Interestingly enough, a very high percentage--from recollection, I believe it is about 25 per cent--of the instances of abuse in care homes is perpetrated by male care attendants. When one considers that the number of male care attendants in care homes is very small--because the vast majority are women--that is a significant factor. Organisations such as Action on Elder Abuse are telling us that that is the priority area and we should listen to what they say.

We have all said many times that we agree about the importance of training. We have also mentioned that having fully trained staff as soon as possible is important. But the whole process must be managed and manageable for providers of care. With those views in mind, I beg to move the amendment.

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