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The Earl of Listowel: I am grateful to the Minister for his reassurance. I am also grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Hanham, for her eloquent pursuance of this most important point. She clearly emphasised

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the importance of this tandem representation; that it should not be allowed to be eroded or put into a situation where it might be eroded in a few years time. Obviously there needs to be clarity. I hope that the Minister will think a little further on this and perhaps differentiate and make quite clear that the clause is designed for the Official Solicitor. I thank the noble Lord for his response and I shall consider his words further. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 67 not moved.]

On Question, Whether Clause 15 shall stand part of the Bill?

Baroness Hanham: I indicated at an earlier stage that we would oppose Clause 15 standing as part of the Bill. On the understanding that there will be careful reflection on the matters I have raised, with the possibility of that part of the legislation being amended to make clear what we have discussed today, I shall not oppose Clause 15 standing as part of the Bill. I accept fully the assurances that have been given; I appreciate that they have been recorded in Hansard. However, I am well aware that very few people read Hansard after the legislation has been formed and therefore it is probably better to have it clarified in the legislation. Under those circumstances, if the Minister can give me that assurance, I shall not oppose Clause 15 standing part of the Bill. I look forward to seeing what the Minister comes back with at a later stage.

Lord Bach: I have already given the noble Baroness that assurance about the matters that concern her in Clause 15.

Clause 15 agreed to.

Clause 16 [Cross-examination of officers of the Service]:

[Amendment No. 68 not moved.]

Clause 16 agreed to.

Clause 17 [Inspection]:

The Earl of Listowel moved Amendment No. 69:

    Leave out Clause 17 and insert the following new Clause--


(" . It shall be the duty of the Social Services Inspectorate--(a) to inspect and report to the Secretary of State on the performance by the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service, and the officers of the Service, of their functions, and
(b) to discharge, in connection with those functions or with related functions of any other person, such functions as the Secretary of State may from time to time direct.").

The noble Earl said: This amendment stands also in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch.

It has already been the job of the Social Services Inspectorate to examine the work of guardians ad litem. SSI inspectors often have recognised social work qualifications and experience. They are certainly from a culture of social work or social work research. They are therefore well-equipped to judge whether the service is working in the interests of children and families. Their appointment as the inspectorate would

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signal clearly that the welfare of children and families is at the heart of CAFCASS's work. Indeed, I very much hope that the Government will use the expertise of the Social Services Inspectorate continually to elevate the standards of CAFCASS's work.

The magistrates' inspectorate, on the other hand, does not have expertise in the area of child and family welfare. Its focus is on administration and property management. Surely, it would be in the best interests of children and families if the SSI were charged with the inspection of CAFCASS and was then empowered to draw on the valuable experience of the magistrates' inspectorate as necessary. I beg to move.

Baroness Hanham: I support the noble Earl in his comments. The important point is that there should be an inspectorate of the service. We are dealing with the question of who should carry out the inspection. I agree with the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, that the Social Services Inspectorate is probably more appropriate. From the look on the Minister's face, I am not sure that he agrees with me. I support the amendment.

Lord Bach: The noble Baroness's use of the word "probably" caused me to look quizzically at her.

We have considered carefully all the options before deciding that our preference is for Her Majesty's Magistrates' Court Service Inspectorate to be the inspectors in this case. That body understands the courts, has established links with the Lord Chancellor and, importantly, covers both England and Wales. We are conscious that the inspectorate will need to supplement its existing knowledge in the first instance, so enabling it to become properly equipped to carry out the inspection function.

There is a Social Services Inspectorate for England and a Social Services Inspectorate for Wales. Therefore, there would be two inspectorate services inspecting one organisation. I remind the Committee that CAFCASS will cover both England and Wales. We believe that, rather than incorporate this cumbersome framework on the face of the Bill, it would be better to have one lead body responsible and encourage it to draw in expertise as and when necessary.

I acknowledge the concerns that noble Lords have raised. However, we believe that the MCSI will work closely with the Social Services Inspectorate and other bodies to develop its knowledge as regards children and family matters.

Undoubtedly Her Majesty's Magistrates' Court Service Inspectorate will need to work closely with those other organisations as well as the HMIP to gain experience in this field. There are pre-existing, clear reporting lines between the MCSI and the Lord Chancellor. As the inspectorate for CAFCASS, the MCSI has the potential to be very flexible thus enabling the inspectorate to develop expertise and keep up with any future developments of CAFCASS.

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Therefore, although we recognise the real feeling behind the amendment, I am afraid that we must oppose it.

Baroness Blatch: It was not my intention to intervene on this amendment because my noble friend is more than ably coping with the subject. However, I have to express wry amusement at the arguments just deployed by the Minister. I have in mind his comments in relation to having two inspectorates--the Welsh inspectorate and the English inspectorate. My understanding is that the Welsh one would inspect Welsh interests and the English one would inspect English interests. Nevertheless, this is a very good example of not having very joined-up government.

We spent many hours in this Chamber arguing against the very point of having two inspectorates operating in the same field; namely, the adult learning inspectorate and Ofsted in education. We were not even talking about operating in two different countries; we were talking about operating and inspecting in the same establishments. We put forward all the arguments about how cumbersome and difficult that was and pointed out the problems that would arise as a result. The Minister actually used those arguments this evening in his response and said that it would not be advisable to have two inspectorates and that it would be better to have one. As I said, I have only spoken to express wry amusement.

Lord Bach: The noble Baroness will undoubtedly be pleased that we have come round to her point of view.

The Earl of Listowel: I thank the Minister for his reply, which I shall consider. The argument that England and Wales are separate in this context seems a little strange to me. Surely it is important to place the emphasis on the well-being of families and children in this new service. One must not lose that focus under the new arrangements. I shall, therefore, carefully consider what the noble Lord said, but I may well return to the matter. On that condition, I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 17 agreed to.

Clause 18 [Definitions]:

[Amendment No. 70 not moved.]

Lord Dholakia moved Amendment No. 71:

    Page 8, line 31, leave out ("local") and insert ("probation").

The noble Lord said: This amendment relates to definitions. I believe that the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, has repeatedly drawn our attention to this particular issue, so I do not need to labour the point any further. If one looks at the clause, it says:

    "'New Employer' means a local board or the Service".

However, the "Old Employer" is defined as a,

    "local authority, [or] a probation committee".

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The problem that I have is with the term "local board". There is ample confusion as it is about that term, without bringing the word "probation" into the equation. However, the Minister has already conceded that when the service is expanded in relation to local areas the geographical situation, together with the word "probation", will be included.

The Central Probation Council has been in touch with me about this particular confusion. There ought to be someone in the Civil Service who could sit down, look at the Bill and actually sort out the matter so that everyone who reads it will understand what it means. At the end of the day, the success of the probation committees in local areas will not depend on what you direct centrally; it will depend on the efforts of local people and the identity shared with local areas. If local people cannot even identify the matter in terms of their own concern, we shall be wasting our time.

Even at this late hour, perhaps I may suggest that if the Minister were to accept this very simple suggestion to identify not simply "local boards" but also "local probation boards", that would make a lot of sense. I beg to move.

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