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Lord Thomas of Gresford: Who could refuse such an invitation! In those circumstances, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 10 not moved.]

6 p.m.

Lord Roberts of Conwy moved Amendment No. 11:

The noble Lord said: In moving this amendment, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 14. The amendment relates specifically to the power of the Assembly to add to the bodies in Schedule 2A. Those are the bodies that will be subject to review as to the effect of their activities on children. One wonders

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precisely what bodies the Government have in mind as possible additions. There is a host of voluntary organisations, ranging from Scouts and Girl Guides to the Welsh League of Youth, with its 50,000 members. In passing, I am bound to say that the air has been remarkably free of scandal over the years.

Those organisations were supported by the Welsh Office for many years, and latterly by the Assembly--perhaps not as to "half" of the expenditure regarding their functions as specified in Clause 3(3), but substantially. I should have thought that there was an argument for including them in the commissioner's remit. If that argument stands, we should not have the hurdle of establishing that "half" of their expenditure is being met by the Assembly. If the organisation is supported by taxpayers through the Welsh Office, as it used to be, and now by the Assembly, that should be enough.

There are also other organisations dealing with children that have a charitable or a statutory basis; for example, the Churches, which have not always been beyond reproach in the area. The troubles of the Roman Catholic Church and the archdiocese of Cardiff will be known to some noble Lords. I shall say no more about them. Other bodies have extensive dealings with children in Wales. I have in mind the broadcasting organisations--the BBC, HTV and S4C--which are surprisingly absent from the schedule. I hope that the Government will comment on that aspect, as well as on the key point that "half" the finances of such organisations need not necessarily be derived from government or Assembly sources.

Amendment No. 14 is a replica of the preceding section in the Bill. It would give the power to amend this section or Schedule 2B to the Secretary of State, as well as the Assembly. The "Secretary of State" here means any Secretary of State, including the Secretary of State for Wales. The purpose of the amendment is to deal with cross-border issues. I hope that it will prove to be a helpful amendment. Some children who are in Wales do not easily fall into the category of "ordinarily resident in Wales". Therefore, if the Secretary of State who is responsible for providing them with services so desires it, they can be brought under the arrangements of the Children's Commissioner. Again, I cast my mind back to that particular home that I visited in Powys during my ministerial days which contained children who came predominantly from Birmingham.

As time passes, it is possible that children in non-devolved areas of government may clearly need to be brought under the commissioner's remit. I note, for example, that the Government are planning to provide some 400 additional secure training centre places for young people in custody. If any of those places are in Wales, the Government may well wish the Children's Commissioner to have a role. I shall remind the noble and learned Lord of the words in the White Paper. I quote from paragraph 2.14 at page 32, which says:

    "We also plan over the next five years to build 400 additional secure training centre places, providing intensive supervision and high quality programmes for young people in custody. As far as

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    possible, these places will be near to offenders' home areas so that effective links can be made with education and other services which will deal with them after release".

Surely it would make sense in such cases for the Children's Commissioner to have some oversight while children are in those secure training centre places, which may well be local authority establishments. He would then be in a better position to talk about their lives and the services available to them thereafter. I beg to move.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: As the noble Lord pointed out, Amendment No. 11 would allow the Assembly to subject additional bodies in the future to the function of review by the commissioner. That would occur without the Secretary of State's consent, provided that at least some funding--however minuscule--came from the Assembly, and even though the relevant body's involvement in the areas of devolved responsibility might also be negligible. We do not find that proposal acceptable. At present, the order-making power to add bodies requires the Secretary of State's consent if less than half the body's funding is provided by the Assembly. I believe that we are dealing with a difference of approach. Our policy is that the commissioner's main field of jurisdiction should be in respect of bodies that have functions within the Assembly's devolved fields of responsibility. That is my objection to Amendment No. 11.

Amendment No. 14 would give the Secretary of State power to amend, add to or delete from the list of bodies subject to review and to monitoring arrangements without reference to the Assembly and without having to satisfy any criteria. Again, I do not believe that that can be right. If carried, the amendment would not be consistent with giving the Assembly maximum autonomy and discretion in secondary legislation. It would be a recipe for confusion. Under the amendment, the Secretary of State might make changes with which the Assembly disagreed--or, indeed, vice versa--and each might try to overturn the changes introduced by the other.

I do not believe that Amendments Nos. 11 and 14 represent the way forward. I appreciate that these amendments were tabled before I made the announcement earlier this afternoon; namely, that, if our amendment is accepted, the commissioner would be able in the future to consider and make representations to the Assembly about any matter affecting children in Wales. Therefore, he would have the wider locus, but not one that followed the route proposed by these amendments.

Lord Roberts of Conwy: I am grateful for the noble and learned Lord's comments. As regards Amendment No. 11, I was trying to be as helpful as I possibly could. It seems to me that the Assembly would have to investigate a body's finances and even establish that half its expenditure was supported by the Assembly. However, I propose simply that if taxpayers' money is allocated to an organisation via the Assembly, it should be allocated to those bodies that are subject to review by the Children's

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Commissioner. However, the Government are content with their proposition and do not consider that my proposal improves it.

As regards Amendment No. 14, I seek to deal with cross-border issues where they arise and where it might be the wish of a Secretary of State to place particular children in Wales within the jurisdiction of the Children's Commissioner.

I mentioned the situation with regard to secure training places for young people in custody. It is not inconceivable that as that proposal develops--it involves education, training and other matters, all areas in which the commissioner is involved--a Secretary of State, rather than the Assembly, might wish the commissioner to have oversight of such young people in Wales. Nevertheless, I hear what the Government say and clearly my views are not acceptable to them. I am not minded to press them at this stage. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Roberts of Conwy moved Amendment No. 12:

    Page 3, line 12, leave out "by members of the public"

The noble Lord said: This is a probing amendment. I think that I know what the Government are anxious to avoid; namely, an overlap between the commissioner and local government and health ombudsmen. I agree that that would be regrettable. I note that the police are excluded from the measure. There is no possibility of the Assembly adding them to the schedule.

The noble and learned Lord will be aware from his reading of the Waterhouse report, Lost in Care, and from other knowledge that when abuse occurs on a significant scale no one is above suspicion. Rumours abound. Even the police and the inspectorate may be alleged to be implicated. The question remains: how best is the matter dealt with? How do the commissioner and the Assembly deal with it? I am not at all certain that the best course is necessarily to exclude investigators and supervisors from the commissioner's overview. There is need for constant vigilance in this sphere. One is left with the question: quis custodet ipsos Custodes? I am sure that the commissioner fulfils that brief well. He should certainly not be excluded from it. I beg to move.

6.15 p.m.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The noble Lord is right as regards our thinking on this aspect. The Bill as it stands prevents the commissioner from reviewing the activities of other bodies set up to deal with complaints by members of the public or from monitoring investigations by such bodies. There is a very similar provision in Schedule 9 to the Government of Wales Act 1998 which relates to the Welsh Administration Ombudsman. It is sensible that there should not be confusion between the roles of broadly similar bodies.

However, on the wide-ranging--in terms of consequence--amendment to which I have already spoken, the commissioner will be able to consider and make representations to the Assembly about other

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investigative bodies in so far as they may be involved in matters that affect the rights or welfare of children in Wales. I believe that that would meet the noble Lord's point; namely, that, where appropriate, representations could be made to the Assembly but that there would not be a duplication of function. I believe that both he and I seek to avoid that.

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