Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Baroness Harris of Richmond: My Lords, I, too, thank the Minister for so clearly outlining the content of these measures. This is a very new area for me, but I was most interested to hear his introductory remarks. Noble Lords on these Benches consider these provisions to be very sensible, and are very happy to support them.

However, I should simply add that the training area is a subject upon which we should like to hear a little more. It would be most helpful if the Minister were able to enlighten us in that respect. We wholeheartedly support both the order and the regulations.

14 May 2002 : Column 221

Lord Filkin: My Lords, I thank the speakers from both Front Benches opposite for the welcome that they have given to the legislation. I believe that there is a general recognition that this is part of a sensible process of deregulation and of developing good teamworking, while being prudent in ensuring that there is adequate supervision of delegated work to "dental auxiliaries", as they were formerly called. It is part of the modernisation of the dental service in general, which I know from previous debates the whole House wishes to see.

I turn to the question posed by the noble Earl, Lord Howe, about the progress on the second Section 60 order. I can tell the noble Earl that it is in preparation, and that it will provide for the registration of all classes of professionals complementary to dentistry. It will also empower the General Dental Council to introduce a more flexible regime for defining the duties that the PCDs can undertake. Instead of a list of duties, like the one that we have just debated, the intention is that the PCDs will be able to carry the full range of duties for which they have been trained, and in which they are competent. Dental therapists and hygienists will benefit from those changes through further amendments to the legislation that we have discussed today.

I am pleased to say that we intend to consult on the order in July. After the proper process of consultation, the order will no doubt be placed before the House either at the end of the year, or at the start of next year. I believe that progress has been made in that respect.

On the subject of training, I very much agree that the training of dental therapists is most important. We must ensure that there is an adequate supply of dental therapists to allow for the effective delegation of work from dentists. That was one of the Government's earlier concerns as regards not moving too fast in this area. That is why dental auxiliaries undertook a very helpful survey of the potential take-up of such training. There are currently 54 training places available each year for dental therapists across dental schools. Most therapist courses offer dental hygienist qualifications at the same time.

However, I have to say "no" to the further question raised in that respect. We shall look to developing those services and monitoring the generation of adequate supplies to go with the increased delegation for which this order provides.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Dentists Act 1984 (Dental Auxiliaries) Order 2002

Lord Filkin: My Lords, I beg to move.

Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 30th April be approved [28th Report from the Joint Committee].—(Lord Filkin.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

14 May 2002 : Column 222

Deregulation (Correction of Birth and Death Entries in Registers or Other Records) Order 2002

7.45 p.m.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey rose to move, That the draft deregulation order laid before the House on 11th March be approved [17th Report from the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee].

The noble Lord said: My Lords, the order before the House is designed to simplify the procedure for correcting information about paternity contained in birth and death registers. Before an error may be corrected, the law currently requires statutory declarations to be made by two people who could have registered the birth or death—these would usually be the parents of a child—or by two people with first-hand knowledge of the facts. Where a dispute about a child's paternity follows the breakdown of a relationship, those involved are not always prepared to co-operate with each other in making the statutory declarations required to correct the register.

The purpose of the order is to amend the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1953 and the Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages (Special Provisions) Act 1957, which apply to records of events that took place outside the United Kingdom among the Armed Forces and their dependants, to extend the means of correcting an error in the official record of a child's paternity.

As the law stands, even where clear evidence exists to show that the wrong man has been named as the child's father, it is not possible to amend the register unless two suitable statutory declarations are obtained. That does not make sense to the families involved and can cause them problems when a birth certificate containing incorrect information has to be produced. There are sometimes existing court findings about paternity, made when maintenance or access disputes were settled. The proposed change would allow a specific court find of paternity to replace one of the statutory declarations needed for a correction to the record. No additional burden would be placed on those applying for a correction, because the provision for two statutory declarations to be accepted will continue. The acceptance of an existing court order in place of one of the statutory declarations is an additional facility.

There has been extensive consultation on the proposals and careful scrutiny by the parliamentary deregulation and regulatory reform committees. The Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee in your Lordships' House expressed no concerns about the order. However, the Deregulation and Regulatory Reform Committee in another place expressed some concern that court findings of paternity should be required to be specific, and commented on the scope of the consultation. As a result, the Office for National Statistics undertook further consultation among groups with an interest in family law. Following observations by the Official Solicitor, the order was amended to provide that where a court finding of

14 May 2002 : Column 223

paternity was based on the sole evidence of the same person who made the required statutory declaration, corroborative evidence will be required.

In practice, even where the person who is prepared to make the statutory declaration is the same person who has obtained the court order, there is often corroborative evidence available from the other person registered as the parent of the child in the form of correspondence that he or she has had with the registrar, or a statement to the court.

The order has now been approved in the other place in its amended form. The Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee has recommended approval by this House. I confirm to the House that I am satisfied that the terms of the order are fully compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. I beg to move.

Moved, That the draft deregulation order laid before the House on 11th March be approved [17th Report from the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee].—(Lord McIntosh of Haringey.]

Baroness Harris of Richmond: My Lords, noble Lords on these Benches believe that this, too, is a most sensible order. It will certainly simplify what was a very technical and potentially disputative problem. We support the measure.

The Earl of Northesk: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his customary courtesy in explaining the order to the House. We on these Benches are entirely content with the measure in its amended form. However, I should perhaps pick up on one point that I hope the Minister will not consider unduly churlish.

As the noble Lord will know, the Deregulation and Regulatory Reform Committee of another place, at paragraph 11 of its report, expressed,

    "dissatisfaction at the way it [the order] has been handled by the Government Departments concerned".

The order before the House is the last draft order to be brought forward under the Deregulation and Contracting Out Act 1994. That measure will now be superseded in virtually every respect by the Regulatory Reform Act 2001. Accordingly, I hope that the Minister can reassure the House that appropriate lessons have been learnt from the unfortunate muddle to which this order was subject. In particular, I hope that he can reassure us that draft orders laid under the Regulatory Reform Act—I note that there are a number under consideration—will not suffer in the same way.

I acknowledge that it is a relatively small point. As I said, we are entirely content with the substance of the order.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I am grateful for the comments of both noble Lords and for the welcome that the order has received.

The noble Earl, Lord Northesk, rightly said that this is the last order under the 1994 Act. It is covered by the transitional provisions for deregulation orders

14 May 2002 : Column 224

included in the replacement Regulatory Reform Act. The Regulatory Reform Act came into force on 10th April 2001, last year, and replaced the provisions for deregulation orders with regulatory reform orders. The transitional provision to which I referred was for orders that had already been laid before Parliament by 10th April last year. This order, in its previous form, had been laid on 26th March 2001.

I hope that the House will agree that the delay which has occurred has been entirely benign in the sense that, although it has taken a long time, there has been the additional consultation asked for and there have been amendments for which the Official Solicitor asked. As a result of this perhaps protracted—but, in my view, entirely correct—process, this is a better order.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page