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I was asked whether sufficient checks will be in place to ensure that we are making the right decision. The clearer and more specific the requirements, the easier it will be for entry clearance officers and caseworkers to make correct decisions that are unambiguously in accordance with the rules. Overseas, there will be 100 per cent internal review of all refusals prior to their being issued to applicants, and the role of the independent monitor for entry clearance refusals without a right of appeal has been extended to cover all points-based system applications. Our training covers the entire overseas network, which will help to ensure that entry clearance staff understand clearly the changes, how to implement them and manage the quality decisions locally.
The noble Baroness, Lady Hanham, made some points about the health service, doctors and the impact of this measure on those wishing to come to work and train in the United Kingdom. In essence, she was asking why we are doing it. It costs roughly £250,000 to train a doctor up to the point at which they reach specialty training. Because they are competing with international medical graduates from outside Europe, many of our UK-trained medical graduates lose out. The taxpayers investment in their training can be wasted as a result.
The noble Baroness said that we deliberately recruited from abroad in the past, and we could ask how we got to this position. For most of its history the NHS has relied on the contribution of doctors who trained outside Europe. International medical graduates have played a valuable role in providing services across the UK, and we appreciate the important contribution that they have made to our health service. The aim has been for the National Health Service to become much more self-sufficient and less dependent on the migration of health care professionals from outside the EEA. The aim is to have NHS services delivered by trained doctors rather than doctors in training.
As I am sure the noble Baroness will recall, back in 1997 when we came into office, we decided to increase substantially UK medical school places, and as a consequence four new medical training schools were established. Medical school places in England increased from just under 3,800 in that year to nearly 6,500 in 2007 to achieve that greater level of self-sufficiency. More UK graduates, coupled with the high number of international medical graduates means that there has been a large number of applicants for speciality training places. We are grateful for the crucial role played by international doctors in the health service for all of its
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I think that I have answered most of the questions, except for the reference sought by the noble Lord, Lord Avebury. I am grateful to noble Lords for their interest and concern on this issue. As I said at the outset, I realise that it has raised concerns. The amendments to the rules that we have laid before the House represent the latest step in the Governments overhaul of the immigration systemperhaps the most radical overhaul for several decades. The points-based system will enable us to select the migrants that our economy needs, to keep out those whom we do not require and to make more, improved and transparent decisions. While I hear the criticisms of noble Lords, they should appreciate that over time, the points-based system will ensure that there is greater public confidence in how migration is managed. I am sure that it will be widely understood as it is clearly a much more transparent process. Over time, despite some of the difficult adjustments involved, noble Lords will see benefits of these changes in the much greater confidence than there has been in the past in the migration flows into the United Kingdom.
We value greatly the work that migrants do in the UK. We know that they make a tremendous contribution to the quality and colour of our life. I hope that the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw his Motion, having heard my explanation and the responses that I have detailed to the House this evening.
Lord Avebury: My Lords, I thank the Minister for the very welcome concession that he made at the beginning of his speech but express the reservation that it was not done in another way; that is, by withdrawing the order and then bringing back an alternative set of amendments to the Immigration Rules that would set out the exemption until 1 October 2008 in the order instead of dealing with it in this extra-statutory way outside the rules.
I take it that the noble Lord was telling us that paragraphs 33 to 39 and 47 and 48 are to be left in the measure but not brought into effect until the date he mentioned, and that nobody would be made to suffer under those paragraphs until the expiry of that period. If that is what he was saying, I certainly welcome it. It would take care of a large part of what
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I share the anxieties expressed by the noble Baroness, Lady Warwick, about students. It is not enough to say that if a person realises he is late and puts in a fresh application within 28 days, it will be heard. There may well be cases where it takes longer than 28 days to do that. That persons whole future and the payments that he has made for his university course may hinge on being able to appeal against the refusal. To say that after 28 days a person has no right whatever to appeal against a refusal when it may have been due to some inadvertent clerical error or mistake in a document will not satisfactorily take into account every case.
The reason for declining to participate in the EU ban was not because we considered this should be dealt with by member states; that was made perfectly clear in the quotation that I read out. At the time the Home Office made its submission on the EU-wide entry ban it considered that it was improper to have a ban as long as 10 years and that it was perfectly satisfied with the non-mandatory ban in the immigration rules, particularly the one that is being amended this evening.
I conclude by saying that we have to be satisfied with the concession that the Minister made. We are grateful for it as far as it goes. We hope that as a result of the further discussions with the Immigration Law Practitioners Association that he mentioned other extra-statutory concessions may be made to take into account the many valid points that it made. But in the meanwhile I shall not press the Motion. I beg leave to withdraw the Motion.
The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 24, I will speak also to Amendments Nos. 25 and 26. Since debating similar amendments in Committee, I have had a most helpful meeting with the Bill team, whose members assured me that the Minister is committed to dealing with these issues in guidance. Why then, noble Lords might ask, am I bringing this back to the House? The aim of the amendments is to clarify to social services departments that their visitor to a looked-after child should, except in exceptional circumstances, be a person known to the child.
We know that in going through the process of becoming a looked-after child, a child is very likely to have already been through at least three different workers for administrative reasons. The Minister said in our previous debate that the use of the term exceptional circumstances is too strong, and of course I understand why he took that view. Indeed, if we were dealing with less damaged children, I would be inclined to agree with him but, in the context of looked-after children, I ask him to consider most carefully whether in fact the wording is strong enough as it stands.
For example, if a social worker moves to a different team, I suggest that it should not be automatic that his entire caseload of children is immediately passed to a different social worker; but I understand that this happens routinely. One must think of this group of children, who have been let down by their parents and let down no doubt by a number of different people. Then they have gradually begun to make a relationship with a social worker and, just because of some administrative change, they are let down by yet another person. That is how they will see it; it does not matter what anyone says. That is really the essence of the amendment. We need to think of the child first and of our administrative considerations second. I am sure that the Minister will acknowledge the overwhelming importance to looked-after children of continuity of care, and I look forward to his response to the amendment.
Amendment No. 26 again focuses on the need for continuity but, in this case, the amendment requires that looked-after children who are remanded or sentenced to a period in custody should receive continued support from their social worker before, during andideallyafter custody. I thank Barnardos and NCB for their very helpful briefing on the amendment, which is also supported by the Childrens Society, Rainer, Voice, Youth Access and NLCAS. I also thank Tim Kent of CAMHS in Tower Hamlets for his help on this and a number of other amendments.
We talked at length in Committee about the very high risk of children in care being taken into custody, and I certainly do not want to repeat those arguments. I welcome the assurances given by the Minister in Grand Committee which relate to looked-after children who enter custody. I could go through those but will not; it is late at night and people want me to keep this short. Despite those assurances I agreed to move the amendment because, along with Barnardos, the NCB and others, I believe that the requirement
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The work done by the National Childrens Bureau in 2006 supports that view. The needs of children from care placed in custody are not met. Custodial establishments are often not aware of the childs previous status or what services they might be entitled to on their release from custody. The youth offending team will have case responsibility for those children, but its main function is prevention of reoffending. There are essential functions for a qualified social worker from the local authority to perform while the child or young person is in custodyto assess the childs needs while in custody, to plan how those needs will be met, and, even more particularly, to plan for the child leaving custody and work with the youth offending team to ensure that the childs resettlement needs are met. The welfare of those vulnerable young people will be greatly improved if those good practice requirements are specified in regulations.
I therefore ask the Minister to give a number of assurances to the House in relation to regulations. First, which children in custody will be entitled to visits from a local authority representative under Clause 14? Secondly, will the regulations specify that within one week of entering custody a looked-after child or care leaver should be visited by his or her social worker, that there will be an assessment of the childs needs, and that an interim care plan will be implemented to meet those needs? Will those procedures apply to children previously accommodated under Section 20 of the Children Act 1989? Thirdly, will the regulations specify arrangements to be made for the youth offending team and social worker to plan resettlement needs? Fourthly, can the Minister commit to revising the Children Act 1989 regulations and guidance, and theFramework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families, in line with those proposals?
Lord Judd: My Lords, I gladly support the amendment. We all need to have it constantly in mind that children in the situations that we are describing and considering desperately seek some kind of secure, stable, ongoing relationshipssome kind of continuity. To be impersonally buffeted around, however good the intentions of the people who in effect do the buffeting, can aggravate the situation. Therefore it is terribly important that, wherever possible, the person involved should be known to the child and be someone in whom the child has confidence.
The question we have to ask ourselves about those in prison is not only whether we are committed to the child, but whether we are committed to the whole process of rehabilitation; that word has come up again. If we are committed to rehabilitation, it is
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Stable relationshipsthe continuity of relationshipsare absolutely crucial to making a success of the operation. I therefore think that the amendment and the spirit in which it has been moved are designed to strengthen a Bill, which I think we all believe is good and which we welcome, and to help a Minister who is greatly respected on all sides of the House because of his commitment to the cause.
Lord Ramsbotham: My Lords, I support these amendments and shall speak also to Amendment No. 28 in my name. I am glad that the noble Lord, Lord Judd, has spoken in the way that he has about the rehabilitation that is at the back of the proposals that I have put forward in my amendment, which I have amended slightly since Grand Committee to try to include the fact that, in order to have continuity, the same care worker should, if possible, be responsible for the same person in custody throughout the period that they are there.
All of us in this House have been enormously grateful to the Minister for the way that he has corresponded with us, kept us informed of what has been in his mind, and has listened to what we have to say. However, I have to say to him that I remain disappointed that one sentence of his that I referred to in Grand Committee has still not been replied to. My interest in that was heightened by the regulatory impact assessment published on 31 October last year about the Bill, which included statements that:
Outcomes for children in care are strikingly poor ... children in care are three times more likely to be subject to a final reprimand or warning or convicted of a crime than other children ... 62% of children enter care because of abuse or neglect, which has a profound impact on a childs development.
On reading those statements, I felt, hooray, the people responsible for this Bill really understand that of all the young people in prison, those who gave me most concern had come from what purported to be care, but which, in terms of what they had gone through, certainly did not amount to care under the meaning of that word.
I challenged the Minister in Grand Committee and I have not yet had a response to that challenge. The reason for my concern is exactly what my noble friend Lady Meacher mentionedthat, in custody, the youth offending team responsible for administering what goes on is not responsible for the formal parenting role. Unless someone is put in that role, those from care will not have someone acting for them in that role throughout the detention and training order. That was the purpose of my amendment.
It is intended that local authorities will be required by regulations to ensure that children who were voluntarily accommodated ... are visited when they lose their looked after status because they cease to be so accommodated when detained in secure training centres, young offender institutions or prisons.
In other words, regulations are intended to do what you want done. I am sorry, but the history of too many subjects brought up in the Bill, and my experience of looking at what was going on in the young offender estate, did not convince me that regulations were a strong enough requirement on people to do what they ought to be doing. This has come up time and time again.
While we are very happy with the tone and intention of the Bill, many of us have concerns that there are so many regulations and so many instructions that people simply cannot keep in touch with them. Some things need to be lifted out of the regulatory and instructing environment and put into the statutory environment so that someone can see that they happen. I can think of no one to whom this description applies more than young people in custody denied all the safeguards and parenting, about which we have had so much discussion. Now, unless something is put in place, these young people are likely to be denied the attention when they need it most, particularly, as the noble Lord, Lord Judd, said, when they are approaching rehabilitation. Someone must be responsible for seeing that the basics, such as accommodation and employment, are properly covered.
When I came to the House this morning, I was sorry to discover that, for the third time running, there would be a Statement which was likely to take one hour out of the time available to discuss the Bill. It meant that yet again, in realistic terms, I would be unable to test the opinion of the House on this matter. One thing that I find of considerable interest in the legislation that comes before this House is how much of one Bill is included in another. For that reason, I have tabled my amendment for discussion in the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill, which applies to youth justice. The fact that unfortunate timing and a Statement have prevented me from testing the opinion of the House on this occasion will not stop me trying to do so when we reach the Report stage of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill. However, it is unfortunate that I should have to press this subject over and over again when I would hope that the Government, in the spirit of some of the things that they have saidalthough not in that unfortunate sentence of the letter of 3 Decemberwould pick it up as a requirement that they should exercise themselves, and that is why I continue to press this amendment.
Baroness Morris of Bolton: My Lords, it would be very difficult to argue with the noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, on these amendments. Detained children are particularly vulnerable, and it is very likely that their experience of life will have been marked by abandonment. Reinforcing familiar bonds can be invaluable, which is
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