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In response to the amendment tabled by noble Lords opposite, I can commit today that we will include this requirement to have a consultative dialogue in statutory guidance to local authorities. However, I sense the mood of the House, and I have listened to concerns expressed by noble Lords. We fully intend for there to be a consultative dialogue between local authorities and providers. However, I understand the arguments that have been put forward and I commit to return to the issue at Third Reading, taking those points into account. I will not reply to every question as I am trying to save some time.
Lord De Mauley: Well, my Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend Lady Perry for her words of support and to the noble Baroness, Lady Howe. I also thank the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp, for her sympathy and all noble Lords for their arguments in favour of the amendment. I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp, on the excellent record of colleges in helping young people to re-engage in the whole process. I should not have thought that the amendment was particularly objectionable. Noble Lords will not be surprised that we agree with my noble friends Lord Baker and Lord Lucas. In conclusion, I am grateful to the Minister for his response. We will hold him to his promise. In the mean time, for today, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Baroness Morgan of Drefelin: My Lords, as this is a rather technical amendment, I shall not speak to it in any detail now but will come to it at the close of my remarks. I should like to talk now about literacy and numeracy assessments and to speak to the other government amendments in this group.
Government Amendments 44, 45, 47, 49 and 50 relate to Clause 49 as regards reading assessments for young offenders, a provision which was inserted in Committee. The amendments make four changes as a result. First, they extend the requirement to cover literacy and numeracy skills in the assessment beyond that originally envisaged. This is more of the "what" that the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, advocated in Committee, which we need to be more clear about. Secondly, the amendments require that the assessments be used to help determine learning plans. Thirdly, they stipulate that if a recent assessment is available, a reassessment should not be necessary. This is about trying to include a level of proportionality in the Bill. Finally, the amendments do not include a requirement for a reassessment on release. However, if that continues to be a concern, in particular for the noble Lords, Lord Ramsbotham and Lord Elton, I will be persuaded to return at Third Reading with a requirement to transfer information about progression on release, in order to aid resettlement. We are trying to get this right, and we are edging forward here.
Regarding Amendment 51, on screening for special needs, we have committed in previous debates to rolling out a screening tool that Dyslexia Action has deployed in YOIs from this month. It is preferable to deal with this through guidance as it is a complex issue covering a wide spectrum of difficulties and disabilities. We hope that noble Lords will be happy with that approach.
As regards the contents of the guidance, I appreciate that noble Lords have clearly voiced concerns that we should be specific about what we are requiring of YOIs and of education providers in the youth custody setting. I agree that courses and syllabuses are important and I can commit to include them in statutory guidance. However, the guidance-making power in new Section 18A(6) already covers all aspects of education
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Amendment 55 would require the governor of youth custody establishments to assist the local authorities in fulfilling their new duties. I agree that it is important that the governor should be fully committed, and I can commit to amending the secondary legislation regulating the management of youth custodial establishments to place a clear requirement on custodial operators to co-operate with local authorities and their designated providers in the fulfilment of their education duties. This will meet the concerns that noble Lords voiced about ensuring that the role of the governor is properly maximised.
With regard to concerns about the scope of new Section 562A and young people in adult custody, the noble Lord, Lord Elton, raised two important points in Committee. First, he was concerned that this new section, inserted by Clause 51, could be used to change the specific young offender provisions of the Bill. This is certainly not our intention, and Amendment 48 clarifies this. I hope that the noble Lord will find that helpful. Secondly, he raised concerns about the education of under-19s in adult custody, which we discussed in Committee. I can commit that we will set out administratively that the chief executive of skills funding should use his best endeavours to ensure that they receive a broadly analogous education to their counterparts in juvenile custody. That is a strong measure that I hope will satisfy the noble Lord, who is rightly concerned that people aged 18 or under in an adult setting should receive the analogous education.
I am speaking also to Amendment 134, which will require the chief executive to have regard to any learning difficulties among this age group. That is an omission and needs to be corrected. I hope that that provides the reassurance that noble Lords are looking for on those matters.
Information transfer was a particular concern of the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, in his Amendments 53 and 54. Amendment 53 seeks to change to a duty the power in new Section 562E for education providers to share information. We considered whether we should place a duty on providers to share information but we concluded that that was not appropriate in the case of, for example, voluntary sector providers or even of home educators, because we would not want to create new enforcement mechanisms or penalties on such groups. That is why we did not go down that route. I hope that we can persuade the noble Lord to withdraw that amendment.
Amendment 54, tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, proposes a power to allow the host local authority to transfer educational information to the home authority or to any person responsible for providing education and training for the detained person. This is already provided for in Section 562E-I apologise for all the numbers. It requires that the transfer of information must happen on request. This allows us to make this a clear duty, and therefore is stronger than the power suggested in the amendment. We are placing a duty on local authorities and have a mechanism for redress.
I understand concerns raised in Committee that we must ensure that information sharing happens. I appreciate that noble Lords sometimes tire of Ministers saying that they are producing guidance and therefore such and such will happen. We have a strong commitment to making this information sharing happen. The YJB has a remit to monitor the secure estate, and as part of the development of new information-sharing programmes such as e-Asset, it monitors the usage of the system monthly to ensure that it is being used as intended. In addition, the YJB has undertaken one-off reviews to check that it is delivering the benefits hoped for under the new e-Asset system. It plans to continue this as it develops the system further. We will be clear in the statutory guidance that information exchange must be integrated wherever possible with the YJB's recently developed information-sharing systems, including e-Asset. This will help to make timely information sharing routine practice-this is the key-as well as ensuring that a person's education plans are considered in the context of their wider sentence and resettlement plans. It is about bringing together all the important elements of resettlement and sentence planning.
Ofsted, too, will play an important role in considering young people's educational progress, and information sharing is an important part of this. As I said earlier, Amendment 43 is minor and technical, as are Amendments 56 and 61. I hope that, with the commitments that I have made and the reassurances that I have given about information sharing and the statutory guidance being clear about what we expect of the system, noble Lords will feel able to support the government amendment.
Lord Ramsbotham: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for that, and particularly grateful for her early mention of consideration before Third Reading. This Bill has sometimes felt like a shotgun marriage, because we have been instructed to go down this route, knowing that the Learning and Skills Council has already received its demolition order. Nevertheless, it is important that we should raise all the issues right down to the wire-particularly those that affect young people. I will speak to Amendments 46, 51 and 52, which refer to young people in detention. I will leave Amendment 55, which I support, to my noble friend Lord Elton.
Amendment 46, as the noble Baroness hinted, refers to the business of what and how that I raised earlier. We are nearly at the what, but not quite there. I am confused by new subsection (6) in Clause 48, which adds the following after Section 18 of the Education Act 1996:
What concerns me is that it does not state which Secretary of State. There are at least two-for the Department for Children, Schools and Families and for the Ministry of Justice. When I asked the Bill Office whether it could be precise, the answer was, "No, this is the language of Bills, it is just 'the Secretary of State'".
I am very concerned. My experience of going round the estate where this happens is that there is a lack of direction. Nobody is in charge of saying what should
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As the discussion on the Bill has gone on, I have become more concerned about where we are going. There is complexity after complexity. Three words have sprung to mind-they say that soldiers can only think in threes, and this proves it. Two of them are German and come from the battlefield. The first is "Auftragstaktik", which means "mission-orientated orders"-in other words, everyone knows precisely where they are going, without any doubt at all. The second is "Fingerspitzengefühl", which means "fingertip feel"-in other words, those who are doing the job know precisely what they ought to be doing, when and where, because the instructions are abundantly clear. The third word is a government word-"simplification". I see us breaking away from clarity, clouding the issue for people on the ground and getting more complicated as more organisations and methods are added to the system. This is lunatic when we are dealing with young people, particularly young people who are in touch with the criminal justice system.
I am also concerned that while we are talking about that in the context of a Bill coming from the education ministries, two other things are happening. One is that something called the National Standards for Youth Justice Services is being produced, in which people make comments to the Ministry of Justice. They are talking about communication problems and the fact that 60 per cent of these young people have communication difficulties. They are saying that staff need training and support to manage these people, and that if you start trying to assess their processes verbally, they tend to withdraw, not co-operate and deny problems in order to finish the processes quickly and reduce the stress. It is essential that early risk-assessment processes include identification of communication difficulties so that their impact on risk assessment can be managed.
This issue links Amendment 46 to Amendments 51 and 52. The Minister has assured us that in statutory guidance there will be instructions on this. However, for 10 years I have been trying to impress on the criminal justice system that until and unless the communication difficulties of these youngsters are properly assessed, there is no entry to any literacy, numeracy or other assessment. The communication problem is the scourge of the 21st century. It has crept up on us and we must stop it. There has been a mass of assurance that this is going to happen-this regulation and that instruction-but I am cynical about this and dearly wish to see it in the Bill. People will know then what is required and can begin to cost it.
My last point is that I am very concerned that Clause 48 passes the buck of education provision for those in youth detention to LEAs. On 21 July, I handed a document called Young Offenders: A Secure Foundation to the Minister, Maria Eagle, in the Ministry
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Lord Baker of Dorking: My Lords, I strongly support what the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, has said and I think the House should listen to him. Few people have as much experience of the Prison Service as he has.
This is the only occasion on Report when we have the opportunity to debate this extraordinary proposal to transfer the education of young offenders from the Prison Service and Home Office, and now the Ministry of Justice, to local authorities. It has not been possible to know how this is going operate in practice from the actual words in the legislation, even from the Explanatory Notes. I was, therefore, grateful to the Minister for publishing last Friday LA Guidance-Learning for Young People in Youth Custody in England, which runs to 44 pages. It is extraordinary on a Bill of this importance that only at almost the last stage-Report in the House of Lords-this information has been made available. What did the Commons do when it discussed these matters, or was this part not discussed in the Commons at all because of the guillotine? This is the first time the House has any idea how this extraordinary policy is going to be implemented.
I downloaded the 44 pages on Saturday evening on my House of Lords printer. It took 20 minutes. Then I settled down to read it, denying myself the chance of watching "Strictly Come Dancing" and "The X Factor"-it was a happy release. I now understand what the Government are trying to do, but this is an incomplete document. On 12 different pages it says things such as,
The page is a complete and utter blank. Those of you who have read The Hunting of the Snark will know that a snark's map is a perfect and absolute blank. This is a snark's map. How are we going to understand how this works? I then found an extraordinary statement on Page 3:
A drat? I wondered what a drat was. I turned to the glossary. Did "drat" mean "a definite rational and
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At the heart, what is this Bill going to do? It is going to deal first with 7,000 young offenders who are admitted into custody each year. At any one time about 2,600 are actually in custody in 15 young offender institutions, four secure training centres or nine secure children's homes, and there are two more in Wales. How long do they stay there? Some only stay for a week or a few days. The average is three to four months. Some stay much longer, up to two years. So how will this Bill operate?
At the moment, these young offenders are provided with education and training by the Prison Service. This Bill gives to the local authorities where the offenders have lived, not where the institution is, a duty to promote the fulfilment of the young person's learning potential while they are in custody and on their release. How will this work? Let us suppose a young offender from Essex is sent to the young offender institution in Wigan. As one of the largest in the country, Hindley takes more than 400 young offenders. As soon as that young offender from Essex-let us call him Mr Bloggs-arrives in Hindley, it has to write to Essex and say, "Do you know about Mr Bloggs?". Essex might find that Mr Bloggs left school at the age of 11 and that it has had no track or record of him since, and the lad may not remember the name of the school that he went to. We are dealing with these sorts of people. Wigan then has to find out how intelligent Mr Bloggs is by doing a literacy and numeracy assessment within two or three days. Then it has to try and find out what he would like to study and send that information back to Essex. Essex then has to devise an individual learning programme for this person in Wigan. That is going to involve huge bureaucracy. Can an individual learning programme for a young offender be identified and written without anybody going from Essex to Wigan to talk to that young offender? Who is going to bear the cost of that? It will be the Essex local education authority. And Essex being what it is will not have just one Mr Bloggs. It will probably have 20, 30 or 40 at any one time, not only in Wigan but in several other young offender institutions. So you are throwing a huge responsibility on local education authorities.
What are the difficulties in discharging that? There might be early leavers, as I have said, who played truant and bunked off at 11, 12 or 13. These young offenders might be itinerant. It might be difficult to track down where they have been educated. They might say that they last lived in Essex but were, in fact, only in Essex for two or three months and then they
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You have this extraordinary dichotomy between the host local authority where the young offender institution is and the place where the offender is deemed to live. It is the host authority that has to provide the education. It has to commission the tutors or provide the teaching classes or workshops. But in order to do that, it has to speak to the Youth Justice Board, which has to approve the resources to be provided. Who will pay for those, the YJB or the host authority? Why should the host authority incur capital costs when they do not particularly want to do it? Where is the money going to come from?
Baroness Thornton: I hesitate to interrupt the noble Lord but I think we are now hearing another Second Reading speech. I remind him that on Report noble Lords need to address the specific amendments before the House.
Lord Baker of Dorking: I do not think that the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, was in the Chamber when the noble Baroness, Lady Morgan, was speaking, I assure her that she mentioned local authorities and host authorities repeatedly. If she had been here, she would have heard it. She can hear it from me now.
That is the dichotomy of this arrangement. I do not think that it can work administratively. After the Youth Justice Board has worked out what it has to do with the host authority, it has to get the approval of the children's trust, the sub-regional groups and the national regional groups. That extraordinary bureaucracy has been created by this part of the Bill.
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