HC Deb 11 April 1986 vol 95 cc473-84

'(1) Where—

  1. (a) a local education authority have made a statement under section 7 of the Education Act 1981 (Statement of child's educational needs) in respect of a child under the age of 14, and
  2. (b) the statement is still maintained by the authority at whichever is the earlier of the following times, namely—
    1. (i) the time when they institute the first annual review of the statement following the child's fourteenth birthday, and
    2. (ii) any time falling after that birthday when they institute a re-assessment of his educational needs.
the authority shall at that time require the appropriate officer to give to the authority his opinion as to whether the child is or is not a disabled person.

(2) Where—

  1. (a) a local education authority make any such statement in respect of a child after he has attained the age of 14, or
  2. (b) a local education authority maintain any such statement in respect of a child in whose case the appropriate officer has, in pursuance of subsection (1), given his opinion that the child is not a disabled person, but the authority have become aware of a significant change in the mental or physical condition of the child giving them reason to believe that he may now be a disabled person.
the authority shall, at the time of making the statement or (as the case may be) of becoming aware of that change, require the appropriate officer to give to the authority his opinion as to whether the child is or is not a disabled person.

(3) Not later than nine months before the presumed date on which a disabled child will cease to receive full time education provided by or on behalf of a local education authority, the authority shall, with the consent of the disabled child (or where the child is under 16 or is incapable of giving consent with the consent of his parent or guardian inform the appropriate officer of that date.

(4) When the appropriate officer receives information from a local education authority in accordance with the preceding subsection he shall make arrangements for an assessment of the needs of the disabled child for the provision by the authority of which he is an officer of any statutory services for that child in accordance with any of the welfare enactments within a period of not more than six months.

(5) In this section— the appropriate officer"—

  1. (a) in relation to a local education authority other than the Inner London Education Authority, means such officer discharging social services functions of the council in question under the Local Authority Social Services Act 1970 as may be appointed by them for the purposes of this section, and
  2. (b) in relation to the Inner London Education Authority, means such officer as may be appointed for the purposes of this section by the authority which is the local authority for the purposes of that Act for the area in which the child referred to in subsection (1) or (2) is ordinarily resident; and
and expressions used in the Education Act 1944 have the same meaning in this section as in that Act.

Provided that the provisions of subsection (4) above shall apply notwithstanding that the disabled person has attained the age of 19.

(6) This section applies to England and Wales only.'.—[Mr. Tom Clarke.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Mr. Tom Clarke (Monklands, West)

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Mr. Speaker

With this, it will be convenient to discuss the following:

New clause 2—Duty of education authority to ascertain whether children with special educational needs are disabled: Scotland

New clause 3—Assessment and recording of children and young persons.

New clause 7—Duty of education authority to ascertain whether children with special educational needs are disabled

Amendment No. 3.

9.40 am
Mr. Clarke

I welcome Ministers to the Front Bench. Much work has gone into the Bill, both in Committee and elsewhere, and I thank hon. Members on both sides of the House for that. I hope that with a bit of common sense and tidiness we can produce a Bill that will in due course obtain its Third Reading and thus do a great deal for the disabled, their carers and their families.

New clause 12 is important and is based on the discussion that we have had. I move it in the knowledge that time is perhaps not on our side because of the many issues that we must discuss. If possible, I shall speak for no more than five minutes on each issue. Indeed, if that was the pattern for the day, I for one would not complain. I know that hon. Members have strong views on many of the issues and I appreciate the fact that so many hon. Members have stayed for this debate on a Friday. But it is important to try to achieve our ends before 2.30 pm in order to facilitate the Bill's Third Reading.

The Government conducted a consultation exercise. It is only fair to point out that the response to that and to the Government's consultative documents was overwhelmingly in favour of the Bill and against the Government's proposals. Of course, that might be expected on the part of organisations of and for disabled people which had been closely involved in drafting the Bill and in giving their assistance. But I am sure that the Government were surprised by the strength of support for key clauses from health authorities, professional bodies and the local authority associations.

In Committee, I said that I would make up my own mind on amendments for the Report stage following the responses received. The new clauses and amendments that I have tabled reflect that view. I acknowledge that the Government's amendments represent a modest improvement on the position in the consultation paper, but they are still not quite good enough and do not go as far as the Bill's sponsors would like. That is why I have tabled various new clauses and amendments.

As I have said throughout the passage of the Bill, there are certain key principles in the Bill, to which the House gave an unopposed Second Reading on 17 January, which must be retained if the Bill is to have any meaning. The first concerns new clause 12, which finds the Government on very weak ground. The Government new clause 7 merely retains a procedure for notification by the social services to the education department that a child is disabled at 14 plus. There is a unanimous view among those responsible for social services that an assessment can and should be undertaken by them before the child leaves full-time education.

9.45 am

I shall quote two responses which are important in their own right but which also encapsulate many of the views expressed in response to the Government's documents. The Association of County Councils said about the new clause:

This probably is the area where the Association has least difficulty with the proposals in the Bill itself…The Association has recently responded favourably to the notion of 'shared care' for children with special educational needs, and it seems logical for this to be a relationship which extends into adulthood. The Association's main difficulty relates simply to the number of formal notifications required. The Association of Directors of Social Services said:

Joint assessment at this stage involves collaborative forward planning which is highly desirable at the critical point in the life of the young person to whom the support and familiarity of the educational environment are lost, and where continuity of service availability is, in conseqence, especally important. New clause 12 is the next logical step after the Education Act 1981. I have read the responses carefully, as have my hon. Friends and my advisers have spent considerable time with the officials of the ACC and Association of Metropolitan Authorities in an effort to meet their concerns. I hope that the Government will recognise the concessions that I have made in reducing what they describe as the bureaucracy and the number of contacts between authorities. The proposed time-scale for notification has been reduced in the new clause from 12 months before leaving school to nine months. That means the beginning of a child's last year at school. The social services are given six months rather than three in which to undertake the assessment.

Furthermore clause 3(3) which requires further reports from education authorities to social service departments has been completely dropped. I believe that the associations are now happy with the clause, and they appear to accept that the resource implications are minimal. I estimate that the average social service department may have to undertake no more than 20 assessments a year as a result of the clause, and many of the children may already be receiving services. The clause will ensure that the major change in their lives and the period of great trauma for their families will be properly planned and prepared.

The Minister will doubtless say that my new clause is defective. However, he may have had second thoughts on rereading it. I admit that we had difficulty in drafting the provisions in relation to people leaving full-time education at 19, when technically they may no longer be children. But this small group of young people in special colleges of further education is vital, as the Minister will appreciate from the BBC programme in which he appeared yesterday. Most of these colleges are run by charities with sponsoring from education departments or, occasionally, the social services, and in those circumstances it is unfortunately too easy for them to be ignored by local authorities until they arrive back full time with their parents at 19. If the House accepts the new clause, I hope that the Minister will assist in preparing any technical amendments that may be needed in the other place.

Finally, I must refer briefly to new clauses 2 and 3. New clause 2 is the Scottish equivalent of new clause 7. In the time available I have not been able to draft an equivalent to new clause 12. If new clause 12 is accepted, I hope that the Government will assist in its extension to Scotland when the matter is debated in the other place. New clause 3, which stands in the name of the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, the hon. Member for Argyll and Bute (Mr. MacKay), is a small improvement which I am happy to include in the Bill without debate.

In that spirit, I commend the new clause.

Mr. Peter Thurnham (Bolton, North-East)

I congratulate the hon. Member for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke) on the way in which he has brought the Bill through its Committee stage and on the amount of work that he has put in, in detailed consultation on the necessary amendments and new clauses. He had good fortune in coming first in the ballot and has introduced a most welcome Bill.

Even if the resources that the Government are prepared to devote are fewer than had perhaps been hoped for, the hon. Gentleman has still done extremely well to get the Government's backing which, indeed, we hope will materialise today. I have heard the figure of £25 million being quoted as the cost of resources agreed, and for a private Member's Bill to secure that amount of backing must be a matter of pride for the hon. Gentleman.

I also congratulate the Government on having found resources to help make this Bill possible, even if not at the level hoped for. It is all in a good cause. As the Prime Minister said yesterday, the Government have a record of increasing expenditure for the chronically sick and disabled, and various measures have meant substantial increases in expenditure, to a total of £4.5 million for the chronically sick and disabled.

I support new clause 12, as moved by the hon. Member for Monklands, West. Without it, all we are doing is looking at a paper chase. It is most important that assessments are made. Whenever disabled people come out of hospital at any stage of their life, an assessment is necessary, particularly in the case of younger children. About 1,000 children are still in long-stay mental hospitals. Plans are desperately needed for placing those children in the community.

I ask the Minister to give special attention to the need to provide sufficient back-up and after care. If families are to provide adoptive or foster homes for children who are severely handicapped, they need to know that sufficient back-up care is available to help them in their task. We fostered a boy nearly three years ago; it is his 11th birthday today. Even if the £100 million requested was a bit much, it is a welcome birthday present of £25 million that the Minister has given to him and people in a similar situation. I commend the clause to the House and hope that it meets with approval.

Mr. Alfred Morris (Manchester, Wythenshawe)

The Opposition support new clause 12. On new clause 2, the Scottish equivalent of new clause 7, my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) will speak briefly as the debate proceeds. I think it will be well if all of us can take as our principal text for debates on this humane and much needed Bill a statement of Professor Mittler. Few people anywhere have done more than he has to help severely handicapped children and their families. He is a former adviser of the Secretary of State for Social Services. Writing to the right hon. Gentleman on 7 April, Professor Mittler said: To let this Bill fall or be talked out would be unforgivable. That is my view and it is endorsed by professional opinion, and by all the voluntary organisations that the Government have consulted on the Bill. What it requires from both sides of the House today is, first, brevity, and, secondly, a resolve to ensure that, whatever differences may exist, a Bill as strong and viable as possible must emerge from our debates.

New clause 12 is but a modest step forward about which there has been full consultation with the AMA and the ACC, which are not concerned with the expenditure implications. In Standing Committee, even to mention the word resources, was like swearing in church. I hope it will be found less reprehensible here on the Floor of the House. As I say, the new clause is modest in its effects. I hope very much that the House will approve it unanimously.

Mr. Jack Ashley (Stoke-on-Trent, South)

I intervene briefly to say that I was glad to hear the comment of the hon. Member for Bolton, North-East (Mr. Thurnham), because he has direct personal experience of the problems of disability. However, I would be out of order in following him on the general question of what this Government have accomplished, as compared with the previous Government. That is not what we should be discussing today; we should discuss only this Bill and, at present, the new clause, which I commend. We disagree strongly on the record of this Government as compared with the previous one.

On this Bill, I expect no basic disagreement; I hope we are working together in this case.

I hope that new clause 12 will be accepted because, without the assessment, disabled children leaving school will be left in a vacuum at the most important time of their lives. The case for new clause 12 is overwhelming. I was sorry indeed to see new clause 7 presented by the Government. If the Minister would accept new clause 12, I can assure him he would be doing something for which legislation should not really be required. It should be automatic for disabled children to be assessed when they leave school. But we do need legislation for what should be automatic, so I hope that the Minister will accept new clause 12 as an imperative necessity.

The Minister for Health (Mr. Barney Hayhoe)

I am very grateful to the hon. Member for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke), who has carried this Bill forward with great skill and a constructive attitude that augurs extremely well for the chances of getting it on the statute book. I share his hope that the Bill will be given a Third reading today, and I acknowledge the way in which he has responded to the points I made on behalf of the Government at Second reading, during Committee, in the process of consultation, and on the the many occasions on which we have discussed between us the best way to proceed. I shall quickly explain the Government's position in relation to the clause in the Bill, the new clause proposed by the Government, and the new clause proposed by the hon. Gentleman.

The provisions of the Bill as drafted would require local education authorities to record, on any statement of special education need made under the Education Act 1981 in respect of a child aged 13-plus—at which age there is a statutory reassessment of need—whether the child is, in the opinion of the social services department, a disabled person. If so, and if the young person or his representative agrees, the Social Services department is to be notified not later than 12 months before the expected date of leaving full-time education. The Social Services department is to be notified again three months before the anticipated leaving date, and given details of further education and training which would, in the view of the local education authority, be appropriate for him or her.

On receipt of this last notification, social services departments would be required to carry out a full assessment of the young person's needs. The Government accept the need for close liaison between LEAs and SSDs. However, focusing on the mandatory reassessment age of 13-plus means that a number of children assessed or reassessed between 12½ and 13½ would be excluded. This is a technical difficulty associated with the original clause. Recording information about disability on the statement kept by the LEA would be inappropriate, as it would have no direct relevance to the child's educational needs. The elaborate procedures for passing information from LEAs to SSDs would place a burden on LEAs.

For those reasons, the Government have put forward their amendment to new clause 7. That would remove the proposed duties on LEAs to pass on specific information to SSDs about disabled children and on the SSDs to assess the needs of disabled school leavers. Instead of that, the LEAs would be required to seek advice from the SSD about whether the child is disabled in his or her 15th year, either as part of the mandatory reassessment or the first annual review of the statement, whichever is the sooner; to obtain such advice from the SSD in respect of a child over 14 being assessed for the first time; and to seek a further opinion in respect of children whose mental and physical condition has changed and for whom revised advice may be appropriate. The procedure should certainly secure better liaison between LEAs and SSDs at a time more likely to provide information relevant to the child's needs on leaving full-time education.

New clause 12 follows the basic structure of the Government's proposed new clause 7, but in addition would require—the hon. Gentleman lays great stress on this—local education authorities to inform social services departments of the cessation of full-time education nine months before the presumed date. From my consultations with the Department of Education and Science experts, perhaps eight months would be a more administratively sensible point. However, this is a highly technical matter which can easily be resolved later. The new clause would also require, where such information is received by a social services department, an assessment of need to be undertaken within six months.

10 am

There are a number of problems with the proposed new clause which to some extent, have been shown in the comments we have received from the ACC. The ACC broadly agrees that new clause 12 is a satisfactory replacement for new clause 3, but would prefer the determination of disability and the assessment to be rolled into a single requirement in order to reduce the administrative burden on LEAs. That seems to be a sensible proposition.

The ACC suggests that if that approach commends itself to the House, an appropriate amendment can be tabled at a later stage, and I agree. To set the general spirit of co-operation and constructive work which, I hope, will animate all our proceedings today, I shall not press new clause 7. I shall accept new clause 12 on the basis that we shall need to have further discussions. I hope that the hon. Member for Monklands, West and his advisers will join local authorities in considering the technical matters. Far be it from me to trespass on Scottish territory, but as I understand it, new clause 2 is the equivalent, for Scotland, of new clause 7. I imagine that my hon. Friend the Minister with responsibility for health in Scotland will take a similar view, and will not go ahead with new clause 2. Equally, that matter will have to be considered.

Mr. Tom Clarke


Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harold Walker)

Order. Is the hon. Gentleman seeking to address the House again?

Mr. Clarke

The Minister with typical generosity has given way. In the interests of making progress with the Bill, Mr. Deputy Speaker, you may wish me to say that the Minister's comments are extremely helpful. He accepts the principle of new clause 12 which, as hon. Members will agree, represents considerable progress. He made valid administrative points which I accept, and I agree that further consultation will be necessary. I am delighted to accept the representations and views expressed by the Minister.

Mr. Hayhoe

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his intervention. I shall draw my remarks to a close because we have a great deal of work to do. I hope that I have made it absolutely clear that the Government do not intend to seek to delay the Bill by procedural devices. Providing the spirit that has animated these early exchanges, and, indeed, private conversations, continues, I see no reason why we should not make good progress, and send the Bill to another place later this afternoon.

I made it clear to the hon. Gentleman in my letter, in which I set out the series of Government amendments following the consultation exercise, that the consultation exercise had shown the resource implications of the Government's proposals to be rather greater than had been anticipated, and that it would be necessary to use the commencement order procedures in the Bill to activate those parts of the Bill when the resources are available to meet them. Indeed, it is on that basis that the LEAs have been giving their views. My hon. Friend the Member for Bolton, North-East (Mr. Thurnham) may have misunderstood the position, that the present public expenditure arrangements do not include provisions for the Bill. That has been recognised by my hon. Friend the Member for Exeter (Mr. Hannam) whose work in his leading role in the all-party disablement group is well known to the House. If I recall rightly, on the Tuesday before Easter he raised that specific point at Question Time, and I responded by saying that it would be necessary to behave in that way regarding resources.

Today we are dealing with the legislative provision, and the resources question is separate. We will follow the normal procedures of the House, if today we concentrate on the legislative provision, although one can never be unmindful of the resource implications.

Mr. Thurnham

Have the Government been able to quantify the savings that would result from a reduction in crisis interventions, and also from a reduction in the number of people in institutional care, if the provisions can be made to work properly? Costs can be incurred at a level of £19,000 a year in looking after a handicapped child in an institution.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I hope that we can confine our remarks to the new clause.

Mr. Hayhoe

Mr. Deputy Speaker, you almost take the words from my mouth. Perhaps I should merely reiterate your wise advice. My hon. Friend tempts me to debate the very areas which I have just said seem inappropriate for me to deal with. All the resource implications, both on the plus and the minus sides, will need to be examined much more carefully as a result of our work today, what happens in another place, and when the legislation as now envisaged is enacted. However, I felt it necessary to make the resource point which I had set out in my letter to the hon. Member for Monklands, West, copies of which were sent to all Committee members. There was no secret about it.

Mrs. Elaine Kellett-Bowman (Lancaster)

My right hon. Friend referred to our hon. Friend the Member for Exeter (Mr. Hannam). Is he aware that our hon. Friend was extremely anxious to be present but had an unavoidable appointment elsewhere?

Mr. Hayhoe

I am grateful to my hon. Friend, and I had intended to say that, because our hon. Friend made that point to me. I know how active he has been in discussions about the Bill, and what a constructive attitude he has adopted. It is only because of a most pressing engagement in his constituency that he is unable to be present.

Sir Nicholas Bonsor (Upminister)

Having served on the Committee, I intervene briefly to welcome the attitude of my right hon. Friend the Minister to the new clause. I was a little worried that he might allow the resource implications to override his better judgment and so feel unable to support new clause 12. It is a great relief to many Conservative Members, as well as Labour Members, that he has given his support.

I wish to tempt providence a tiny bit by mentioning resources. When the Bill is passed, I hope that my right hon. Friend will make every effort to find the necessary resources. I am slightly anxious especially about the new clause. Once it has been recognised that it is necessary for the steps to be taken, it would be wrong for the Government unnecessarily to delay their implementation. I hope that my right hon. Friend the Minister will note that that view is expressed from the Conservative Benches and not by the Opposition.

I completely accept what my right hon. Friend said about the administrative details. I will not examine his comments in great detail, but I know that much discussion has taken place among those who are much better qualified than I on the precise wording of new clause 12 to obtain the necessary support for those who come out of full time local education systems and to ensure a continuing care programme. I believe that some minor adjustments will be necessary. However, I completely welcome the new clause and wish the hon. Member for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke) every success with the remainder of his Bill.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. John MacKay)

I should like to say a few words about new clauses 2 and 3. In the light of the comment of my right hon. Friend the Minister for Health about new clause 7, what I shall say about new clause 2 will be a great deal less than it might otherwise have been.

New clause 2 would have had substantially the same effect in Scotland as new clause 7 has for England and Wales. Clause 3 of the Bill as originally drafted, was based upon legislation that applies to England and Wales. The Bill simply sought to apply that to Scotland without amendment. However, the legislation on special educational needs differs substantially between England and Wales on the one hand and Scotland on the other. A separate provision is therefore required if that part of the Bill is to be applied in Scotland.

New clause 2 would have paralleled new clause 7, but, as my right hon. Friend has explained, the Government have decided not to move new clause 7 but to agree to new clause 12. In the light of that, I will not move new clause 2 but I shall have to arrange for a parallel provision to be introduced in another place to ensure that there is some application to Scotland, and that that is equivalent to new clause 12 as new clause 2 would have been for new clause 7. The House must fully understand that I shall not move new clause 2 but I shall arrange in another place, for a parallel provision to be moved to the new clause accepted by my right hon. Friend.

Mr. Tom Clarke

Before the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland concludes his speech, will he accept that I welcome his comments as warmly as I welcomed the comments of his right hon. Friend earlier?

Mr. John MacKay

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that comment.

I should like to say a few words about new clause 3 as I know that the House wants to make progress. The provisions of the Education (Scotland) Act 1980, as amended, deal with children with special educational needs and are generally effective. However, improvements can always be made in the light of experience, and the Bill provides the opportunity to make four minor but not unimportant changes. That is the purpose of new clause 3.

The first proposal in subsection (2) is simple. It seeks to amend section 4 of the Education (Scotland) Act 1980 so that the child guidance service should in future be called the regional or island authority psychological service. The reason for that is that the benefits of the service are not confined to children. Child guidance clinics are also attended by young persons up to the age of 19 and the definition of those clinics as child guidance clinics can put 17, 18 and 19-year-olds off the idea of attending such clinics.

10.15 am

Subsection (3) and the amendments that we propose to section 61 of the 1980 Act set out the elements of the examination and assessment of a child which must be undertaken before that child may be recorded as having special educational needs. There are three elements there. First, there must be a medical examination, secondly there must be a psychological examination and finally a report must be made by a teacher who has been involved in the education of the child. We intend to replace the need for three reports with a single process of observation assessment which must include educational, psychological and medical components. The purpose of that is to bring the legislation into line with the best current professional practice where it is accepted that children are best observed over a period and in the classroom rather than assessed on the basis of separate examinations. Although the proposal is unavoidably a lengthier process, it provides for a much more complete picture of the child and the child's needs. That will strengthen the legislation, not weaken it.

The amendments contained in subsection (4) concern the appointment of the named person. The named person is someone appointed by the education authority under section 62 of the 1980 Act to whom parents of children may go for advice and information about the child's special educational needs. The concept of the named person is a good one. However, that provision has been a source of irritation in cases where parents are capable of looking after the best interests of a child. In such circumstances the parents may resent the statutory imposition of an outsider in their family affairs.

I have some sympathy with that point of view and I can understand such feelings. I therefore propose that in future parents should be given the opportunity to tell an education authority that they do not wish to have a person appointed to assist them. I envisage that in the majority of cases the appointment of the named person will continue to be appropriate. The amendment provides for those cases where it is not. It will be necessary for parents explicitly to opt out of the appointment of a named person.

I should now like to consider the correction of an anomoly in section 63(1) of the 1980 Act where a right is given to parents to appeal against the decision to record their child, against the terms of the record, against the nominated school and against the refusal of a placing request. There is, however, no right of appeal against an authority's decision not to record a child. That is unjust because it denies a right of appeal against the action of an authority which in effect may deny a child the very considerable benefits that can flow from the recording a special educational need. That position should be corrected. Such a right of appeal already exists in England and Wales and by inserting a new subsection (aa) into section 63 by the amendment contained in subsection (5), Scottish parents will be given a similar right.

The amendment proposed in subsection (6) to section 64 of the 1980 Act is a technical amendment. It follows from the amendment of section 63(1).

I apologise for speaking at length, but I thought it appropriate to explain the series of amendments arising from our decision that some reform was needed of the law on educational provision for children with special needs. I hope that the hon. Member for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke) and the House will agree to accept the new clause.

Mr. Donald Dewar (Glasgow, Garscadden)

I reassure the House that there is no question of the Scottish team on the Opposition Front Bench doing a double act throughout the day with my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Morris). Indeed, there is only one other point of importance to Scotland in which I might like to intervene later in the proceedings.

I shall speak briefly as we wish to expedite the business and so make progress. I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke) on his considerable success today and on the promotion of this important Bill. I thought that the Minister had a slight edge in his voice when he thanked my hon. Friend for his intervention. I suspect that that is a compliment to the tenacity, persistence and the cutting edge of the representations and lobbying that have been carried out. There has been a suggestion of a dragging of feet and a reluctance in the Scottish Office over taking the open and generous view that the Bill deserves. I am delighted that new clause 2 is not being moved and that new clause 12 is accepted in principle by the Scottish Office and by the Minister's colleagues south of the Border. That represents an important change of heart by the Government which the Opposition greatly welcome.

I should like to make a point that has universal application to the Scottish Office. There are clearly resource implications in new clause 12, however it may be redrafted and tied up in administrative terms. The Opposition welcome that, as the resources will be put to an important use and will be most helpful. However, we hope that the Government will be prepared to live constructively with such resource implications and recognise that they cannot be accepted at the expense of other social work services or services for the disabled. I hope that that will be borne in mind when the strange alchemy of the rate support grant for Scotland is finalised in future.

However, I believe that the Government have made a sensible concession to sound common sense and to the experience of many people who have had practical experience of such work.

In connection with new clause 3, I intend to follow the admirable brevity of my hon. Friend the Member for Monklands, West and note that it has been read most adequately into the record by the Minister, who suffers from the delusion that people read his speeches. I simply say that the Opposition welcome that new clause.

Mr. Tim Yeo (Suffolk, South)

I had hoped to catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, before my right hon. Friend the Minister for Health and my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland made their speeches. I am glad that I did not, because I can be briefer than I would have been.

I warmly welcome the response of the Minister for Health in accepting the new clause. It shows the constructive spirit which has informed the negotiations between the Bill's sponsor and the Minister. I congratulate the hon. Member for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke) and my right hon. Friend on their progress. I welcome the new clause also because it will help the group of young people who have suffered in the past.

I know from my experience that many youngsters who have been given special education and made great progress physically and mentally and to whom considerable resources have been devoted have often dropped out of the system on leaving school. Considerable distress has been caused to their families by the reversal in their progress. To a great extent, the professional and other efforts made while those children were at school have been wasted. The new clause will ensure that the progress made at the school is not lost.

Mr. Eric Forth (Mid-Worcestershire)

I did not serve on the Committee, but I have a great interest in the Bill. I join those hon. Members who have congratulated the hon. Member for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke) on introducing the Bill. I follow the comments of my hon. Friends the Members for Upminster (Sir N. Bonsor) and for Suffolk, South (Mr. Yeo) in emphasising to my right hon. Friend the Minister for Health that those of us who may from time to time take a slightly parsimonious attitude to Government matters are anxious that all the resources needed should be found to fulfil the agreed measures behind this important Bill.

I add my voice to those of other Conservative Members who give their support in seeking the resources needed to fulfil the Bill's excellent objectives. I hope that my right hon. Friend will use that message as he sees fit.

Mr. Hayhoe

I am advised that there probably need not be any delay in implementing the new clause. I hope that its provisions will apply soon.

To avoid doubt in this complicated group of measures, I point out that new clause 12 will be accepted by me and, I hope, my colleagues. New clauses 2 and 7 will not be moved. New clause 3 will be moved and, I hope, accepted. Amendment No. 3 will be moved and I hope, accepted.

Mrs. Kellett-Bowman

I, too, should like to congratulate the hon. Member for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke) on introducing the Bill. I thank my right hon. Friend the Minister for Health for accepting new clause 12, because it will fill a gap faced by parents of children in this position.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause read a Second time and added to the Bill.

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