HC Deb 28 June 1988 vol 136 cc316-7

Amendments made: No. 152, in page 133, line 37, leave out 'but without prejudice to section 12B(1) below,'.

No. 153, in line 53, at end insert— '(3A) Any power to include a requirement in a supervision order which is exercisable in relation to a person by virtue of this section or the following provisions of this Act may be exercised in relation to him whether or not any other such power is exercised.'.

No. 154, in page 135, line 29, leave out 'but without prejudice to section 12B(1) of this Act'.—[Mr. John Patten.]

Mr. Douglas Hogg

I beg to move amendment No. 155, in page 135, line 36, at end insert— '(1a) The Court shall not include such a requirement in a supervision order unless it has consulted the local education authority with regard to its proposal to include the requirement and is satisfied that in the view of the local education authority arrangements exist for the child or young person to whom the supervision order will relate to receive efficient full-time education suitable to his age, ability and aptitude and to any special educational need he may have.' This amendment arises from an undertaking that was given by my hon. Friend in Committee. The Bill restores magistrates' power to include in a supervision order imposed on a juvenile offender a requirement to attend school regularly. The amendment requires the court, before exercising the power to consult the local education authority, to be satisfied that, in the authority's view, suitable arrangements exist for the child's education.

Mrs. Llin Golding (Newcastle-under-Lyme)

I congratulate the Minister on conceding the arguments put forward by myself and my hon. Friends in Committee on the Government's proposal to make school attendance part of a supervision order. As the Minister rightly said, the Government have conceded that, before that is done, the court should consult the local education authority about the order. They also conceded that the court should be satisfied that arrangements exist for an efficient full-time education suitable to the supervised person's age, ability and aptitude and to any special educational need he may have. Having won that small victory, we now ask that the Government also concede that, before a young person is put under such an order, it is reasonable that evidence of truancy be produced. It is surely not unreasonable that a written record of school attendance be supplied to the court. Does the Minister agree that if the offence took place when the supervised person should have been at school, a written record should be required before the supervision order is made, as there are many reasons for truancy? In fact, in Committee the Minister said that the relationship between poor school attendance and offending among young juveniles was not straightforward. Therefore, would it not be more appropriate for powers to be taken under the Education Act 1944 to enforce school attendance requirements when the truancy is not related to the offence? Would it not be advisable for an expert report to be given to the court stating that the measures that the supervised person was required to comply with were appropriate?

As the Minister conceded in Committee that juveniles were not straightforward and that the wrong supervision order could exacerbate rather than ease the position, I hope that he will accept the amendment and again concede that my hon. Friends are correct.

Mr. Douglas Hogg

The hon. Lady knows that I always like to meet her suggestions, which I have done on many occasions—but, sadly, not on this occasion. She is seeking to confine the effect of the amendment and, indeed, the clause to those cases where the relevant offence was committed during school time. I cannot accept that there is any justification for such a restrictive approach and I cannot commend it to the House.

Amendment agreed to.

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