HL Deb 04 April 1968 vol 290 cc1349-89

4.35 p.m.

House again in Committee.

Clause 1, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 2:

The social work committee

2.—(1) Every local authority shall establish a social work committee for the purposes of their functions under this Act.

(2) Except as otherwise expressly provided, all matters relating to the performance of their functions under the following enactments—

  1. (a) this Act,
  2. (b) section 12 of the Matrimonial Proceedings (Children) Act 1958.
shall stand referred to the social work committee, and before exercising any of the said functions the authority shall, unless the matter is urgent, consider a report of the social work committee with respect thereto.

(3) The social work committee, or any subcommittee thereof, may include persons specially qualified by reason of experience or training in matters relating to the functions of the committee, notwithstanding that they are not members of the local authority:

Provided that at least a majority of the members of the committee, or any sub-committee thereof, shall be members of the authority.

LORD HUGHES moved, after subsection (2)(b), to insert as a new paragraph: "( ) Part I of the Children Act 1958,". The noble Lord said: In speaking to Amendment No. 2, may I, with the permission of the Committee, associate with it Amendment No. 3? These Amendments are necessary because the clause makes it a duty of every local authority to set up a social work committee for the purposes of their functions under the Bill. It also lists functions under other enactments which are to stand referred to that committee because their nature is such that it is appropriate for them to be a responsibility of the new social work department. The Amendments would add to the list of functions which are to stand referred to the social work committee responsibilities contained in Part I of the Children Act 1958 and in Section 101(1) of the Housing Act 1964. The first of these is primarily concerned with placing responsibilities and duties on persons who foster children for reward. But Section 1 of the Act places a general duty on local authorities to secure the well-being of privately placed foster children, and it is clearly appropriate that this duty should be placed upon the social work department.

Section 101(1) of the Housing Act 1964 enables counties and large burghs to contribute to expenditure incurred in connection with the provision, maintenance and management of housing for elderly, infirm or handicapped persons. This power, which is exercised at present by welfare departments, is also one which would appropriately be placed with the social work department. I beg to move.

Amendment moved—

Page 2, line 28, at end insert— ("( ) Part I of the Children Act 1958,").—(Lord Hughes.)


May I ask the noble Lord with respect to the second Amendment he spoke to, how this will affect the housing responsibilities of local departments in regard, among other things, to finance and the method of financing; because, as II understand it, the method of financing under this Bill will be different from the method of financing, the calculation of rates and so on, in the question of housing.


I have no direct information about that point but I suspect that it will not alter the financial responsibilities of the authorities. I am quite certain that if any of the chamberlains or town clerks have reason to fear that it will, they will soon draw our attention to the fact.


I have already spoken to this Amendment. I beg to move.

Amendment moved—

Page 2, line 29, leave out (" and ') and insert— ("( ) section 101(1) of the Housing Act 1964, and").—(Lord Hughes.)


My noble friend Lord Balerno greatly regrets that an important engagement in Scotland prevents his being here to move this Amendment himself. It therefore falls to me to move it. I need hardly say, as your Lordships know from the speech I made on Second Reading, that I fear that this Dill is so "half-baked" that no amount of re-cooking in Committee seems likely to result in a digestible product. However, I am absolutely persuaded that the need for some enactment to improve the situation in Scotland is so great that we must do as much as we can to make the Bill workable and acceptable. This is certainly the view of my noble friend Lord Balerno, and we feel—and we can see by the Amendment that follows that we are not alone—that it is essential that the terms of the Bill should be mandatory in respect of the inclusion of experienced personnel in the Committees. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 37, leave out ("may") and insert ("shall").—(Lord Ferrier.)


Would it be convenient if my Amendment, No. 5, were discussed along with this one?


Yes; and I think No. 8 is consequential upon No. 4 and that is also Lord Ferrier's Amendment. It is on the same point.


I may say that Lord Balerno would be prepared to withdraw No. 4 and for us to associate ourselves with No. 5. But if it is your Lordships' wish I will go on to No. 8. I have already mentioned that the noble Lord, Lord Balerno, is unable to be here. Amendment No. 8 is in two parts. Both of those Darts make a whole which will bring the Bill in line with the existing conditions of the Education (Scotland) Act, 1945, which is based on the Local Government (Scotland) Act, 1929. These conditions are that representatives from the Churches have a statutory place on education committees. I need not elaborate on my belief that such representation is advisable. There is, of course, no suggestion that any particular Christian Church should be singled out for selection in this way. The point is that in work of this type ministers of religion have a particular contribution to make by virtue of their dedication and experience. What is more, they are part of a network with unique contacts throughout any community which fact can be only an asset to such a committee. The second part of the proposed subsection speaks for itself and is in line with the existing practice under the Education Act, whereby it is mandatory on committees to submit regular reports to keep the Secretary of State in touch with progress.

4.41 p.m.


I hope that my noble friend may be able to accept Amendment No. 4. I am not bothered, if I may say so with the greatest repect, about Amendment No. 5 any more than with Amendment No. 8. I should prefer to leave the choice of personnel to the new social work committees. I do not think that any particular body has any special right to be represented. The noble Lord, Lord Ferrier, said that there ought to be a representative of the universities and the churches. One could argue that there ought perhaps to be a representative of members of the medical profession who are in daily touch with these problems. I should have thought the most important persons to have on such a committee would be people with a wide experience of professional social work.

The clause as drafted says that: The social work committee, or any subcommittee thereof, may include … and so on. "May" is permissive; it also means that if the committee does not wish to do so, it need not. Therefore I ask my noble friend whether he feels able to accept the word "shall" in place of "may", because, having regard to what the Bill, envisages, which is the co-ordination of a good deal of social work to be undertaken by the local authority, it would mean that the social work committee would have constantly under its review standards of work; the question of selection; the training of personnel and, I would hope, the question of in-service and further training. Those of us who have been members of county councils and borough councils know that not all members of committees (and sometimes none of them) have special knowledge of the work for which the committee is responsible. Therefore I feel that if the word used could be "shall", there would be an obligation on the social work committee and the local authority to bring on to the committee people from a fairly wide field of representation. They would be able to bring to the committee a certain wealth of experience and fund of knowledge which would help to develop a really first-class social service. They would have regard to such things as selection and training, in-service training and further training. That is why I should like to see the word "shall" used, because then this would be obligatory.


Perhaps I may add a word or two about our approach to Amendment No. 5. I put down this Amendment because I thought that in particular areas there would not be people sufficiently qualified by reason of experience or training to be worth considering for membership of a committee: it would give a small degree of latitude. But I support what has been said by the noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell, about the word "shall". My information is that not a great deal of use has been made of Section 39 of the Children Act in co-opting on to the committees people of this kind. I do not know the reason for that, but if it is so, and if it is thought desirable that they should be members, there is a strong case for making the wording at any rate more positive.

The noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell, and my noble friend Lord Ferrier would go the whole way and make it an absolute duty. I felt it better to modify it a little, in case in certain areas it was not possible to find the kind of person envisaged, for example, in Amendment No. 8. We have to bear in mind that the reasons for which Churches are represented on education committees are not the same as those for which they are required to be represented on this kind of committee. The Churches have their pastoral duties, but I think it is more with regard to their teaching duties and the regulation of religious instruction that they are represented on education committees. Nevertheless, I think it would be most valuable, because of their pastoral functions and because so much voluntary welfare work is associated with Churches, that appropriate ministers might well become the hub of this kind of activity and prove most useful on this kind of committee.

Those universities which carry out training for social welfare courses would, I am sure, inevitably be represented on the social work committees. I am thinking particularly, in this connection, of Glasgow and Edinburgh, but the same may apply to the other universities. I commend my noble friend's Amendment No. 8, and I will leave the noble Lord to choose between Amendments Nos. 4 and 5.


My Lords, this Amendment gives me an opportunity to make a short reference to the position under the Bill of the voluntary organisations in Scotland. These organiations have a very wide experience in many aspects of welfare work. I am sure your Lordships will agree that they have done valuable work in a number of directions, and that the last thing anyone would wish would be for these activities to be curtailed or made more difficult because of the provisions of the Bill. I do not for a moment think that that is likely to happen or that it is the intention behind the Bill. On the other hand, I must admit that in the only society for which I am entitled to speak, the British Red Cross Society, I have heard apprehensions expressed that the provisions in the Bill might result in voluntary societies being pushed to one side, or that the work which they do for children and old people, or people who have recently left hospital, might be made more difficult.

In several clauses in the Bill there are provisions for co-operation with voluntary organisations. I am sure it is the intention that the voluntary organisations should be brought fully into the picture. What will matter, however, is not so much the terms of the Bill but the way in which it is administered, and I hope that we need have no concern about that aspect of the matter. But I think that anything which the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, can say to emphasise the part which the voluntary organisations can play in the new set-up will be very welcome.


Yesterday in Edinburgh I had the opportunity of seconding the motion for the adoption of the Annual Report and Accounts of the Royal Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, and in the course of my remarks I pointed cut the many ways in which voluntary organisations were expected to continue to play their part in this work. If I remember rightly, the words which I used were of this order. Without the continuation of the co-operation which had been given by voluntary organisations in the past, it would not be possible for either the local authorities or the central departments to satisfactorily carry out the duties which are being laid upon them by this Bill. If the noble Lord wishes me to send him a copy of the full remarks which I made, which I think were generally acceptable to the members of the Society, I shall be glad to do so.

Of course, my remarks apply with equal force to the many other voluntary organisations who have been so helpful in welfare operations and without whose work this Bill could not possibly be before us. It has been the voluntary organisations who have been the spearhead of this new development and who have so often pointed out the need for it. The fact that the noble Lord, Lord Inchyra, intervened on this point emphasises the difficulties of attempting a selection by naming the organisations who will have places on the committee by statutory provision. Who is to weigh up the merits in any particular area of a choice between the local minister or the county director of the Red Cross or an officer of the R.S.S.P.C.C.—the man who is so regularly known in Scotland as "the cruelty man"? It is impossible. If we had to accept everybody who could make a contribution as a member of the committee, there would be no question of a majority being members of the local authority. Their representation would turn out to be a mere drop in the bucket.

The Government are going the other way in these Amendments. As the Bill stands, the majority of a committee will be members of the local authority, but the Government are prepared to accept the Amendments of the noble Marquess, Lord Lothian, suggesting that this should be a two-thirds majority, because we are strongly in favour of the principle of co-option. It may seem that we are going the wrong way about it. But in many authorities there is strong objection to co-option. If we include in the Bill anything that at the end of the day may make it possible that they will have only a bare majority, they will regard any co-option as being the thin end of the wedge and dig in their heels against any co-option whatever. Even the words "where practicable" would lead to difficulty. If the local council do not want to co-opt, they will find the most ingenious reasons for not having other people on the committee, and who is to decide whether their reason is a practicable one or not?

We think that this is a case where the best co-option will be obtained by leaving it as it has always been. Outside the Education Acts, the principle of co-option by local authorities has always been a voluntary one. If we are to have non-elected members sitting with the good will of the elected members, we shall get a good committee, who will work well, and the committee will regard themselves as having been strengthened by the experts brought in from outside. They will feel that they have done this themselves; the Secretary of State or Parliament has not compelled them to do this. The committee benefit in the result.

The Government think that the acceptance of these Amendments, which would confine the number of co-opted members to one-third of the committee, is likely to lead to more co-option and bring in more voluntary people, some ministers and perhaps some university people. We are going to emphasise in every way we can that we think that the committees should co-opt outside help in a field which is being widened and in which, let us accept it, there will be a fair amount of difficulty in getting schemes working well. From this point of view, I would sincerely urge your Lordships not to accept Amendments Nos. 4, 5 and 8, and in due course I shall be advising your Lordships to accept Nos. 6 and 7. I am sure that the result will be to produce a greater degree of co-option than the three Amendments would bring about.


I think it is a little misleading to bring in Amendment No. 8 to cloud the issue raised by this Amendment. Nevertheless, there is a great deal in what the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, has said, and with your Lordships' permission I beg leave to withdraw Amendment No. 4.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


As the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, has indicated that he is prepared to accept this Amendment and Amendment No. 7, and has really done my arguing for me, I do not think that there is any need for me to do anything more than formally move this Amendment.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 41, leave out ("a majority") and insert ("two-thirds").—(The Marquess of Lothian.)


I beg to move this Amendment.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 42, leave out ("or") and insert ("a majority of the members of").—(The Marquess of Lothian.)

LORD FERRIER moved, after subsection (3), to insert: ("( ) Each social work committee shall include persons nominated by the authorities of the Churches and, where appropriate, by a University and each local authority for the purpose of this Act shall submit to the Secretary of State for his approval a scheme for the constitution of the committee.")

The noble Lord said: I do not propose to talk any more about this Amendment because I should like time, as no doubt will my noble friend Lord Balerno, to study what the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, has said in the discussion which has just taken place. I am particularly grateful to the noble Lord who spoke from the Cross-Benches, who emphasised the need for an absolute assurance that voluntary bodies are properly represented on all committees and sub-committees tinder the Bill. I may not wish to proceed with this Amendment, but on the other hand, the noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell, who has spoken in support of this Amendment, may not wish me to withdraw it. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 43, at end insert the said subsection.—(Lord Ferrier.)


If I am allowed to speak at this stage, I hope that my noble friend Lord Ferrier will withdraw this Amendment, because now that the Minister has accepted Amendment No. 6, which will put an obligation on local authorities to have two-thirds of their social work committees as members of the council, the number of people they will be able to co-opt will be reduced. For example, in a committee of 15 there will be 10 members of the local authority, so that the number of co-opted members cannot exceed five. I think that it will now be unnecessary to have an Amendment which seeks to determine who shall be on the committee. I would sooner leave it to the committee to have the widest possible field of choice.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On Question, Whether Clause 2, as amended, shall stand part of the Bill?


I should like to ask one question on this clause. I am not certain what the position is as regards school attendance officers. I know that there is nothing said about this matter in subsection (2) of Clause 2, or, for that matter, in Clause 1. The noble Lord said at an earlier stage that the powers are expressed in very wide terms, so that not everything that is covered needs to be mentioned specifically. I wonder whether he can tell me what has been decided about school attendance officers—or, to put it in another way, whether the staff of the social work committee would serve as school attendance officers, or could so serve. I am told that in some cases janitors of schools serve as school attendance officers.


I must confess that I was told about the position of school attendance officers, but, for the life of me, I cannot remember what I s told. Perhaps at some inappropriate time later on I can give the noble Lord an answer.


I am obliged. I shall wait for the "inappropriate" time.

Clause 2, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 3:

The director of social work


(3) Any vacancy in the appointment of director of social work shall be advertised by the local authority and, unless and until the Secretary of State prescribes qualifications under the last foregoing subsection, copies of all the applications received for the vacancy shall be forwarded by the local authority to the Secretary of State who shall compile a list of those applicants whom he considers qualified for the appointment.

5.2 p.m.

LORD DRUMALBYN moved to add to subsection (3) and if he considers none of the applicants to be qualified for the appointment he shall require the local authority to re-advertise the vacancy, and the local authority shall comply with the requirement with or without any change in the terms and conditions of service offered.

The noble Lord said: The purpose of this Amendment is a simple one. It is simply that it is quite possible that the Secretary of. State may find nobody with the qualifications that he thinks necessary on the list of applicants submitted to him. Alternatively he may find only one person. As the local authority are really to choose their director of social work, it does not seem to me that it would be suitable for the Secretary of State to send a list down containing only one name. Yet, as the clause is drafted, it appears that this would be perfectly permissible.

Taking this and the next Amendment together, I think there are two points: first of all, that the local authority is to choose from among those on the list, and not just a person on the list; and secondly, where no name is submitted to the Secretary of State of a person whom he thinks qualified, then he shall require the local authority to re-advertise the vacancy. It may well be that one of the reasons why there is no suitably qualified person on the list is because the local authority has not offered a sufficiently high salary or sufficiently good terms and conditions of employment. It is for that reason that I have indicated that it will be possible in that case, when the local authority re-advertise it, to state the conditions clearly. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 3, line 16, at end insert the said words.—(Lord Drumalbyn.)


I must admit that the Government have no strong objections to offer to this Amendment. It is more a matter of the susceptibility of local authorities than anything else. The only objection we have is that we do not want to make the procedure for selecting a social work director look too involved or to have too much appearance of interference in a section of our relationships with local authorities, which is always tender—the question of saying whom they may or may not appoint; and this is particularly so after the appearance of the Maud Report. If, however, the noble Lord thinks that these rather intangible disadvantages are worth suffering for the advantages of spelling it out in so many words—which, frankly, we think is what will happen in any event—I have no strong feelings against it. I do not think it will help relationships. I do not think it will alter very much the procedure that is due to arise, in any event. On the other hand, I must admit that, except from the possible psychological view of relationships with local authorities in this field, it cannot do very much harm.


I am grateful to the noble Lord. The difficulty is that it is spelt out in so much detail already, but perhaps not quite enough. The point here is not so important as in the case of a reporter, because this, as I understand it, is only a transitional arrangement. This will apply only until subsection (2) comes into operation; that is, until the Secretary of State has prescribed the qualifications. I think that if we decide to bring in these words in regard to the reporter, they could quite easily be brought in here, too. Perhaps we might leave the point to be discussed in relation to the reporter, and by then the noble Lord may have taken more soundings from the local authorities and may know whether or not they would like to have this.


I think that is a helpful suggestion. Whichever way we do it, there is probably advantage in having the same sort of wording in both cases. As the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, has suggested, perhaps the more important case is that of the reporter. If we should decide that there is advantage in bringing it in, this proposal could perhaps be brought in on the next stage of the proceedings.


I am much obliged. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

LORD HUGHES moved, in subsection (8), after "1947" to insert: , so far as these provisions are not inconsistent with any of the foregoing provisions of this section,".

The noble Lord said: This clause provides for the appointment by each local authority of a director of social work and adequate supporting staff. The Amendment would insert a necessary qualification in subsection (8) of the clause, which deals with remuneration and tenure of office. The provisions of Sections 82 and 92 of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1947 are to apply to directors of social work and their staff, but in relation to tenure of office these provisions are simply that office is to be held during the pleasure of the council. The director of social work, however, is to have the additional safeguard enjoyed by other local authority chief officials that he shall not be removed from office (or required to resign) except by a resolution of the local authority passed by not less than two-thirds of the members present at a meeting, notice of which specifies as an item of business consideration of his removal from office. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 3, line 40, after ("1947") insert the said words.—(Lord Hughes.)

Clause 3, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 4 [Provisions relating to performance of functions by local authorities]:

On Question, Whether Clause 4 shall stand part of the Bill?


I should like to put one short point on this clause. I take it that the word "arrangements" in line 4 means, and includes, arrangements on such terms and conditions as may be agreed. These will be arrangements for grant, and so forth.


Yes; I would say so. May I regard this as the inappropriate moment and say that school attendance officers are not affected?

Clause 4 agreed to.

Clause 5 [Powers of Secretary of State]:

LORD DRUMALBYN moved, in subsection (3)(d), after "if" to insert "(but only if)". The noble Lord said: This Amendment relates to subsection (3)(d) of this clause and, in particular, to the removal of persons from places in which they are boarded out if their welfare appears to require it. I looked up Section 23 of the National Assistance Act, which is repealed in Schedule 7. That empowers the local authority to require persons to leave premises in which accommodation is provided where by reason of any change in a person's circumstances"— among other things— he is no longer qualified to receive accommodation under this Part of this Act …". It seems to me that this represents a quite different attitude from the attitude that is adopted in this Bill, and that the sole test is to be the test of need as defined in the Interpretation Clause, Clause 93. Therefore, if the person is in need he ought not to be removed unless his welfare requires him to be removed: that should be the only case in which he should be removed while he is alive. That being so, I think the words, "but only if" are a useful addition. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 4, line 42, after ("if") insert ("(but only if)").—(Lord Drumalbyn.)


The Government feel that this would not be in all cases a helpful Amendment to the Bill. I think it must be accepted that if there are no other circumstances which have a cancelling-out effect persons should not be removed from a place where they are boarded out unless their welfare appears to require it, and I think this would be a principle generally followed by local authorities. But there might be circumstances where the general advantage of a group of people might require one person to be removed from a place, even though it could not necessarily be shown that it was for his welfare that this should be done.

It is difficult to envisage actual cases, but the sort of case we had in mind, and which might be precluded if we accepted these words, is this. There might be a place in which handicapped children were boarded out and which was suitable for a particular child, for whom a place could be found only by removing another child for whom it was not essential that he should remain in that place. It could not be argued that it was for the welfare of that child to be in this place, rather than in another one which would suit him equally well. But if the local authority had to comply with this Amendment they might in fact be unable to place the handicapped child in the only suitable place which they had for him, because the alternative place available might not be suitable. I know I am making this sound terribly complicated, but we think that this proposal would be an inhibition on the powers of the local authority to make the best use of their resources, which could lead in some cases to unfortunate results.

Having said that, however, I would add that I should like time to go into this matter a little more fully. We have a while between Committee stage and Report stage, and if the noble Lord will withdraw this Amendment now I will look at it in more detail to find out just how likely it is that there might be circumstances in which the local authority could not do the job as they would want to do it if these words were in the Bill. One thing I want to avoid, if at all possible, is this. If someone were boarded in a place where things were working very well, one would be loth to disturb that arrangement unless there were reasons which were overwhelmingly in favour of doing it that way; and I accept that the balance should be loaded against unnecessary movement. But if the noble Lord will agree to withdraw this Amendment now, I will go into this matter reasonably early and let him have my conclusions after more mature consideration of the matter, and he may then decide whether or not he wishes to resubmit the Amendment at the next stage.


I am again very grateful to the noble Lord. I thought, if I may say so, that his explanation was extremely lucid, although it was bound, in the nature of the case, to be slightly complicated. In the light of the offer he has made, and in view of his sympathetic approach to this matter, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 5 agreed to.

Clause 6 [Supervision of establishments providing accommodation for persons in need and inspection of records etc., relating to persons in need]:

5.15 p.m.

LORD DRUMALBYN moved, in subsection (1) after "may" to insert: on producing, if so required, some duly authenticated document showing his authority". The noble Lord said: This is another point that can often give rise to difficulty—the sort of point we often have to discuss on Bills. It is the extent to which duly authorised officers of the Secretary of State may enter premises (and perhaps I may take Amendments Nos. 13 and 14 together) at any time and without producing some duly authenticated document required showing their authority to enter. My Amendments relate to subsection (1). The noble Lord, Lord Hughes, has down an Amendment to subsection (2), which deals with the question of entering offices of a local authority or a voluntary organisation, to include the words "at all reasonable times". I quite see that there is a difference between entering offices and entering, let us say, houses where foster children are boarded out, or inspecting residential accommodation where it might be very necessary to inspect it at times when offices are not open. But of course "reasonable" is a relative term. What is reasonable in one case might not be reasonable in the other.

What I think is important is that here we are dealing with homes; not just residential establishments, but individual homes, where foster children or children under supervision, children boarded out and so forth, are; and in these days we are constantly being warned against the possibility that people may abuse authority, or use authority they do not possess, in order to gain entrance. I think that this is something we have to be particularly careful with in this kind of case. So the purpose of my Amendment is not to deny to duly authorised officers of the Secretary of State the right to perform their functions in any way, but to ensure, first, that they are always able to establish who they are, and, secondly, that it shall be open to anybody to challenge the reasonableness of the time.

Subsection (4) says: Any person who obstructs the exercise of any such power … shall be … liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding ten pounds … Of course it would be considered at that point whether the time was reasonable or not. If the officer of the Secretary of State was not entering at a reasonable time, he would not be convicted; and this is exactly what my Amendment seeks to secure. It will give the courts the final decision as to whether entry was really necessary at the time when it was required, and I think that this is right. We want some restriction on unlimited power to enter private homes. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 5, line 2, after ("may") insert ("on producing, if so required, some duly authenticated document showing his authority").—(Lord Drumalbyn.)


I am so accustomed to finding the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, picking up points which the Government appear to have missed that I take it as almost axiomatic that that will be the case. But on this occasion this is not the position. The first Amendment is in fact already covered by Clause 6(3), on which, for once, the noble Lord appears to have overlooked something, because it says exactly what is in his Amendment No. 13. Perhaps it would be convenient if I were to speak also to our Amendments 15, 16 and 17, which are on the same point.

We have put our Amendment down at line 25, to subsection (2), because we accept that duly authorised officers need enter the offices of a local authority only at a reasonable time. However, we do not accept that an officer should be under the same requirement to enter only at a reasonable time in respect of visits to the places listed in subsection (1). It is, of course, unlikely that the power would be used at an unreasonable time, but the very nature of a complaint about the running of an establishment might make a visit at, say, midnight essential. Not to act at the time might completely prevent the taking of the necessary remedial action. It might be something which could be discovered only by a visit at that time. If it was alleged that certain things were taking place in an establishment during the night, there would be no point in visiting that establishment during the hours from 9 o'clock in the morning until 5 o'clock in the afternoon.

So we believe that there is a clear case for having a distinction between the times when offices may be visited, for the purpose of examining records, and so on, and when establishments may be visited for other purposes. For clearly, what would be a wholly unreasonable time to seek to look at office records might be a completely reasonable time to pursue that particular object. For this reason the Government have sought to meet the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, as fully as possible, and this means we have to do it in the way we propose by our Amendments Nos. 15, 16 and 17. I hope that the noble Lord will find it possible to withdraw Nos. 13 and 14 and that he will concur in Amendments Nos. 15, 16 and 17.


I am afraid that I am not entirely convinced by what the noble Lord has said. I started by saying that I agreed that there was a distinction between these two cases, but the fact is that what is reasonable in one case is not reasonable in the other. It is perfectly reasonable at night, if that is the only time at which one can get the particular result. It is quite reasonable that there should be a visit at midnight in order to check up on a residential establishment, but the noble Lord was rather careful to gloss over the fact that this involved the visiting of private houses as well as commercial establishments. While the distinction could be maintained, a little more protection could, I think, be given to the visiting of private homes. Will the noble Lord consider this further before the next stage of the Bill?


I will do so but I would point out that to visit either a public establishment or a private home at other than ordinary time would be an exceptional circumstance. From time to time it happens that some of the most severe complaints about conditions are in cases where people are boarded out privately, and it would be a dreadful position if it were not possible to investigate these conditions; because the guilty person may well be the one who just slams the door and says, "This is not a reasonable time to come and visit anybody." In these circumstances the conditions which are suspected may continue, perhaps, for another two or three months, or something may happen in the interval to cause people to say that it was just through a piece of red tape that a complaint could not be dealt with at the moment when it was first brought to the authority's notice. Having said that, I should like to look at the matter again with my officers, to find out whether there is any way in which we can give reasonable protection to the individual without defeating the object of this clause.


The noble Lord has been extremely reasonable this afternoon, and I thank him for his approach to this matter. I fully appreciate his point of view, and if he can meet my point of view in some way I shall be grateful. I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


I beg to move Amendment No. 15.

Amendment moved— Page 5, line 25, after ("may") insert ("at all reasonable times").—(Lord Hughes.)


I beg to move No. 16.

Amendment moved— Page 5, line 26, after ('authority") insert ("or of a voluntary organisation").—(Lord Hughes.)


I beg to move Amendment No. 17.

Amendment moved — ("(2A) The power conferred by subsection (1) of this section may be exercised in respect of any place which an officer has reasonable cause to believe to be used as an establishment to which the provisions of that subsection apply.")—(Lord Hughes.)

Clause 6, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 7 [Advisory Council on social work]:

5.26 p.m.


This is quite a small point concerning the new Advisory Council which is to be set up to advise the Secretary of State on matters connected with the performance of his functions with local authorities in relation to social welfare. We feel that the words "under this or any other Act of Parliament" would make the position somewhat clearer, and therefore I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 5. line 42, after ("social welfare") insert ("under this or any other Act of Parliament").—(The Marquess of Lothian.)


I do not think I shall have much difficulty in persuading the noble Lord not to press this Amend- ment, because the effect of it would be the opposite of the general line which he has taken on this Bill. I think it would be correct to say that he regards this as a widening of the general position. In fact it is not; it is a narrowing of the position. The note I have on this Amendment is quite brief, but it is so good that I will read it as it stands.

The effect of this Amendment would be to restrict the consideration by the Social Work Advisory Council to matters of social welfare so far as they were provided for under this Bill or any other Act of Parliament. This seems unduly restrictive. The Council may under subsection (4) raise with the Secretary of State of their own accord matters mentioned in subsection (1). This provision as drafted enables the Advisory Council on Social Work to be forward-looking in its considerations and put up suggestions about matters that might be legislated for the first time—new aspects of social work that have not hitherto appeared on the Statute Book. The effect of this Amendment would seem to be to restrict the Council to considering matters that are already in Statute, therefore confining them to considering improvements to existing provisions.

We have in fact found, and I think all Governments have found, that some of the most useful legislation to be brought on the Statute Book has arisen as a result of advice of this kind which has been given by bodies which points the need for new legislation, and we think that this Social Work Advisory Council may well turn out to be a body which, not immediately but at some time ahead, may well point the way to future Governments embarking on other legislation.


I thank the noble Lord for that reply and for explaining so clearly what he envisages the functions of the new advisory councils to be. Of course I agree; I do not want to restrict their activities in any way. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 7 agreed to.

Clause 8 [Research]:

On Question, Whether Clause 8 shall stand part of the Bill?


I should like to raise a point on subsection (2) of Clause 8, which says: Any local authority may conduct or assist other persons in conducting research into any matter connected with their functions in relation to social welfare ". I presume that that subsection is not limited by subsection (3) of Clause 10. It has been felt that local authorities might wish to use the services of a voluntary organisation the purpose of which might not be solely or primarily to promote social welfare. It might be a voluntary organisation dealing with a number of matters. It was thought that this was perhaps too restrictive, and I wonder whether the noble Lord could see that, so far as conducting of research is concerned, the powers of the local authority will not be limited in this way.


Clause 8(2) contains a very wide power and it stands on its own. The heading to Clause 10 is: Financial and other assistance to voluntary organisations etc., for social work". That also stands on its own. Clause 10(3) does not qualify Clause 8(2).

Clause 8 agreed to.

Clause 9 agreed to.

Clause 10 [Financial and other assistance to voluntary organisations etc. for social work]:


This is a drafting Amendment. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 7, line 32, after ("things") insert ("belonging to the local authority").—(Lord Drumalbyn.)


I accept this Amendment.

Clause 10, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 11 agreed to.

Clause 12:

General social welfare services of local authorities

12.—(1) It shall be the duty of every local authority to promote social welfare in their area by making available advice, guidance and assistance on such a scale as may be appropriate in their area, and in that behalf to make arrangements and to provide or secure the provision of such facilities (including the provision or arranging for the provision of residential and other establishments) as they may consider suitable and adequate, and are in accord with any guidance which the Secretary of State may give to the local authority in pursuance of subsection (1) of section 5 of this Act.

(3) Assistance in kind or in cash may be given to, or in respect of, a person where the withholding of assistance in that form would cause the authority greater expense in the giving of assistance in another form, or where probable aggravation of the person's need would cause greater expense to the local authority at a later date.


This is purely a drafting Amendment. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 8, line 10, after second ("and") insert ("as").—(Lord Hughes.)

5.34 p.m.

THE MARQUESS OF LOTHIAN moved, in subsection (1), to leave out "in accord" and insert "not at variance". The noble Marquess said: I hope the noble Lord will not consider this is a restricting Amendment in this case, because it is designed to give local authorities somewhat greater scope and flexibility in the manner in which they go about promoting social welfare in their own areas. The Bill as it stands gives me the impression at any rate that the local authorities are restricted to acting solely within the strict guidance of the Secretary of State. That is what I take the words "in accord" to mean. Our Amendment seeks to give them greater flexibility and freedom in this matter, which I believe to be of great importance in the field of social welfare, at the same time giving them the possibility of not departing from the general framework of the Secretary of State's guidelines. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 8, line 11, leave out ("in accord") and insert ("not at variance").—(The Marquess of Lothian.)


It is a little difficult to argue against this Amendment because basically "in accord" and "not at variance" would appear to be two ways of saying the same thing. Unfortunately, from my point of view, I cannot argue that "in accord" is hallowed by precedent and that the words "not at variance" would present us with difficulty. I am told that both phrases, "in accord" and "not at variance", are in fact thought to be new, and whichever way we do it we are making a precedent. I should like, however, to have another look at these words. I must admit that the noble Marquess has turned the tables on me, in that by substituting the phrase "not at variance" he is accepting the argument I was advancing to his colleague at a previous stage, that we do not want to appear in too many cases to be telling the local authorities what they are to do.

If the noble Marquess will withdraw this Amendment I will look at it along with the others, but I would say that I must come down consistently on one side or the other. I cannot have more interference with the local authorities on the previous Amendment and less on this, so if I take "not at variance", then it follows the Government will have to insist on their view on the other Amendment. If, on the other hand, I am prepared to concede what' the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, wants on the other Amendments, the Government, to be consistent, will have to insist on this remaining "in accord"—not that the matters are related, but at least the attitude should be consistent. If this Amendment is withdrawn it will be looked at at the same time, and I will advise the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, and the noble Marquess, Lord Lothian, in ample time for them to decide what they should do at the next stage.


I am most grateful to the noble Lord. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

5.37 p.m.


This Amendment relates to subsection (3), which says: Assistance in kind or in cash may be given to, or in respect of, a person where the withholding of assistance in that form would cause the authority greater expense in the giving of assistance in another form … This is a new provision which we very much welcome. At the same time, it seems to me that the expense to the authority should not be the only criterion—there is also the question of the persons themselves and what they would like to happen. Therefore the words I suggest are: where the withholding of assistance in that form would cause the person greater distress or the local authority greater expense if the assistance were given in another form. It seems to me that this is perhaps an improved criterion. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 8, line 25, leave out from ("cause") to ("in") in line 26 and insert ("the person greater distress or the local authority greater expense if the assistance were given").—(Lord Drumalbyn.)


The noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, has indicated that the power which he seeks to amend is one which he very much welcomes. I can assure him this was not a very easy power to get in. It is a very useful addition to the local authority's powers. The noble Lord is seeking to widen it in the most difficult circumstances, because, after all, if we have to compare only the cost to the authority of one form of assistance as compared with another, it is a purely objective matter and it is relatively easy to arrive at the answer. But the introduction of assessment of the client's distress, which is subjective both to the client and to the social worker, would complicate the issue and give the local authority power to give assistance in cash or in kind on grounds which would be entirely subjective and not really open to any effective control by auditor or anyone else.

This Amendment probably reflects a feeling among social workers that the giving or withholding of assistance would depend entirely on the cold-blooded assessment of relative costs. This impression is unjustified, because subsection (3) of the clause does not override the other powers of this clause. It offers an additional criterion on the giving of assistance. To be quite honest about this matter, we feel rather pleased with our selves that we have achieved this big step forward, and I should not like to be subjected to the risk of importing into it this rather vague definition. I hope that the noble Lord will not press me on this Amendment, because I think it is a much too difficult field to venture into at this stage.


I am grateful to the noble Lord. From my experience at the other end of this particular pole, I think I understand exactly the difficulties that he has had in getting this particular provision. But I am not certain that this subsection is going to be easy to operate in any event. The onus of proof in regard to the withholding of assistance seems somewhat "steep". I think that the noble Lord will have to reconsider this clause and try to temper it down a little. He has been talking of objective proof. That is an extremely difficult thing to achieve in one way or the other. I think that he will probably have to modify that a little.

I am sorry that he cannot meet this point. I see the difficulties. I realise that this is a matter of demarcation between one department and another; but it may be that proper liaison between the two departments will get over the difficulty. There is, of course, always the time factor, which is one thing that I had in mind in regard to the greater distress. I do not wish to press this Amendment further, but perhaps the noble Lord and I could have a further word about it. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 12 agreed to.

Clause 13 [Domestic help and laundry facilities]:

5.43 p.m.

LORD DRUMALBYN moved, in subsection (1), after "presence" to insert "or the imminent or proposed presence". The noble Lord said: Here, again, it is thought that perhaps the phrase where such help is required owing to the presence of a person in need is unduly restrictive. I am informed that on occasions help has been withheld because the person was not there yet but was going to be there quite soon, when he was released from hospital or something of that kind. It seems to be a fact that this has happened, and it appears to me that, if so, we ought to alter the drafting of this subsection so that it need not happen. Therefore I am asking for the insertion here of the words "or the imminent or proposed presence" before the words "of a person in need", so that domestic help may be present when there is going to be a person in need in the house as well as where there is already one there. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 9, line 16, after ("presence") insert ("or the imminent or proposed presence").—(Lord Drumalbyn.)


I must admit that I am most sympathetic to the object of this Amendment. In fact, to wait, as the Bill would appear to require, until the person was actually there might complicate things considerably. It nay be that a home help turning up four hours before the person arrived would make things move quite smoothly, whereas in turning up a couple of hours after the person had returned home the home help might have a condition of chaos to deal with. But it is not an easy matter to resolve, and I would ask the noble Lord not to press his Amendment. We should like to look at it sympathetically, but the drafting may well be a most complicated matter. I should like to take the opportunity, after having had some further discussion on the matter, of having a talk with him about it, in ample time for the next stage. He has my sympathy, but whether it is possible to translate sympathy into suitable drafting is a difficulty with which I am faced at the moment.


I am obliged to the noble Lord, and beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

LORD DRUMALBYN moved to add to subsection (3) "or any other committee of theirs,". The noble Lord said: This subsection can be read in two ways. It says: It shall not be a requirement that any matter relating to the discharge of their functions under this section by a local authority shall stand referred to their social work committee.

Clause 2(2) says that Except as otherwise expressly provided, all matters"— in this subsection shall stand referred to the social work committee. I am not clear whether this is one of the express provisions that it shall be dealt with otherwise, or whether it was intended to indicate that this was a matter which could be dealt with by the officials in the first place, without referring the matter to the social work committee.

Even in my own experience, domestic help is not always given as promptly as it might be. It is not given as soon as it is needed. Quite often, the matter has to go to a committee first. To me, that seems undesirable. The officials ought to be given more authority to supply domestic help without having to submit the whole of the case to a committee in the first place. That is what I hoped the subsection meant. To prevent its being submitted to some other committee I am moving to insert the words "or any other committee of theirs".

If, on the other hand, this was supposed to be the express provision and something different from what is in Clause 2(2)—that is, where something is not to stand necessarily referred to the social work committee—then I think it should be made rather more clear by giving such words as enlarge the provisions of Clause 2(2) of the Bill. I do not know which of the two meanings is supposed to be given. If it is the first, I should like to press the Amendment. If it is the second, I suggest that the clause be clarified. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 9, line 29, at end insert ("or any other committee of theirs").—(Lord Drumalbyn.)


So far as I can see, the effect of this Amendment would appear to be not to alter the subsection. Clause 13 makes it a duty of local authorities to provide domestic help and laundry facilities. Subsection (3) provides that these services do not have to stand referred to the social work committee, unlike the position with respect to the other provisions in the Bill. The Health Services and Public Health Bill at present before Parliament will repeal Section 28 of the National Health Service (Scotland) Act 1947, which placed somewhat more restricted duties on local health authorities. The position, therefore, now is that this service is not referred to any particular committee of a local authority.

The aim of the clause is in fact to allow local authorities complete discretion either to carry out their expanded duties under Clause 13 through the ex- isting machinery of the medical officer of health, or to have the new duties on "social grounds" carried out by the social work department; or to have the whole service carried out by the social work department. We know that there has on occasion been a tendency for local authorities to have done by committees far too much work which could be much more expeditiously and just as satisfactorily carried out by their officials working under general rules and guidance which the local authority would lay down. The Bill, as it stands, allows either of those possibilities to be worked out.

Personally, long experience in local government and limited experience in central government have brought me to the point of believing that if there could be any general criticism of local authorities, it is that their machinery tends to work too slowly and that they could accomplish equally satisfactory results for the ratepayers by appointing the right officials and then trusting them to do the job under any general guidance which they may require. One hopes that in this case the authorities will devolve the maximum amount of responsibilities on their officers.


If I understand the noble Lord correctly, he is saying that although the intention of the Bill as a whole is to bring a great many of the services under one social work authority, domestic help is not necessarily to be referred to the social work committee. Personally I regret this, as I feel it is an essential part of the work of a social work committee and is the kind of thing which should be brought under such a committee. However, this is not the right moment to press this matter; possibly we can come back to it at a later stage. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 13 agreed to.

Clause 14 agreed to.

Clause 15 [Assumption by local authority of parental rights]:

LORD DRUMALBYN moved, in subsection (4), to leave out "Where, after" and insert "If, at the time whe[...]". The noble Lord said: This is an important Amendment, since we come now on to the clauses relating to the Children Act 1948 and to certain changes in that respect. I think I am right in saying that subsection (4) of this clause is a new provision. It reads as follows: Where, after a child has been received into the care of a local authority under the last foregoing section, the whereabouts of any parent or guardian of his have remained unknown for not less than twelve months, the parent or guardian shall, for the purposes of the foregoing provisions of this section, be deemed to have abandoned the child. I agree that there may be cases where it is both necessary and desirable that these powers should be exercised, but one must think very carefully about depriving parents of their children. One could envisage a case where the parents have left a child in what they believe to be good hands. It is not always a case of a lack of sense of responsibility, since the parents may be at the other end of the earth at the time. The person with whom the child is living may die and, owing to the circumstances, the parents may not he informed. The local authorities have an interest in locating the parents if only to enforce their liability to maintain under Clause 16(6). What I am trying to achieve is that a positive duty should be put upon the local authority to locate and notify the parents, if at all possible, and if necessary with the assistance of the Ministry of Social Security or the Foreign Office, or whoever it may be.

Subsection (2) seems to be far too cavalier when taken with subsection (4). The step which is indicated in this subsection may well be necessary and desirable; that is to say, that the parent should be deemed to have abandoned the child. But this deeming that the parent has abandoned the child, with the consequence that the local authority takes over the duties of a parent, should be taken only after the most positive efforts have been made to find the parent. That is what this Amendment is designed to achieve. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 12, line 3, leave out ("Where, after") and insert ("If, at the time when").—(Lord Drumalbyn.)


Amendments Nos. 26, 27 and 28 are not acceptable to the Government for a variety of reasons. First, it may not be necessary or appro- priate for a local authority to assume parental rights in every case where the whereabouts of a child's parents are unknown at the time when the child is received into care. The Amendments assume, however, that the local authority will take parental rights in every case, since they require the local authority to serve on the parent as soon as they discover him notice that they have passed a resolution under this clause.

Secondly, the drafting of the Amendments is faulty in that the parent is deemed to have abandoned the child only if his whereabouts have remained unknown for more than twelve months after the passing of the resolution. But in fact the local authority could not pass the resolution assuming parental rights, until after the parent's whereabouts had remained unknown for twelve months unless they had some reason, other than the parent's abandoning the child, in terms of Clause 15(1)(b) for the assumption of parental rights. Thirdly, the subsection as amended would mean that a parent could not he deemed to have abandoned his child if his whereabouts were known at the time when the child was received into care, but he subsequently disappeared. The present provision (which is a re-enactment of Clause 48(1) of the Children and Young Persons Act 1963) enables the local authority to assume parental rights whether the parent abandons the child before or after the child's reception into care.

However, I accept in principle the noble Lord's point that it is reasonable that the local authority should take all reasonable steps to discover the whereabouts of the parent. I am advised, however, that this point could be better met by an Amendment to the previous clause dealing with the reception of children into care, perhaps with a reference back to this duty in the clause presently under discussion. Therefore, if the not le Lord is disposed to accept what I have put forward, I can arrange to have tabled a suitable Amendment on these lines for the next stage.


I willingly accept that. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 15 agreed to.

Clause 16 agreed to.

Clause 17 [Duration and rescission of resolutions under section 15]:

On Question, Whether Clause 17 shall stand part of the Bill?


I should like to put one question on Clause 17 in relation to the rescission of resolutions. I wonder whether resolutions should not invariably be notified to the parent. There does not appear to be express provision for this in all circumstances.


I should like time to have a look at that point.

Clause 17 agreed to.

Clause 18 [Duty of parents to maintain contact with local authorities having their children in care]:

6 p.m.

LORD DRUMALBYN moved to leave out the proviso to subsection (3). The noble Lord said. I believe I am right in saying that subsection (3) is a further new provision which is not in the 1948 Act. It says: … the appropriate local authority shall be the authority in whose care the child is for the time being"— and then it continues with this proviso— Provided that where under subsection (4) of the said section 14 a local authority have taken over the care of a child from another authority, then unless and until a parent is informed that the care of a child has been so taken over the appropriate local authority shall in relation to that parent continue to be the authority from whom the care of the child was taken over.

The point is really quite a small one, and it lies in the words "is informed". It seems to me that the parent may well have already found out for himself of the transfer of the child, and there does not seem any reason why in such circumstances he should not deal with the authority into whose area the child has been transferred. I do not really see any point in these words, but if there is a point then I think they should be qualified so that they will not apply in all cases. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 14, leave out lines 30 to 35.—(Lord Drumalbyn.)


I think the noble Lord will find my explanation in this case acceptable. Clause 18 requires the parent of a child who is in the care of a local authority to keep the local authority informed of his, the parent's address. Where the care of the child is transferred from one local authority to another, the first authority are required to tell the parent, if possible. But if for any reason there is delay in telling the parent, then the obligation remains on the parent to keep the first authority informed of his whereabouts.

The effect of this Amendment would be to render a parent liable to a fine for failing to keep the new local authority informed of his address, even though he did not know that the local authority had taken over the care of his child, and even though he kept the first local authority informed of his address. It seems wrong to render the parent liable to proceedings in these circumstances. As the clause stands, the parent can still be fined if he fails to keep either local authority informed of his whereabouts. We thought that when we were imposing penalties we had to be reasonable, and that we ought not to fine a man for not giving information to an authority which he had no reason to believe had anything to do with his child.


I am much obliged to the noble Lord for his explanation. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 18 agreed to.

Clauses 19 to 21 agreed to.

Clause 22 [Power of local authorities and voluntary organisations to arrange for emigration of children]:


Under the Bill as it stands, the Secretary of State may consent to arrangements for the emigration of a child, even if the child is too young to express an opinion about whether or not he wishes to go, in order to join a friend, relative or parent. We feel that there are possible dangers in the wording as it stands, in that one cannot invariably guarantee that relatives or friends, or even parents, are desirable characters. When the child is in no position to judge this matter for itself we feel that our Amendment would safeguard it further, in that it places an additional responsibility on the local authority to approve of the person to whom the child is going to emigrate. I hope the noble Lord will feel that this is a useful safeguard. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 16, line 16, leave out ("relative or friend") and insert ("or relative of his or a person approved by the local authority")—(The Marquess of Lothian.)


I appreciate the motive which the noble Marquess had in moving this Amendment, but its effect would be to enable local authorities to arrange, with the Secretary of State's consent, for the placing of young children on emigration with people who had no previous connection with them. The clause (which is a re-enactment of Section 17 of the Children Act 1948) does not place any restriction on the type of arrangement which may be made for the emigration of a child in a local authority's care, where the child is old enough to understand what emigration means and gives his consent. The arrangements for the child's reception and welfare in the country to which he is going must be accepted as suitable by the Secretary of State, but are not limited to arrangements for the child to live with a relative or friend.

Where the child is not old enough to understand and give his consent, however, the 1948 Act limited the power to arrange emigration to cases in which the child is to travel with a parent or relative, or to join a parent, relative or friend. We think that this limitation is right and that it should not be possible for a local authority to send a child in their care abroad to live with a stranger until the child is old enough to consent to such an arrangement. In fact, the noble Marquess has argued the other way, but his Amendment would give too wide a latitude.

I would remind him that the local authority have to put these proposals to the Secretary of State, and it is inconceivable that they would put up a proposal to permit the emigration of a child who was too young to decide for itself to a parent, relative or friend of which the local authority did not approve. After all, if the local authority are not going to approve they are not going to put up the proposal in the first instance. Therefore we think that the arrangements are properly tight and that, given the need for the approval of the local authority in the first place and the Secretary of State in the second place, we are taking all reasonable steps to ensure that no child emigrates in circumstances which, at the end of the day, could prove to have been wrong.


I am grateful to the noble Lord for that explanation. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 22 agreed to.

Clauses 23 and 24 agreed to.

Clause 25 [After-care of children formerly in care of local authorities or voluntary organisations]:

6.7 p.m.


Perhaps I ought to apologise to the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, for the absence of my noble friend Lady Elliot of Harwood. As I think he knows, she is very sorry not to be here, because she wished to speak to these Amendments. The purpose of this group of Amendments—that is to say. Nos. 31, 32 and 37—is to extend the duty of the local authority to befriend, advise and assist persons over the age of 18 years whom the local authority considers need such attention. I feel it is right that young people in need of this type of after-care should not be ineligible just because they happen to have reached the age of 18. I hope the noble Lord will accept the Amendment. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 17, line 11, leave out ("child") and insert ("person").—(The Marquess of Lothian.)


I hope the noble Lord will not find it necessary to press these Amendments. We think they would place an unduly onerous responsibility on local authorities, because if we do what he suggests it really means that we are placing a duty on a local authority to do this indefinitely. They might start with a child of 12 and finish up with an old-age pensioner of 85. It is really unreasonable that such a continuing duty should be placed on a local at thorny, given the fact that the general responsibilities of the authority require them to give assistance where necessary. If after the age of 18, when the child had departed from the responsibility of the authority, something else emerged or there was an immediate need for action, it would be possible for responsibility to be assumed under the powers given to the authority under the Bill, but to insert it in this form might in fact "lumber" an authority with somebody for the rest of his lifetime. There are a few people of that kind about, and we ought not to go out of our way to encourage them by such an intention. I am quite certain that that is not what the noble Marquess intends. What I am sure he has in mind to ensure is that, where there are circumstances in which a child is in need of care, that care does not automatically disappear just because he has reached his 18th birthday. I assure the noble Marquess that the powers which the local authority have under the Bill generally enable them to take care of that situation.


I am grateful to the noble Lord for that assurance, and I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


Amendments Nos. 33, 34, 35, 36, 38, 39, 40 and 41 are all on the same subject. The purpose of these Amendments, and their effect, is to import into a local authority's duties under Clause 12, Clause 25 and Clause 26 a certain consistency in that they will be required to give advice, guidance and assistance to the persons or categories of persons mentioned in each clause. Although the substantive effect was intended to be the same, the variations in Clauses 25 and 26 from the basic advice, guidance and assistance in Clause 12 might give rise to doubt about the meaning. We have therefore decided that we should stick to exactly the same form of wording throughout. I beg to move Amendment No. 33.

Amendment moved— Page 17, line 18, leave out ("befriend,").—(Lord Hughes.)


I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 17, line 18, after ("advise") insert (", guide").—(Lord Hughes.)


I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 17, line 24, leave out ("befriended,").— (Lord Hughes.)


I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 17, line 24, after ("advised") insert (", guided").—(Lord Hughes.)


I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 17, line 36, leave out ("befriending,").—(Lord Hughes.)


I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 17, line 36, after ("advising") insert (", guiding").—(Lord Hughes.)

Clause 25, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 26 [Supervision and care of persons put on probation or released from prisons etc.]:


There are a series of Amendments to Clause 26, some in my own name and some in the name of the noble Marquess, but your Lordships will notice that there is also a Motion to leave out Clause 26. It seems to me that it would be wasteful of your Lordships' time to discuss a series of Amendments to Clause 26 if your Lordships were then to decide to take Clause 26 out. I hope your Lordships will not arrive at any such mistaken decision; nevertheless I cannot guarantee that your Lordships will always arrive at a correct conclusion. I would therefore propose—and I would suggest this course to the noble Marquess—to seek the leave of your Lordships' Committee to withdraw my Amendments Nos. 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 47 and 49; and then, if Clause 26 survives, I will re-table them on Report stage. Perhaps the noble Marquess would care to do the same with his Amendments Nos. 46 and 48.


That idea commends itself to both my noble friend Lord Drumalbyn and myself. I think it would be rather silly to proceed with these Amendments in view of the Motion in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell; so we are quite agreeable to the suggestion which the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, has made.

On Question, Whether Clause 26 shall stand part of the Bill?

6.16 p.m.


I will be as brief as I can, because many of the things that I could say I have already said, during the Second Reading of this Bill. The thing that concerns me most, and I think concerns a number of your Lordships, is that whatever merit this Bill has—and it is not denied that there is a good deal of merit in it—it in fact puts an end to the probation service in Scotland as we understand it at the present day. It may well be that what happens in Scotland to-day may happen in England to-morrow, and this causes some of us some concern. As I say, I do not want to repeat the speech that I made on March 21, but I want to refer to some of the things I said then, as there were very few Members of your Lordships' House in the Chamber at that particular time.

As I said a moment or two ago, I do not deny that the general intention of the Bill, the co-ordination of the social services, is good, and in some respects—in fact, in many respects—quite desirable. But I think it is a mistake—and I am bound to say that I regard it as a grave mistake—to involve the probation service. I cannot regard the scope and function of the probation service as being a proper function of the local authority. The responsibilities and duties of the probation service, and in particular of the probation officer, involve dealing with delinquents—in other words, the supervision of boys and girls and men and women who are on probation; the aftercare of former inmates of approved schools and borstal institutions; prison welfare and prison after-care and, as we know, from the 1st of this month, the supervision of those who have been paroled from prison. Your Lordships and your Lordships' House have long been concerned with the problems, both personal and social, stemming from delinquent behaviour, and I would hazard a guess that in the last three years we have probably given more time and attention to this particular problem, this growing problem, than to many other social problems.

The problem of delinquency (and I am not now talking about the problem of juvenile delinquency) is just as acute in Scotland as it is in England. I believe that the treatment of delinquents is a highly specialised matter, and cannot be considered alongside or dovetailed into the normal run of local authority social work. While I recognise that all social workers, if they are properly and adequately trained—and this is not so at the moment in Scotland. I do not say this out of any sense of criticism; I think it is generally accepted—have many of the basic skills in common, not all social workers are competent to deal with delinquents and their problems. I am only concerned with maintaining an efficient, effective service to deal with this rather serious social problem. Many people may feel that the probation officers are concerned merely with retaining an empire. This is not so. I think I can say that every organisation and all who are familiar with this particular field have taken the view that it would be very much better if the probation service remained independent.

Some of your Lordships may wonder why the probation service should remain independent. I think we have to face the fact that local authorities have to measure against financial considerations all the actions they take. We have to face the fact that local elections—possibly also national elections, but certainly local elections—are often won or lost on the question of whether the rate is too high and whether the local authority can cut it down. It seems to me in these circumstances that the welfare services of the local authorities become the Cinderella. Having regard to the important contribution to the community interests which the probation service can make in dealing with this growing social problem, I do not think we ought to put the service under the local authority. I would go so far as to say that the 4uality of the probation service, if we put it under the local authorities, could vary from local authority to local authority, since the effectiveness of its work would depend on what each local authority was prepared to do to further and enhance the contribution of the probation side.

It was said by the Morison Committee in 1962 that the probation service in Scotland had not made the rate of progress it should have made simply because it had been treated as a minor, local authority social service. But that is not so to-day, and it has not been so for some years. The Scottish Home Department, which has had the responsibility for developing and maintaining the probation service, has been responsible for the selection, training, overseeing and inspection of the probation service and the probation officers. I think everybody will agree that it is now perhaps one of the best organised, if not the best organised, and most effective services in Scotland. I think that a strong argument for independence is the fact that probation officers have frequently to submit reports to courts on persons who are in the care of the local authority. Can a probation officer do this frankly and objectively if he is an employee of the local authority? I believe that it would be extraordinarily difficult for him to do it. This is another reason why I think there is some merit in keeping the probation service as part of the court service.

This is not going to be a comprehensive social service within the control of the local authority. There are several aspects of social service—those dealing with the educational side, certainly the psychiatric social workers and hospital medical social workers—which are not going to be included because the hospital service is something quite separate. With the greatest respect, I believe the criminal courts of this country and of Scotland are also something quite separate; and that, therefore, their social work should remain with them. Paragraph 6 of the White Paper [Cmnd. 3065] says: One of the main reasons for reorganising the services is to enable them to make a more rational and more effective deployment of staff. If this were the case there would be some merit in it; but I know of one court area in Scotland—and I am told that it is by no means the only one—where the sheriff's court covers several local authority areas. And yet that court is served by one probation officer.

If Clause 26 remains in the Bill and the probation services become part of the local authority responsibility, then each local authority will have to send a representative to the court when the court is sitting. I do not feel that this will make the best use of social workers. The White Paper, as I have said, talked about the deployment of staff. In some respects, this causes me a little concern, because I can see a situation arising—as it has arisen in some parts of England when the social services have been brought together—where there will be a probation officer with a probationer in one area and another local authority social worker with a case also in the area, and where the local authority may say to the social worker, who is not trained to deal with delinquents, "You are going into that area; you might just as well deal with both cases."

I say—and I think noble Lords on both sides will accept this—that dealing with delinquents, dealing with, if you like, maladjusted minds, requires people who have been specially selected and specially trained in that kind of social problem. Therefore I conclude by saying this. I believe the independence of the probation services and their special relationship to the courts should be preserved, so that in the case of Scotland a sheriff and a probation officer can work together daily, discussing the various delinquents who are under the supervision of the court. I believe that the probation officer and the magistrates, the probation officer and the probationer, have a special relationship. I believe it to be an important part of the treatment of delinquents that the probationer should see the probation officer not as the servant of the local authority but as an officer of the court.

It has been suggested that the White Paper was born of the Kilbrandon Report. It may be that I have misread the Kilbrandon Report; but my reading of it was that the Kilbrandon Report never envisaged incorporating with the local authorities' welfare departments the probation service dealing with adults. When we were discussing the Second Reading of this Bill, the noble Lord, Lord Balerno quoted from the Kilbrandon Report a passage which made it quite clear that the probation services dealing with adult delinquents should remain quite independent, should remain part of the court service. That is why I feel that it is a mistake—and perhaps nothing can be done about it—to put the probation services who deal with adult delinquents under the control of the local authority.


It was the intention of the Committee that we should adjourn this debate at about 6.30 p.m. It is obvious that we cannot conclude the discussion on this clause to-night at anywhere near 6.30. I think, therefore, it would be proper that I should now move that the House do resume. I think this would be fairest to those who are against the clause, because it means that on Tuesday, when we resume, the other two noble Lords who have placed their names to this Amendment may, if they wish, have the opportunity to continue the debate; and we should then start with at least some of the points against the clause being heard by those who heard the arguments in favour. So while I regret that the noble Lord, Lord Hamilton of Dalzell, and the noble Viscount, Lord Stonehaven, will have to come back a second time, I am certain that they would be coming back on Tuesday in any event, so that no great hardship has been done. With that explanation I beg to move that the House do now resume.

Moved, That the House do now resume.—(Lord Hughes.)


I should like to say that I came here this afternoon for no other purpose than to vote against this clause, and I cannot be here on Tuesday because I cannot get here. Therefore I should be grateful if some noble Lord behind the Government Front Bench who is in favour of the clause would abstain from voting on Tuesday and so redress the balance.

On Question, Motion agreed to, and House resumed accordingly.