HL Deb 01 February 1983 vol 438 cc698-722

4.10 p.m.

Report stage resumed.

Clause 3 [Abolition of regional plans for accommodation for children.]

Lord Trefgarne

moved Amendment No. 3: Page 8, line 11, at end insert ("and, without prejudice to section 101(5) of the Local Government Act 1972, may do so jointly with one or more other local authorities") The noble Lord said: My Lords, with permission, I will speak to Amendments Nos. 3 and 76 together. These amendments make clear, through a permissive power, that it will still be open to local authorities to combine in groupings to plan and provide residential facilities for children in their care. Your Lordships will recall that at an earlier stage my noble friend Lady Faithfull tabled amendments to provide for the continuation of children's regional planning in those regions where a majoirty of local authorities so wished, but then withdrew them pending discussions with me.

As I said then, I can appreciate my noble friend's concern, although there is nothing in the Bill which would prevent collaboration. However, the matter is put beyond doubt by these amendments. We believe that the concept of planning has often proved most valuable in the past, and it is our intention merely to remove the statutory obligation for it and not to otherwise discourage it. We have therefore taken this opportunity to make a small amendment to the Local Government Act 1972 also to enable authorities to pay the expenses of any committee that may be set up for the purpose of collaborative planning. I beg to move.

The Deputy Speaker (Lord Jacques)

My Lords, before I call Amendment No. 3A I should point out that there is a misprint in the first line. The word "and" should be deleted and the word "shall" should be substituted, so that it would read: Handicapped and mentally impaired children shall".

Baroness Masham of Ilton

moved Amendment No. 3A: Page 8, line 36, at end insert— ("(6) Handicapped and mentally impaired children shall as far as possible and practicable remain in their own home area whether in a children's home or foster home.") The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I thank the Deputy Speaker for bringing this error to the notice of your Lordships. In moving this amendment, I bring to the notice of your Lordships the sad problem that so many of our children have to go into care for social reasons. It may be for short periods but sometimes it has to be for long periods. A percentage of these children will be handicapped in some way. They may have a physical or mental defect. Very often the fate of these children is that they are placed in large impersonal hospitals. Sadly, there are still children who, the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, knows, are residing in such institutions. I know he feels that they should not be there, as the noble Lord has stressed this point in your Lordships' House on several occasions.

It is good practice to try to keep all children, especially handicapped ones, as close as possible to their home environment and attending the schools where they are known and understood. Good social work practice, I am told, is to try to find suitable foster homes or, failing that, residential homes where they will be understood and can still be part of the community. It would be very interesting to know from the Minister approximately how many handicapped children have to be found homes by the social services departments each year. I bring this amendment to Your Lordships' notice in this Bill as, with the Warnock Committee behind us, many people are now aware that integration, rather than segregation, of all children who are handicapped is what the aim should be. I beg to move.

Lord Wallace of Coslany

My Lords, I warmly support this amendment. The noble Baroness has gone into a great deal of detail and I think she will agree with me that this is quite an emotive subject. Let us face the fact that the great majority of handicapped and mentally impaired children are possibly, at least in my opinion, the most loved children. I think that no one would dispute that. Therefore, it is only humane, reasonable and decent that, so far as possible, they should be placed in homes or establishments near their homes. This means that there is greater opportunity for their parents and brothers and sisters to visit them and to keep in touch. I do not think that any noble Lord will disagree with that. I hope that the House will give the amendment the fullest support. I cannot see how the Minister can disagree with the point made by the noble Baroness.

Baroness Faithfull

My Lords, I also support the noble Baroness, Lady Masham. Of course, this clause does refer to children in care. I would be grateful if the Minister could help us because, for instance, on the figures produced by the Department of Health and Social Security, there are, in fact, 20 children in the North who are being cared for in mental hospitals when there are vacancies in homes that could care for them. I know that discussions arc going on at the moment, but this is one of the reasons why the noble Baroness and I felt it was important that this should be discussed in your Lordships' House. Not only do we believe in the principle of it, but we are also worried about how, in practice, it works out. I therefore support the amendment.

Baroness Elliot of Harwood

My Lords, I also strongly support the amendment. In the country districts it is sometimes difficult to find housing accommodation for the children who are described in the amendment. On the other hand, speaking from experience, I had considerable success in getting people with a cottage, perhaps a husband and wife living in a rural area who had some training and knew how to do it, to look after these children in small groups. It is not necessary for children to go into a big home or, indeed, even into a hospital if one can make a local arrangement whereby there is a smaller house or cottage in which to put, say, half a dozen children with two people who are either husband and wife or two social workers to look after them. I believe that it is perfectly possible to bring that about. I hope the Minister will accept the amendment, because it is very important and will be most useful in all conditions.

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, I want to say at the outset that the intention behind the amendment is wholly admirable, but I am afraid I have to say that the Government think it would be inappropriate to include it in legislation. The amendment embodies a principle of good child practice to which I am certain all social services departments subscribe. But it is not easy to legislate for good professional practice and my noble friend recognises this because she has included the qualification "as far as possible and practicable". Incidentally, I am not quite certain that if ever the courts came to look at that particular clause they would find it easy to interpret.

The principles of good child care practice are disseminated in a number of ways, not least by the officers of my department's social work service who work in the various regions of the country and are in direct touch with the social services departments. The amendment could not effectively improve the position for handicapped and mentally impaired children.

I add two further points. First, the new Section 31 of the Child Care Act, to which it is proposed the amendment should be added, is concerned essentially with abolishing the present requirement for statutory regional planning for children's accommodation and transferring the function, together with matters related to the management of community homes, to local authorities. In that context, the proposed subsection would in any case be inappropriate.

The second relevant point is that, as drafted, the amendment seems to suggest that handicapped and mentally impaired children should not live in their own homes but elsewhere in their home area. I am certain that that was not the intention of the noble Baroness.

I was asked one or two questions by the various noble Lords and noble Baronesses who have spoken. I shall, if I may, write to my noble friend Lady Faithfull in answer to the particular point that she raised in so far as it is one for my department. The noble Baroness, Lady Masham of Ilton, also asked me about the numbers of children who might be involved in these arrangements. Again I do not have the precise figures in front of me, but I remember that there are at present about 2,000 mentally handicapped children of every kind—that is to say, not those particularly who are subject to a care order—who are still in institutions of one kind or another. It is most certainly the Government's policy that that situation should be brought to an end just as soon as possible.

My noble friend Lady Elliot of Harwood referred to the desirability of smaller units for these particular children. I must say that I could not agree with her more. I have in recent months visited a great number of those facilities and I am to visit more in the weeks to come. I certainly agree with her that, so far as mentally handicapped children are concerned, those types of units involving, for example, six or eight children are infinitely the best and the Government are doing what we can to support their creation. As I say, the large institutions in which some children unfortunately still find themselves are no place for those children to grow up in and the Government are doing everything we can to bring that situation to an end.

Lord Wells-Pestell

My Lords, I do not think that the noble Lord the Minister can claim that he has made a case out against this particular amendment. If he has done anything at all, it is to damn it with faint praise. He began by commending a good deal that was in the amendment and said that most of what is proposed is being done at present. If that is so, why can it not be embodied in the Bill? I should like to get from him, if it is possible, one concrete reason why the Government should not accept the amendment, because everything that the noble Lord has said has really supported it, and it has been dismissed, if I may say so, without any just cause. I know that the noble Lord has reservations about the interpretation of "possible and practicable" but I think we all know what we mean by those words. If the amendment is as good as I think the noble Lord would claim it is, and if he has any reservation in his mind as to the meaning of those two words in this particular Bill, could he not take the amendment away and come back with some suggestion at Third Reading as to how this particular amendment could be met?

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, if I have your Lordships' permission to speak again, I should like to say that there is more than one concrete objection to this amendment as I endeavoured to point out in my remarks just now. First, there is the difficulty to which the noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell, referred—namely, the interpretation of the words: as far as possible and practicable". Those are not words which are known to the law in the normal sense, but, as the noble Lord says, doubtless they could be changed in some way.

The other objection to which I drew attention in my remarks was that the amendment actually seems to say that handicapped and mentally impaired children should live not in their own homes but elsewhere in their home area. I am certain that that was not the intention of the noble Baroness but it is, I fear, the meaning of the words as she has tabled them. I say again that the principles behind the noble Baroness's amendment are wholly unexceptionable. but I am convinced that this is not an appropriate way to put the practice into legislation. In general, good practice is not enshrined into legislation and I do not think that it would be desirable to do so on this occasion. However, as I have said, the thoughts behind the amendment are certainly very good and valid ones and I would be quite willing to take the matter away and consider it further with a view possibly to bringing something forward at the next stage. I would not want to be committed to do that but I shall certainly commit myself to reconsidering the matter between now and Third Reading.

Baroness Masham of Ilton

My Lords, I thank all noble Lords and noble Baronesses who have spoken. because they have so much experience. I am particularly grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell. because he has got from the Minister what I wanted him to say. This amendment was drafted in rather a hurry. Last Thursday I visited a large mental hospital which was bigger than your Lordships' House. It looked very threatening and very frightening even to somebody like myself who is very used to visiting hospitals, and one wonders what it must have seemed like to a child going there, because there was a children's ward in that hospital.

I know that the Minister feels exactly the same way as I do about these children. I am very grateful that he has said that he will go back and look at the matter again and I think that the noble Baroness, Lady Faithfull, and I would be satisfied with that. It was certainly the intention that the children were those children who were in the care of the local authority. With those comments I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Schedule 1 [Children and Young Persons]:

4.25 p.m.

Lord Lyell

moved Amendments Nos. 4 and 5: Page 23, line 5, leave out ("repeal") and insert ("repeals— (a)") Page 23 line 7, leave out ("is") and insert ("and (b) of sections 34(4) and (5) and 34A(6A) and (6B) of that Act by the Adoption (Scotland) Act 1978. are"). The noble Lord said: My Lords, it might be for the convenience of your Lordships' House if I were to speak to a considerable number of amendments together with Amendments Nos. 4 and 5. I should like, with your Lordships' leave, to speak to Amendments Nos. 4, 5, 8, 9, 10 and 13 and also four right at the end—Amendments Nos. 94, 95, 98 and 100. All these amendments are related and their effect is to tidy up the references to custody in the adoption law of England and Wales and of Scotland respectively, and to restate more effectively some related provisions which go, as we say, across the border between England and Wales and Scotland.

Let us consider first Amendment No. 13, which is on page 4 of the Marshalled List before us today. Your Lordships will see that it corrects several misleading references in the adoption law of England and Wales by changing them to "actual custody" which is what is meant. The amendment also inserts a definition of "actual custody" in the Adoption Act 1958. The person with "actual custody" of a child is the person with whom the child has his, or indeed her, home, and the term usually applies to the prospective adopters during the period while the adoption hearing is pending.

A court in England and Wales can order a child to be returned if he has been unlawfully removed from someone's actual custody. Amendment No. 8 extends this power to cover the case of a child removed in contravention of Scottish adoption law, where the unlawful removal has occurred in England or Wales. Amendment No. 9 makes two consequential amendments to statutory definitions, and Amendments Nos. 8, 94, 95 and 98 effect various consequential repeals.

The equivalent amendments to Scottish adoption law are made by Amendments Nos. 4, 5, 10 and 100, in this case substituting where appropriate "care and possession" for references to "custody" which we have had up to now. All these amendments hang together. I hope that your Lordships will have seen your way through the complicated list of amendments. I beg to move Amendments Nos. 4 and 5 together.

Lord Trefgarne

moved Amendment No. 6: Page 23, leave out lines 20 to 27 and insert ("paragraph— (b) by a parent or guardian of the child in relation to whom no resolution under section 16 of this Act is in effect with respect to the child and who has given the local authority not less than 28 days' notice in writing of his intention to do it."."). The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 6 and I hope that it will be for your Lordships' convenience if I speak also to Amendment No. 11, as these amendments modify parallel provisions in Scotland and England and Wales respectively. I am advised that it is possible for a child who has a legal guardian to be made the subject of a parental rights resolution by the local authority and that this is not adequately taken into account in the drafting of paragraphs 3 and 34 of Schedule 1. The amendments that we propose remedy this deficiency by making it clear that the arrangement by which a guardian can give 28 days' written notice of removal of a child from a local authority's care, where the child has been in care on a voluntary basis for the preceding six months, applies only to those guardians in respect of whom no resolution is in force. These amendments are, therefore, of a technical nature and do not affect the existing right of parents over children in care. I beg to move.

Lord Trefgarne

moved Amendment No. 7: Page 23, line 35, at end insert— ("5A. In section 42 of that Act (application from reporter to sheriff for findings)— (a) in subsection (6) at the beginning there shall he inserted the words "Subject to subsection (6A) of this section,"; (b) after subsection (6) there shall be inserted the following subsection— (6A) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (2)(c) of this section, where, in the course of the proceedings before the sheriff, the child and his parent accept any of the grounds in respect of which the application has been made, the sheriff may dispense with the hearing of evidence relating to that ground unless he is satisfied that in all the circumstances such evidence should be heard, and deem that ground to have been established for the purposes of this section."; and (c) in subsection (7) at the end there shall be added the words—"except that where any of the grounds for the referral are accepted by the child's parent, whether or not accepted by the child, then, notwithstanding subsection (6A) of this section, the sheriff may dispense with the hearing of evidence relating to that ground if he is satisfied that in all the circumstances it would be reasonable to do so." "). The noble Lord said: My Lords, these amendments relate to Scotland, where sheriffs are obliged to hear evidence in every case referred to them from a children's hearing. The amendments would relieve them of that obligation in certain circumstances, and stem from a Court of Session decision in 1981.

The Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968 sets out a list of grounds on which a child may be deemed in need of compulsory measures of care. These grounds range from the commission of an offence by the child to truancy, lack of parental care, falling into bad associations or other circumstances which indicate that he or she may be at risk. Such a child may be referred to a reporter to a children's panel; and if he considers that the child should receive compulsory measures of care, he will refer the child to a children's hearing.

The 1968 Act provides that, if a child or his parents do not accept the grounds on which the reporter has referred the child to a hearing, or if the child is too young or is otherwise unable to understand the grounds for referral or an explanation of them given by the hearing, the case is to be referred to the sheriff for a finding on whether the grounds are established. The Court of Session has recently held that the sheriff is required to hear evidence in every case regarding the particular grounds on which the case was referred to him before he can be satisfied that the grounds have been established.

This may in certain circumstances be unnecessary and result in a waste of time and resources in two ways: first, where a child or his parents, having objected to the grounds initially, change their minds when they appear before the sheriff and inform him that they are ready to accept the grounds; secondly, in certain instances where the case has been brought to the sheriff because the child cannot understand the grounds of referral or an explanation of them. There will, however, be cases where, for example, the ground of referral is parental ill-treatment of a very young child. The child's ability to understand the ground may not have any bearing on the matter, and acceptance by the parents of the ground would in itself be sufficient.

The changes relating to Section 42(6) proposed by the amendment would enable the sheriff to dispense with the hearing of evidence relating to a ground of referral, in cases of acceptance of the ground subsequent to the application to the sheriff, unless he is otherwise satisfied that in all the circumstances of the case evidence should be led in respect of that ground.

The changes relating to Section 42(7) proposed by the amendment would enable the sheriff to dispense with the hearing of evidence relating to the ground of referral where, notwithstanding a child's inability to comprehend the ground, or an explanation of it, the sheriff is satisfied that in all the circumstances it would be reasonable to do so. Again, if he is not satisfied, then evidence would require to be led.

Neither of the amendments would require the sheriff to dispense with the hearing of evidence, but they will enable him to do so if he is satisfied that it would be appropriate in the circumstances of the particular case. The bodies representing sheriffs-principal, sheriffs and reporters to children's panels have been consulted about the proposed amendments, and they are all in favour of them. I beg to move.

Lord Howie of Troon

My Lords, very briefly, we Scots Lords are more used to hearing the noble Lord, Lord Lyell, on these occasions and we welcome the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, with joy to the northern part of our island—it will do him nothing but good. I merely wondered, if I heard the noble Lord correctly, what he meant by "falling into bad associations". It may be that this is some legal matter which is already well-established. I shall keep talking until such time as the succour arrives. "Bad associations" might mean all kinds of things. It may well be that this is some sort of particular legal phraseology which we Scots, and especially those among us who are sheriffs, understand perfectly well. But "bad associations" seems to be an imprecise term. If it has specific legal significance, of course, its imprecision would be removed and my doubts, such as they are, would be dealt with; and I see that they will be very rapidly dealt with, due to the exigencies of Whitehall. Can I be enlightened on this?—because I seek only information and nothing else.

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, assuming that no other noble Lord wishes to intervene at this point and that I am, therefore, winding up this short debate on the amendment, I would point out that the words which the noble Lord does not like very much originally appeared in Section 32 of the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968. I have in front of me Section 32(2) and in paragraph (b) of that subsection we find the words: he is falling into bad associations or is exposed to moral danger". The noble Lord, in fact, raises a serious point, and I suspect that these days tragically very often the phrase "bad associations" refers to those who are associated with others concerned, for example, with the sale and distribution of drugs, which I am certain the noble Lord would regard as a proper reason for action under the provisions that we are now considering. But, of course, in the event, these things are interpreted by the courts. Having said that, I think that the noble Lord has raised a serious point. I hope that I have given him at least one example that he would regard as appropriate, and that your Lordships will agree these amendments.

Baroness Phillips

My Lords, I do not expect the noble Lord the Minister to reply to this point, so he need not think the procedure of the House is being upset. However, I have waited for some other Peer who is much more concerned with this matter than I to speak, and in the absence of any speaker I would enter this caveat. I find it rather disturbing that we are now at the Report stage of the Bill and have just been given these quite important amendments. I am amazed that, for example, we are asked to amend Scottish law. My experience in this House has taught me that the Scots prefer amendments to Scottish law to be made through Scottish Acts of Parliament, but perhaps this was embodied in the original Act.

The Minister has given a very reasonable explanation. but here you are cutting out a process which has been in use, and must have had some particular value; and I do not think it is a good enough reason, when you are concerned with children, to say that it will save time and money. I have not had time to study this. I would simply enter this caveat, that I do not like the way in which, nowadays, we are constantly being given quite important amendments at the Report stage of a Bill.

Lord Howie of Troon

My Lords, answer, answer!

Lord Lyell

moved Amendments Nos. 8 to 11: Page 27, line 18, at end insert— ("26A. Subsections (4) and (5) of section 27 and (8) and (9) of section 28 of that Act (restrictions on removal of child) shall cease to have effect. 26B. In section 29 of that Act (return of child taken away) after "28", in each place where it occurs in subsections (1) and (2), there shall be inserted ", or section 27 or 28 of the Adoption (Scotland) Act 1978".") Page 27 line 44, at end insert— ("28A. In section 72(1) of that Act—

  1. (a) in the definition of "adoption order", after "21" there shall be inserted ", 27 and 28"; and
  2. (b) at the end of the definition of "order freeing a child for adoption" there shall be added "and, in section 27(2) includes an order under section 18 of the Adoption (Scotland) Act 1978 (order freeing a child for adoption made in Scotland)".")
Page 28, line 17, at end insert— ("32A. Subsections (4) and (5) of section 27 and (8) and (9) of section 28 of that Act (restrictions on removal of child) shall cease to have effect. 32B. In subsections (1) and (2) of sections 27 and 28 and in section 29 of that Act (restrictions on removal of child) for the word "custody" wherever it occurs there shall be substituted the words "care and possession". 32C. In section 29 of that Act (return of child taken away) after "28", in each place where it occurs in subsections (1) and (2), there shall be inserted ", or section 27 or 28 of the Adoption Act 1976". 32D. In section 65(1) of that Act—
  1. (a) in the definition of "adoption order", after "20" there shall be inserted ", 27 and 28"; and
  2. 707
  3. (b) at the end of the definition of "order freeing a child for adoption" there shall be added "and, in section 27(2) includes an order under section 18 of the Adoption Act 1976 (order freeing a child for adoption made in England and Wales)".")
Page 28.line 33, leave out from beginning to ("notice.";") in line 41 and insert— (" "(a) for paragraph (b) there shall be substituted the following paragraph— (b) by a parent or guardian of the child in relation to whom no resolution under section 3 of this Act is in force with respect to the child and who has given the local authority not less than 28 days' notice in writing of his intention to do it."." ") The noble Lord said: My Lords, I hope that it will be for the convenience of your Lordships if I move Amendments Nos. 8, 9 and 10, which were consequential upon Amendment No. 4—to which I spoke earlier—together with Amendment No. 11, which was spoken to by my noble friend. With leave, I beg to move Amendments Nos. 8, 9, 10 and 11 en bloc.

4.40 p.m.

Lord Trefgarne

moved Amendment No. 12: Page 29, line 27, after ("child)") insert ("—

  1. (a) at the beginning of the said paragraph (i) there shall be inserted the words "Subject to subsection (1A) below,"; and
  2. (b) ")

The noble Lord said: My Lords, with your Lordships' permission, perhaps I may speak to this amendment and to Amendment No. 45 as well. Your Lordships will recall that I agreed in Committee to reconsider the charging arrangements for the parents of children in care in the light of the points raised by the noble Lord, Lord Wallace. Discussions have now been held with the local authority associations, and as a result the Government have decided that some amendment to this Bill would be desirable. We hope that these amendments will be welcomed by your Lordships, including, of course, the noble Lord himself.

Amendment No. 12 is consequential upon Amendment No. 45, which has the effect of exempting the father and mother of a child in care from liability to make contributions in respect of his maintenance where they are in receipt of supplementary benefit of family income supplement. These benefits, when paid to parents of children in care, do not include any component towards the upkeep of the child, and it is therefore reasonable to exempt these parents from any liability. It is indeed sensible to exempt such parents, who can readily verify their receipt of benefit, from liability to contribute. To do so will simplify the job of local authorities in deciding whether contributions are required, and free the parents concerned from any worry in this matter.

It may be asked why we are not extending exemption to those parents who are in receipt of housing benefits. We have considered this aspect, but have concluded that housing benefits are a much less reliable guide to the ability to pay contributions because of the variety of circumstances which can lead to receipt of housing benefit, and the different levels of income that may be involved. Those householders on very low income would be likely to be in receipt of supplementary benefit or family income supplement already, and if so would automatically be exempted under this amendment. I beg to move Amendment No. 12.

Lord Wallace of Coslany

My Lords, naturally I am very pleased with the noble Lord, and I sincerely trust that he is not suffering a hangover from earlier exchanges. I am a very generous person, and accordingly thank him very much indeed.

Lord Lyell

moved Amendment No. 13: Page 30, line 7, at end insert— ("Interpretation 42A. The word "actual" shall be inserted before the word "custody", wherever it occurs in—

  1. (a) sections 34(1) and (2) and 34A(1) and (2) of the Adoption Act 1958;
  2. (b) sections 30(1) and (2), 41(1) and (2) and 42(1) and (2) of the Children Act 1975; and
  3. (c) sections 27(1) and (2), 28(1) and (2), 29(l) and (2) and 30(1)(a) and (b) of the Adoption Act 1976.
42B. In section 57(2) of the Adoption Act 1958, for the words "care or possession", in both places where they occur, there shall be substituted the words "actual custody". 42C. The following section shall be inserted after section 57 of the Adoption Act 1958 Actual custody. 57A.—(1) While a person not having legal custody of a child has actual custody of the child he has the like duties under this Act in relation to the child as if he had legal custody. (2) The following, namely—
  1. (a) any reference in this Act to the person with whom a child has his home; and
  2. (b) the reference to legal custody in subsection (1) above,
are to be construed in accordance with Part IV of the Children Act 1975.
(3) This section does not extend to Scotland."."). The noble Lord said: My Lords, this amendment is consequential on the main amendment, to which I spoke in connection with Amendment No. 4 earlier. I beg to move.

Clause 6 [The Central Council for Education and Training in Social Work]:

Baroness Faithfull

moved Amendment No. 14: Page 10, line 43, at end insert— ("( ) Grants for the training of social workers shall be mandatory and funded either by local education authorities or from central funds.") The noble Baroness said: My Lords, this amendment, as your Lordships know, states: Grants for the training of social workers shall be mandatory and funded either by local education authorities or from central funds. I spoke at some length on this subject at Committee stage. May I therefore briefly cover the ground I covered then in order to get the arguments straight? First of all, let us look at the residential sector. In this country only 14 per cent. of the residential social workers working with children in care in children's homes are trained, and only 3 per cent. of those working in homes for the handicapped and the elderly are trained.

I would submit that in our society the children are the most vulnerable. A well-known member of the Parole Board, when we were discussing questions of parole which had nothing to do with this Bill, happened to mention to me that a great number of the cases that he dealt with on the Parole Board were of men and women in prison who had in their childhood been in children's homes. I would say that those who work in children's homes and in community schools for education do a magnificent job of work. I have to say, too, that in my experience as a director of social services I was fortunate in having a number of well qualified university staff on my staff. If we were to look at the figures we should see that very few of the children who were cared for by well trained, experienced people, who could work in partnership with the field child-care staff, later went into approved schools, borstals, or prisons. I cannot say too strongly how important it is that the needs of the handicapped and the elderly should also be taken into account, and the fact that there should be only 3 per cent. of these staff trained is a sad indictment of our society.

What is the present position with regard to training? There are three methods whereby social workers, whether field staff or residential staff, can be trained. Method 1 is that central Government grants are available through the Department of Health and Social Security for those attending postgraduate social work courses. Until recently everyone who was accepted for a recognised training course and who applied to the Department of Health and Social Security was given a grant. Last year, because of current expenditure restrictions, some who applied were not successful in obtaining a grant.

Method 2 is by means of non-graduate courses of two years' duration which are found in both universities and the higher education sector. Students successful in obtaining a place on such a course can apply for a local authority discretionary award. The number and availability of awards varies enormously from one authority to another, and it is an inefficient way of ensuring the best candidates for this type of social work. May I slightly elaborate? The position is that a local authority which is cutting back its expenditure to some considerable degree is sometimes—not always—the authority in the very area where there is much need and where there are great difficulties. Those authorities are often the ones who do not send or second social workers on courses, and yet they are the very authorities that need social workers. Likewise, a number of people have talked about the quality of social workers. Under this method of accepting only those people wishing to train who are seconded from local authorities there may be many good potential students excluded from obtaining a grant and secondment.

Method 3, as it stands today, concerns a minority of students who are currently seconded for training by their employing authorities on salary, normally with the condition that they will give two years' service to the authority on completing their training. This means that the local authority is therefore paying somebody to do the work while at the same time paying the students on their course. If there were to be mandatory grants they would not be paying twice for each student who is seconded. It would therefore considerably save public resources.

The Minister will say that residential social workers have the opportunity of having what is called the Council for Social Services qualification, which is in-service training, and that is true. That training is very good and I support it, and it was a great step forward when that training was set up. However, I would add that in our residential establishments we need both types of trained workers, those with the CCETSW and those with the certificate awarded by the Council for Training and Education in Social Work.

Let us now look at the university position. To train as a social worker, from the point of view of the universities and colleges of higher education, is expensive. The reason why it is more expensive than training ordinary students is that during the holidays social work students are given practical placements in local authorities with voluntary organisations in offices. They must be supervised and the supervisor from the university who visits them must consult with them and with the authority as to the work they are doing, how they are doing it and whether they are getting satisfactory training. Therefore it is expensive, more expensive than the training for most students.

However, something alarming is happening. It is that when students are seconded from a local authority a number of them have been told that after all, come the summer, they cannot be seconded. I have been to see, and written to, several universities about that. One university with a course for 40 students tells me that at least six and possibly eight students dropped out too late for them to take on students for the following session. It is very important that we keep the good courses going at the universities and colleges of higher education. If students are going to drop out and it is too late to replace them, and if it is very expensive, with costs being cut, we must be careful to look forward to see that we do not lose those colleges of further education and university courses. In Committee on 9th December my noble friend Lord Trefgarne, the Minister, said: In principle the Government would not oppose the designation of courses of professional and vocational training for mandatory awards".—[Official Report, 9/12/1982; col. 314.] However, he added that the £8 million required was too much to merit inclusion in the Education (No. 2) Bill. So let us consider the question of costs. I understand from the social services directors that they have worked out a formula according to which it would be unlikely to cost more than £2.8 million. That is an over-estimate. By the same token, I have also consulted other professional bodies, who disagree with the Association of Directors of Social Services and maintain that it would cost less. There are in Britain between 250 and 300 vacancies for training. Each training costs roughly £3,000 per year per student. On that calculation, it would not cost much above £1½ million. Those, therefore, are the two estimates, one for something over £2 million and one for about £1½ million.

Another argument which is given, and may be given again, is that if mandatory awards were given to social workers other people would ask the Government for mandatory awards. It is, therefore, a question of where the priorities lie. In my view, there are very few priorities which stand higher than that of caring for the most vulnerable children in our society, bearing in mind the cost of a failed child at a later stage in life. In humanitarian terms, it is appalling to think of: in business terms, it is far better to spend money looking after children at an early stage than at a later stage, when they are in trouble. I hope the Government will feel able to reconsider the matter. I am the first to support my party on its fiscal policies. But when it comes to such a small amount which means so much to the children of the country, the handicapped and the elderly, this is money well spent. I beg to move.

Baroness Elliot of Harwood

My Lords, I strongly support everything my noble friend Lady Faithfull said. Oddly enough, I have had a long association with the training of social workers. Indeed, it was in 1929 when Dame Eileen Younger, as she became, and I started to get training for social workers. That was originally in connection with youth leaders, but it went on to involve the training of all the other types as described by Lady Faithfull.

It took a very long time to persuade the social work departments of universities—they did not even exist then in a great many universities—that this was the type of course which should be given; one which would be of great value to the social work of the nation, and indeed to all those whom my noble friend mentioned. from the old to the mentally handicapped and younger children. It took a long time, as I say, but in the end we succeeded. When I say "we", I do not mean we alone, because there were a great many keen people in universities. It began in the London School of Economics and spread to other universities all over the country.

Now there is no question but that training is available for all those who want to be part of the social work departments of local authorities and voluntary organisations. This has made a tremendous difference to the way in which children and elderly people are cared for. It is improving all the time because we are learning the different needs of these people and how they can be catered for in the training syllabuses.

I feel strongly that we are discussing a vital matter. Nobody would consider employing other professional people—be they nurses. teachers or whoever—who were not trained. Indeed, such people would not even get jobs and, of course, they would not be able to do the job. Yet for many years people went into the social work world simply because they thought they had a gift for it or were keen to do that sort of work. Nobody provided them with the training they needed.

That training is now available and it has taken a very long time to come right through to all the university courses and be regarded as something of tremendous importance. That it is so important today is based on the fact that far more responsibility is put on social workers in departments of local authorities and elsewhere than was the case 20 or 30 years ago.

Social workers have tremendous responsibility. One sometimes reads in local newspapers of certain social workers who have failed to do what was expected of them. As your Lordships know, bad news is always news for newspapers, and so we always hear of the failures rather than of the successes. The number of failures today is very small compared with the enormous number of successes, following training of social workers.

I feel tremendously strongly that what is proposed in the amendment is something that we should do. As the noble Baroness, Lady Faithfull, has said, the amount of money involved would possibly be £2.8 million, or less. All of that amount could be recovered if it were possible to prevent children or elderly people from having to go into institutions, or otherwise having to be cared for throughout the rest of their lives, the cost being met by public funds.

The noble Baroness, Lady Faithfull, referred to the delinquency aspect. It is a well-known fact that very often what happens to a child early in its life leads it on to become a delinquent and to get into the criminal world. I beg the Government to accept the amendment. It would do enormous good not only for the Government, but also for the whole community, coming within the ambit of social work. I very much hope that the noble Lord will accept the amendment.

Lord Howie of Troon

My Lords, I found the concluding passages of the remarks of the noble Baroness, Lady Faithfull, very compelling, the more so since, as an engineer, I am not on the whole terribly sympathetic towards social work. None the less, she said things which seemed to me sensible and worth listening to, and I believe that part of her speech alone should make the Government think very carefully about the nature of her amendment. I would go a little further than that; and I speak here from a basis of almost abysmal ignorance and as one who seeks information rather than anything else. I understood that at one point in her remarks the noble Baroness, Lady Faithfull, suggested that the present arrangements led to things being paid for more than once—in fact, twice. That cannot be terribly sensible. Even an engineer can see that paying for things twice over is not a very good idea.

If the noble Baroness, Lady Faithfull, is correct—and I am sure that she is—that argument itself, quite apart from the compelling humanitarian argument with which she ended her speech, should lead the Government to take the closest possible heed of her amendment. If her argument is that her proposal is good in itself, and that it would also prevent something being paid for twice, I am sure that the Government must be interested in some way. I am, and I am sure the Government must be, too.

Baroness Masham of Ilton

My Lords, I should like to ask the noble Lord the Minister a question. Is he aware that nowadays many people leaving universities and polytechnics, having read English, history, or a similar subject, have no chance of getting a job? Would it not be wise to train some of these people, who are very bright, in social work and community care? "Community care" is now becoming a bad term because people are beginning to ask, "Where is the care?" I think I am right in saying that in this country there are more children in care than there are in any other European country, and perhaps in any other country in the world. I know from my health work that the problems of the elderly are becoming really acute, too. If our social workers were trained, they would be much more efficient and would be able to effect savings rather than make so many mistakes. Therefore I would support the amendment of the noble Baroness, Lady Faithfull.

Lord Mottistone

My Lords, I should like again to support my noble friend, Lady Faithfull, as I did in Committee. She has mentioned the remarks reported in column 314 of the Official Report of 9th December, and I should like to quote briefly from my own speech at the time. I said: I would suggest to my noble friend that although that may appear to be an added expense, it may in fact be an economy in the long run, because trained people can do more work than untrained people". In answering me, my noble friend—and I hope that he will forgive me for making the point—referred to the remarks of mv noble friend Lady Faithfull, and went on to say: I am sorry to say to my noble friend Lord Mottistone that [the figure] was estimated as an additional £8 million a year in 1980…". My noble friend the Minister was talking about that aspect, and, if I may say so, did not really respond to my point that trained people are more economical in the long run. That I believe is a basic fact which any of us who are involved in training, or in employing trained and untrained people, would be able to quote as part of ordinary, practical experience. So I hope that this time my noble friend will reply to that question.

I now turn to another point. My noble friend the Minister referred to a figure of £8 million as being the factor against the proposal, but from what my noble friend has said, we now know that the figure is nearer £2.8 million. I understand that the figure was arrived at by the directors of social services after consultation with my noble friend's department; so it is not entirely out of the air, as it were. In terms of present-day finance it is a figure which I should have thought was manageable, the more especially because it may in the long run lead to savings—savings in the numbers of people who will need to be employed, if there are more who are fully trained, and savings in the outcome, in that there will be less trouble from people who are in care and are being looked after. Indeed those kind of savings could be far in excess of a figure such as £2.8 million, when judged over a period of a few years.

So once again I hope that my noble friend the Minister will give much more sympathetic consideration to the amendment. The amendment has received support from both sides of the House, and I should have thought that it would justify my noble friend testing the feeling of your Lordships if my noble friend the Minister cannot give her the satisfaction that she seeks on this proposal.

Lord Gridley

My Lords, I should like to say a few words in support of my noble friend Lady Faithfull and her amendment. I do not speak as an expert on the subject of the amendment, but I can give some account of what I have seen from my own observation. Generally speaking—I think that this is a criticism that is fairly widespread—people believe that social workers in general are fairly useless and do not really perform a valuable duty. I think that that observation applies only to those social workers who are not trained. I have seen a social worker appear with a delinquent child before a school headmaster. The social worker argued in such a fashion as to criticise, in front of the pupil, the headmaster's whole position in regard to exercising his duties. The social worker was trying to get the pupil back into the school. I think that that kind of example is widespread in certain circumstances, and therefore I would support my noble friend Lady Faithfull in all that she has said today. If she does not receive a constructive and conciliatory reply from my noble friend on the Front Bench, and so has to divide the House on the issue, I should be inclined to go into the Lobby in support of her amendment.

Lord Banks

My Lords, very briefly I should like to say once again, as I said at the Committee stage, that we on these Benches support the amendment that has been put forward by the noble Baroness, Lady Faithfull. In the couse of her remarks she presented what I considered was an unanswerable case for mandatory grants for the training of social workers. When we discussed the question in Committee it was clear—and the point has been quoted again today—that the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, was not opposed, and said that the Government were not opposed, to the concept of mandatory grants. The question is one of pure expense. So far as I can see, that is the only problem, the only reason why the Government have up to now been disinclined to accept the proposal. But if the figure that we have heard mentioned today—£2.8 million, or even less—is correct, I would agree with the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, that it is a very manageable figure. After all, we do not spend a very great deal on the personal social services—about £2 billion, as compared with £30 million on social security, £114 billion altogether. Even in this field, the whole scale of expenditure is not large. This would be a small addition to a total which is not great at the present time.

5.10 p.m.

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, as my noble friend has reminded your Lordships, she moved a similar amendment during Committee. Since then, she and I have met to discuss the matter, she has discussed it with my honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department of Education and Science, Dr. Rhodes Boyson, and she has also discussed some of the technical details with my officials. I applaud her tenacity, but I am afraid that—despite the account she has given your Lordships—nothing has emerged from these discussions which makes it possible for the Government to support her amendment.

I shall come in a moment to some of the particular points raised by my noble friend and others, but first it may help if I recap some of the background. Local education authorities make awards under Section 1 of the Education Act 1962, which specifies the categories of courses which may be designated for mandatory awards. As a result, some students undergoing social work training receive mandatory awards—those reading for a first degree, for example. I think that this was in the mind of my noble friend Lady Masham when she said that all those students learning English or something else and who could not get jobs should be given mandatory awards to read some social services subject instead. The answer is that they already receive mandatory awards. But the majority of students—and I recognise this—are on non-graduate or post-graduate courses and do not qualify for this form of support. Instead, they are supported either by discretionary awards from the local education authority—and, incidentally, I understand that local authorities have been giving quite a number of these discretionary awards lately—or by secondment from their employer; or, if they are post-graduate students, by central Government, chiefly my department. Incidentally, I understand that last year my department in giving grants to students undertaking basic training in social work, that is the CQSW, did so to no less than 90 per cent. of those who applied to us.

The types of training which should attract mandatory awards were fully debated in Parliament during the passage in 1980 of what was then the Education (No. 2) Bill. The Government's position then and now is that in principle we support the designation of professional and vocational training courses but that the practical obstacle, at a time when we are pledged to contain public expenditure, is the cost. And it is not simply the cost in respect of social work training which the Government has to keep in mind. Social work is my noble friend's burning concern; and it is all we are concerned with in Clause 6. But the Government have to take a wider view. It has been explained to my noble friend that there are currently other contenders for mandatory awards and that the DES could not single out social work training.

Even if we leave aside the difficult questions of the relative merits of different contenders for mandatory award status. the plain fact remains that we could not afford the additional cost that would arise. My noble friend has argued that in the discussion she has recently had with the central council concerned with these matters. it has been proposed that the additional cost would be small. The assumption is that even if social work students had mandatory awards and, as a result. the demand for places on social work courses rose, the central council would nevertheless restrain the growth in courses because of its responsibility to regulate supply and demand and to uphold the quality of training. The estimate of £3 million which my noble friend quoted is presumably based on that assumption, but I have to emphasise that it is only an assumption that growth in courses could in practice be restrained to a very low level. But for this assumption, my noble friend invites the Government to take on a potentially open-ended financial commitment.

The fact is that if the demand for social work is as great as my noble friend suggests, the pressures upon the central council to allow the growth in the courses that I have referred to would be very great. I must say in plain terms that I do not believe that the central council could contain the growth of courses as the figure implicit in my noble friend's speech suggests.

My noble friend said during the Committee stage that the allocation of money to mandatory awards for social work training was a question of relative priorities. She repeated that point today. I agree with her. But priorities are not easy. The money allocated by DHSS to the training of social workers might otherwise go direct to health authorities for the care of patients, and a difficult balance has to be struck. The same question of priorities arises within the social work training field itself, which makes me doubt whether my noble friend's amendment is right in principle, even if we could overcome the practical difficulty of cost.

Mandatory awards would benefit students undertaking training leading to the CQSW qualification. This is generally recognised as the basic qualification for field social workers, and it is also important that there should be CQSW-qualified staff in the day and residential services. But in the day and residential services, employing authorities also attach considerable importance to staff gaining the Certificate in Social Services—CSS—and rightly so because it provides a valuable combination of theoretical and practical in-service training. directed towards particular tasks in social care and jointly managed by employing authorities and the colleges in their areas. People on CSS courses are supported entirely by secondment from their employing authorities, and mandatory awards would not be appropriate. Another priority is specialised post-qualifying training, undertaken by people after they have attained CQSW or CSS level. This very important class of training qualifies people to act as special sources of knowledge and skill within social services departments, but it would be difficult to cover the diverse range of courses by a system of mandatory grants.

In 1981 some 3,361 students received the basic social work qualification, the CQSW. and 593 the CSS qualification. In that year my department spent £4.1 million on the support of students—more than ever before. We expect the final 1982 figures to show a slight increase in people receiving the CQSW award and a large increase for the CSS award. I do not pretend that this represents an ideal situation, but neither is it a situation of dire emergency. If more money were available to spend on social work training. my right honourable friend the Secretary of State has all the necessary powers in Section 63 of the Health Services and Public Health Act 1968 to make payments to students, employers, or training establishments, outside the system of mandatory awards controlled by the DES. If more money were available, it is by no means certain that mandatory awards would represent the best or the most discriminating use of it. The simple fact is that the money is not available for this purpose. I hope, therefore, that my noble friend will not see tit to press her amendment.

Lord Howie of Troon

My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, would he answer one question? He intimated that the amendment of the noble Baroness would lead to an open-ended commitment and he also intimated that his department's activities had led to a rise of some £4 million in grants to students. Perhaps I am wrong in my recollection there. Can he tell me whether he has made any estimate of the additional cost to the department representd by acceptance of the amendment?

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, if I may have permission to speak again, I should like to say this. The additional cost that would flow from my noble friend's amendment would fall upon the Department of Education, not my department. But the amount of that additional cost would depend upon the number of students who came forward to claim their mandatory awards. My noble friend has suggested that the central council responsible for these matters would restrict the number of students coming on to these courses for reasons about which I am not entirely clear. At another point in her speech she explained what a shortage there was of people of this type. If our estimates of the numbers who will come forward for these courses attracting mandatory awards are correct, and if, as we fear, the central council is not able to constrain the growth of these courses as they say they will, then the additional cost at today's prices would be something in the order of £13 million or £14 million.

Baroness Faithfull

My Lords, may I thank all noble Lords who have taken part in this debate? Perhaps I may say to the noble Lord, Lord Howie of Troon, who asked whether there is duplication, that what I meant by duplication is that if a local authority seconds somebody to a course then they pay for the secondment; they pay for the course. But at the same time they have to pay for the person who has taken their place. That is the duplication.

I should like to make one point that I did not make before. We have in the House two noble Lords who are doctors. I am told by my medical friends how much they value working with qualified social workers in the hospitals and outside in the community.

Lord Winstanley

My Lords, on that point, may I confirm that doctors greatly value the help, assistance and guidance that they get from qualified and trained social workers. Perhaps I may add that they do not so much value the help that they sometimes get from social workers who have not been trained.

Baroness Faithfull

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Winstanley, for his intervention. Taking the various points that my noble friend the Minister has made, it is the cost that he is most worried about. We all vary in our estimates as to how much it would cost. There are between 250 and 300 vacancies on courses in this country. It is quite true, therefore, that if the awards were mandatory those places would probably be filled. That is one point. The second is that if it were mandatory they would be filled by the best students, because at the moment the discretionary awards do not necessarily go to the best students, they go only to the students which the local authorities are prepared to second.

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, I wonder whether the House would allow me to intervene yet again? Is not my noble friend turning logic on its head in that particular proposal? Is it not the case that discretionary awards do go to the best applicants? Surely, if grants are mandatory, as my noble friend seeks, the local education authority has no alternative but to give grants to all who meet the qualifications, regardless of whether or not they are the best students.

Baroness Faithfull

My Lords, I am sorry but I cannot agree with my noble friend the Minister, because the decision as to who should take the course does not lie with the local authority; it then lies with the training establishment, which will only accept the best students. As it is at the moment, the courses must accept those students who apply on discretionary awards, and in a local authority there may be a number of very good students who would like to apply but whose authority will not give them a discretionary award. I think the noble Baroness, Lady David, wishes to speak.

Baroness David

My Lords, the noble Baroness has made exactly the point that I was going to make. The giving of discretionary grants varies very much in different parts of the country, so that the best may not necessarily get the awards.

Baroness Faithfull

My Lords, one of the strong points which my noble friend the Minister made was that this would open the doors to an enormous number of people wanting to train. But it is not an open-ended affair. If there are only a certain number of courses and only a certain number of places, then it is not open-ended. One can only have the number of students who apply. One cannot have an open—ended situation. I would suggest at the moment—rather sadly, I have to say—that I would not want there to be more courses because there are not enough good tutors and good lecturers at the moment. We have some very good ones and we have some excellent courses. But our profession is growing. We must grow slowly but surely, and with the best people. We cannot mushroom and grow simply because there are going to be mandatory awards.

The final point is cost. My noble friend the Minister and I disagree on what it would cost the country. I still suggest that it would not cost more than £2.8 million at the outside. Other people who have done their sums slightly differently have said that it would cost less. But in fairness to the Minister, I think that one must stick to the £2.8 million, which is the higher figure of the two. Again, it is a matter of opinion as to what are our priorities. I end as I did my first speech, by saying that I consider that children, and the wellbeing of vulnerable children, are a very high priority. I am afraid that I must divide the House.

5.27 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 14) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 106; Not-Contents, 78.

Airedale, L. Boston of Faversham, L.
Amherst, E. Brain, L.
Ardwick, L. Brockway, L.
Aylestone, L. Bruce of Donington, L.
Balogh, L. Chitnis, L.
Banks, L. Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.
Barrington, V. Clifford of Chudleigh, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Collison, L.
Belhaven and Stenton, L. David, B.
Beswick, L. Davies of Penrhys, L.
Birk, B. Diamond, L.
Bishopston, L. Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L.
Blease, L. Dowding, L.
Blyton, L. Ellenborough, L.
Elliot of Harwood, B. Mishcon, L.
Elwyn-Jones, L. Molloy, L.
Evans of Claughton, L. Mottistone, L. [Teller.]
Ewart-Biggs, B. Nathan, L.
Faithfull, B. [Teller.] Nicol, B.
Fisher of Rednal, B. Northfield, L.
George-Brown, L. Oram, L.
Gladwyn, L. Peart, L.
Glasgow, E. Phillips, B.
Glenamara, L. Pitt of Hampstead, L.
Gregson, L. Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Gridley, L. Rea, L.
Hale, L. Robson of Kiddington, B.
Halsbury, E. Rochester, L.
Hampton, L. Ross of Marnock, L.
Hanworth, V. Saltoun, Ly.
Hayter, L. Seear, B.
Houghton of Sowerby, L. Seebohm, L.
Howie of Troon, L. Shackleton, L.
Hylton-Foster, B. Somers, L.
Ilchester, E. Stamp, L.
Jacques, L. Stedman, B.
Jeger, B. Stewart of Alvechurch, B.
Jenkins of Putney, L. Stewart of Fulham, L.
John-Mackie, L. Stone, L.
Kagan, L. Taylor of Gryfe, L.
Kaldor, L. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Kennet, L. Tordoff, L.
Kilmarnock, L. Trumpington, B.
Kirkhill, L. Underhill, L.
Lauderdale, E. Vickers, B.
Lee of Newton, L. Wallace of Coslany, L.
Llewelyn Davies of Hastoe, B. Walston, L.
Lloyd of Kilgerran, L. Wells-Pestell, L.
Lovell-Davis, L. Whaddon, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. White, B.
Mackie of Benshie, L. Wigoder, L.
McNair, L. Winstanley, L.
Masham of Ilton, B. Wootton of Abinger, B.
Alexander of Tunis, E. Kimberley, E.
Allerton, L. Lane-Fox, B.
Avon, E. Long, V.
Bellwin, L. Lucas of Chilworth, L.
Beloff, L. Lyell, L.
Belstead, L. McFadzean, L.
Bessborough, E. Mackay of Clashfern, L.
Burton, L. Macleod of Borve, B.
Campbell of Alloway, L. Mansfield, E.
Campbell of Croy, L. Margadale, L.
Cockfield, L. Marley, L.
Coleraine, L. Massereene and Ferrard, V.
Cork and Orrery, E. Merrivale, L.
Cottesloe, L. Mersey, V.
Craigavon, V. Milverton, L.
Daventry, V. Montagu of Beaulieu, L.
Davidson, V. Montgomery of Alamein, V.
Denham, L. [Teller.] Mountgarret, V.
Dilhorne, V. Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Drumalbyn, L. Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Elles, B. Onslow, E.
Elton, L. Orkney, E.
Ferrers, E. pender, L.
Fortescue, E. Platt of Writtle, B.
Fraser of Kilmorack, L. Renton, L.
Gardner of Parkes, B. Rochdale, V.
Gisborough, L. Rugby, L.
Glenarthur, L. St. Aldwyn, E.
Glenkinglas, L. Sandys, L.
Hailsham of Saint Savile, L.
Marylebone, L. Shrewsbury, E.
Harvington, L. Skelmersdale, L.
Henley, L. Swansea, L.
Home of the Hirsel, L. Swinton, E. [Teller.]
Hornsby-Smith, B. Terrington, L.
Hunter of Newington, L. Teynham, L.
Kilmany, L. Thomas of Swynnerton, L.
Tranmire, L. Westbury, L.
Trefgarne, L. Young, B.
Wakefield of Kendal, L.

Resolved in the affirmative, and amendment agreed to accordingly.

Schedule 2 [The Central Council for Education and Training in Social Work]:

5.36 p.m.

Lord Renton

moved Amendment No. 15: Page 29, line 19, at end insert ("and shall in any event consult the Royal Society for Mentally Handicapped Children and Adults"). The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 15 but I must point out that at the beginning of my amendment as it appears on the Marshalled List there is a printing error, for which I may or may not be responsible. It should read "page 29" and not "page 30". So I beg to move, on page 29, line 19, at end insert: ("and shall in any event consult the Royal Society for Mentally Handicapped Children and Adults"). I should disclose that I am president of that body. The third paragraph of Part I of the Second Schedule says: Before appointing a member other than the chairman the Secretary of State shall consult any body that appears to him to be appropriate. It needs no argument of mine to convince your Lordships that those words are of no effect whatever, because he has only to say that it did not appear to him to he necessary and he is excused from consulting anyone in particular or anyone at all.

At the Committee stage, I said that I hoped the Royal Society would be consulted, and my noble friend Lord Trefgarne gracefully and immediately gave an undertaking that that would be done. Since then it has occurred to me that this is a matter of such importance that one should consider making it mandatory. if I may borrow a phrase that was used on the last amendment. I suggest that we might very well have the words "and shall in any event"—there is no option there— consult the Royal Society for Mentally Handicapped Children and Adults. The reason why we wish to be consulted is that we have been very worried by the lack of specialised training of teachers of the mentally handicapped on the part of the Central Council for Education and Training in Social Work since it was established. We feel that it is very important, especially since the passing of the excellent Education Act 1981, that there should be enough teachers for training the mentally handicapped.

Of course, this is not a matter on which I would wish to divide the House, but I say this to my noble friend. I hope that he will advise your Lordships to accept the amendment, but if he is not in that mood I hope that he will firmly repeat the undertaking that the Royal Society will be consulted. My Lords, I beg to move.

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, the existing wording of the Bill obliges the Secretary of State to consult any body appearing to him appropriate before appointing members, other than the chairman, to the Central Council for Education and Training in Social Work. Inevitably, over time, the nature of society's problems will change and so will those bodies best placed to advise Ministers on the composition of the central council's membership. It would, therefore, be wrong to specify such bodies in the Bill.

In any case, and without detracting one jot from the Royal Society's admirable work under my noble friend's distinguished presidency, its focus in terms of social work generally is relatively specific. It would be neither sensible nor politic to oblige Ministers to consult the Royal Society, without doing the same for a number of equally august bodies with an interest in the field of social work—a field which, as 1 have already said. is constantly changing. I hope my noble friends will agree with me that the important principle, that Ministers should consult appropriately before appointing council members, has been established and that the existing wording of this subsection is the most sensible.

Your Lordships may recall from our Committee stage in December that my noble friend Lord Renton sought from me an assurance, which I was happy to give, that the Secretary of State would consult the Royal Society before appointing council members. I gladly repeat that assurance to my noble friend, which is already recorded in the Official Report of 9th December, and I hope that having listened to the points that I have made, and to the assurance which I have repeated, my noble friend will feel able to withdraw the amendment.

Baroness Faithfull

My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, he will remember that at the last stage of this Bill I moved an amendment that the council, which numbers only 25, should be composed simply and solely of professional people from both the statutory and the voluntary sectors. I recommended that then because there were so many people from both the voluntary and the statutory sectors, including my noble friend's organisation, and because with only 25 places, and several of those places having to go to the local authority associations, a number of organisations would necessarily have to be left out. It will be remembered that I recommended that it should be a professional body consulting with the local authorities. Furthermore, will the noble Lord also say whether, when consulting with the organisation of my noble friend Lord Renton, he will also consult with the other statutory and voluntary organisations as well?

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, if I have your Lordships' permission to speak again, I would say with respect to my noble friend that I do not think the first point she made really arises on this amendment. As for the second point, I will consider that matter and write to her.

Lord Renton

My Lords, in view of the firm assurance which my noble friend has given about consulting the Royal Society for Mentally Handicapped Children and Adults, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

5.45 p.m.

Lord Trefgarne moved Amendment No. 16: After Schedule 2, insert the following new Schedule:—