HL Deb 08 November 1989 vol 512 cc739-41

50 After Clause 17, insert the following new Clause —

'Provisions of accommodation for children in police protection or detention or on remand, etc.

. —(1) Every local authority shall make provision for the reception and accommodation of children who are removed or kept away from home under Part V.

(2) Every local authority shall receive, and provide accommodation for, children —

  1. (a) in police protection whom they are requested to receive under section 38(3)(e);
  2. (b) whom they are requested to receive under section 38(6) of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984;
  3. (c) who are —
    1. (i) on remand under section 23(1) of the Children and Young Persons Act 1969; or
    2. (ii) the subject of a supervision order imposing a residence requirement under section 12AA of that Act,
and with respect to whom they are the designated authority.

(3) Where a child has been —

  1. (a) removed under Part V; or
  2. (b) detained under section 38 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984,
and he is not being provided with accommodation by a local authority or in a hospital vested in the Secretary of State, any reasonable expenses of accommodating him shall be recoverable from the local authority in whose area he is ordinarily resident.'.

The Lord Chancellor

My Lords. I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in the their Amendment No. 50. I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 80, 81, 82, 165, 311, 379 to 381, 392, 407, 408 and 438. The amendments fall into two broad groups.

The first group, Amendments Nos. 50, 80, 81, 82, 165 and 311, essentially involves technical matters of a drafting nature. The amendments concern the local authority's duty to make provision for the accommodation of children whom it must look after under Part V of the Bill or under certain other enactments. The effect of the Bill is not altered by the amendments but it should be easier, as a result, to identify local authority responsibilities in respect of the accommodation of various categories of children.

The second group, Amendments Nos. 379, 380, 381, 392, 407, 408 and 438, is intended to clarify and consolidate the provisions for young people charged with a criminal offence who are either on remand or who have been detained by the police while awaiting a court hearing, and certain other related matters. I beg to move.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in the said amendment. —(The Lord Chancellor.)

Lord Renton

My Lords, I shall deal first with Amendment No. 50, which adds a new clause to follow Clause 17. Clause 17 is fortunately very widely drawn and contains various statements of principle. If we compare the two closely enough we find that all the details mentioned in the new clause can be said to be covered by one or other of the subsections in the existing Clause 17. Therefore it does not seem to me to be necessary to have the new clause.

I go further. A number of hypothetical contingencies are listed in the new clause. There may well be others which have not been mentioned. For example, there has been a splendid movement to discharge people from mental hospitals so that they can live in the community. I would mention especially mentally handicapped children who are not severely handicapped and who are capable of living in the community. Nevertheless, after discharge, a small minority of people in both the categories I have mentioned may be in need of the kind of accommodation referred to in Clause 17. However, they are not mentioned in the new clause to follow Clause 17. I should have thought that it would be better to leave the very well stated general principles in Clause 17 as they are without trying to amplify them in detail.

I find it rather surprising that the very large number of other amendments —especially the amendments to schedules, some of which are very lengthy —should have to be considered en bloc at the same time as the new clause to follow Clause 17. I merely mention that as an approach which increases the effort required by legislators —which we are —to find out what is really involved in such a vast mass of amendments.

My noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor, who has been very helpful so far in explaining the reasons for the various amendments that have come from the Commons, has dealt with those amendments generally by saying that they are mainly of a drafting character. But they take up a number of pages. For example, Amendments Nos. 379 to 381 are among the amendments to Schedule 8. Altogether, the amendments to Schedule 8 run from pages 86 to 98 —12 pages of amendments to that schedule alone —and some are of considerable substance. I do not wish to labour the matter. One can but proceed by way of a general protest; and that is what I am doing.

The Lord Chancellor

My Lords, Amendment No. 50 is intended to deal with people who might not be covered by Clause 17. Those are children in police protection, in detention or on remand. That is a very special class of child. It does not follow that they are in need in the technical sense, although they are in need of accommodation. The provisions regulate the basis on which those children are accommodated. I believe that it is important to have the holding of children under those circumstances regulated by statute.

While I should like to give the noble Lord as much opportunity as is feasible to consider all the ramifications, the amendments are of a fairly technical character and are required to deal specifically with children, for example, in police protection, who are a very special class.

Baroness Macleod of Borve

My Lords, perhaps I may ask whether it is envisaged that the provision should apply to any particular age group.

The Lord Chancellor

My Lords, it applies to children generally. There are particular provisions dealing with children who are in the care of the police in respect of particular offences. But the amendment applies to children generally who are within the categories that I described; for example, in subsection (2) of the new clause.

On Question, Motion agreed to.