§ Mr. Ashley
To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will specify what formal procedures for making complaints and representations, specifying where appropriate under which sections of which Acts, are available locally and nationally to children and young people under 18 years of age who wish to make complaints about matters which are the responsibility of his Department.
§ Mr. David Hunt
The following formal procedures provide for complaints to be made by children and young people or their representatives:
Section 26(3) of the Children Act 1989, which comes into force in October 1991, provides that any complaint or representation about the provision of services to children and their families under part III of the Act should be considered through local authorities' procedures. Section 59(4) requires voluntary organisations to set up similar procedures to consider representations including complaints made by children accommodated by them but not looked after by local authorities, and by other people connected with the child. Paragraph 10(2)(b) of schedule 6 to the Act places a similar requirement on registered children's homes.
Any person who is or has been a patient at a hospital or a person acting on behalf of any such patient is eligible to make a complaint about the care and treatment received, under the Hospital Complaints Procedure Act 1985. If not satisfied there is the right to make representations to the Health Service Commissioner to investigate a complaint, under section III of the National Health Services Act 1977. There is no age constraint.
The National Health Service (Service Committees and Tribunal) Regulations 1974 (as amended) made under sections 26, 36, 39 and 42 of the National Health Service Act 1977 provide for a complaint to be formally investigated if it has been made by or on behalf of any person entitled to family health services and alleges that a family practitioner has failed to comply with the relevant terms of service.
Section 120 of the Mental Health Act 1983 provides for the investigation of any complaint by a detained or formerly detained patient, of whatever age. By virtue of section 121 of the Act, such investigation would be carried out by the Mental Health Act Commission.
There is nothing to prevent a child or young person from using the provisions of sections 68 and 99 of the Education Act 1944, as extended by section 219 of the Education Reform Act 1988, providing for complaints to be made to the Secretary of State about the conduct of local education authorities and the governing bodies of maintained schools (including grant-maintained schools), higher education corporations and certain institutions of further or higher education maintained or assisted by local education authorities, in the exercise of their functions under the Education Acts. Where the complaint relates to the curriculum or religious worship the complaint must first be made at local level under arrangements made by the local education authority pursuant to section 23 of the Education Reform Act.