My Lords, I shall speak briefly to Amendment 238A, which is in the name of my noble friend Lord Ramsbotham. I rather hope that the Government will take on board its spirit if not its actual wording. The reason is that in creating a joint strategic needs assessment, there will be a requirement for those involved to begin to work in a completely new way. Human nature is such that people tend to repeat the patterns of things they have done before. In addition, they do not know what they do not know. When they feel insecure, they are less-not more-likely to consult, because it is quite threatening to have to consult and go beyond the boundaries of what you thought you knew and discover all the things that you did not know.
The beauty of the amendment is that it creates an obligation to,
"consult relevant health professionals and any other" person, without specifying who they are. It leaves it very broad but it pushes forward the boundaries. We have already discussed the problem of children. The difficulty is, if people do not consult widely, that if children miss out at a developmental stage and one aspect of their development-for example, motor development, speech and language development or emotional development-does not occur, they never catch up. It is missed out for good; they always lag behind.
It is really important to make sure that the provisions are there right the way through the trajectory from birth onwards to make sure that the needs of children as they develop are met, that deficits are identified early and that interventions take place immediately.