Report (2nd Day)

Part of Care Bill [HL] – in the House of Lords at 7:45 pm on 14th October 2013.

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Photo of Earl Howe Earl Howe The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health 7:45 pm, 14th October 2013

I will gladly look into that point. I am sure that it is possible to do that but, as the noble Baroness, Lady Barker, said, many provisions on the statute book are designed to protect individuals from abuse in one form or another and make criminal offences of those actions. Nothing has changed as regards those criminal provisions. If they need to be underlined, however, and if there is scope for misunderstanding of what the Government are doing here, then I take the noble Lord’s point, and will gladly reflect and come back to him on that.

Amendments 80 and 82 emphasise the need for involvement of social work-qualified staff in boards and reviews. In Schedule 2 we make it clear that chairs and members of boards must have the “required skills and experience”. It would be impracticable to put into primary legislation every possible type of expertise and professional knowledge that might be needed. We must allow boards the flexibility to appoint members as they see fit. We will, however, ensure that the importance of social work is recognised in guidance, which will also cover the importance of ensuring appropriately qualified oversight of safeguarding adults reviews.

Government Amendment 81 responds to an amendment tabled in Committee by the noble Lord, Lord Rix, and the noble Baroness, Lady Hollins. On reflection, I see merit in placing a duty on safeguarding adults boards to publish an annual report. This amendment will increase the transparency and accountability of boards.

Finally, Amendment 81A tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Rix, requires that safeguarding adult boards provide their annual reports to the Secretary of State. With a duty on boards to publish their annual report, we can be assured that they will be publicly available. We would expect the local Healthwatch and health and well-being boards to monitor the safeguarding adult board’s progress and report to the Secretary of State if there are particular matters of concern. To require the board formally to submit a report to the Secretary of State would, if nothing else, undermine the primacy of local accountability, which is at the heart of our approach to safeguarding. I hope that, on reflection, the noble Lord will agree with me.

I hope that I have convinced your Lordships that we have done all that we properly can to provide the right legislative framework for safeguarding and, in consequence, that noble Lords will feel able not to move their amendments.