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Schedule 6 - CSCI: supplementary

Part of Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:45 pm on 4th June 2003.

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Photo of Paul Burstow Paul Burstow Shadow Secretary of State for Health, Shadow Spokesperson (Health) 2:45 pm, 4th June 2003

The amendments deal with the rights of vulnerable people, particularly vulnerable adults. They would create a similar duty to safeguard and promote the rights of vulnerable adults as that for children under the Bill as drafted. Liberal Democrat Members believe that that is a glaring omission, which should be dealt with—by accepting the amendment or by tabling a similar one—in order to ensure that CSCI and the Commission for Healthcare Audit and Inspection have a clear focus on the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of vulnerable adults.

There is a view that to do so for the rights of vulnerable children is necessary and proper but that there is no need to give similar priority to vulnerable adults. That will cause problems in operational work, so I encourage the Government to give serious thought to trying to ensure that, in the work of both commissions, adult services and adult service users rights are to the fore. Having a children's rights director on a statutory basis and backed up by regulations will be of great benefit. It will enable that office-holder to do things and push issues unlike any other present office-holder in CSCI or the National Care Standards Commission. The amendments would establish a specific office in CSCI for a director for the rights of vulnerable adults, and stipulate requirements on safeguarding and promoting the welfare of vulnerable adults.

Will the Under-Secretary explain whether he feels that the amendments will in some way fetter the discretion of either commission? Why is it perfectly acceptable to fetter their discretion in discharging

responsibilities on the rights of children, but not right to do so when it comes to safeguarding the rights of vulnerable adults? What distinction are the Government drawing? What is the philosophical difference that results in different approaches? I hope that the Under-Secretary can explain that to the Committee and I look forward to his response.