Clause 4

Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 5:45 pm on 11 July 2006.

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Appeals

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Annette Brooke Annette Brooke Shadow Spokesperson (Children, Schools and Families), Shadow Minister (Education), Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

I want to make just one point about the clause. It is pleasing that the grounds on which an appeal might be made have been expanded slightly. Of course, the appeals apply only under the three categories other than the automatic bar. An appeal can be made on the basis of a fact, which is to be welcomed. It sounds as though it will produce a fairer result. At least it gives some feeling that justice will be applied. However, if facts emerge after the tribunal hearing, will it be possible to appeal on the grounds of new evidence? When the Minister sums up, will he deal with that question?

Photo of Parmjit Dhanda Parmjit Dhanda Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Children, Young People and Families), Department for Education and Skills

I shall come to that point in a moment. Clause 4 provides for an appeal to the Care Standards Tribunal on a point of law or a point of fact, as the hon. Lady said. A decision of the IBB to include or keep someone on the children or vulnerable adults list was a concession made in another place. Subsection (1) sets out the decisions against which individuals can appeal. They may not appeal against an automatic bar under paragraphs 1 and 6 of schedule 2. Under subsections (2) and (3) of the clause, an appeal can be based on points of law and findings of fact. However, it is important for me to say that an individual cannot appeal against the judgment of the IBB when the facts or law are not in question. When someone has accepted a caution or been found guilty of a crime, for example, we are talking about periods of 10 years or five, if that person happens to be under the age of 25, before the person may apply for a review of his inclusion on a barred list.

Subsection (4) provides for the tribunal to give permission for an appeal. Subsections (5), (6) and (7) set out the actions that a tribunal can take. It may confirm the IBB decision, it may remit the case to the IBB for a fresh decision, it may set out new findings of fact for a fresh IBB decision, or it may direct the IBB to remove the individual from the list. Subsection (8) allows the Secretary of State to make regulations specifying the procedure of the tribunal and, if appropriate, the award of costs by the tribunal.

Subsection (9) provides that the Court of Appeal will hear appeals on points of law in respect of a tribunal decision. It is of great importance that the right to appeal on points of law should generally be available so that the courts can give guidance on the proper interpretation of the law and avoid inconsistent rules by tribunals. The right to appeal on points of fact ensures that, when a mistake has been made in findings of fact, there is a proper opportunity to revisit the decision. I hope that my explanation has satisfied the hon. Lady. I recommend that the clause stands part of the Bill.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 4 ordered to stand part of the Bill.