Clause 10

Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:15 am on 13th July 2006.

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Use of person not subject to monitoring for regulated activity

Amendment made: No. 147, in clause 10, page 6, line 19, at end insert—

‘( ) A person does not commit an offence under subsection (1) or (2) if B has not attained the age of 16.’.—[Mr. Dhanda.]

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

Photo of Sarah Teather Sarah Teather Shadow Secretary of State for Education

I continue to have some concerns about the breadth of clause 10. The sentiments underlying the clause are similar to those underlying clause 9, except that clause 9 relates to people who are barred rather than those subject to monitoring. As drafted, the clause would criminalise mistakes, which I do not believe is the Government’s intention. I suspect that, particularly as the legislation beds down, mistakes will be likely, because there are a number of points of potential confusion. For example, there is the question of whether therapy is a regulated activity. Therapy provided to a child is a regulated activity. However, under clause 14(1)(a), complementary and alternative therapy are listed as areas of exemption from the need to make monitoring checks for vulnerable adults. Meanwhile, therapy is listed as a controlled activity in relation to both children and adults, requiring guidance from the Secretary of State before engagement in it. Clauses 18 to 20 deal with that.

The situation is confused. As I said on a similar matter earlier, the definitions are not clear and I suspect when the legislation first comes into force there will be a high potential for mistakes. Serious misconduct can lead to disciplinary action or dismissal, but there is a question mark over whether it is appropriate to deal with it in legislation. I wonder whether the Government might consider an amendment on Report to narrow the definition so that there would have to be knowledge of monitoring. That would catch fewer people.

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

With your permission, Mr. Conway, I shall leave the discussion on clause 14 until we reach clause 14. As to use of people who are not subject to monitoring, many of the arguments were made in discussing an earlier clause. The Government wish to err on the side of caution and our arguments remain the same.

Clause 10, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

It being twenty-five minutes past Ten o’clock, The Chairman adjourned the Committee without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order.

Adjourned till this day at One o’clock.