Clause 35

Part of Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:00 pm on 13 July 2006.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Parmjit Dhanda Parmjit Dhanda Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Children, Young People and Families), Department for Education and Skills 3:00, 13 July 2006

I agree entirely that overseas workers are important, not least when their children become MPs and Ministers.

The amendments relate to foreign barred lists, foreign offences, and the duty on the Secretary of State to notify the keepers of certain registers—registersof medical practitioners and social workers, for example—such as the General Medical Council, when  a person is subject to certain disqualifications. Amendment No. 194, which is a probing amendment, would require the Secretary of State to notify the keepers of such registers when he becomes aware that an individual has been charged or convicted in another country of a criminal offence that would have led to consideration about whether that person should be barred if it had been committed in the UK.

Both amendments would ensure that the keepers of such registers were notified if the Secretary of State became aware that an individual was included on any foreign barred list specified by the Secretary of State. That sounds reasonable, in essence, but this Bill is not the appropriate vehicle by which to introduce new measures about the treatment of foreign offences. The Government have already introduced a number of measures to tackle the issue of foreign offences. They include notification orders, which ensure that people who are convicted of sex offences overseas are made to sign the sex offenders register in the UK, and sexual offences prevention orders, which can also applyto offenders who are convicted of sexual or violent offences overseas.

I take on board the hon. Lady’s point about not wanting to start from scratch and to consider just offences in the UK. That is exactly what we are doing. However, there is a way in which the Bill allows us to take account of overseas offences. Paragraph 20 of schedule 2 allows the Secretary of State to specify that, in addition to UK convictions and cautions, the following criteria qualify a person for automatic barring: orders such as sexual offences prevention orders and notification orders, which I just mentioned; inclusion in a foreign barred list equivalent to the children and vulnerable adults barred list; and overseas orders or directions. The regulations prescribing those criteria are subject to the affirmative resolution procedure. In addition, under the discretionary route, the IBB will, of course, be able to take account of any information regarding offences or behaviour abroad when it receives that information. The Bill therefore ensures that the barring scheme can take account of offences committed abroad.

The Secretary of State already has a duty under the Bill to notify the keepers of relevant registers when an individual is barred, and that will achieve the intended effect of the amendment, without the need for a separate set of information to flow to the keepers of registers about foreign offences and lists, with which they are not necessarily familiar and to which they may not know how to respond. I hope that with that on the record, the hon. Lady will not press her probing amendments.