Clause 44

Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:15 pm on 13 July 2006.

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Vulnerable adults

Photo of Ivan Lewis Ivan Lewis Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health) (Care Services)

I beg to move amendment No. 173, in clause 44, page 28, line 16, at end insert

‘in receipt of residential accommodation pursuant to arrangements made under section 21(1)(aa) of the National Assistance Act 1948 or care pursuant to paragraph 1 of Schedule 8 to the National Health Service Act 1977’.

Photo of Eric Martlew Eric Martlew Labour, Carlisle

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following amendments: No. 57, in clause 44, page 28, line 16, leave out paragraph (d).

Government amendment No. 174

Photo of Ivan Lewis Ivan Lewis Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health) (Care Services)

Amendment No. 173 is designed to narrow the circumstances in which a pregnant woman or a nursing mother may be considered vulnerable. I think that the Opposition share our concern that, as drafted, the clause is far too wide. For example, the teacher of an antenatal yoga class would at present be regarded as undertaking a regulated activity.

The amendment would tighten that definition and limit it to those groups that receive community care services. As a result, only those staff who work closely with pregnant women or nursing mothers in the provision of community care services will be subject to monitoring, and barred people will not be able to undertake such work. For example, the tighter definition would include some health visitors that deliver community care services to new mums. We want to ensure that women in those circumstances have the same reassurances about the staff working with them as others using community care services. I hope that the Opposition accept that including a tighter a definition of the receipt of community care services for pregnant women is sensible.

Amendment No. 174 is a minor, technical and consequential amendment to adjust references to national health service legislation, to ensure that those references are consistent with those in the NHS Consolidation Bill. I hope that the hon. Members for Basingstoke and for East Worthing and Shoreham accept what I have said about the definition and that they will not feel it necessary to press amendment No. 57.

Photo of Maria Miller Maria Miller Shadow Minister (Education)

I am pleased with the Minister’s reply. I was rather surprised when I first read the clause to find that all expectant and nursing mothers were classified as vulnerable adults. It struck me as a retrograde, sexist and insulting way of categorising women who are pregnant or nursing.

Having been pregnant three times—perhaps other female Members have been pregnant—I was surprised that the Minister should allow the Bill to include such a provision. Times have moved on since the days when it was thought that women were fragile and in need of  special attention purely because they were pregnant. I hope that I can draw on the support of other women in the room on that matter.

I was unaware that the Government had noticed that rather large mistake, so I raised the issue with the National Childbirth Trust, which does much excellent work in that area. It was rather shocked; it clearly had not been consulted. I understand that, at that point, it contacted the Department, which may have led to the Government amendments. I acknowledge the fact that it was clearly a drafting error, but given that the Bill has been so long in the drafting, it is concerning that such a sizeable mistake could have been make. I am glad that the Government have seen the error of their ways. I am glad not to have to move the Opposition amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment made: No. 174, in clause 44, page 28, line 35, leave out from ‘section’ to the first ‘are’ in line 36 and insert

‘248 of the National Health Service Act 2006 or section 187 of the National Health Service (Wales) Act 2006)’.—[Mr. Dhanda.]

Clause 44, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 45 ordered to stand part of the Bill.