Clause 20

Part of Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:30 pm on 13 July 2006.

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Photo of Parmjit Dhanda Parmjit Dhanda Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Children, Young People and Families), Department for Education and Skills 2:30, 13 July 2006

No, I will not. Labour Members have shown great restraint in listening to Opposition Members going on and on about a system that they claim to support, yet never mentioning their own record. However, I shall speak to the amendments and try to take some of the heat out of the debate.

The intention behind amendments Nos. 115 and 108 is, in different ways, to strengthen the provision in the Bill for ensuring that controlled activity providers take the necessary steps when employing individuals in controlled activities. As my right hon. Friend the Minister for Children and Families said on Second Reading, we are doing further work on the sanctions that might apply in relation to controlled activity. That work is considering whether the current provision is sufficient, albeit not only in the ways suggested by the wording of the amendments. Before that work is completed, I would not want to rule out any option, including the wording of the amendments. For that reason, it would be premature to accept either of them at this stage. However, I intend to return with a final position on Report. With that reassurance, I hope that the hon. Lady will see fit to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment No. 131 stands in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgend. First, we would certainly expect employers undertaking controlled activity to conduct a full risk assessment before employing an individual who was on a barred list. That would be critical to determining the appropriate safeguards that needed to be put in place. Secondly, we intend to consult stakeholders on the specific safeguards that need to be put in place when engaging a barred individual. Providing that detail in the Bill at this stage would pre-empt critical consultation with key stakeholders on what is an important issue, as I am sure my hon. Friend will understand. Lastly, it is essential to retain flexibility. It would be very difficult, for example, to change the steps that employers need to take as new best practice emerges if the risk assessment is set out in the Bill.

Given those points and the fact that I will take on board the wording of amendment No. 131 when we consider the issue before Report, I hope that the hon. Member for Basingstoke will withdraw the amendment. Before she does so, however, if she has such concerns about a receptionist working in a dental service, perhaps she could explain whether it is her view that such a person who has been on a barred list should not be employed in controlled activity with safeguards in place, because we would be delighted to hear the Opposition’s policy on that.