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Children and Young Persons Bill [HL]

Volume 700: debated on Tuesday 25 March 2008

My Lords, the welfare of children in the care of the state is of the highest importance, which is why we welcome the ambitious intentions of this legislation, although there are still issues to be resolved and much of its success will depend on a well motivated workforce and good practice. It is a reflection of how much the Minister has listened and a tribute to him and the Bill team for working so constructively with the whole House that we send a better Bill to the other place. I wish it well.

My Lords, I thank the Minister for the various concessions that he made during the passage of the Bill, which will certainly improve the lives of children in care. He would have been gratified to see the avalanche of correspondence that I have received over the last few days about the Government’s concession on paying fees to foster carers who are being investigated over allegations. There are some impressive stories—perhaps I will pass them on to the noble Lord. We will watch carefully to see how the Government handle this important matter at the other end and look forward to seeing what comes of it. I am grateful to the Minister for agreeing to deal with it.

My Lords, I, too, shall say a few words of thanks. Last week, the Minister, with support from others in the House, moved what I consider to be one of the most important amendments to any Bill addressing disability that has passed through this House in the last few years. I am most grateful to all who supported the amendment. I apologise for my absence—unfortunately, my temperature was slightly higher than it is today. I thank everyone who spoke in support of the amendment and, in particular, the Minister and the Government for making that amendment possible.

My Lords, I understand that the noble Lord, Lord Rix, is holding in his hand the Bevin Boys medal that he was awarded earlier today. The congratulations of the whole House should be conveyed to him as he displays that wonderful medal. I promise the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, that I will not perpetuate the avalanche of letters that I have inflicted on her and on other noble Lords during the passage of the Bill. I thank her and the noble Baroness, Lady Morris, for their kind personal remarks and for their praise for the Bill team, which was well merited. I also thank noble Lords in all parts of the House, including my noble friends behind me and noble Lords on the Cross Benches, for their invaluable contributions to improving this Bill. I echo the opening remarks of the noble Baroness, Lady Morris—there is no more important priority in society than improving the regime that the state puts in place for children in care. This cross-party measure that we have forged over the last few months will improve the lot of children in care. That will be an immensely valuable thing for us to do as a society.

My Lords, I ask the Leader of the House to confirm that the Companion states that the Third Reading of a Bill is formal and no debate should take place.

My Lords, I can confirm it. However, there has been some discussion about the exact moment to do what the House was willing to do—namely, to consider what the Bill has done. The issue is whether that should be done at Third Reading or on the Question whether the Bill do now pass. The Clerk and I will deliberate further on this, because different instructions are given at different times, and we will come back to the House on it.

On Question, Bill read a third time; an amendment (privilege) made; Bill passed, and sent to the Commons.