On January 7th 2014, the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds spoke in favour of an amendment to the Government’s Children and Families Bill, during its Report Stage. The amendment, moved by Crossbench Peer Lord Rix, sought to place the duty of social care provision with the responsible local authority. Following assurances from the Minister, Lord Rix withdrew the amendment. The Government amendments on this topic, tabled at Third Reading, were warmly welcomed by Lord Rix and subsequently accepted as part of the Bill.
The Lord Bishop of Ripon and Leeds: My Lords, I, too, add my support for the amendment and my gratitude to those who have fought so hard to bring it forward. For reasons that have already been expressed in terms of the parity between the three elements of education, health and social care, there is a continuing danger, time and again, in our legislation and in our thinking, that social care becomes an orphaned right—to take an analogy from another area.
I want to push Minister a bit further on the argument that has been put forward that if we pass an amendment such as this, other areas will thereby be deprioritised. I simply fail to understand, despite having read a good deal about it, how that can possibly be so. It seems to me that equality in this area is crucial, and therefore that we ought to pursue an amendment such as this.
Lord Nash: …Social care is a targeted service and is available only for vulnerable children and young people, so there is a greater risk that an individually owed duty for those with plans could adversely affect other vulnerable groups, including children at risk of neglect. We do not think that that is the right thing to do. In answer to a point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Hughes, and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, I am afraid that it is really a question of resources. However, I am delighted to hear the noble Baroness, Lady Hughes, say that this is one of two remaining pieces in the jigsaw. I am dying to hear what the second one is and I am sure that I will not have to wait long. However, I hope that I shall be able to be helpful in relation to this point…