SECTION 41.

Amendments Nos. 175a and 175b not moved.

I move amendment No. 175c:

In page 19, between lines 36 and 37, to insert the following subsection:

"(4) A relevant health board shall act on information given by an individual to the effect that children in a pre-school service are at risk or where an instance of abuse is alleged.".

As you will see, this amendment deals with inspections. I want to make the point that the inspection by authorised persons we are talking about in this section deals more specifically with the environmental factors, education and other standards. I put this in because a case was brought to my attention of a parent who had a problem with somebody running the service whose child was sexually abused and at present there was no vehicle through which this mother could have her concern acted on. I would like the Minister's comments on this proposal because it is an important one.

The whole purpose of this Part of the Bill is to protect and safeguard children attending pre-school services, so I am fully in agreement with what the Deputy is trying to achieve in this amendment. I am advised, however, that the amendment, as drafted, is somewhat defective, for example, the reference to children should refer to pre-school children. Furthermore, there are other provisions of the Bill which will impose duties on health boards where abuse and neglect are suspected. For example, I would refer the committee to section 14. It would be important that there would be some consistency in drafting to avoid problems of interpretation developing later on. If the Deputy is prepared to withdraw this amendment I will be happy to look at this question again on Report Stage.

I am, indeed, pleased that the Minister is looking at this seriously and I thank him. I will withdraw my amendment.

Section 41(1) says that where the relevant health board has received notification an authorised person shall be entitled, at all reasonable times, to enter the premises. Section 41(3) says where an authorised person who enters the premises in accordance with subsection (1) may make such examination. Would it not strengthen it if we said "shall make such examination"? I wonder why we use "shall" with regard to going in and yet say he or she "may" examine it rather than "shall" examine it? Is there any technical difficulty with that?

There are two things. Firstly, the inspector, on arrival, may consider any examination unnecessary. Secondly, if a particular officer, a particular professional called, if we say "shall" it may preclude him from doing an inspection under some other area on which he may need more information. In order to have the maximum flexibility to cover the widest range of inspectorate and inspectorship possible, we want to allow that situation to continue. There is no point in making it mandatory for one officer that he shall do certain things in a certain way when he may want to get further information and it may necessitate something wider.

Using "may" does not take away from the powers of the inspectors.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 41 agreed to.