Children First Bill 2014: Committee Stage

Apologies have been received from Deputies Regina Doherty and Ciara Conway. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin is substituting for Deputy McLellan who is on Question Time in the Dáil. Deputy Seamus Healy, who was here earlier, was substituting for Deputy Daly. I welcome the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Deputy James Reilly, and his officials, Ms Michele Clarke, Ms Marie Kennedy, Ms Dolores Moran and Ms Moira Griffin.

I remind members and those in the Visitors Gallery to ensure their mobile phones are switched off completely, as they cause interference with the broadcasting equipment, even when left in silent mode. I welcome Mr. Gearóid Ó Maoilmhichíl from An Cumann Lúthchleas Gael who is in attendance in the Visitors Gallery.

The grouping of amendments has been circulated to members in advance of the meeting.

Section 1 agreed to.
SECTION 2

Amendments Nos. 1 to 3, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together.

Is there a note on the grouping of amendments?

I assume it was given to members. It was e-mailed to members yesterday at 12.40 p.m. However, we can provide the Deputy with a copy of the groupings.

I move amendment No. 1:

In page 5, to delete line 28, and in page 6, to delete lines 1 and 2 and substitute the following:

“ “harm” means, in relation to a child—

(a) assault, ill-treatment or neglect of the child in a manner that seriously affects or is likely to seriously affect the child’s health, development or welfare, or

(b) sexual abuse of the child,

whether caused by a single act, omission or circumstance or a series or combination of acts, omissions or circumstances, or otherwise;”.

It is proposed to amend the definition of "harm" in section 2 to introduce the threshold of seriously affecting the health, development or welfare of the child in respect of assault. The purpose of this amendment is to address a situation whereby, without a stated threshold, all forms of assault will be required to be reported under the legislation.

This could potentially include all forms of minor physical chastisement, such as an incident in which a child is pushed on a single occasion, or all incidents where there is a threat of assault.

Members may also speak on amendments Nos. 2 and 3 because they are being taken with amendment No. 1.

These consequential amendments propose to change the definitions of "neglect" and "ill-treatment" arising from the change in the definition of "assault" in amendment No. 1. It is a technical kind of thing.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 2:

In page 6, lines 5 and 6, to delete ", in a manner that seriously affects or is likely to seriously affect the child’s health, development or welfare".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 3:

In page 6, lines 11 and 12, to delete "in a manner that seriously affects or is likely to seriously affect the child’s health, development or welfare".

Amendment agreed to.
Question proposed: "That section 2, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

I would like to ask the Minister about the listing of definitions in section 2. I am referring precisely to line 14 of page 6 of the Bill, which defines "relevant service" as "any work or activity specified in Schedule 1". The relevant connection I wish to make is to section 4 of Schedule 1, as set out on line 30 of page 18 of the Bill. It lists as a "relevant service":

Any work or activity which consists of the provision of—

(a) educational, research, training, cultural, recreational, leisure, social or physical activities to children,

(b) care or supervision of children, or

(c) formal consultation with, or formal participation by, a child in respect of matters that affect his or her life,

whether or not for commercial or any other consideration.

I do not see any reference to childminders in the Bill. Will the Minister indicate whether the services provided by childminders are covered by the definition of "relevant services" in the Bill and its intent? Childminders should be covered in this legislation. I am anxious to know more about the Minister's understanding of how service providers are defined in the Bill. If that definition does not include childminders, why would that be the case?

We can discuss this when we reach the Schedules themselves at the end of this debate. We can deal with it at that stage if that is okay.

My only concern about the Minister's suggestion is that the definitions arise in section 2. As I have instanced, the definition of "relevant service" first presents in section 2, on line 14 of page 6. I accept it refers to Schedule 1. This section of the Bill defines "relevant service" as "any work or activity specified in Schedule 1". I am asking for clarification on how service providers are defined in the Bill. Do any of the three parts of the definition in Schedule 1 that I have referenced include childminders? I do not see any such reference. I am anxious to know. I believe this is an important area.

I fully accept it is important. I will deal with it now if the Deputy prefers.

Childminders have been deliberately left out. This requirement will fall on services where at least two people are providing the service. The standards have to be applied by someone so there needs to be at least two people involved in the service. There has to be an employer and an employee, if I can put it that way. A childminder who is minding a child on his or her own - on her own, mainly - is excluded from this.

I do not think I am necessarily referring to a scenario in which someone is providing care to a solitary child. There are childminder operations throughout the country that provide care for multiple children.

If there are multiple providers-----

No, I am referring to single-handed operations.

We define what a provider means in relation to the relevant service. That is defined from line 28 of page 7 of the Bill onwards. I refer to section 7, which sets out the definitions for the purposes of Part 2.

Yes, it sets out what "provider" means.

It states:

"provider" means, in relation to a relevant service, a person—

(a) who owns, controls or manages the service, or is otherwise responsible for the running of that service, and

(b) who, in respect of the provision of such relevant service—

(i) employs (whether under contract of employment or otherwise) one or more than one other person to undertake any work or activity that constitutes a relevant service.

I understand the Deputy's concern. When people are drawing up child safety statements, they will have to identify the risks and set out how they intend to deal with them. If we were to follow it down to a single individual, we would be talking about relatives, friends and everyone and I do not think it would be practicable.

It is not so much about the single individual; it is about the multiple responsibility. The Minister said in his opening response to me that childminders were being purposely excluded. He is on the record as having said that.

The single person is being purposely or deliberately excluded.

I repeat the point that there are significant differences between various types of single-person childminding operations. We are not just dealing with a grandmother-and-child situation. I do not think it is appropriate not to address certain childminding operations in the course of this legislation. It is a serious omission. We will not get a chance to come back to the Children First Bill. It is about the children. The Minister has drawn a distinction between someone who is an employer and someone who is an employee, but I emphasise again that it has less to do with the single individual than with the numbers of children involved. I believe this area warrants, rather than merits, address and inclusion. The Minister referred to section 7, which is at the start of Part 2 of the Bill. I am looking at what we have there. That section does not mention childminders. This Committee Stage debate will be followed by a Report Stage debate. Will the Minister take on board the concerns I am flagging? On behalf of Deputy McLellan, I will certainly reserve the opportunity to pursue any possible amendment in this regard. The Minister and I both accept that we will not get another bite at this for many years to come. I believe it should be inclusive in its address of all the scenarios where children are placed in the care of another person on a day-by-day or occasional basis. If it is to be truly inclusive, the issue of childminding has to be addressed.

I hear the Deputy's concerns. There are concerns from a pragmatic point of view about the effect of the inclusion of a single person. There is a limit to how many children a single person can mind. That person would then be writing up the child safeguarding statement for herself or himself.

That seems a little less than productive. In addition, childminders often mind children in their own home and in the child's home. For instance, if I brought somebody into my home to mind my children, how would this person write up a child safety statement relating to my home, then another one relating to Deputy Ó Caoláin's home because she minds his children on a Thursday, and yet another one on the home of another Deputy, whose children she minds on a Friday? I am not closed to the Deputy's proposal and I hear his concerns, but there is a practical issue here for individuals who are single childminders, working on their own. People have to make their own decisions around the suitability of individuals who mind their children. That is a separate issue. A child safety statement in itself is not an absolute guarantee. It is aimed at people who have one or more employees. They must have a child safety statement for their premises for the risk they feel might arise.

I will not labour the point, but I will make two observations in closing. The Minister referred me to page 7. Line 28 on this page states "'provider' means, in relation to a relevant service, a person". I refer to the fact that we are talking here about the singular. The language of the legislation is specific. It does not refer to a multiple of people, but to one person. Turning to Schedule 2, on page 20-----

If I may correct the Deputy, the line he has quoted is followed by sub-paragraphs (a), (b)(i) and (b)(ii). Sub-paragraph (b)(i) is very clear where it states, "employs (whether under contract of employment or otherwise) one or more than one other person to undertake any work or activity that constitutes a relevant service". The definition of "provider" is, therefore, qualified by sub-paragraph (b)(ii).

Any childminder service that employs more than two people is covered under this.

The focus again is on the number, but the legislation refers to a person nonetheless. When one goes on to Schedule 2 - this is my last point and I believe it merits further consideration - "mandated persons" are mentioned: "The following classes of persons are specified as mandated persons for the purposes of this Act". We have an extensive list, which goes onto page 21, but it does not mention childminders anywhere. I accept the difficulties involved, but that is not necessarily a good reason not to have addressed this area. They are not all the same in terms of what we understand to be childminders in our respective wider familial circumstances and those in the community and beyond.

I will not labour the point. I reserve the right to have my colleague table amendments, but I invite the Minister, as all the amendments are from him rather than from any of the Opposition representatives, to take another look at this and see whether this area can be included.

I am not being pedantic, but this is a separate issue. This is about who is a mandated person, as opposed to people who must have a child safety statement. We can have a look at it.

Does Deputy Byrne want to speak?

I do because I am confused. Is it all right to be confused?

I am sure it is.

I understand what the Deputy is saying, but is this Bill not about the safety of children, no matter who minds them?

Whether one is in an agency, a grandparent or somebody who decides to take a person into their home to mind a baby, this is what this Bill is about. I know it is in different sections, but am I wrong to say - correct me if I am wrong, because I am here to learn - that everything in this Bill means that children are protected under people who mind children, whether in a family or an agency situation or where somebody is minding a child in their home?

We are on section 2 now, please.

Please let the Minster answer. I understand that, but the first part and the definitions cover all those things as far as I am concerned, whether one is talking about groups or individuals. Am I wrong or right to say that?

The child safety statement relates to an obligation on somebody who provides services and who employs one or more people to have a child safety statement. It is not about asking grannies, sisters, aunts or a single childminder to provide these statements, because that is considered to be excessive. From a practical point of view, it does not make sense for somebody to write their own statement, with nobody else to monitor what is happening. Where there is an employee, the statement is clearly there for the employee to observe. Equally, employees could tell the employer if they did not think the statement is appropriate and suggest improvements. Where would it end if a single person were required to do that?

I accept what Deputy Ó Caoláin was saying about how a childminder could mind a number of different children, but I do not think a child safety statement addresses that issue. We will consider the matter further. We can certainly look at the mandated people, which is a separate issue. I hope that clarifies matters. The Bill is about ensuring more safety for children and that their rights are observed. The Children First guidance applies to all individuals and organisations. The Children First Bill places additional legal requirements on certain specified individuals and organisations.

I wish to make a brief response to Deputy Catherine Byrne. I fully agree with her view that the Bill should be all about children. It is "Children First" and that is the point I was making in engaging with the Minister and bringing attention to the fact that there is an area that is not addressed. The Minister has acknowledged that. He did so in his opening comment and has just done so again. If this is not achievable, let us hear the detail and the information, but I think I am right in highlighting an area that is not addressed and which the Minister has acknowledged is not addressed. My only concern is that we will never, as a committee, have the opportunity to ensure a fully inclusive approach to all the settings that children are and will be placed in. My concern is to ensure that they have safety and legislatively provided rights to proper care and provision. That is my reason for raising the issue. It is not at all to be vexatious.

Question put and agreed to.
Section 3 agreed to.
NEW SECTION

Amendments Nos. 4 to 6, inclusive, and 8, 9, 20 and 21 are related and may be discussed together by agreement.

I move amendment No. 4:

In page 6, between lines 32 and 33, to insert the following:

“Service of notices

4. (1) A notice that is required to be served on a person under this Act shall be addressed to the person by name and may be so served in one of the following ways:

(a) by delivering it to the person;

(b) by leaving it at the address at which the person ordinarily resides or, in a case in which an address for service has been furnished, at that address;

(c) by sending it by post in a pre-paid registered letter to the address at which the person ordinarily resides or, in a case in which an address for service has been furnished, to that address.

(2) For the purposes of this section, a company within the meaning of the Companies Acts shall be deemed to be ordinarily resident at its registered office, and every other body corporate and every unincorporated body of persons, shall be deemed to be ordinarily resident at its principal office or place of business.”.

Amendment agreed to.
SECTION 4
Question proposed: "That section 4 stand part of the Bill."

Section 4 is a standard provision to provide that expenses incurred by the Minister or any other Minister of the Government in the administration of the Act will be paid out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas.

Question put and agreed to.
Sections 5 and 6 agreed to.
SECTION 7

I move amendment No. 5:

In page 7, between lines 17 and 18, to insert the following:

“ “advance notice” shall be construed in accordance with section 11(2);”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 6:

In page 7, between lines 25 and 26, to insert the following:

“ “non-compliance notice” means a notice served by the Agency under section 11(6);”.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 7, 10, and 37 to 40, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together by agreement.

I move amendment No. 7:

In page 7, to delete lines 29 and 30 and substitute the following:

“(a) who provides a relevant service, and”.

It is proposed to amend the definition of "provider" in section 7 to provide greater clarity and to ensure the obligation to prepare a child safeguarding statement falls solely on the provider of the service as opposed to those who commission the service. This is to ensure there is no scope to interpret the obligation as falling on those who commission the service against those who provide the service.

Amendment No. 10 to section 8 provides that Part 2 is not applicable to an individual who undertakes any work or activity in the course of a family relationship, where the work or activity is undertaken solely for the benefit of his or her child or for a family member or where the work or activity is undertaken in the course of a personal relationship and where assistance is given on an occasional basis for no consideration. It is proposed to reword section 8 to clarify that the exemption in regard to personal relationships applies to the provider of relevant services. The exemption for personal relationships arrangements is based on a similar provision in section 3 of the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012. Both are based on the fact that it is not the policy intention to place onerous statutory responsibility on arrangements that are in place as a result of personal relationships rather than commercial consideration. Also exempted is occasional assistance in local and community events in order not to discourage participation in such activities.

Amendment No. 37 is a technical amendment to paragraph 2 of Schedule 1. What it proposes is that any work or activity which consists of the inspections of a service provided to a child are included as a relevant service. It was considered that inspections of health services to children carried out under the Health Act 2007 should also be included in this paragraph. For example, this would include inspections of residential centres for children with disabilities, with which I think we would all agree.

Amendment 38 proposes to insert a new paragraph after paragraph 2 of Schedule 1 to include inspections, examinations or investigations by the Ombudsman for Children as a relevant service. It is considered that as by definition any investigation or inspection by the Ombudsman for Children is likely to include contact with children, that office should come within the definition of a provider of relevant services.

Amendment No. 39 is an amendment to paragraph 3 of Schedule 1. It is proposed to clarify that an assessment which may lead to treatment is included as a relevant service for the purposes of the legislation. This is being proposed for inclusion as in some circumstances an assessment for treatment might be separate from the treatment itself and might be carried out by different individuals. Both the assessment and the treatment should be considered a relevant service for the purposes of legislation.

Amendment No. 40 is an amendment to paragraph 5 of Schedule 1 and it is proposed to limit its application as there are concerns that as currently drafted, it is broad enough to encompass most retail outlets. This proposed amendment is in response to feedback that as currently drafted any retail outlet where children may be might fall within the scope of the definitions. This was not the policy intention so an amendment has been proposed to clarify that it applies only where the service to the child is central to the service.

This in some way is related to the points I made earlier. Amendment No. 7 seeks to delete lines 29 and 30, which immediately follow the point I made in regard to the "provider" person. The Minister wishes to delete subparagraph (a) and substitute a new subparagraph, that states more concisely that a "provider" means a person "who provides a relevant service". My question is complicated. I would have been open to accepting a positive reply to my earlier question on whether child minders are included, but I did not get it and the Minister's response was that they were purposely excluded. I am concerned. My concerns are added to because we have amended the definitions and added to page 7 of the Bill that "provider" means in regard to a relevant service, a person "who provides a relevant service", yet we are told that child minders are excluded.

Amendment No. 10 to section 8 inserts a new section, which in this instance is excluding the other relationships that we have referred to in terms of a one-to-one or one-to-two, excluding family relationships. We spoke of child minding cases, such as the grandmother, a personal friend with no commercial considerations or minding that is undertaken on an occasional basis. My concern is that in the wider area there is a stratum of activity across the board that provides, either in a home or a number of homes, a service that involves more than one child. My concern is about the child. This comes back to what Deputy Catherine Byrne said. These are businesses and people are earning. Their compliance with tax regulations is secondary to my first concern in this instance, which is the child or children in their care.

There is a considerable gap between the provision proposed by the Minister to exclude those who have a family relationship, those who may have a personal relationship with no commercial return and those involved on an occasional basis at school sports or community event or activity on the one hand, and the multiple person employer and employee on the other hand, which constitutes a stratum of activity engaging with children across the country, providing a service. It is commercial, it is paid for and is located in a multiple of settings, either in the home of the provider, the home of the child or children, or in doing a circuit of a number of hours per day or hours on different days in any week. A number of children are involved. I am only highlighting that this is not provided for in the Bill. I will be supporting the passage of the Bill and my colleague, Deputy McLellan, will be dealing with it. We are tasked with ensuring, through scrutiny of the Bill, that it covers all bases and is fit for purpose. I believe I am shining a light on a layer of activity that involves children, and on a significant omission by the Minister's own admission at the outset when he said these aspects were being purposely excluded. I hope the record will confirm that.

I ask the Minister and his officials to note the points I have made and address them.

I hope the record will confirm the term "purposely excluded". I appeal to the Minister and the officials from his Department to note the points I have made and to address this matter because it will not be addressed with any greater certainty than by amendments presented by the Minister. These particular amendments only add further weight to the points that I have raised.

With respect, I really believe the Deputy has confused what the purpose of the child safeguarding statement is with the Children First guidelines. The Children First guidelines are very clearly set out. They apply to all individuals, childminders or anybody who deals with children, and organisations. The Children First Bill is to place additional legal requirements on certain specified individuals in organisations. The statement we are asking people to put in place is to outline the safeguarding policies of the service provider, including how to manage the risk to children availing of the service, details of vetting and recruitment practices.

For individual childminders to outline their vetting and recruitment practices and other relevant issues is inappropriate and confuses the issue of the Children First guidelines. They are very clear about the obligations on people who mind children, their obligations to the child and how the child must be kept safe. It is a different matter when one has an employer with employees and a premises. In that instance, a whole range of issues will arise in regard to risk, such as how it can be managed and best looked after. That is the obligation we are placing on those people. That is why we define the provider as we do and not as an individual working alone minding children who also has obligations under Children First guidelines. This is a child safeguarding statement for a service and a premises and it is very different. We have tossed the matter back and forth. I have heard the Deputy speak about mandated people which is a separate issue and one that we can certainly look at.

It would not be useful to continue this discussion much further. The amendment is about the obligation to produce a child safeguarding statement. If an agency commissions the service, then we want to be clear that the obligation to provide the child safeguarding statement falls on the provider of the service. A childminder operating alone is an entirely different proposition and I do not believe, from a practical perspective, that it is applicable. The Deputy and I will have to agree to disagree on the matter. I heard what he said about mandated people and I think we shall have to look at that.

We may not disagree on the practicalities. It just may be difficult but I do not know that it is impossible. Maybe the difference has nothing to do with practicalities but how inclusive we want the Bill to be. I certainly would feel remiss, having this opportunity to raise the mater. I am only now acting in a seconded capacity because I am no longer my party's spokesperson for children and youth affairs. While I have not prepared for this, in terms of engagement with NGOs, I know that in the past this issue would have also been a concern. I wonder have any voices reflected on the views that I have shared this morning. I recall that it would have been an area of consideration and concern, certainly to some representative voices in regard to child care provisions.

This legislation is about what we can do and I fully appreciate that situation. I believe that it is within our gift to make the Bill applicable in the other circumstances that I have instanced. There are many thousands of children involved in those settings.

It is not a small or casual situation. It is an arranged and agreed provision of services. Rarely is it in regard to one child in any one day or sequences of days. It is all very well until something goes wrong. We have a harrowing history of sad outcomes in regard to so many settings where children have been placed in trust. It is from that duty of care as an Oireachtas Member that I feel compelled to highlight this matter. I will speak with my colleague about possible amendments. I appeal again to the Minister, in terms of his acknowledgement that this is an area not provided for, to see what he can do. I would welcome any further amendments that the Minister, on behalf of his Department, would bring forward on Report Stage.

I seek clarification from the Minister on who is required to prepare a child safeguarding statement. Is he saying that any service in which one, or more than one, person is employed in the provision of childminding and child care is required under this legislation to prepare a child safeguarding statement?

The only difficulty is that one is not clearly and explicitly naming childminders because - correct me if I am wrong - the Minister believes the majority of childminders work in isolation and that one person tends to look after children. Am I correct that if there were a childminding facility where multiple persons looked after children, there would be a requirement to produce a child safeguarding statement?

Absolutely. I thank the Deputy for clarifying the issue. Section 10(3) reads:

A child safeguarding statement shall include a written assessment of the risk and, in that regard, specify the procedures that are in place—

(a) to manage any risk identified,

(b) in respect of any member of staff who is the subject of any investigation (howsoever described) in respect of any act, omission or circumstance in respect of a child availing of the relevant service,

(c) for the selection or recruitment of any person as a member of staff of the provider with regard to that person’s suitability to work with children,

(d) for the provision of information and, where necessary, instruction and training, to members of staff of the provider in relation to the identification of the occurrence of harm,

(e) for reporting to the Agency by the provider or a member of staff of the provider (whether a mandated person or otherwise) in accordance with this Act and

(f) for maintaining a list of the persons (if any) in the relevant service who are mandated persons.

I do not want to labour the point. We have had a good discussion on the matter. I hope I have made it clear that it is not the issue of the childminder being excluded but the issue of an individual who provides an individual service as opposed to someone who is an employer and has one, or more than one, employee.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 8:

In page 8, line 4, to delete “relevant service.” and substitute “relevant service;”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 9:

In page 8, between lines 4 and 5, to insert the following:

“ “register of non-compliance” shall be construed in accordance with section 12(1);

“relevant person” means a person who is appointed by a provider of a relevant service to be the first point of contact in respect of the provider’s child safeguarding statement.”.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 7, as amended, agreed to.
NEW SECTION

Amendment No. 10 has already been discussed with amendment No. 7. Acceptance of this amendment involves deletion of section 8.

I move amendment No. 10:

In page 8, between lines 4 and 5, to insert the following:

“Application of Part

8. A person who would but for this section be regarded as a provider of a relevant service shall not be a provider for the purposes of this Part if the relevant service being provided by the person concerned is—

(a) undertaken in the course of a family relationship, where the work or activity is undertaken solely for the benefit of a child or other family member of the person,

(b) undertaken in the course of a personal relationship for no commercial consideration, or

(c) undertaken on an occasional basis only for no consideration at a school, sports or community event or activity.”.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 8 deleted.
Section 9 agreed to.
SECTION 10

Amendments Nos. 11 to 19, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 11:

In page 8, line 21, to delete “and”.

Section 10 provides that where a person proposes to operate as a provider of relevant services, as described in Schedule 1, he or she shall, within three months of the commencement of the service, carry out a risk assessment and prepare a child safeguarding statement. The person operating as a provider of relevant services immediately prior to the commencement of the Act shall carry out a risk assessment and prepare a child safeguarding statement not later than three months from the date of commencement of the Act. The section provides that a child safeguarding statement shall include a written assessment of risk, including an outline of the procedures in place to manage any risk identified and an outline of the procedures in respect of an employee who is the subject of investigation in respect of any act or omission regarding a child.

The section also provides that the child safeguarding statement shall include an outline of procedures in place for reducing any identified risk, including procedures for the recruitment of staff suitable for working with children; the provision of information, instruction and training on the identification of harm; the reporting to the Child and Family Agency by an employee or the provider in accordance with any guidelines issued by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs under section 5; and a list of persons in the relevant services who are mandated persons. Section 10 also provides that a provider of relevant services shall make a copy of the child safeguarding statement available to members of staff and, on request, to a parent or guardian, the Child and Family Agency or members of the public. The provider is required to display the child safeguarding statement, or a review of the statement, which is required to be undertaken at least at intervals of not more than 24 months, as the case may be, in a prominent place related to the relevant service. The section also provides that the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs may make regulations in relation to child safeguarding statements.

The provisions regarding the requirement for a relevant service to prepare and publish a child safeguarding statement stem from the concern that the obligations regarding reporting a concern under the legislation fall on individuals who are mandated reporters. It was considered desirable at a policy level to also place obligations on organisations which are defined as providers of relevant services for the purposes of the legislation. This is to ensure the ethos of child protection and the provision of safe services for children is encouraged at organisational level to supplement the responsibilities the legislation is placing on individuals. A number of consequential and technical amendments are being made to section 10 which have arisen from the amendments just discussed to section 7 regarding appointing a contact person for the purposes of the child safeguarding statement. This is the meat of what these amendments are about.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 12:

In page 8, line 25, to delete “harm.” and substitute “harm, and”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 13:

In page 8, between lines 25 and 26, to insert the following:

“(c) appoint a relevant person for the purposes of this Part.”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 14:

In page 8, line 29, to delete “and”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 15:

In page 8, line 30, to delete “statement.” and substitute “statement, and”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 16:

In page 8, between lines 30 and 31, to insert the following:

“(c) appoint a relevant person for the purposes of this Part.”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 17:

In page 9, line 6, to delete “and”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 18:

In page 9, line 8, to delete “persons.” and substitute “persons, and”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 19:

In page 9, between lines 8 and 9, to insert the following:

“(g) for appointing a relevant person for the purposes of this Part.”.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 10, as amended, agreed to.
NEW SECTIONS

I move amendment No. 20:

In page 10, between lines 3 and 4, to insert the following:

“Non-compliance with request to furnish child safeguarding statement

11. (1) Where, pursuant to a request made by the Agency under section 10(5)(b)(ii), a provider of a relevant service fails to furnish the Agency with a copy of the provider’s child safeguarding statement, the Agency may, by notice in writing served on the provider—

(a) inform the provider of such failure,

(b) require the provider, within such period as may be specified in the notice, to furnish the Agency with a copy of the provider’s child safeguarding statement, and

(c) inform the provider that failure to furnish the Agency with the child safeguarding statement within the time specified in the notice may result in the provider being served with a non-compliance notice.

(2) Where a provider of a relevant service fails to comply with a requirement made by the Agency under subsection (1)(b), the Agency shall, by notice in writing served on the provider (in this section referred to as an “advance notice”) inform the provider that it is proposing to serve a non-compliance notice on the provider.

(3) The advance notice shall—

(a) inform the provider of the failure to furnish the child safeguarding statement concerned to which the notice relates,

(b) specify the period within which the child safeguarding statement shall be furnished by the provider,

(c) inform the provider that failure to furnish the child safeguarding statement within the period specified may, subject to subsection (5), result in the provider being served with a non-compliance notice, and

(d) inform the provider that he or she may make representations to the Agency in accordance with subsection (4).

(4) A provider who is served with an advance notice may, within 14 days of the receipt of the notice, make representations in writing to the Agency in respect of the proposed non-compliance notice.

(5) The Agency shall have regard to any representations made to it under subsection (4) in assessing whether to proceed with the service of the non-compliance notice.

(6) The Agency shall, subject to subsection (5), serve a non-compliance notice on a provider of a relevant service who fails to furnish the Agency with a child safeguarding statement within the period specified in the advance notice and the notice shall inform the provider concerned of the matters specified in subsections (7) and (8).

(7) A non-compliance notice shall come into effect 21 days from the date of service of the notice unless an appeal is brought by the provider under subsection (8).

(8) A provider who is served with a non-compliance notice may, within 21 days of the date of service of the notice, appeal the non-compliance notice to the District Court.

(9) The jurisdiction conferred on the District Court under this section shall be exercised by a judge of that court for the time being assigned to the District Court district in which the person on whom the non-compliance notice is served ordinarily resides or carries on any profession, business or occupation.”.

May I speak on the section?

You may speak at the end. A number of amendments to the section have not yet been moved.

It is primarily regarding my concerns about the failure to comply with furnishing a child safeguarding statement. While most of the amendments have been technical, this is a substantial one in that it attempts to bring forward a consequence for failure to produce a child safeguarding statement. With all due respect, it is utterly failing in its attempt. When one considers that failure to produce a safety statement in a business context often attracts criminal sanctions and not merely the name and shame sanction which the Minister and his officials are proposing. Given that we come from a dark history of child abuse and neglect, surely our children deserve legislation that will have real consequences for people who fail to comply. The original heads of the Bill the Government produced three years ago, contained penalties up to, and including, five years in prison. Now, four years later, not even monetary sanctions are proposed.

In a business context, at the end of the year, the Revenue Commissioners produce a list of tax defaulters to name and shame them. However, severe monetary sanctions are also imposed on these people. Under company legislation, people are named and shamed but there are other consequences up to, and including, imprisonment. I have grave concerns regarding the amendment as proposed. We highlighted it on Second Stage in the Dáil and said there needed to be tough sanctions. Although the Minister has made an attempt, it does not go far enough. I want to hear what he has to say about it. We need to go much further.

I thank Deputy Troy for his comments. His concerns are shared. We have discussed this at length and it may be one of the reasons we are only now coming to Committee Stage. The Deputy is right that the fact there are no criminal sanctions might be perceived as a weakness. However, we must consider a practicality around resources. The Children First Bill does not contain the criminal sanctions proposed in the original published heads. As Deputy Troy pointed out, there was to have been an offence. However, we took legal advice, which suggested that in order to do it in a legally sound manner, the Bill would also have to provide for very significant operational complexity, including the operation of an inspection regime. After detailed consideration of what an inspection regime would involve, we decided to remove the criminal sanction.

It was the view of my Department that introducing an inspection regime would mean diverting significant Child and Family Agency resources away from front-line core child protection work in a manner which does not reflect areas of greatest risk to children and young people. As time passes, it will be reviewed. At an administrative level, it is expected that all Departments and their agencies, through the Children First interdepartmental group, will require compliance with Children First in order to qualify for State funding. We do not want to instigate the very expensive inspection regime which would be necessary if we were to fine people or have criminal sanctions because it would divert significant resources away from at-risk children.

We would like to point out to parents and people who use the services that they are now empowered to ask for this child safeguarding statement and if it is not present, they can report it to the Child and Family Agency, which will take a certain series of actions to ensure the statement is made available. If the service continues to fail to make it available, the agency will put it on a register of name and shame. Nobody involved in delivering any service, whether community, not-for-profit or for profit wants to be on a list that states this service is not up to scratch and, therefore, one should not use it. There is a great deal of power in this, if parents use it, and they will get support. We will continue to keep it under review. If we find that the name and shame register does not deliver what is required, we will have to go back to the drawing board.

I am not going to be political about this but there are limited resources. The Child and Family Agency is only now up and running. There are major child protection issues to be addressed and we have debated them often enough in the other Chamber. It would not be wise at this juncture to divert scarce resources to a new inspection regime when there are greater priorities to be addressed. I think the power of name and shame will prove very successful but I am open to reviewing it and I am sure whoever succeeds me in this position will review it, if it is found not to be successful. I thank Deputy Troy for pointing it out because we deliberated on it long and hard.

Resources are always an issue. Even in the best of times one has to decide where to spend them. It is a question of how to prioritise them. This is a unique opportunity for the protection and welfare of children. Unfortunately, even in recent months, we have seen high profile cases where name and shame alone did not make people live up to their obligations in terms of child welfare and protection. I acknowledge that the Minister says he will consider this again in the future but how many children could be affected at some time in the future if this does not work? Robust legislation needs a deterrent value. It needs sanctions.

Who will inspect the safety audit? If services are not afraid that an inspector can come in, this will not be fit for purpose. With the best will in the world we will fail children if it is not fit for purpose. The Minister needs to reconsider this. I refrained from putting down amendments because I wanted to see what the Minister and the Department bring forward. I will use the opportunity on Report Stage to bring forward amendments in this regard because I believe it is not strong enough and that there should be penalties, sanctions or consequences for non-compliance with child welfare legislation, as there are for non-compliance with the Revenue Commissioners, or company law.

I have no issue with the Deputy tabling an amendment on Report Stage, if that is his wish. I ask respectfully that he cost it. The exercise of costing it might colour his view.

I do not wish to be argumentative but this is not a unique opportunity. We have already said we can review this if it is found not to deliver. It is a child safeguarding statement. The Children First guidelines are there to protect children, if people observe them. Even having a child safeguarding statement does not mean it will be observed. It is essential that parents are alert to the fact each service should have one but if it does not, they should report it and then somebody will visit. Otherwise, there has to be an enormous administrative system. We are not talking only about child carers in this Bill. It does not just cover crèches. We are talking about the local basketball and tennis clubs or two or three teachers who come together perhaps to provide piano lessons. At a guesstimate, this covers at least 25,000 organisations and anywhere up to 100,000 different services. The administrative burden and drain on resources to do this would, I believe, be misdirected, when there are serious child care issues to deal with and children at risk.

This involves creating a new culture and empowering parents in a significant way. We are all ashamed of the situations the Deputy alluded to as part of our society and history. They were born out of a lack of transparency and out of secrecy. This is very open. When one walks in to the service, this has to be on the wall in a visible place. The first question every parent should ask is, “Where is your child safeguarding statement?” and if the service does not have one, the parent should say he or she will go elsewhere and in the meantime report the service. It is a really progressive and positive step forward.

We do have the fall-back position that once Tusla is made aware of this, it will be involved immediately and will check out what is happening and why. It will shine a light on the service. If the service cannot even provide a child safeguarding statement, one would have to have serious worries about its operation and the risks involved. Just as making late payments or being out of kilter with other people’s returns, draws the Revenue Commissioners’ attention, so this will highlight the service. To set up an inspection regime to cover up to 100,000 organisations is not, at this point in time, the most sensible use of our resources. The more we empower the public and parents, the safer our country becomes for children.

I acknowledge the Minister’s directness and honesty in saying this is primarily a resources issue. When we raised this on Second Stage the Minister said this legislation should be taken in conjunction with the withholding of information Bill, which deals with a much narrower range of offences. I thank him for that.

Before I bring forward proposals, I will examine how we can do it in a cost-effective manner. I am an Opposition Deputy with one parliamentary assistant and a secretary and I do not have the wherewithal to do the costings the Minister and his officials can do.

He should examine what cost is entailed in what I am suggesting.

If we consider the example of the smoking ban, its enforcement has been so successful because there is a large monetary penalty for non-compliance. Publicans, in particular, know there is a risk that an inspector may come in at any time to see whether the no-smoking sign is displayed and ensure there is no trace of ash and so on inside the pub. That is why there is such wide-scale compliance with the ban. The same should apply in the case of the service providers we are discussing here. I accept that there is a very large number of voluntary organisations involved, but there must be the possibility of somebody arriving unannounced and checking for compliance. Non-implementation of a health and safety statement could result in an accident and have serious consequences. Where a provider is engaged in providing a service on behalf of the State and receiving grant aid from the State, are there consequences, such as the withholding of grant aid, if that provider does not produce a safety statement? These are issues that need to be examined in more detail. We should be able to bring forward proposals that will ensure necessary moneys are not diverted from the provision of front-line services.

I accept totally the Deputy's bona fides in this matter. In an ideal world, there should be strong consequences for people who do not conform with our requirements. In fact, I expect there will be consequences for them, as I have highlighted. First, people will vote with their feet; second, they will draw the attention of the Child and Family Agency down upon that service provider; and, third, the latter may end up the subject of an investigation by the Health Information and Quality Authority. In addition, we already have inspection regimes in place to address these matters.

In terms of the Deputy's request that my Department examine the likely cost of his proposals, I will ask that it be done. However, I have a funny feeling it will point to a fairly large quantum of money. I do not want to cavil at every single point the Deputy is raising but he must agree that it is not just the idea of somebody coming into one's pub to inspect for ashes that made the smoking ban so successful. What ensured its success was the public support for it and the fact that if people see another person smoking in a pub or another premises in which he or she should not be smoking, they are not slow to point it out because they know the smoker is affecting the health of others detrimentally. The premise, which went through this committee, of banning smoking in vehicles where people aged under 18 are present, will be self-policing as much as it will involve the Garda. I am very confident of that.

However, I am open to the suggestion of there being other issues we might look to as the Bill progresses or indeed as we review it. Grant provision certainly will be affected if a service provider does not submit a statement. That is something that will be spread out across a whole host of organisations in a similar way to the proviso we attached to the recent provision to local authorities of funding for playgrounds, namely, that unless the playgrounds are to be tobacco-free areas, an application will not be considered in future. Like the Deputy, I would like to be as strong as we can be in this matter, but we also must be practical. At this moment in time, it seems to me more practical to deal with this on a name-and-shame basis. Today's discussion will highlight the fact that any facility to which people bring their children should have a child safeguarding statement.

I admire the Minister's optimism.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 21:

In page 10, between lines 3 and 4, to insert the following:

"Register of non-compliance

12. (1) The Agency shall establish and maintain a register of non-compliance notices (in this Act referred to as the "register of non-compliance").

(2) As soon as may be after a non-compliance notice comes into effect pursuant to section 11, the Agency shall enter the particulars of the non-compliance notice on the register of non-compliance.

(3) Subject to subsection (4), an entry made in respect of a non-compliance notice shall be removed from the register of non-compliance upon receipt by the Agency of the child safeguarding statement to which the entry relates or upon being satisfied that a child safeguarding statement is no longer required, as may be appropriate, whichever is the earlier.

(4) A person who is the subject of a non-compliance notice may at any time apply to the Agency to have the entry concerned removed from the register of non-compliance and the Agency may, if it considers it appropriate to do so, remove the entry.

(5) The register of non-compliance shall be made available for inspection by members of the public at all reasonable times at the principal office of the Agency.".

Amendment agreed to.
SECTION 11

I move amendment No. 22:

In page 10, to delete lines 31 and 32 and substitute the following:

"(b) he or she knows or believes that—

(i) there is no material difference in capacity or maturity between the parties engaged in the sexual activity concerned, and

(ii) the relationship between the parties engaged in the sexual activity concerned is not intimidatory or exploitative of either party,".

Section 11 provides that certain professionals and other persons in specified occupations, as listed in Schedule 2, are mandated persons for the purpose of the Act. The section sets out the circumstances whereby a mandated person is required to make a report to the Child and Family Agency. The categories of persons set out in Schedule 2 were included on the basis of their professional qualifications and-or their ongoing contact with children. The focus on a small, qualified cadre of mandated reporters will, based on evidence, improve the quality of reports of harm received by the agency. The receipt of better-quality reports of harm by persons who, by virtue of their training qualifications and professional experience, are well equipped to recognise harm is likely to have a positive effect on the process of assessments of risk by the agency.

A list of mandated persons was developed following detailed consideration of both the objectives of the legislation and the research paper on how mandatory reporting is dealt with internationally. The persons included in the list have been selected on the basis that their qualifications, role and professional expertise mean they are aware of risks to children and of their responsibilities in this regard. It is anticipated that reports from these persons are likely to be of a high quality, which will assist the agency in carrying out assessments of risk in a more effective and efficient manner.

Section 11(1) provides that where a mandated person knows, believes or has reasonable grounds to suspect that a child is being harmed, has been harmed or is at risk of being harmed, he or she shall report that belief or suspicion to the Child and Family Agency as soon as practicable. Section 11(2) provides that where a child makes a disclosure to a mandated person that he or she believes that he or she is being harmed, has been harmed or is at risk of being harmed, that mandated person shall, as soon as practicable, report that disclosure to the Child and Family Agency.

Under section 11(3), a mandated person shall not be required to make a report to the Child and Family Agency where a child aged 15 years or more but less than 17 years is engaged in sexual activity with a person who is not more than two years older than the child, where the mandated person knows or believes there is no material difference in capacity or maturity between the two parties, where the child has made known his or her view that a report should not be made to the Child and Family Agency, and where the mandated person relied upon that view.

It is proposed in amendment No. 22 to amend this subsection to add an additional criterion that will require mandated persons to be satisfied that the relationship is not intimidatory or exploitative before deciding not to make a report. The policy intention behind this subsection is that consensual sexual activity between older teenagers, where certain criteria are met, will not be required to be automatically reported to the agency as sexual abuse under this legislation. The rationale for this is that to do otherwise would compromise the provision of services to the young people involved, as they would not be willing to engage with services that would require a report to the agency. In addition, reporting such consensual sexual activity would contribute to potentially overwhelming the child protection system. The provision matches proposals in the scheme of the criminal justice (sexual offences) Bill, published in November last year, in regard to consensual sexual activity. It will be necessary to keep both pieces of legislation under review, as they progress towards enactment, to ensure consistency between them.

Under section 11(4), a mandated person is not required to make a report where the sole basis for his or her knowledge, belief or suspicion of harm is as a result of becoming aware that another mandated person has made a report to the Child and Family Agency in respect of the child concerned. The proposed amendments to this subsection are designed to avoid a situation whereby a mandated person who is carrying out or assisting in an assessment of a child protection concern would be required by virtue of acquiring additional information in the course of that assessment to make a further report to the agency. Section 11(5) provides that a mandated person is only required to make a report if he or she becomes aware of the information after the commencement of section 11, irrespective of whether the harm occurred before or after the commencement of the section.

Therefore, the mandated person is obliged to report harm he or she becomes aware of, whether that harm occurred before the commencement of the Act. The report is to be made on a mandated report form to be made available by the Child and Family Agency and may be made by a mandated person acting on his or her own, or may be made jointly with one or more other mandated persons. It is proposed to amend section 11(6)(b) to provide that a joint report can be made by a mandated person together with another person, whether that other person is mandated or not. Section 11(7) provides that in circumstances where a mandated person has reasonable grounds to suspect that a child may be at risk of immediate harm, they may make a report to the agency other than on a mandated report form. However, within three days, the mandated person must provide a report to the Child and Family Agency on a mandated report form. The policy intention is that in an emergency, the agency should be contacted directly and immediately with the completion of the mandated report form to follow as soon as practicable. Everyone agrees red tape should not be allowed to delay the reporting of a risk. The proposed amendment is intended to ensure the threshold that applies in such circumstances is clearly higher than that which would apply ordinarily to a mandated report as it is not the policy intention that every mandated report that meets the threshold in the legislation will also prompt a personal contact to the agency in addition to, and in advance of, a report on the mandated report form.

A minor technical amendment is proposed to reword section 11(8) in order to address any potential ambiguity in the section as currently drafted. Under section 11(9), the Minister of the day may make regulations regarding the procedures for the making of reports to the Child and Family Agency. Section 11(11) provides that reporting obligations under this section are in addition to, and not in substitution for, any other obligations. Section 11(12) provides that nothing shall affect any other obligation a person has to disclose information to An Garda Síochána under the Criminal Justice (Withholding of Information on Offences against Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 23:

In page 11, to delete lines 1 to 5 and substitute the following:

“(4) A mandated person shall not be required to make a report to the Agency under subsection (1) where the sole basis for the mandated person’s knowledge, belief or suspicion is as a result of information he or she has acquired, received or become aware of—

(a) from—

(i) another mandated person, or

(ii) a person, other than a mandated person, who has reported jointly with a mandated person pursuant to subsection (6)(b)*, that a report has been made to the Agency in respect of the child concerned by that other person,

(b) pursuant to his or her role, as a member of staff of the Agency, in carrying out an assessment as to whether a child who is the subject of a report or any other child has been, is being or is at risk of being harmed, or

(c) pursuant to his or her role in assisting the Agency with an assessment as to whether a child who is the subject of a report or any other child has been, is being or is at risk of being harmed.”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 24:

In page 11, to delete line 14 and substitute the following:

“(b) jointly with one or more than one other person, irrespective of whether or not the other person is a mandated person.”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 25:

In page 11, to delete lines 15 to 19 and substitute the following:

“(7) Where a mandated person acting in the course of his or her employment or profession knows, believes or has reasonable grounds to suspect that a child may be at risk of immediate harm and should be removed to a place of safety, he or she may make a report to the Agency under subsection (1) or (2) other than by means of a mandated report form.”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 26:

In page 11, lines 20 and 21, to delete “provide that report to the Agency by the completion of” and substitute “in addition, complete”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 27:

In page 11, line 35, to delete “subsection (3)” and substitute “this section”.

Amendment agreed to.
Question proposed: "That section 11, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

I ask the Minister about the consequences if a mandated person does not fulfil the obligations and make a report. Is there a sanction in place? I lost the Minister in his explanation about why he is removing children or teenagers. Did he mention those between 15 years and 17 years?

It is if the age difference is not more than two years.

Older or younger?

In either direction. It is only for children between 15 and 17 years, so it could not involve a 15 year old and a 13 year old.

So it cannot be younger than 15.

With regard to mandated persons, virtually all of them have professional bodies. Therefore, while there is no criminal sanction for them, this is a statutory obligation and they will have failed in it. They will be reported to their professional bodies and there will be consequences from the professional body. Getting struck off as a doctor is pretty catastrophic.

Question put and agreed to.
Section 12 agreed to.
SECTION 13

I move amendment No. 28:

In page 12, line 20, to delete “reasonably require.” and substitute the following:

“reasonably require and is, in the opinion of the Agency, necessary and proportionate in all of the circumstances of the case.”.

The Bill provides that the agency may request mandated reporters to provide assistance to the agency. Assistance is defined as the provision of verbal or written reports, attendance at meetings, and the production of any document or thing. Nevertheless, a request for information must be necessary and proportionate in the context of the individual case. Therefore, general requests for files would not be considered reasonable or proportionate. Only specified information or records with specified information which are relevant and necessary in order to assess the child’s need for care or protection can be sought. Mandated reporters who provide information to the agency in this context will be protected from civil liability.

The section also provides that the Child and Family Agency may share information concerning a child who is the subject of a report with a mandated person who is assisting the agency but the sharing of that information shall only be that considered by the agency to be necessary and proportionate in the circumstances of the case. This is to avoid additional, unrelated information becoming too available to people when it should not be. This particularly relates to doctors' records and other records that may concern matters unrelated to the child care protection issue.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 13, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 14 to 17, inclusive, agreed to.
SECTION 18

Amendments Nos. 29 to 35, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 29:

In page 14, line 15, to delete “17 ordinary members” and substitute “18 ordinary members”.

An amendment to section 18(3)(a) is proposed to provide that representatives from each Department are nominated to the Children First interdepartmental implementation group by the relevant Minister. A new subsection 3(d) is proposed to provide that a representative of the HSE is included in the membership of the implementation group. As a result, there is a consequential amendment to section 18(1)(b), which provides for the number of ordinary members. A technical amendment is proposed to section 18(3)(d) to change the reference from ‘chief executive’ to ‘Director General’, the correct title for the head of the HSE. Amendments Nos. 33 to No. 35 are consequential amendments.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 30:

In page 14, to delete line 21 and substitute the following:

“(a) an officer of each Minister of the Government nominated by the Minister of the Government having charge of the Department of State concerned;”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 31:

In page 14, line 25, to delete “Agency.” and substitute “Agency;”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 32:

In page 14, between lines 25 and 26, to insert the following:

“(d) an employee of the Health Service Executive nominated by the Director General of the Health Service Executive.”.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 18, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 19 and 20 agreed to.
SECTION 21

I move amendment No. 33:

In page 15, to delete line 30.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 34:

In page 15, line 33, to delete “Agency.” and substitute “Agency,”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 35:

In page 15, between lines 33 and 34, to insert the following:

“or

(d) where appointed under subsection (3)(d) of that section—

(i) if he or she ceases to be an employee of the Health Service Executive, or

(ii) at the request of the Director General of the Health Service Executive.”.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 21, as amended, agreed to.
Section 22 agreed to.
SECTION 23

I move amendment No. 36:

In page 16, between lines 20 and 21, to insert the following:

"(2) The Minister shall, as soon as may be after receiving the report under subsection (1), cause a copy of it to be laid before each House of the Oireachtas.".

This section provides that the implementation group shall submit an annual report to the Minister to include such information and regarding such matters as the Minister may, from time to time, direct. The Minister may also require the implementation group to supply a report on any matter connected with its functions as may be specified by the Minister. It is proposed to insert a new subsection after section 23(2) to provide that the annual report of the implementation group be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 23, as amended, agreed to.
Section 24 agreed to.
SCHEDULE 1

I move amendment No. 37:

In page 18, to delete line 27 and substitute "under the Child Care Act 1991, the Education Act 1998, the Children Act 2001 or the Health Act 2007.".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 38:

In page 18, between lines 27 and 28, to insert the following:

"3. Any work or activity which consists of the inspection, examination or investigation by the Office of the Ombudsman for Children under the Ombudsman for Children Act 2002.".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 39:

In page 18, line 28, to delete "treatment," and substitute "treatment (including assessment which may lead to treatment),".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 40:

In page 18, line 38, to delete "to children." and substitute the following:

", a necessary and regular part of which consists, mainly, of the person having access to, or contact with, children.".

Amendment agreed to.
Schedule 1, as amended, agreed to.
SCHEDULE 2

I move amendment No. 41:

In page 20, to delete lines 9 and 10 and substitute the following:

"3. Physiotherapist registered in the register of members of that profession.

4. Speech and language therapist registered in the register of members of that profession.".

This Schedule specifies professions or occupations for the purposes of specifying classes of persons to be mandated persons for the purposes of the Bill. It is proposed to delete paragraph 3, which refers broadly to the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005, and to insert new paragraphs 3 and 4 which specifically add physiotherapists and speech and language therapists to this Schedule. The intention is to focus on the key professionals set out in the Act rather than apply the legislation to all those listed. It has been suggested that occupational therapists should also be included due to their engagement with children, in particular children with disabilities. It is intended to bring an amendment forward on Report Stage for this purpose but in order to do so, it will be necessary to flag this on Committee Stage, which is what we are doing.

Amendment agreed to.
Schedule 2, as amended, agreed to.
Schedule 3 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.