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Column 523that is proper. As I understand it, the Spastics Society also makes contributions. However, if a local authority-- we should remember we are talking about local authorities with budgets of tens of millions and sometimes hundreds of millions of pounds--wishes to make a contribution, it is right and proper that it should do so. That is what my hon. Friend's amendment secures.
Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman (Lancaster) : Two weeks ago, I returned from a visit to the Peto institute. I can make a point about its capacity to train. It is limited in the number of children that it has there, and it cannot train more conductors than it has children to train them on. It takes 15 years to train a conductor properly. When I was there, a team from the Spastics Society was also there, being trained in some of the institute's methods of education.
Mr. Mellor : I am glad to hear that because at one time there were difficulties in reconciling some members of the Spastics Society to the work being done there. I am glad that that has been resolved. The Hungarians have plans for an international institute, which would focus international interest on the Peto. There are discussions between the two Governments about a British contribution to that. We are alive to the many benefits of the work done there. I am glad that my hon. Friend the Member for Lancaster (Dame E. Kellett-Bowman) was impressed. I do not know anybody who has been there who does not carry a memory of it for long after other memories have faded. I hope that we shall be able to develop equivalent facilities here, that will enable us to keep close to the exciting and pioneering work that has been going on at Peto since the war. Those who are critical about the developments should remember that if we have taken some time to catch up, others beside the present team of Ministers need to ask themselves why. The time has come for us to take a step forward, and that is what we are trying to do. I commend the amendments to the House.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment made : No. 342, in page 142, line 2, at end insert-- The Child Abduction Act 1984 (c. 37) 26B.--(1) Section 1 of the Child Abduction Act 1984 (offence of abduction by parent, etc.) shall be amended as follows.
(2) For subsections (2) to (4) there shall be substituted-- "(2) A person is connected with a child for the purposes of this section if--
(a) he is a parent of the child ; or
(b) in the case of a child whose parents were not married to each other at the time of his birth, there are reasonable grounds for believing that he is the father of the child ; or
(c) he is a guardian of the child ; or
(d) he is a person in whose favour a residence order is in force with respect to the child ; or
(e) he has custody of the child.
(3) In this section the appropriate consent', in relation to a child, means --
(a) the consent of each of the following--
(i) the child's mother ;
(ii) the child's father, if he has parental responsibility for him ;
(iii) any guardian of the child ;
(iv) any person in whose favour a residence order is in force with respect to the child ;
(v) any person who has custody of the child ; or
(b) the leave of the court granted under or by virtue of any provision of Part II of the Children Act 1989 ; or
Column 524(c) if any person has custody of the child, the leave of the court which awarded custody to him.
(4) A person does not commit an offence under this section by taking or sending a child out of the United Kingdom without obtaining the appropriate consent if--
(a) he is a person in whose favour there is a residence order in force with respect to the child, and
(b) he takes or sends him out of the United Kingdom for a period of less than one month.
(4A) Subsection (4) above does not apply if the person taking or sending the child out of the United Kingdom does so in breach of an order under Part II of the Children Act 1989."
(3) In subsection (5) for the words from "but" to the end there shall be substituted--
"(5A) Subsection (5)(c) above does not apply if--
(a) the person who refused to consent is a person--
(i) in whose favour there is a residence order in force with respect to the child ; or
(ii) who has custody of the child ; or
(b) the person taking or sending the child out of the United Kingdom is, by so acting, in breach of an order made by a court in the United Kingdom."
(4) For subsection (7) there shall be substituted--
"(7) For the purposes of this section--
(a) guardian of a child', residence order' and parental responsibility' have the same meaning as in the Children Act 1989 ; and
(b) a person shall be treated as having custody of a child if there is in force an order of a court in the United Kingdom awarding him (whether solely or jointly with another person) custody, legal custody or care and control of the child."
(5) In subsection (8) for the words from "or voluntary organisation" to "custodianship proceedings or" there shall be substituted "detained in a place of safety, remanded to a local authority accommodation or the subject of".
26C.--(1) In section 2 of that Act (offence of abduction of child by other persons), in subsection (1) for the words from "Subject" to "above" there shall be substituted "Subject to subsection (3) below, a person, other than one mentioned in subsection (2) below". (2) For subsection (2) of that section there shall be substituted-- "(2) The persons are--
(a) where the father and mother of the child in question were married to each other at the time of his birth, the child's father and mother ;
(b) where the father and mother of the child in question were not married to each other at the time of his birth, the child's mother ; and
(c) any other person mentioned in section 1(2)(c) to (e) above. (3) In proceedings against any person for an offence under this section, it shall be a defence for that person to prove--
(a) where the father and mother of the child in question were not married to each other at the time of his birth--
(i) that he is the child's father ; or
(ii) that, at the time of the alleged offence, he believed, on reasonable grounds, that he was the child's father ; or
(b) that, at the time of the alleged offence, he believed that the child had attained the age of sixteen."
26D. At the end of section 3 of that Act (construction of references to taking, sending and detaining) there shall be added "and
(d) references to a child's parents and to a child whose parents were (or were not) married to each other at the time of his birth shall be construed in accordance with section 1 of the Family Law Reform Act 1987 (which extends their meaning)."
26E.--(1) The Schedule to that Act (modifications of section 1 for children in certain cases) shall be amended as follows.
(2) in paragraph 1(1) for the words "or voluntary organisation" there shall be substituted "within the meaning of the Children Act 1989".
(3) For paragraph 2(1) there shall be substituted--
Column 525"(1) This paragraph applies in the case of a child who is (
(a) detained in a place of safety under section 16(3) of the Children and Young Persons Act 1969 ; or
(b) remanded to a local authority accommodation under section 23 of that Act."
(4) In paragraph 3(1)--
(a) in paragraph (a) for the words "section 14 of the Children Act 1975" there shall be substituted "section 18 of the Adoption Act 1976" ; and
(b) in paragraph (d) for the words "section 25 of the Children Act 1975 or section 53 of the Adoption Act 1958" there shall be substituted "section 55 of the Adoption Act 1976".
(5) In paragraph 3(2)(a)--
(a) in sub-paragraph (i), for the words from "order or," to "Children Act 1975" there shall be substituted "section 18 order or, if the section 18 order has been varied under section 21 of that Act so as to give parental responsibility to another agency", and (
(b) in sub-paragraph (ii), for the words "(c) or (e)" there shall be substituted "or (c)".
(6) At the end of paragraph 3 there shall be added--
"(3) Sub-paragraph (2) above shall be construed as if the references to the court included, in any case where the court is a magistrates' court, a reference to any magistrates' court acting for the same area as that court".
(7) For paragraph 5 there shall be substituted--
"5. In this Schedule--
((a) adoption agency' and adoption order' have the same meaning as in the Adoption Act 1976 ; and
(b) area', in relation to a magistrates' court, means the petty sessions area (within the meaning of the Justices of the Peace Act 1979) for which the court is appointed.".'.-- [Mr. Mellor.]
The Foster Children (Scotland) Act 1984 (c.56)
26F. In section 1 of the Foster Children (Scotland) Act 1984 (definition of foster child)--
((a) for the words "he is- (a)" there shall be substituted "(a) he is" ; and
(b) the words "for a period of more than 6 days" and the words from "The period" to the end shall cease to have effect.
26G. In section 2(2) of that Act (exceptions to section1), for paragraph (f) there shall be substituted--
"(f) if he has been in that person's care for a period of less than 28 days and that person does not intend to undertake his care for any longer period."
26H. In section 7(1) of that Act (persons disqualified from keeping foster children)--
(a) the word "or" at the end of paragraph (e) shall be omitted ; and
(b) after paragraph (f) there shall be inserted "or
(g) he is disqualified from fostering a child privately (within the meaning of the Children Act 1989) by regulations made under section 61 of that Act,".'.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment made : No. 369, in page 142, line 2, at end insert-- The Child Care Act 1980 (c.5) 26AA. Until the repeal of the Child Care Act 1980 by this Act takes effect, the definition of "parent" in section 87 of that Act shall have effect as if it applied only in relation to Part I and sections 13, 24, 64 and 65 of that Act (provisions excluded by section 2(1)(f) of the Family Law Reform Act 1987 from the application of the general rule in that Act governing the meaning of references to relationships between persons).'.-- [Mr. Mellor.]
The Legal Aid Act 1988 (c. 34) 27A. In paragraph 2 of Part I of Schedule 2 to the Legal Aid Act 1988 (proceedings in magistrates' courts to which the civil legal aid provisions of Part IV of the Act apply), the following sub- paragraph shall be added at the end-- "(g) proceedings under the Children Act 1989".'.
The Solicitor-General : These are important amendments about legal aid, which I was overhasty in seeking to reach but which deserve the attention of the House. Government amendment No. 231 amends the Legal Aid Act to provide that civil legal aid is available for all civil proceedings under the Bill in a magistrates court. Proceedings at the High Court and the county court, including those under the Bill, automatically attract civil legal aid without the need for specific provision to be made.
Amendment No. 239 will repeal all the provisions under the Legal Aid Act that are no longer required as a consequence of the Bill. New clause 17 provides that civil legal aid is to be available for proceedings under the Bill, and this clause, in conjunction with amendments Nos. 64, 231 and 239 and powers already available under the Legal Aid Act, will permit this.
A report of the Law Society's annual conference that appeared in The Times on Saturday highlighted my next point, when Sir Stephen Brown, president of the Family Division, said that there will be concern to ensure that the Legal Aid Board can grant legal aid swiftly, particularly in care cases. He emphasised that this was essential, and said that he hoped very much that it would come about, because otherwise all the hard work that had gone into the legislation would not be put into effect.
We are concerned to ensure that the Legal Aid Board can grant legal aid swiftly, particularly in care cases. Therefore, the Government intend to waive the merits test for those who are automatically parties in care proceedings to grant legal aid in advance of the means test and to waive the means test entirely for children who are the subject of a care application. The clause also makes a number of tidying up provisions consequent on this repeal. Where a child is to be put in secure accommodation, this clause ensures that he must be granted legal aid if he wishes it without any merits test, as now, and without a means test. Proceedings relating to the supervision orders under the Children and Young Persons Act 1969, which are criminal in character and are not being repealed by the Bill, will also attract criminal legal aid under the clause.
These are important amendments, and although I do not need to dwell on them I wish to draw them to the attention of the House. I take this opportunity to note that in the report of the Law Society annual conference proceedings, Sir Stephen Brown, the president of the Law Society--and this is a trailer for a debate that we shall reach shortly--interestingly said that the Bill would set up what would be, in essence, a family court. There is a great deal of truth in what he said, but we shall come to that matter later.
The legal aid provisions are important and I commend them to the House.
Mr. Doran : When I consider new legislation such as new clause 17, I am often struck by the thought that it is somewhat pedantically drawn. I assume that there must be a motive for including local authorities in subsection (2), which excludes them from applying for legal aid. Is the reason for that simply that the Solicitor-General is anticipating that most local authorities will fail the means test?
The Solicitor-General : The new clause naturally ensures only that legal aid is available to individuals for proceedings under the Bill. It would not be appropriate for it to be available to local authorities, as the amendment naturally makes clear.
Mr. Vaz : Although we welcome the amendments, especially those relating to the extension of representation, I am concerned about one matter. The Solicitor-General will recall that we both sat on the Legal Aid Bill Committee, when I was concerned about the same matter--that is, the amount of resources available for legal aid. It is all very well amending legislation to provide for representation, but if the legal aid system is starved of resources and if the eligibility limits remain unchanged, the numbers of people who can gain through the amendment will be limited. What assurances can the Solicitor-General give us about a new Government attitude towards the provision of greater resources to the legal aid system?
The Solicitor-General : I do not think that the problem is simply a matter of resources. We have debated the question of resources on a number of occasions and, as the hon. Gentleman knows, the resources devoted to legal aid have been rising very quickly indeed. I do not think that the question of eligibility applies because those who need it are entitled to it under the amendment.
Amendment agreed to .
Madam Deputy Speaker : I wish to make a correction to the next group of amendments. The lead amendment is No. 243, and we shall be debating an additional Government amendment, No. 426, with the amendments grouped with the lead amendment. It comes after Government amendment No. 346.
" legal guardian', in relation to a child or young person, means a guardian of a child as defined in the Children Act 1989".'
Mr. Hardy : It is appropriate to raise an area of anxiety at this point in our debate. Although the amendments are consequential, consequences flow from them, one of which is causing real concern to the professionals involved in