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Clause 83


Amendment made : No. 307, in page 74, line 5, leave out clause 83.-- [Mr. Mellor.]

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Clause 84

Restrictions on use of wardship jurisdiction

Amendments made : No. 150, in page 74, line 17 after authority', insert--

(bb) so as to make a child who is the subject of a care order a ward of court ;'.

No. 151, in page 74, line 19 leave out issue' and insert question'.-- [Mr. Mellor.]

Clause 85

Transfers between England and Wales and Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man

Amendments made : No. 152, in page 74, line 43, after effect', insert in prescribed circumstances'.

No. 153, in page 75, line 4, after effect', insert in prescribed circumstances'.

No. 397, in page 75, line 6, at end insert--

(1A) Regulations under subsection (1) may provide for the order concerned to cease to have effect for the purposes of the law of Northern Ireland, or (as the case may be) the law of England and Wales, if prescribed conditions are satisfied.'.

No. 154, in page 75, line 13, after effect', insert in prescribed circumstances'.

No. 398, in page 75, line 14, at end insert--

(2A) Where a child who is in the care of a local authority is lawfully taken to live in Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man or any of the Channel Islands, the care order in question shall cease to have effect if the conditions prescribed in regulations made by the Secretary of State are satisfied.'.-- [Mr. Mellor.]

Clause 86

Power of constable to assist in exercise of certain powers to search for children or inspect premises

Amendments made : No. 399, in page 75, line 36, at end insert using reasonable force if necessary'.

No. 156, in page 76, line 11, leave out 64' and insert 69'. No. 308, in page 76, line 11, leave out and 78' and insert 78 and (Welfare of children accommodated in independent schools)'.--[Mr. Mellor.]

Clause 88

Regulations and orders

Amendments made : No. 157, in page 76, line 24, leave out conferred by' and insert

of the Lord Chancellor or the Secretary of State under'. No. 309, in page 76, line 25, after regulations', insert or rules'.

No. 310, in page 76, line 25, leave out or 76' and insert 76 or (Privacy for children involved in certain proceedings) (4)'.

No. 311, in page 76, line 29, after 15(4)', insert

, (Application to Channel Islands) or 91(2)'.-- [Mr. Mellor.]

Clause 89


Amendments made : No. 158, in page 77, line 7, after means', insert

subject to paragraph 16 of Schedule 1'.

No. 159, in page 77, line 7, at end insert--

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"child assessment order" has the meaning given by section (Child assessment orders) (2) ;'

No. 160, in page 77, line 7, at end insert--

"child minder" has the meaning given by section 64 ;'. No. 312, in page 77, line 12, after parties', insert as foster parents'.

No. 313, in page 77, line 14, at end insert--

"children's home" has the same meaning as in section 56.'. No. 400, in page 77, line 16, at end insert--

"day care" has the same meaning as in section 16 ;'.

No. 161, in page 77, line 20, at end insert--

"domestic premises" has the meaning given by section 64(12) ;'. No. 162, in page 77, line 25, at end insert--

"guardian of a child" means a guardian (other than a guardian of the estate of a child) appointed in accordance with the provisions of section 5'.

No. 314, in page 77, line 40, after means,' insert

in relation to England and Wales'.

No. 315, in page 77, line 42, at end insert

and, in relation to Scotland, a local authority within the meaning of section 1(2) of the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968'.

No. 465, in page 78, line 22, leave out supervised child' and insert

child who is the subject of a supervision order'.

No. 163, in page 78, line 23, at end insert--

"school" has the same meaning as it has in the Education Act 1944 or, in relation to Scotland, in the Education (Scotland) Act 1980 ;'.

No. 164, in page 79, line 10, leave out subsection (5). No. 165, in page 79, line 12, at end insert--

(5A) References in this Act to accommodation provided by or on behalf of a local authority are references to accommodation so provided in the exercise of functions which stand referred to the social services committee of that or any other local authority under the Local Authority Social Services Act 1970.'.

No. 166, in page 79, line 21, at end insert--

(6A) References in this Act to children who are in need shall be construed in accordance with section 15.'-- [Mr. Mellor.]

Clause 91

Short title, commencement and extent

Amendments made : No. 368, in page 80, line 1, after (2)' insert

Sections (Tests to establish paternity) and (Evidence given by, or with respect to, children) (3) to (7), and paragraph 26AA of Schedule 10 shall come into force on the passing of this Act and paragraph 26A of Schedule 10 shall come into force at the end of the period of two months beginning with the day on which this Act is passed but otherwise'.

No. 316, in page 80, line 2, leave out Secretary of State' and insert Lord Chancellor or the Secretary of State, or both acting jointly'.

No. 167, in page 80, line 8, after provisions', insert and savings'.

No. 401, in page 80, line 9, at end insert--

(7A) An order under subsection (2) may make such transitional provisions or savings as appear to the person making the order to be necessary or expedient in connection with the provisions brought into force by the order, including

(a) provisions adding to or modifying the provisions of Schedule 12 ; and

(b) such adaptations--

(i) of the provisions brought into force by the order ; and (

(ii) of any provisions of this Act then in force,

as appear to him necessary or expedient in consequence of the partial operation of this Act.

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(7B) The Lord Chancellor may by order make such amendments or repeals, in such enactments as may be specified in the order, as appear to him to be necessary or expedient in consequence of any provision of this Act.'.

No. 402, in page 80, line 13, leave out subsection (9) and insert-- (9) The following provisions of this Act extend to Scotland-- section 17 ;

section 22(9) ;

section 44(13) ;

Part X ;

section 72(1)(ff) and (g), (2) to (4), (5)(a), (b) and (g) and (6) to (12 ;

section 79 ;

section 88 (so far as necessary) ;

section 89 (so far as necessary) ;

subsections (1) to (3), (7A) and (7B) and this subsection ; in Schedule 2, paragraph 22 ;

in Schedule 10, paragraphs 1, 4 to 7, 15, 22B, 23B(a) and 26F to 27 ;

in Schedule 11, paragraphs 13 to 16, 24A, 27A, 27B, 28A, 31A, 35A, 35B, 35G(a) and (b) and 35J ;

in Schedule 12, paragraphs 1, 33 and 34 ;

in Schedule 13, the entries relating to--

(a) the Custody of Children Act 1891 ;

(b) the Nurseries and Child Minders Regulation Act 1948 ; (

(c) section 53(3) of the Children and Young Persons Act 1963 ; (

(d) section 60 of the Health Services and Public Health Act 1968 ; (

(e) the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968 ;

(f) the Adoption (Scotland) Act 1978 ;

(g) the Child Care Act 1980 ;

(h) the Foster Children (Scotland) Act 1984 ;

(i) the Child Abduction and Custody Act 1985 ; and

(j) the Family Law Act 1986.'.

No. 403, in page 80, line 19, leave out subsection (10) and insert--

(10) The following provisions of this Act extend to Northern Ireland--

section 44 ;

section 85(1)(b), (1A) and (3)(a)(i) ;

subsections (1) to (3), (7A) and (7B) and this subsection ; in Schedule 2, paragraph 22 ;

in Schedule 10, paragraphs 4 to 7, 15 and 22B ;

in Schedule 11, paragraphs 14, 15, 27A, 27B, 31A, 35A, 35B, 35G(c) to (e), and 35H to 35J ;

in Schedule 12, paragraphs 18, 28 to 30 and 38(a) ; and in Schedule 13, the entries relating to the Guardianship of Minors Act 1971, the Children Act 1975, the Child Care Act 1980, the Child Abduction and Custody Act 1985 and the Family Law Act 1986.'.-- [Mr. Mellor.]


No. 359, in title, page 1, line 5 after fostering', insert child minding and day care for young children'.-- [Mr. Mellor.] Order for Third Reading read.

1.54 pm

Mr. Mellor : I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

I hope that my colleagues do not mind me going in to bat first in this Third Reading debate, but I want the opportunity to say how grateful I am to all hon. Members who have worked with me on the Bill, preparing it and advising us on it for all that they have done. As I have said throughout the Bill, and it bears repeating one last time, it is not every day that one gets the chance to have a comprehensive reform of private and public law on children. It has been a major undertaking

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which has required the codification of a significant body of statute law and major reforms to that law to produce very substantial advances. For example, the law relating to the protection of abused children has been changed, as have the rights of other family members including grandparents and others that we discussed earlier today. Quite fundamental changes have been made to court procedure and other issues of law.

Therefore, I say with sincerity to those of my officials who have worked so hard on the Bill that they have carried out a herculean task with great patience, as have those outside the House who have helped and advised us. While I know that one or two of them feel a little dissatisfied with certain points, I believe that the overwhelming feeling will be that Parliament has done a good job. I hope that that does not sound complacent, but I believe it to be the case. I am grateful to them for helping us to do a good job. I should also like to thank my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General for his stalwart assistance in all stages of the Bill, and I should very much like to thank the Opposition for the manner in which the Bill has been conducted.

It has been a real pleasure and a privilege to work with the hon. Member for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke) on the Bill, because narrow partisan motives have never intruded in his consideration of the matter. It struck a blow for the ability of Members of Parliament to work together in that, notwithstanding our differences on other political issues, we were able to sit down together and have joint meetings with some of the interest groups. That shows Parliament at its best. While it is very important for people in politics to know when they disagree, and not to be afraid to say so, it is equally important that people know that there are issues which can bring us together. The leadership of the hon. Member for Monklands, West, assisted by the hon. Member for Durham, North-West (Ms. Armstrong) has been exemplary. I should like to thank all the Opposition Members for their help, including the hon. Member for Southport (Mr. Fearn) and the hon. Member for Ynys Mo n (Mr. Jones). I do not think that anyone could feel that their views had been shut out or who will not feel some pride in our collective achievement.

Obviously, what we have done goes for the other place. We have sent back a whole raft of amendments, but that reflects the seriousness with which we have considered the Bill, and the seriousness with which the other place started consideration of the Bill. I believe that the Bill returns to the other place the better for its Commons consideration, and I hope that those in the other place will forgive us for the volume of amendments and recognise that, with any luck, not only have we managed to make the policy lines in the Bill better, although in every particular we have not gone as far as the hon. Member for Ogmore (Mr. Powell) would like. However, thanks to the stalwart work of the parliamentary draftsmen, to whom great thanks are due, we have gone through the Bill ironing out little verbal infelicities and problems that can sometimes make lawyers a great deal of money if they slip into the finished product.

I conclude with a personal word. It has been my privilege during my time as a Minister to participate in a great deal of legislation. I remember with particular affection those on which the House was able to work together on a shared endeavour. I think particularly of working on the Drug Trafficking Offences Act 1986 with certain Opposition Members, including the hon. Member for Middlesbrough (Mr. Bell). That was an important Bill

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which is standing the test of time. The same was true of the work on the Animals (Scientific) Procedures Act 1986 which has managed to give us the most modern system of animal law on the vexed, difficult and emotionally troubling subject of animal experiments. If those Bills are good, it is not because of anything that I did, but because hon. Members, with a few exceptions, joined to work sensibly on them. The Children Bill will join that little Pantheon as a happy experience for me.

Mr. Tom Clarke : I thank the Minister for his kind and generous remarks. I associate myself and my hon. Friends with the thanks that he offered to his officials and to the voluntary organisations. The voluntary organisations did much work and showed much commitment throughout our proceedings. Some of them may be disappointed, but none should feel that any hon. Members believe that they gave less than their best. I was delighted by the Minister's comments about the other place. It is not often that hon. Members can truthfully say that we are sending back a better Bill for the other place to consider.

I shall not rehearse the arguments about the guillotine, although I regret that I was not present for that debate. It is fair to say that the skill of the Minister for Health--the hon. and learned Gentleman was extremely skilful, as was the Solicitor-General, whatever disagreements I may have had with him--was not reciprocated by his ministerial colleagues. The Minister for Health will not complain, but I think that I am entitled to do so on his behalf. Given the time that the Minister spent on the Bill, whatever arguments we may have had about the guillotine it is overwhelmingly clear that the Government's legislative machinery was overloaded this Session. The noble Lord Whitelaw was certainly right about that.

It is remarkable that the Bill has reached its present stage. In all candour, given that there is such a gulf of philosophy between the Government and the Opposition, and given the constraints of time, it is remarkable that we are endorsing a Bill which represents such consensus. Future historians may find that a remarkable achievement. It is appropriate to repeat hon. Members' comments when they acknowledge the input of the Select Committee on Social Services, which used to be chaired by one of our former colleagues, Rene e Short. It is a tribute to her and to her colleagues that they campaigned for many of the measures now in the Bill. The Minister will agree that her plea from the heart that future legislation should not be implemented in dribs and drabs should be acknowledged by the House. I am sure that the Minister will not mind if I pay tribute to my hon. Friends. In presenting the Labour party's views and policy, they did a service to Parliament and to the nation. They will agree that when the Bill is enacted, it will represent a framework for future legislation.

The Minister rightly said that the Bill does not go as far as we should wish in many respects. That was self-evident from our debate on family courts. As to children's rights, there is a case for the appointment of independent persons and for complaints procedures. My hon. Friends look forward to the time when we have a children's ombudsman, and I believe that the case for that has been made. My hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Hinchliffe), who unfortunately has had to leave our proceedings having once again made an excellent

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contribution, raised the issue of training. Training is essential to reach all the objectives which hon. Members have set and which are included in the legislation.

Despite the Minister's clear co-operation, the House is bound to want to monitor how well the assessment orders work. That is important, especially in view of our complex discussions. In time we will want to look again at the ouster orders which were debated, albeit briefly, this morning and the important issue of termination of voluntary care.

It is appropriate that I should ask the Minister to give a commitment--if not this afternoon, then fairly soon--about the implementation dates that the Government have in mind. We understood earlier that they were thinking of April 1991, but more recently we have heard about autumn 1991. [Interruption.] I am grateful for the correction. Perhaps what was said the other night was a slip of the tongue as well.

On the issue of inspection of recreation and play areas, the amount of £10 was mentioned. If the Minister finds time, we should like to know whether that covers inspection as well as costs.

Some elements of the Bill have not yet taken into account some of the strong representations made to us. The representations that we received, especially from young runaways, made me feel that their plight was the most moving of any of the issues that were put to us during the Bill's passage. I hope that it will be seriously considered.

I know that there may be a struggle between the various Departments represented in the House and the Treasury, but resources are essential if the Bill is to have meaning. There is an acute shortage of social workers in many parts of the country. It is vital that those resources are made available for other aspects of social services and education.

On Second Reading I endeavoured to outline the simple fact that family life as we once understood it did not necessarily exist today. There are a huge number of single-parent families. There have been changes which suggest that society is changing. I hope that the Bill will reflect those changes and respond to the challenges. My hon. Friends the Members for Durham, North-West (Ms. Armstrong), for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mrs. Golding), for Middlesbrough (Mr. Bell), for Eccles (Miss Lestor), for Wakefield and for Leicester, East (Mr. Vaz) have made a major contribution to our discussions, and I thank them. I hope that in time, after we have listened to those responsible for the Bill's implementation, to children, families, parents and carers, legislation even more progressive than the Bill will be produced.

I am pleased that the hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. Rhodes James) is present because he provided distinguished chairmanship of the Committee. Both sides of the House have been conscious of the sensitivities of children who, in many cases, are the most vulnerable in our society. We have tried to reflect that concern.

I know that my hon. Friends will approve if I say that it is, perhaps, appropriate to end my speech with a quotation from my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, East. Although he is not present, he has shown a great interest in the Bill. On Second Reading he quoted Charles Dickens :

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