Previous Section Home Page

(b) the authority are satisfied that he has sufficient understanding to make an informed decision.

(4B) Where a visitor has been appointed for a child under this paragraph, the local authority shall determine the appointment if-- (

(a) the child objects to its continuing ; and

(b) the authority are satisfied that he has sufficient understanding to make an informed decision.'.

No. 177, in page 94, line 21, leave out with the approval of the court' and insert only'.

No. 178, in page 94, line 22, leave out abroad' and insert outside England and Wales with the approval of the court'. No. 179, in page 94, line 23, leave out from who' to end of line 26 and insert

has parental responsibility for the child.'.

No. 180, in page 94, line 28, leave out abroad' and insert outside England and Wales'.

No. 181, in page 94, line 31, leave out abroad' and insert outside England and Wales'.

No. 182, in page 94, line 35, leave out from who' to end of line 38 and insert

has parental responsibility for the child'.

No. 183, in page 95, line 9, leave out abroad' and insert outside England and Wales'

No. 320, in page 95, line 10, at end insert--

(7) Where a court decides to give its approval under this paragraph it may order that its decision is not to have effect during the appeal period.

(8) In sub-paragraph (7) "the appeal period" means--

(a) where an appeal is made against the decision, the period between the making of the decision and the determination of the appeal ; and

(b) otherwise, the period during which an appeal may be made against the decision.'.

No. 409, in page 96, leave out lines 15 to 18 and insert

(a) section (provision of accommodation for children in police protection or detention or on remand, etc.) ;

(b) an interim case order ;'.-- [Mr. Mellor.]

Clause 27

Miscellaneous

Amendments made : No. 490, in page 23, line 26, after 18(2)' insert


Column 1331

,(Provision of accommodation for children in police protection or detention or on remand, etc.) (3)'.

No. 71, in page 23, line 26, leave out 26(7) or (8)' and insert 26(7) to (8)'.-- [Mr. Mellor.]

Clause 28

Care and supervision orders

Amendment made : No. 299, in page 24, line 6, leave out from the' to first to' in line 9, and insert

care given to the child, or likely to be given to him if the order were not made, not being it would be reasonable to expect a parent.

Mr. Mellor : I beg to move amendment No. 72, in page 24, line 29, at end insert or'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker : With this we shall discuss Government amendment No. 73.

Mr. Mellor : This is another instance of the powers of persuasion of my hon. Friend the Member for Chislehurst (Mr. Sims) in Committee. I have made this change to meet his point.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment made : No. 73, in page 24, line 35, leave out from 1968' to end of line 37.-- [Mr. Mellor.]

Clause 29

Period within which application for care, supervision or section

31 order must be disposed of--

Amendment made : No. 74, in page 25, line 25, leave out from for' to shall' in line 29 and insert

an order under this Part'.-- [Mr. Mellor.]

Clause 30

Effect of care order

Amendments made : No. 75, in page 26, line 23, leave out creed' and insert persuasion'.

No. 76, in page 26, line 29, leave out

or section 18 of the Adoption (Scotland) Act 1978'.

No. 77, in page 26, line 32, leave out

or section 49 of the Act of 1978'.

No. 78, in page 26, line 44, leave out abroad' and insert outside England and Wales'-- [Mr. Mellor.]

Clause 31

Parental contact etc. with children in care

Amendments made : No. 79, in page 27, line 9, leave out and'. No. 80, in page 27, line 12, at end insert

and

(d) where, immediately before the care order was made, a person had care of the child by virtue of an order made in the exercise of the High Court's inherent jurisdiction with respect to children, that person.'.

No. 81, in page 27, line 17, leave out (c)' and insert (d)'. No. 82, in page 27, line 26, leave out (c)' and insert (d)'.-- [Mr. Mellor.]


Column 1332

Clause 33

Education supervision orders

Mr. Fearn : I beg to move amendment No. 473, in page 28, line 38, at end insert

either by regular attendance at a school or otherwise'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker : With this it will be convenient to discuss the following amendments : No. 474, in page 29, line 26, at end insert--

(9A) Where a local education authority proposes to make an application for an education supervision order they shall (a) advise parents of their rights and options under the law with specific reference to section 36 of the Education Act 1944 ; and (b)where applicable allow a reasonable time limit for the provision of "otherwise education".'.

No. 475, in page 103, line 23, at end insert--

(aa) to inform the child and his parents of their rights and options under the law relating to education ;'.

Mr. Fearn : I am glad that you have seen these amendments, Mr. Deputy Speaker, as you missed my other amendment, No. 481. They have been tabled on behalf of the Children's Home-based Education Association.

The purpose of the amendment is to ensure that any action taken by education officers is in keeping with section 36(5) of the Education Act 1944, which gives parents the duty and the right to ensure that their child is educated by attendance at school or otherwise. It is the "otherwise" element of the clause that is relevant here because it means that parents have a right by law to educate their children in the home or by some other means than regular attendance at school.

Problems with education arise in various ways. A parent may be unhappy with the lack of basic education in a particular school. The child's potential may be unfulfilled, or it may have special needs, or suffer from school phobia--a real condition which causes sheer panic. Sometimes there is a situation in the home or elsewhere that affects the child's attendance at school.

A parent's first course of action when a problem arises is usually to approach the school. That is not always successful, whereupon the local education authority is called in, either at the parents' or the school's request. It is here that there is often a lack of communication which ends up with the child, or the parents, becoming the subject of a court case, with the threat of a care order. An article that first appeared in an "Education Otherwise" newsletter explains what could happen when matters get to that stage :

"To encourage children to attend school, our LEA has been experimenting with the procedure of repeated adjournments in the Juvenile Court. Each time the child appears, and it may be at intervals of a week, a fortnight, or more, depending on progress, the child's attendance is reviewed. If attendance has not improved, an interim care order is made as an encouragement' to attend school. If this does not work, a full care order is made. The chairman of the magistrates tells the child in no uncertain way of the consequences of poor school attendance, stating, Next time bring a bag with your night things. You'll be going away'."

To me that extraordinary system is unnecessary and a great waste of Government and court resources. Much heartache caused by children being taken into care for non-attendance at school could be avoided if parents were informed of their rights and given a reasonable amount of time to set in motion plans for alternative means of educating their child.


Column 1333

Under the law, parents are perfectly within their rights to educate their children at home even for short periods and, if they were advised of the help and support groups that can assist them, many of the problems could be wiped out and the child could return to school. That is a more sensible approach. We need to get away from the idea that if children are not educated in school then they must be up to no good. The Government go some way to recognising that by introducing an amendment referring to the place of education rather than just to the school. The main purpose must be to inform parents of their rights before it becomes necessary to take out a supervision order. Earlier and better communication, information and advice will result in fewer problems and is the better way to protect the interests of our children.

Mr. Mellor : I am grateful to the hon. Member for Southport (Mr. Fearn) for moving his amendment and recognising that in part we have already tabled our own amendments to try to meet his points. Amendment No. 473 is unnecessary because the existing wording in clause 33 does not specify where proper education should take place and does not exclude education outside the school setting. Therefore there is no conflict with the provisions of the Education Act 1944, which provides for some children being educated outside school, subject to the overriding necessity that the child receives a suitable education.

On amendment No. 476, we accept that the Bill as presently drafted could imply that education wholly equates with schooling. That was not the Government's intention, so I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for pointing it out. His amendment No. 191 clarifies that point.

Amendment No. 474 would require local education authorities, before applying for an education supervision order, to advise parents of their rights under education law. That amendment is not necessary, because a court cannot make an education supervision order if the parents are fulfilling their duty under the Education Act to ensure that their child is being properly educated. In making the decision, the court would consider representations by the parents and the local education authorities.

Amendment No. 475 would require supervisors--where an education supervision order is in force--to give the child and the parents details of their statutory rights and options. However, it would not be practicable in statute to impose a blanket requirement to give information about the range of educational rights and options. In suitable cases, where parents have expressed a wish to educate their child outside a school setting, the supervisor would--as a matter of good professional practice--make relevant information available to them.

I hope that I have given the hon. Gentleman information that enables him to further advise the groups with whom he has been discussing the matter. Obviously, if they feel that there are continuing problems, I should be glad to hear from him. I hope that amendment No. 191 has cleared up the one loophole revealed by the hon. Gentleman, and that he will not seek to press his amendment.

Mr. Fearn : I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment. Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


Column 1334

Mr. Mellor : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. In order that we might have time for a Third Reading debate, an indication has been given that the remaining Government amendments could be moved en bloc. Also, hon. Members who have tabled their own amendments have agreed not to move them. I hope that that will meet with your approval.

Mr. Tom Clarke : Given the circumstances, I willingly agree to that suggestion, as it would be helpful in terms of procedure. I know that the Minister and the House will not take that as a sign that the Opposition endorse every dot and comma.

Mr. Deputy Speaker : If no hon. Members objects to proceeding in that way, I will put the remaining Government amendments en bloc. Amendment made : No. 83, in page 29, line 17, leave out from shall' to before' in line 19.-- [Mr. Mellor.]

1.45 pm

Schedule 3

Supervision Orders

Amendments made : No. 184, in page 99, line 38, leave out sub-paragraphs (4) and (5).

No. 410, in page 102, line 6, at end insert--

(1A) A supervision order shall also cease to have effect if an event mentioned in section 25(1)(a) or (b) of the Child Abduction and Custody Act 1985 (termination of existing orders) occurs with respect to the child.'.

No. 321, in page 102, line 33, leave out agrees' and insert agree'.

No. 322, in page 102 line 34, leave out it appears to the court that'.

No. 323, in page 102 line 35, leave out its' and insert their'. No. 324, in page 102, line 38, leave out requests' and insert request'.

No. 185, in page 103, line 9, leave out (under this or any other enactment)'

No. 186, in page 103, line 25, at end insert and'.

No. 187, in page 103, line 26, leave out from parents' to end of line 27.

No. 188, in page 103, line 31, leave out sub-paragraphs (i) and (ii) and insert--

(i) the supervised child ; or

(ii) a parent of his,'.

No. 189, in page 103, line 38, at end insert and'.

No. 190, in page 103, line 39, leave out from parents' to end of line 41.

No. 191, in page 103, line 42, leave out school which the child should attend'

and insert

place at which the child should be educated'.

No. 192, in page 104, line 1, leave out other wishes and feelings mentioned in sub-paragraph (2)'

and insert

wishes and feelings of the child's parents'.

No. 193, in page 104, line 2, at end insert--

(4) Directions may be given under this paragraph at any time while the education supervision order is in force.'.

No. 194, in page 104, line 25, leave out 12A' and insert 12C'. No. 195, in page 105, line 2, at end insert--

Information to be given to supervisor etc. 15A.--(1) An education supervision order may require the child--


Column 1335

(a) to keep the supervisor informed of any change in his address ; and

(b) to allow the supervisor to visit him at the place where he is living.

(2) A person who is the parent of a child with respect to whom an education supervision order has been made shall--

(a) if asked by the supervisor, inform him of the child's addres (if it is known to him) ; and

(b) if he is living with the child, allow the supervisor reasonable contact with the child.'.

No. 471, in page 105, line 8, leave out from beginning to or' in line 9.

No. 197, in page 105, leave out lines 14 to 19 and insert Offences 16A.-- (1) If a parent of a child with respect to whom an education supervision order is in force persistently fails to comply with a direction given under the order he shall be guilty of an offence.

(21) It shall be a defence for any person charged with such an offence to prove that--

(a) he took all reasonable steps to ensure that the direction was complied with ;

(b) the direction was unreasonable ; or


Next Section

  Home Page