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The Earl of Balfour: I refer to the last two lines of Clause 69 at the bottom of page 56, which states:

"make provision for the parents of the child to be informed of the placing of the child in secure accommodation." I wonder whether the word "guardian" should be included. It is something of which I should have given my noble friend notice, but I just have not had the time to do it.

6.30 p.m.

The Earl of Lindsay: We should like to consider the suggestion of my noble friend, Lord Balfour. On that basis, we hope that this clause will stand part.

Clause 69 agreed to.

Clause 70 [Exclusion orders]:

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie moved Amendment No. 158:

Page 56, line 43, leave out ("and") and insert ("to").

The noble and learned Lord said: There is a substantial set of government Amendments, Amendments Nos. 158, 165, 166, 168 and 169. I understood that the revised list of groupings allowed for those to be considered alongside Amendment No. 147. It might be helpful if I refer to that amendment first. Amendment No. 147 seeks to include among the conditions which may be attached by a sheriff to a child protection order a condition that a suspected abuser should be excluded from the family home. There are major complications in seeking to extend child protection order provisions which authorise the removal of a child to a place of safety to embrace the exclusion of a suspected abuser from the family home.

To empower the sheriff to make an exclusion order as a condition of a child protection order seems contradictory. Why seek to exclude the named individual from the family home when, in fact, application has been made for the protection of the child by removing the child from the family home?

What we have done instead is to provide separately for exclusion orders under Clause 70. I am bound to say that that approach is likely to be more effective since

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it allows a clear range of means for the protection of the children.

While the Bill was under consideration in another place and when evidence was taken in Scotland, we received many representations from organisations in the field of childcare and from other interested parties seeking an extension of the arrangements for the exclusion of a suspected abuser from the family home to allow for an immediate exclusion of that suspected abuser.

As introduced, the Bill would enable exclusion to be effected only where the sheriff considered that the necessary conditions for the making of an order were met—they are set out in Clause 72—and the named person had been afforded an opportunity of being heard or represented at such a hearing.

The need to delay the exclusion of a person until after a hearing was seen by many as a flaw. A strong argument was made in another place to provide for immediate exclusion and my honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland agreed that we should consider making the necessary amendment.

We have achieved the necessary change through significant modification of the arrangements for interim exclusion orders and, given the level of interest that there has been in this, I might be forgiven for going through them in a little detail.

Amendment No. 168 deletes the existing arrangements proposed through subsection (7). In its place, Amendment No. 166 brings in new subsections (3A) to (3D). Subsection (3A) allows the sheriff to grant an interim order if he is satisfied that the necessary conditions have been met, even where the named person has not appeared or has not been represented before the sheriff and before any persons on whom notice of the application may be served have been able to make their views known.

Subsection (3B) provides that where the sheriff has granted such an interim order, he shall conduct a hearing within such period as may be specified in the rules made by virtue of Clause 74. It also provides that he may, before finally determining the application, confirm or vary the interim order or term or condition on which it is granted, or he may recall the order.

Subsection (3C) provides that where the conditions set out in subsections (3A) and (3B) have been fulfilled, the sheriff may grant an interim order before finally determining the application. And, finally, subsection (3D) makes clear that an order under subsections (3B) or (3C) shall have effect as an exclusion order pending the final determination of the application.

The provisions I have described will enable the immediate exclusion of someone suspected of abusing a child. There is certainly no doubt that child abuse is a very serious matter and local authorities should have as wide an armoury as possible in their bid to combat it. So too, however, is the immediate exclusion of a person from his family home without the opportunity of being heard a very serious matter. I am in no doubt that in some circumstances immediate exclusion would offer the right remedy, but there may be others where the threat to the child is so serious that a child protection

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order alternative would be the only step guaranteed to protect the child's safety. An interim exclusion order which takes immediate effect in the way I have outlined is therefore another element in the range of measures at a local authority's disposal and should be seen as additional to and not just as a replacement or substitute for a child protection order.

The other amendments in this extensive group are essentially consequential. There may be yet further government amendments to come, but so far these are the most significant amendments the Government have introduced and for that reason I have taken some time to spell them out. They will indeed provide local authorities in Scotland with an important new power. I beg to move.

Lord Macaulay of Bragar: Can I formally place on record the recognition from this side of the Committee of the care the Minister has shown in taking on board the points raised at earlier stages of the Bill. I regard exclusion orders as one of the most difficult matters in the Bill. The Minister's proposals have gone a considerable way to protect the child and the alleged abuser. I note what he said with interest.

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy: I was not at all happy about the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Macaulay of Bragar, which he did not move, because it gave the sheriff carte blanche to make an emergency exclusion order without any of the caveats and considerations which he has to take into account under subsections (4), (5) and (6) of Clause 70 as it stands. Those caveats are very important.

Perhaps the noble and learned Lord will correct me if I am wrong, but his interim exclusion order as proposed in Amendment No. 166 would be subject to subsections (4), (5) and (6) as set out on page 57 of the Bill.

If, for example, you remove a chap from his home on the grounds that he has been abusing his daughter, that is bad enough, but if, in the course of doing so, you exclude him from premises which he uses to earn his living, or prevent him from taking the tools of his trade with him so that he loses his job, you have possibly, in error, ruined his future, and very likely destroyed the family as well. This is something which worried me very much about having an interim exclusion order or an emergency exclusion order which was not governed by subsections (4), (5) and (6). I take it that I am right, and that that is the effect of the subsections.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie: I am very grateful to the noble Lady for her observations. I can confirm that where such an emergency exclusion order is applied for, it would be subject to those subsections to which she referred. She has usefully highlighted the delicacy of the balance we have to achieve. Abuse of children is a very serious matter but, as she has pointed out, a person who is to be excluded is at that stage no more than an alleged abuser, or suspected of it, and one has to be careful to ensure that he is not subjected to damage or circumstances which would make it impossible for him to continue in his employment.

Baroness Faithfull: I support this amendment. We have before the House of Lords at the moment the

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Family Homes and Domestic Violence Bill which covers this very point. I have consulted with the people who are dealing with that Bill and I understand that they consider that the exclusion clauses as drafted in the Children (Scotland) Bill are very well drafted. In fact they go so far as to say that they think they are better than the Bill applying to England.

The exclusion order applying to men is a very difficult thing. Most men have somewhere else to go and, in my experience, when a man is excluded from the home he goes to his mother, aunt, uncle, granny or someone who lives fairly close. However, it does not mean that the child can remain with the mother in the home. If you take a child away, as has been done in the past—the child may have suffered sexual abuse—it then suffers another abuse by being removed from the home and being removed from the mother. While it seems hard on the father or relative in the family to be excluded, it is perhaps the better of the two ways of dealing with this case. I support the amendment.

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy: There are some cases where it obviously is better but there must be some cases where it would not be a good idea because you have to take into consideration the quality of life of the child if left in the home. If the alleged abuser was the mother's lover the mother may very well regard the girl, especially if she is an older child—a 12, 13 or 14 year-old—as a rival and be furious with her for being responsible for having her lover removed from the home. It is not just as straightforward as all that.

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