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(a) on an application under section 50 of that Act by a couple (within the meaning of that Act) one of whom is the mother or the father of the person to be adopted, or
(b) on an application under section"

On Question, amendments agreed to.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees: If Amendment No. 41 is agreed to, I cannot call Amendment Nos. 42 and 43.

Lord Adonis moved Amendment No. 41:

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 42 and 43 not moved.]

Lord Adonis moved Amendment No. 44:

The noble Lord said: In moving this amendment—this is going to be a Baroness Crawley moment—I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 46, 50, 63, 64, 65, 68, 69, 70, 78, 80, 106, 107 and 108.

Despite the volume of amendments, their aim is simple and straightforward: to clarify the provisions of the Bill in respect of who can be made subject to or apply for the new provisions and provide for a consistent approach to be taken with parallel provisions. The amendments create three groups of people. The first group is the group who may be subject to a contact activity condition. The second group is people who may apply for an enforcement order or a financial compensation order. The third group is those who may be subject to monitoring by CAFCASS in respect of their compliance with a contact order.

The first group comprises the person with whom the child concerned lives or is to live; the person whose contact with the child is provided for by the contact order; and the person with whom the contact order imposes a condition under Section 11(7)(b) of the Children Act. The Bill currently states that only parties may be subject to contact activity conditions. The amendments would broaden this to encompass those above, irrespective of whether they are parties. This group may be subject to contact activity conditions, even where there is an order for no contact.

The policy behind this is that the courts should have greater flexibility in respective contact activity conditions because they will be able to make orders involving all the central people in the child's life and involved directly in the contact order if necessary.
 
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Clearly, in most cases, the relevant people will be the child's parents, and these will be the parties to the proceedings. However, it is possible that grandparents or others may be involved so, in essence, while it is likely that the people referred to in the amendments will be parties to the case, the fact is that they may not be so. The amendments ensure that they are included, whether or not they are parties.

The second group is those who may be subject to an enforcement order or a financial compensation order. This group comprises the person who is, for the purposes of the contact order, the person with whom the child lives or is to live; the person whose contact with the child concerned is provided for in the contact order; any individual subject to a Section 11(7)(b) condition or a contact activity condition imposed by the contact order; and the child concerned. Again, we hope that this will make the Bill more consistent in its application. It is necessary to amend the provisions as currently drafted in respect of who may apply for financial compensation orders because these orders will now apply to a wider range of contact orders, including orders for no contact as well as orders for contact. Therefore, the same people who may apply for an enforcement order may also apply for a compensation order.

The third group of people is those who may be subject to monitoring of compliance with a contact order made by CAFCASS. The group that may be subject to monitoring comprises a person who is required to allow contact with the child; a person whose contact with the child is provided for; and a person who is subject to a condition under Section 11(7)(b). This group is slightly different from the first because monitoring is only to take place in the case of orders for contact as opposed to orders for no contact, which courts can and do make. As with the first group, this second group is wide enough to capture people who may be involved in the contact order but are not parties to the case. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 45 not moved.]

Lord Adonis moved Amendments Nos. 46 to 47:


"(2A) An individual falls within this subsection if he is—
(a) for the purposes of the contact order so made or varied, the person with whom the child concerned lives or is to live;
(b) the person whose contact with the child concerned is provided for in that order; or
(c) a person upon whom that order imposes a condition under section 11(7)(b)."


"( ) Subsection (2) has effect subject to the restrictions in sections 11D and 11E."

On Question, amendments agreed to.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees: If Amendment No. 48 is agreed to, I cannot call Amendment No. 49, because of pre-emption.
 
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Lord Adonis moved Amendment No. 48:

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 49 not moved.]

Lord Adonis moved Amendments Nos. 50 to 52:

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendment No. 53 not moved.]

5 pm

Baroness Barker moved Amendment No. 54:

The noble Baroness said: We return to an issue that briefly surfaced yesterday and to which we should give a great deal more attention—the qualifications of staff involved in the making of contact activity directions and conditions. Having started to introduce the subject so well, I believe that I should now sit down.

[The Sitting was suspended for a Division in the House from 5 to 5.10 pm]

Baroness Barker: We return to two amendments which deal with an important issue: the qualifications expected of those involved in making contact activity directions and setting the conditions for them. I am speaking principally of those involved in the assessment process. In moving Amendment No. 54 and speaking to Amendment No. 59, I should also say that we on these Benches wholeheartedly support Amendment No. 55, in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Morris of Bolton, which deals with the available supply of suitably qualified people to carry out these activities in different parts of the country.

Our concern is that the Bill confers considerable extra work on a system that is already struggling to deal with its case load. We see nothing in the Bill that will reduce that work load in any way. However, specification of the types of contact activity directions is much more elaborate here than it has been under the existing regime. We are concerned that in this sometimes delicate decision-making process the legislation is unclear about the exact qualifications required. The Bill talks about providers being "suitable" but it does not specify exactly what that means.

In speaking earlier today to previous government amendments, the noble Baroness, Lady Crawley, spoke of the Government controlling the quality of the provision of such services by financial means—by restricting those whom they would seek to support in relation to public funds. That is an extremely powerful tool but it is a rather blunt instrument for controlling quality.
 
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As noble Lords will see, although these are probing amendments, they touch on an issue that lies at the heart of the Bill. The noble Baroness, Lady Howarth, spoke yesterday about skills and the need to ensure that those who are involved in these difficult situations, making decisions which can have profound consequences for the participants, are skilled and trained.

We on these Benches believe that without the proper basis on which to work—and we have already discussed the limitations of "reasonable contact"—the job will be even more difficult. There are very few precedents from which people will be able to work and, given the range of work which will be undertaken under this legislation, the number of precedents will be even smaller. There have been major problems with CAFCASS in the past. Although many of those issues have been addressed—I pay tribute to the noble Baronesses, Lady Howarth and Lady Pitkeathley, for bringing about those changes—we are in severe danger of setting up a system with an insufficient number of suitably qualified people to undertake that work. That will create a risk that some of the services provided will not be of a sufficient standard. I beg to move.

5.15 pm


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