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I accept that the content of the proposed subsection (2) appears most sensible and comprehensive. However, since it cannot be totally comprehensive, I suggest that if these words were amended—I appreciate that they were taken from Scottish statute—they should say “shall include” instead of,

in other words, they should be descriptive and inclusive rather than exclusive. In the circumstances, therefore, if the 1989 Act were to be amended in this way, it would, in the words of Dr Johnson, concentrate the mind wonderfully. Whether Dr Johnson would approve of anything coming from north of the Tweed is another matter.

Lord Adonis: I am swayed by the debate to say that the Government will consider this further and come back on Report with our view of whether there is a case for further amending the Children Act 1989. I am particularly swayed by the points of the noble

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and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss. However, I need it to be firmly understood that this is not a commitment that the Government will introduce a change; we will consider whether there is a case for it.

As the noble and learned Baroness knows, the approach to parental responsibility taken by the Children Act 1989 itself implements a Law Commission recommendation. The Law Commission did not consider it practical to include a list of what comprises parental responsibility. Such a list would, in its view, have to change from time to time to meet differing needs and circumstances. That was its view then, but we are happy to take further advice, including from noble Lords. I will say on Report whether we believe that it would be appropriate to move on this matter.

5 pm

Baroness Butler-Sloss: The suggestion of the noble Lord, Lord Elystan-Morgan, would be infinitely preferable to the Scottish definition, because “include” does not exclude other things that one cannot define. I suggest to the Minister before Report that that would be a better way of expressing it, and it might be a little less unacceptable—I do not want to be negative—to those advising him.

Lord Adonis: As I say, we will have to consider these matters. I simply note that already in the course of 10 minutes we have had rival views as to what should be in such a definition. The noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, has already proposed a significant extension of the 1995 provisions in Scotland.

Baroness Walmsley: It was not a serious suggestion.

Lord Adonis: Although I have indicated that we are prepared to look at this further, I stress that this needs to be in the context of us starting off believing that the status quo is acceptable.

Lord Northbourne: I am most grateful to the Minister. I have the utmost confidence in the ability of him and his department to produce the right solution. I did not consider making any change to the Scottish Act because, in however many years there have been since 1995, there has been quite a lot of time for the Scottish Act to go wrong. If it has not gone wrong, that is a pretty good argument for sticking with it. I am happy to see what happens at the next stages of the Bill. I am most grateful to all those who have contributed. If I had the proportional support from the whole House that I have had from this Committee, we could give the Government a hiding, but we shall see. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clauses 34 to 38 agreed to.

Clause 39 [Commencement]:

Lord Adonis moved Amendment No. 103:



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The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 103, I shall also speak to Amendments Nos. 104 to 107. The amendments concern the commencement of the provisions in the Bill in relation to Wales. They ensure that the commencement of those provisions reflect fully those matters devolved to the Welsh Assembly Government. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Adonis moved Amendments Nos. 104 to 107:



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On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 39, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 40 agreed to.

Schedule agreed to.

Bill reported with amendments.


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