Clause 95 - Appeals

Part of Adoption and Children Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 12:15 pm ar 4 Rhagfyr 2001.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Rosie Winterton Rosie Winterton Parliamentary Secretary (Lord Chancellor's Department) 12:15, 4 Rhagfyr 2001

I should first set out the background to clause 95, so that we know what we are discussing.

The clause applies the provisions relating to appeals in magistrates courts in section 94 of the Children Act 1989 to the Bill, and will ensure consistency in the handling of cases involving children. An appeal against the making of an order by a magistrates court in relation to adoption or placement proceedings shall lie to the High Court. Where a magistrates court has power under the Bill or in rules to decline jurisdiction because it considers that the case can conveniently be dealt with by another court, no appeal may lie against the magistrates court in the exercise of that power.

The hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham made a point about the adoption checklist as opposed to the Children Act checklist. It will help to clarify the situation if I assure him that decisions about appeals are not decisions relating to the adoption of a child, but decisions about where an appeal will go. I understand why the hon. Gentleman wanted clarification, but his point was at a slightly different tangent.

The clause aligns the appeal process from magistrates courts orders in placement and adoption proceedings to the existing arrangements for appeals against Children Act orders in the magistrates courts from the making of magistrates courts orders or where magistrates decline jurisdiction.

Consultation on the operation of the system for appeals in family cases was undertaken with key stakeholders last year. The hon. Gentleman may be further reassured if I say that we are in discussions with the senior judiciary on the best way forward. Currently, there is no formal time scale, but we are taking the opportunity with the Bill to ensure consistency in the handling of cases. I hope that the hon. Gentleman feels able to support the clause.