Clause 98 - Right of officers of the service to have

Part of Adoption and Children Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 6:00 pm ar 4 Rhagfyr 2001.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Jonathan Djanogly Jonathan Djanogly Ceidwadwyr, Huntingdon 6:00, 4 Rhagfyr 2001

Thank you, Mr. Stevenson. I was about to give way to my hon. Friend, who is much more senior.

The explanatory notes for clause 98 indicate that the powers are an extension of existing legislation. It is important that we consider the more general implications of the powers. We have had an interesting debate on the last few clauses, and the points that I wish to make arise from implications in earlier contributions.

Do the rules regulating the officers of the service, which are set out in clause 97(1), deal with the confidentiality of the information that they will receive pursuant to clause 98? The question of conflict of interest came up in discussion of an earlier clause. Confidentiality is an important issue in so far as officers who have confidential information and advise the child may also advise the birth parents about giving consent, for example. Have we stipulated that they can use the information for the purposes of advising the child only, and not the birth parent? What would happen if they released information to the birth parents? Does the Bill provide for a penalty if that were done? Clearly, circumstances could be touchy, for want of better words.

Furthermore, if an officer of the service receives full information for a placement or a hearing, what information would the other parties to the hearing be entitled to receive? Presumably, it would not be the same level of information, although that raises the question of the implications in respect of the Human Rights Act 1998, where disequality of the receipt of information—[Hon. Members: ''Disequality?''] I am sorry; I mean inequality in the provision of information may give rights to one side—the birth parents—to have a claim, perhaps under the Human Rights Act. It may be preferable for the proposal to set out not only what the officers of service are entitled to receive, but also what other people are entitled to receive so that it can be seen that that has been considered. There are a few technical points that should at least be considered in the context of the clause.