Clause 4 - Assessments etc. for adoption support services

Part of Adoption and Children Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 6:30 pm ar 11 Rhagfyr 2001.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Tim Loughton Tim Loughton Shadow Spokesperson (Health) 6:30, 11 Rhagfyr 2001

I beg to move amendment No. 94, in page 4, line 12, after 'needs', insert

'or the needs of connected persons'.

Despite the universal eulogies that we heard about clause 3, clause 4 may prove more central to the Bill. It certainly contains much more meat, hence we tabled several amendments to it. Amendment No. 95 is simple and harks back to the points that I made under amendment No. 64 to clause 3 about who can call for support services.

Clause 4(1) states that a local authority must respond to the request of persons mentioned in paragraphs (a) and (b). We are yet to be given the full identity of those people, which will be in regulations. At their request, a local authority must carry out an assessment of

''that person's needs for adoption support services.''

The point that I made before, and want to echo now, is that an adult might have spotted that someone in the connected persons list, which we do not have in full, is suffering in some way; typically, it might be the adopted child or a sibling of that child who is a minor, and who obviously needs support. As the clause stands, someone whose need for support has, for some reason, not been spotted by the professionals working with him or her can ask for that support only for himself or herself. I am sure that that is not what is intended, but a strict definition of the clause suggests that that would be the outcome.

The problem that we have with the clause—the next group of amendments will address this specifically—is connected to the large amount of regulation and requirement set down for assessments. We think that assessments are necessary, although we are not sure how detailed and time consuming they will be. Our fear is that, although much effort and scarce professional time will go into the assessments, there is no equivalent duty then to provide the support services that an assessment may identify as required.

The amendment is helpful. It would mean that a person who identifies a need for support does not have to identify that need only for himself, but can do so for other connected persons.