Clause 4 - Assessments etc. for adoption support services

Part of Adoption and Children Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 6:45 pm ar 11 Rhagfyr 2001.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Tim Loughton Tim Loughton Shadow Spokesperson (Health) 6:45, 11 Rhagfyr 2001

The logical extrapolation from that is that they can promise the earth in their assessments if they know that they do not have to provide it. The point that the hon. Gentleman makes is entirely irrelevant. We need to make it clear that there must be a fair assessment, and that those assessments need to be properly monitored. No doubt the Minister can assure us on the quality of the assessments. It is a fair point that much of the paperwork on which social workers involved in adoption now rely is cumbersome, lengthy and, in many cases, out of date. One has only to look at subject form F1, with which many Government Members will be very familiar. It was faxed to me and caused the expending of no little amount of ink and fax paper. No doubt the Minister could have provided me with a hard copy if I had requested it.

The point is that, as many professionals in the field have said, such forms were designed about 25 years go. They ask questions that are not as relevant—often, largely irrelevant—today, 25 years since the Adoption Act was introduced. That is part of the problem with the assessments. Are they asking the right questions? We need to make sure that the assessment process is fair and valid.

Saying that social workers should not be obliged to provide services, and that that would in some way encourage them to make a fairer assessment in the first place, rather misses the point. We have required local authorities to do certain things and placed duties on social workers elsewhere in the Bill, and we are not asking an awful lot in this context.

Section 27(2) of the Children Act 1989 does not deal specifically with the business of local authorities providing adoption support services, but it does deal with an equivalent. It states:

''An authority whose help is so requested shall comply with the request''.

That is a clear duty to comply, and not to decide whether or not it will provide support services. I should like to see the same terminology applied to appropriate support services.