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

It is not entirely clear that what the Minister has described will happen, but I think that we are getting at the same point. She said that our amendment does not make it entirely clear who the ''connected persons'' are. That is right, and it will not become clear until the regulations are published. The wording is intended to mirror the wider family who have an interest in the adopted person. Such persons could include the child himself, siblings, grandparents, step-parents, birth parents and others.

We have been assured that the provision will be set out in greater detail in regulations. In using the phrase ''connected persons'' we do not seek to extend the range of people further than the regulations will in any case do, so the Minister need have no fears on that score. She rightly said that the clause and the regulations should be flexible enough to enable as many people as possible to approach the local authority. However, to be brutally frank, children, off their own bat, are not likely to approach the local authority and say, ''I've got a problem, and I need to have my adoption support service requirement assessed.'' Under the clause, somebody who is articulate enough or minded enough to say, ''I need this help now'' could not do that on behalf of someone who is not in that position.

As I have said, minors in particular, but also adults with mental disabilities—those who are not physically children but are of a lower mental age—are more likely to be in need of support services, but they may not have the ability, cause or gumption to ask for it. We ask only for the sealing of a loophole through which everybody could find a route to securing those support services. If the Minister can reassure me that the clause prevents that, my amendment is unnecessary, but I want to hear a little more from her to suggest that we are thinking along the same lines.