New Clause 9 - Registration of private foster parents

Part of Adoption and Children Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 6:45 pm ar 15 Ionawr 2002.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Jonathan R Shaw Jonathan R Shaw Llafur, Chatham and Aylesford 6:45, 15 Ionawr 2002

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. I was about to say that the drafting of my new clause is not perfect. I welcome improvements where they are needed. We do not want to require everybody to register, and the examples that he has given are pertinent. However, the principle of registration is important.

As only 50 per cent. notify—no doubt it varies from area to area—a registration scheme would do away with what is effectively a level playing field for good private foster carers and paedophiles. How is a parent meant to make a choice when a list is not kept of half of them? We must bring about a change of culture. There is now an expectation that child minders register. If we launched a campaign in parts of west Africa and it became ingrained in the community that registration as a private foster carer was expected, a far from satisfactory situation would improve.

A registration scheme is not a panacea. I do not believe that it will solve all the problems overnight and that we shall not see any more tragic cases. As responsible parliamentarians—in the light of the cases of Kimberley Carlisle, Jasmine Beckford and Victoria Climbie and of the Utting report—we should be able to put our hands on our hearts and say that we knew that we could not cover every eventuality but that we did our best. The Government can do their best by doing what they said in response to the Utting report that they would do and at least consider the 42-days proposal.

I have spoken on the matter numerous times, and I do so not from a theoretical standpoint but with some 10 years' experience in social services. I hope that my hon. Friend the Minister will offer us in her reply a chance for further discussion, particularly in the light of the opportunities that the Government have not taken to provide parliamentary time, despite their positive indication that they would do so.