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 Tim Loughton Tim Loughton Shadow Spokesperson (Health) 6:45, 15 Ionawr 2002

I do not want to talk at length, but I should like to put it on record that the Opposition have a good deal of sympathy for the intentions that the hon. Gentleman has just expressed so eloquently, and with great experience and form on the subject. He was optimistic in identifying the number of children in private fostering as between 8,000 and 10,000. I suspect that the problem is far greater, although we do not know. Given experiences in my county of West Sussex, there is a specific problem with west African young girls who turn up at Gatwick airport, mostly from Nigeria and Sierra Leone. Many arrive on their own and are then placed in care, but many others go unregistered and unnoticed by the social services

department and end up in highly unsatisfactory and dubious private foster arrangements. I echo the hon. Gentleman's comments.

The problem has already gone underground, so to introduce some registration scheme would be to close the door after the horse had bolted. We need to tackle the problem afresh. It is not disputed that child minders be expected to register, which has become part of the natural process, and we have far greater recourse to police checks now. There are other measures, such as the register that the Government have rightly set up to check people who come into contact with young people through youth work. Various checks are in place for all sorts of other contact between young people and individuals who may have had problems in their past.