New clause 1 - Interviews with children

Part of Adoption and Children Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 4:00 pm ar 17 Ionawr 2002.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Tim Loughton Tim Loughton Shadow Spokesperson (Health) 4:00, 17 Ionawr 2002

Yes, I appreciate that. That came up in discussion of the earlier amendment tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Isle of Wight, to which the Minister responded. There seems to be an anomaly whereby a parent with a strong direct interest cannot disclose information on a confidential basis, even to a Member of Parliament or a councillor who is responsible for the social services department, who may be privy to the information that is being discussed or decided on in court.

I said that this was a probing amendment. We have, of course, referred at length to the desirability of ascertaining the child's wishes as a party to any of the adoption processes. We have had debates on whether a child's age should be taken into account when their evidence is considered. The Bill contains all sorts of provisions about ascertaining the child's point of view, but there is no compulsion for somebody to go and speak, first-hand, to the child. That is still a weakness, even though one would hope that, in practice, the child would be consulted without such a compulsion.

I cited my own case of parental custody divorce proceedings many years ago, in which a greater input into what was being discussed and written about the circumstances of the child would have been desirable. Given the varying reliability of the child's evidence, which may depend on age, circumstances or the

different emotional pressures on that child, there seems to be a case for ensuring that everything happens as dispassionately and objectively as possible, to minimise the pressure on that child. Keeping a video or audio recording seems a sensible way to do that.

That is the purpose of the new clause. I hope that the Minister can give some assurances as to why it will not be necessary, so that I can convey her message to my eager hon. Friend the Member for Isle of Wight.