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 Meg Munn Meg Munn Labour/Co-operative, Sheffield, Heeley 4:00, 17 Ionawr 2002

On reading the new clause, I was frankly appalled. I know that the Committee is aware of the extent of Labour Members' experience of such situations. The idea that we should interview children on video about their wishes and feelings about an adoption is so bad that words fail me. I cannot believe that anybody would think that that is the right way forward.

Video interviewing of children was introduced in criminal proceedings to ensure that children who had been abused did not have to repeat their allegations in court, as they had had to in the past, often before their alleged abuser. It was designed to protect the child. However, anybody who has ever been involved in a video interview with a child, however it is done, and whatever steps are taken to minimise the distress to the child, will know one would never want one's own child to have go through it, because it is not easy.

Adoption involves civil proceedings, and we are concerned with the importance of knowing the wishes and feelings of children. Hon. Members who have children will understand that children say different things at different times to different people, and that their age and understanding of the issues will have implications for what they say about their wishes and feelings. My hon. Friends who have worked in the social work field will have heard children saying different things at different times, depending on which of their parents they are with or whether they are with their foster parents or their birth parents. It is not easy to get to the bottom of what a child really thinks. In the adoption process and in care proceedings, which often precede adoption, necessary mechanisms are already in place to ensure that the wishes and feelings of the child are taken into account.